Archive for the 'Montreal' Category

Montreal’s Restaurants – Super Expensive 3

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Hands down, just about everyone agrees, Toque! is always listed as Montreal’s Best Restaurant. Undoubtedly, other chefs covet the title, and one day, someone else will get the kudo, but for now, consider saving big bucks to come while you are in Montreal.

A toque is the huge, high, master chef’s hat, and, by all accounts, Normand Laprise IS a Master Chef who’s been enchanting Montreal’s gourmands for years. His dishes are of startling innovation. Laprise brings together diverse, mostly local, ingredients which rarely appear on other restaurant plates. He’s so prolifically inventive that few dishes ever stay around long enough to become “signature” favorites.

With his partner, Christine Lamarche, Toque! has achieved a status that few restaurants in the world attain. And, it is not unusual that a dinner for 2, without wine, could cost $200.

Found in Vieux-Montréal, there’s nothing “old” about it. The post-modern venue is also a member of the gold-standard organization Relais & Châteaux.

Laprise is considered the founding visionary of Québécois haute cuisine. Using his 7 Course Tasting Menu may be another choice to sample his fine cuisine.

900 Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle, near rue St-Antoine
phone: 514-499-2084
open for lunch, now, too: 11:30am – 2:00 pm Tuesday to Friday
(Lunch menu starts at $25.)
Toque! Menu Dinner example.
Toque! Tasting Men Montreal.

Recently, Laprise opened a mid-priced sister restaurant. Named Brasserie t!. It is located at 1425, rue Jeanne Mance; 514-282-0808.
It is near the Contemporary Art Museum, and the brasserie looks like a sleek cargo container. It supports a contemporary French menu which showcases less fussy dishes like: grilled Flank Steak and Cod brandade. Dinner for 2 will be about 60 dollars, without wine.

Montreal Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Montreal’s Restaurants – Super Expensive 2

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Le Club Chasse et Pêche
(The Hunting and Fishing Club)

This is expensive – a full meal for 2 can cost $250. Opened by Chef Claude Pelletier and partner Hubert Marsolais in December 2004, the crowd is trendy, the service friendly and the interior moody, dark and surreal – with antlers, in case that bothers you. Of course, the hunting and fishing theme, taken from its name, extends to the menu, from the Australian barramundi to the American Kobe beef.

Critics constantly say that the list of ingredients had more variety than the real tastes of the food – that is, more talk, less actual delivery. It may feel like dining in a secret but stylish den, but the food has to deliver. Most times it does, but your palate is the ultimate judge.

The chef flouts daily, but for these prices, there should only be successes. Faint recipes or poor taste combinations should be weeded out and never make it onto the menu.

The noise level can also be unacceptable – the bar seats about 30, the dining room about 50. Located in a stone building in the Old Montreal section of the city, it can feel a little bit of a dungeon. That bothers me.

The food is a minimalist style, highlighting Canadian and organic ingredients. Items rated as worthy:
___ the Negroni cocktail
___ smoked venison and chèvre appetizer and pétoncles (scallops)
___ foie gras liver, pistachios, sweet wine jelly with lavender glaze
___ surf-and-turf pairing Kobe beef medallion and stuffed lobster tail
___ bison with leeks and chanterelles
___ signature mushroom tart
___ piglet risotto
___ Paradiso: warm caramel, puff pastry, milk-chocolate ice cream
___ Apple compote in cooked apple shell, with a crème brulée top

From their site, here’s a Lunch Menu example:

Appetizers and First Courses
smoked venison, taboulé, goat cheese, pine nut (8)
bisque, sunroot (Jerusalem Artichoke), taragon, crème fraîche (10)
tuna tartare, rémoulade, tapenade (12)
seared scallops, fennel purée, lemon confit (13)
duck foie gras, Serrano, macademia, porcini (24)
young lettuces, L8 Harvest (7)

Chasse et Pêche
duck, butternut squash, purslane, jus (18)
bison two ways, leek, tomato confit, cheddar (23)
braised piglet risotto, foie gras shavings (19)
roasted cod, glazed challots, rutabaga (20)

Touted as “Dressy” (but, dress standards are not consistent; patrons were allowed to show up with t-shirts, flip flops and shorts for dinner. The restaurant at this echelon should demand minimal standards).

Must reserve, not for kids, no wheelchair access or outdoor seating, go for dinner.

Le Club Chasse et Pêche
423 Rue St. Claude
phone: 514-861-1112
Métro: Champ-de-Mars

Montreal Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Montreal’s Restaurants – Super Expensive 1

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Joe Beef is one of Montreal’s most expensive restaurants. It is named for a legendary tavern-owner from 1868 or so.

Charles McKiernan earned the sobriquet “Joe Beef” when he was a Quartermaster with the British Army (during the Crimean War). Whenever his regiment was running low on food, McKiernan had a knack of somehow finding meat and provisions, so “Joe Beef” became legendary.

He later became a famous, gruff philanthropist, coming to the city around 1864 with his artillery regiment, and when discharged in 1868, he opened “Joe Beef’s Tavern”.

This was an inn and tavern soon known throughout North America!

Back then, it was located at 201-207 rue de la Commune (in Old Montreal).

Unusually, then, Joe Beef refused service to no one, once telling a reporter that “no matter who he is, whether English, French, Irish, Negro, Indian or what religion he belongs to”, he would be served.

The clientele of the tavern was mostly working class. So, every day at noon, hundreds of longshoremen, ex-army, beggars, odd-job men and outcasts from Montréal society showed up for their main meal of the day.

For working class Montreal, McKiernan’s tavern functioned as the center of social life in Griffintown, as back then the neighborhood had no public parks and gatherings or public celebrations were only occasionally held. Thus, daily recreational activities were centered around the conviviality of Joe Beef’s Canteen.

Today, it is the same but also very different. A savvy chef and restauranteur, David McMillan, has put three businesses near one another, in Little Burgundy, all seeking to cash-in on Joe Beef’s cachet.

The flagship is a super-expensive restaurant named “Joe Beef”. Next comes Liverpool House and lastly, comes McKiernan.

Joe Beef, a little beef-and-fish house, opened in 2005 far from the bright lights of downtown, in an area where the warehouses had not all been turned into high-end lofts yet. Then, the two other restaurants were added in 2007 and 2008 nearby:

___ Liverpool House (at no. 2501), an Italian gastropub
___ McKiernan (at no. 2485), an upscale luncheonette and chowder house as well as being an evening wine bar, with has great food and great value. It even has its own organic garden out back! Try the porchetta tacos which are made with fresh tortillas ($11). Come early as it only has 12 seats!

I recommend only that you check out McKiernan’s. It is open Tuesday to Friday lunches. Saturday brunch. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. It is available for private parties and affairs. 2485 Notre-Dame West, Montreal 514-759-6677.

Now to the flagship — any super-expensive restaurant should never fail. But there are reviews which show that Joe Beef is inconsistent. If you accept that it has foibles, periodically, then also know that most people have had a great multicourse meal here for about $100 – $150 a person.

The atmosphere is moneyed roadhouse — still exhibiting the blue-collar attitude BUT at blue-blooded prices!

Joe Beef is located in a narrow storefront which means diners are elbow to elbow, which is strange, indeed, for restaurants wanting to be regarded as top-echelon and at this price-point.

The menu and wine list is written on a big blackboard occupying one wall. Ask your waiter for a real rundown, if it is necessary. You might also just want to be seated at one of the 4 seats at the bar for attentive service (ask the barman for his version of the menu rather than trying to read the Board).

If you want to try some classics:

___ starters are oysters, including many rarely seen varieties like: Caraquets, Cortez Islands and Marina Gems or try the roasted bone marrow, pickles and brioche

___ salade Joe Beef, which is a “composed salad” – tangy green beans, boiled potatoes, pickled beets, jicama, duck breast and a poached egg

___ mains can include trout, suckling pig, cabbage stuffed with veal cheeks, steak au poivre, rabbit gnocchi and excellent ribs.

Be aware, that if you do not order every course, like no appetizers, tell your waiter you want the order for your other courses put in and brought right away, in succession.

Someone complained that their mains arrived an hour later, which was explained as ‘they had ordered no appetizer course’. The kitchen should be able to do better than that, but it was a braised main dish, so maybe THAT was what took the hour. Make sure you get-the-details so you are NOT just sitting there. Maybe make a quick prep choice, in that eventuality.

As the historic Atwater Market is just steps away, the food is fresh and seasonal at all 3 restaurants.

Because of consistent inconsistency, I am not recommending Joe Beef, but suggest McKiernan’s instead. Get more information from your concierge and others when you arrive. Maybe you’ll decide to try Joe Beef.

Joe Beef, Montreal
2491 Rue Notre-Dame Oest (West), Montreal (near Rue Charlevoix)
phone: 514-935-6504.
Hours: Tues-Sat with seatings at 7 and 9:30pm
Location: near av. Atwater, Outer Districts
Transportation: Métro: Lionel-Groulx

Casual dress, not good for kids, need reservations (try for the first seating — the later one gets really late by the time the food arrives), not wheelchair accessible. Dress well, as you may be waiting outside if your table is not ready, even with reservations. This restaurant is just SMALL, probably too small.

Montreal Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Montreal’s Restaurants – Expensive 3

Monday, November 8th, 2010

La Montée de Lait

This cafe’s top-quality, market-driven cuisine comes at relatively affordable prices, especially for lunch. They have an extensive list of wines by the glass specially picked to accompany their menu.

Yes, lunch is the way to have some of Montreal’s best, expensive choices, especially if this tier of dining is a stretch for your budget. Then, the prices are roughly half of those at dinner, for a slightly smaller portion. albeit.

Chef Martin Juneau, Patrick Duchesne and Hugo Duchesne run a gem. Juneau loved the small-plate style of dining in the past but has refined that to include a larger menu, too, these days and he has an open-kitchen concept. Hugo’s wine program and dining-room savoir faire are evident to patrons immediately, too.

The menu is now divided into 4 categories — little tastes (amuse-bouches), starters, mains and desserts. There is a fresh daily menu, written on the blackboard (‘sur le tableau noir’).

Each section has 4 offerings, but the array of ingredients per dish leaves no-one thinking there’s not enough variety! The starters are $10 – $15, entrees are $15 – $25 each. La Montée de Lait Sample Menu.

Be aware that the wine prices run high, but the wines are well-chosen.

Consider the 7-Course “Tasting Menu” in the evening for around $70 per person without the cost of the wines. With two big Perriers, a bottle of non-alcoholic wine and 2 coffees, the total was $170 for 2 people, recently. (Other Montreal restaurants offer tasting menus but they have fewer courses for upwards of $100 per person plus beverages. And, the West-coast price for this same meal would easily be 50% higher or even more.)

Call 2 weeks in advance for weekend reservations. If you don’t drink alcohol, ask them to get a non-alcoholic wine for you, then.

The restaurant has moved around a lot, so always check the current location!

La Montée de Lait
5171 Rue Saint-Laurent (Mile-End)
phone: 514-273-8846
Monday – Friday 11:30am – 11:00pm
Saturday – Sunday 11:00am – 11:00pm


Montreal Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Montreal’s Restaurants – Expensive 2

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Now to Les Trois Petits Bouchons (Three Little Morsels / Tastes) – one of Montreal’s Best Restaurants

Located in a brick-walled cellar, sit at one of the blond wood tables and enjoy an amazing experience. Known for its homemade charcuteries (deli dishes), classic duck confits, seasonal menu from local organic ingredients, fantastic wine list of about 150 types and all made especially for the restaurant without added sulfites! This is rustic French cuisine on a stylish French promenade — casual elegance.

There’s something for everyone here. The day’s offerings are handwritten in French on a blackboard (‘sur le tableau noir’). The waiters will translate.

Some favorites you might find:

___ Pieuvre grillée: the smokey soft grilled octopus is the signature starter, served with BBQ sauce and crême fraiche.

___ Petoncles Princesse. It is as good as anything one might find in a restaurant — a small, raw, impressively fresh scallop, served in its shell with diced cucumber, a dash of wasabi oil, and a spoonful of strawberry puree.

___ Unusual, tasty versions of Surf ‘n’ Turf.

The wine list at LTPB is heavier on reds that whites and it is predominantly French, from the Languedoc-Roussillon and other lesser-known regions; they are chemical-free.

Be aware, that for a special meal for 2, you could spend $200. But, you can enjoy the ambiance and culinary delight for much less, too. Prices: $10 and $15 for appetizers and $18- $35 for entrees; the wines by the glass are between $8- $12 but there are no bottles under $40.

Attentive, not over-bearing service and understanding childrens’ needs, too.

Casual attire, expensive, takes credit cards, good for kids, takes reservations, not wheelchair accessible.

Les Trois Petits Bouchons
4669 Rue St. Denis (Plateau Mont-Royal Montreal)
phone: 514-285-4444.
Transit: Mont-Royal

Montreal Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review