Seoul BBQ – Boul. Cavedish/Korean

14. July 2010 1 comment

Bon jour,

some weeks ago, as part of our not so regular Thursday dinner food-club, we went out to the Seoul BBQ at 3300 Boul. Cavendish.

Since we all are quite into Asian food, this seemed to be a good idea. We tried several Chinese and Vietnamese Restaurants as well as Japanese ones, but Korean, especially good and authentic ones seem to be rather rare.

We arrived at around 7 pm, and parking in the nearby parking lot was truly convenient.

The rooms are quite simple, not over-decorated, basic chairs and tables, nothing fancy or stylish. But not in a uncomfortable way, more in an efficient way.

In one of the smaller rooms near the main space is a TV, which was showing Korean Movies while we were there. It gives you a nice feeling of actually being in Korea. And knowing that local Koreans are coming to this place not only for watching their dearly missed shows but also for the, I think as dearly missed, food helps building up a reputation.

The lady in charge directed us to a free table, asked us if we visited her place before and came back immediately after we answered with fresh tea. They are not licensed, so tea or soft-drinks is all you get. But that is not a problem, since the tea is quite good and matches perfectly to the dishes.

We were a group of 4, so we ordered beef, chicken and squid BBQ as well as the usual suspects you order at Korean places. Kimchi for example and some assorted starters (pickels, spinach etc.)

Rice was, of course, served with all the BBQs.

Since we were at the place for the first time, we were told in which order we were supposed to fry the meats. And that made sense, since they were flavored differently strong, and it would have ruined the taste of the milder dishes if they would have been prepared last.

So, with the cone-shaped grill on our table and 3 plates of meat/squid we started the show. It is not complicated, just put the stuff on the grill, move it around a bit, turn them around and when it’s done, it’s done.

Fun to make and really fun to eat. All three were seasoned very unique, but without overpowering the natural taste of the meat/squid.

From a lightly sweet beef to the quite hot squid, all was delicious.

So were the sides. Kimchi as it should be, although my wife complained a bit about the spiciness, or more accurate, that it could have been more spicy. Well, I disagree, but have to admit, that I ate hotter Kimchi before.

All in all, it is a good place to eat real Korean food. Not fancy, not stylish, not over-priced. Just the good Korean around the corner you trust when it comes to eat authentic food.

Enjoy it,

Erik

Categories: casual, Cavendish, Korean

Bonaparte – Rue Saint-Francois-Xavier / French upscale

29. June 2010 Leave a comment

Bonjour a tous,

the other day we went to eat at the Bonaparte Restaurant, 443, Rue Saint-Fancois-Xavier.

The Bonaparte is an upscale french Restaurant with, let’s say, classic interior and ambiance.

Reservations are highly recommended since they are well known and often fully booked. If you are a friend of the open-table service you will be pleased to find them on their list.

As I already mentioned, the interior of the Bonaparte tries to fulfill what the name promises.

White linen table clothes, silverware, red carpet, lots of paintings of historical persons and Napoleon himself, standing on top of the fireplace, watching the staff, I suppose.

But it is not overdone. Just as much as you need to enjoy it.

The service, to start with, is outstanding. Keen, friendly, always smiling and they will never let you sit in front of a nearly empty glass. No matter if it is the wine or the regular water.

The menu is a kind of it’s own. And I mean the pure construction of it, since it contains only 6 papers but is a thick as the “26th volume of the Brockhaus“. It is wrapped in brown leather, each paper of the menu sticking to a thick and also leathery page. It just a joy to hold it in your hand.

The menu contains the soups, the cold and hot appetizers, the fish and seafoods section, the meat section as well as 2 menus degustation  and a table d’hôte.

The wine list comes separately. And is impressive. Good wines from the mid 40$ range up to the prestigious over 1000$ a bottle French Grand Crus. And of course some of the more regulars by the glass.

We started with the soup of the day, a tomato and carrot soup, the house-smoked salmon and the lobster bisque with ginger.

To say the least, they all were great.

The tomato soup was pure tomato with a hint of carrot flavor.

The smoked salmon very meaty and lightly smoked with a nice, salty taste.

And the lobster soup with ginger combined the best of both parts. Not too gingery but greatly supporting the fine taste of the lobster.

All in all a perfect start.

For the main dishes we opted for the sautéed scallops with truffle oil and mushroom fricassée, the tuna steak coated with sesame seeds and with a redution of balsamic and maple, the rack of lamb with port wine sauce and Niçoise style ratatouille and the fillet mignon seasoned with five peppercorn and cognac.

My personal favorite, I have to admit, were the scallops. Although I am a traditionalist when it comes to scallops, shortly fried in butter and that’s it, those were simply amazing. Sautéed to the point where they are still juicy on the inside but nice done on the outside, the truffle oil was exactly what they needed to shine. Fantastic and, if you are in scallops, addictive.

I had the tune steak in sesame seeds. Ordering it, I was asked how I wished the steak to be prepared…. done, medium, rare? You are rarely asked this question when it comes to tuna steaks, so for me, this was a big plus. I ordered medium rare and I got it like that. Crispy on the outside, juicy and red on the inside with that special taste of a fresh tuna with sushi qualities. The sesame seeds supported the fish well, but maybe there have been a bit too much of them on the steak. Sometimes I felt like they just covered the tuna taste too much.

A big highlight though was the was the balsamic reduction with maple. Dark brown, nearly black, with the viscosity of a thick syrup it tasted sweet with a light hint of acid. Fantastic with the fish!

The lamb rack was another great experience. Brown and crispy on the outside, rosé and juicy on the inside the rack was the blueprint of a well done, to the point cooked lamb. And what I already said for the balsamic reduction is still on for the port sauce. Who ever is responsible for the sauces at the Bonaparte…. keep that guy. He perfectly knows what he is doing.

Now what do you expect me to write about the filet? It was great, perfectly done as ordered…and oh, it had a cognac sauce. You remember what I wrote about the guy responsible for the sauces? It is still valid…

After all, my favorite still are the scallops, but there is no doubt that all 4 mains as well as the starters were fantastic proof of the abilities of  Gérard Fort and his team.

To finish a well enjoyed evening we ordered some desert…. mousse au chocolat and sorbet .

I never had such a creamy, fluffy and airy mousse like that. Not that heavy brown cream you sometimes get but light and melting instantly in your mouth. If I had one wish, it could go with a bit more chocolate taste. You know, this deep at little bittery taste of some 80% and above de luxe chocolate.

But nothing to complain about the sorbets. Fruity, light, with a bit of acidity and sweetness they were a great ending of a nearly perfect dinner.

Nothing really to complain, neither on the service nor on the food or anything else. We just enjoyed the evening.

It’s a big recommendation!

Enjoy,

Erik

Categories: French, upscale

786 Halal restaurant – Jean Talon W / Pakistani

14. June 2010 Leave a comment

Bonjour,

a couple of weeks ago we started some kind of Thursday food club, meaning that we go out every Thursday to visit a casual restaurant in the Montréal area.

After attending the Kazu, this time we went to a Pakistani restaurant called 786 Halal Restaurant.

Slightly puzzling is the fact, that, despite the name, it isn’t located at 786 rue Jean Talon but on 768 rue Jean Talon. As far as I understood, the number 786 is a kind of a lucky number in that culture, explaining the many shops and businesses around also containing those 3 digits. Like the nearby located 786 Marchée.

Once you found the resto you have to go upstairs to the 2nd floor, and than it is like entering a different world and leaving Montréal and Canada behind.

The interior is, let’s say, a bit on the basic side. Simple wooden chairs and tables, some pictures at the walls and a few fishing nets up at the ceiling, which, by the way, could use some dusting.

But I liked it from the beginning. It feels like you are in Pakistan, and it smells so, too, in a good way. All those nice, maybe for us a bit alien, spices, mix up into a descent but noticeable odor that makes you … hungry!

The menu is large enough to keep you occupied for a couple of minutes. It is bilingual, with pictures and a lot of dishes.

We started with Mango lassi. A bad idea…. not because of the taste, which was in fact fantastic. It was creamy, sweet and pure Mango. But it is heavy, and since you get a hole pint of it, it’s like a dessert, but as a starter. Totally refreshing, absolutely enjoyable, but limiting you stomachwise on the food.

As main dishes we ordered the BBQ fish, Sarsoon Ka Saag  (Mustard leafs with garlic, ginger, tomatoes and red pepper), Chana Massala (chick-peas with tomatoes, Garlic and ginger), Boneless Chicken Karahi (chicken without bone, red pepper, pepper black, paprika and tomatoes), some Kabab (unfortunately I don’t remember exactly the name, but it came as large, well, tubes), Lamb Boti Masala Boneless (Lamb boneless with white pepper, ginger, tomatoes, black seed and cream) and nan.

And I have to say, they all were really good.

The fish was outstanding, shortly fried on both sides and than cooked until it’s done. Maybe a bit too dry but tasty and spicy.

Same was the chicken, hot, spicy and wonderful tender with a thick red sauce to put on your nan.

Not to forget the vegetarian dishes, which were wonderfully flavored and well poportioned.

All in all it is a good, honest Pakistani restaurant, with good to great dishes.

And since Jean Talon market isn’t far away, all the food is fresh and with good quality.

Vegetarian dishes 5-8$, mains 8-15$, no licence.

Definitly a recommendation.

Enjoy,

Erik

Categories: casual, Jean Talon, Pakistani

Kazu – St. Catherine W/ Japanese

21. May 2010 2 comments

Bonjour,

this time I’m going to write about a quite new place in Montréal.

It’s the Restaurant Kazu, a japanese Place, but unlike most of the Sushi-all-you-can-eat eateries at the St. Catherine.

First of all, it’s small, not to say it’s tiny. Maybe 35 customers are able to sit down at either the bar or one of the 5 small tables. This explained why we had to wait 1 hour 15 minutes to get a seat. They don’t take reservations, so there is no way in speeding this part of the evening up  a bit.

We arrived at 7pm on a Wednesday, so if you come later, let’s say at 8pm, or earlier, maybe around 5.30pm, chance are good that you will get a place in less than a couple of minutes. If not, be patient, it’s worth it!

The interior is rather basic. No fancy asian pictures, just some big paper baloon lamps hanging from the ceiling, some notes at the walls with some of the available dishes written on, tables, chairs, that’s it. Reduced to the very essence of a restaurant, but you don’t need more to be happy. Especially not at this place. 🙂

We were a party of 4 so we ordered 3 starters, 3 main dishes and a 2 starters as a main for one of us. Never the less, we shared. Oh yes, and we had some white wine. I don’t know what wine it was, but is was cool, fresh and just right to the courses, which were mainly seafood.

One of the starters was the 48 hours ricebowl with porc. It was one of the best porc I ever ate. Cooked over 48 hours on low temperature, the porc was so tender it nearly fell apart on simply watching it but still juicy. If you ever go there, this is a must!

The main courses were seabass, assorted seafood on rice and a salmonbowl.

The sea bass was simply great, fried very short on both sides, then cooked until the meat was done, but still with this nice juicy look and feel. Not over cooked, just right. Seasoned with ginger and green onions it was perfect.

The assorted seafood bowl was more a salmon bowl, but I was warned by the very friendly waiter. So I wasn’t surprised and could still have changed my mind. I didn’t. And I wouldn’t any other time. Raw salmon in a great quality, with roasted sesame, a bit of fish sauce and wasabi. It was basically a sushi roll unrolled… but a very good one.

I think those were the highlights. Don’t get me wrong, everything was really great, but those dishes were fantastic and made up for any minute we stood at the entrance, watching other customers eating with a big smile.

The desert was ice cream made with no egg or cream, just milk, either with cofee powder or green tea powder on it. Both were good, but the more interesting is the green tea variation.

Did I mention that we enjoyed it? Yes? Good!

I hope they will be at the Montreal Restaurant scene for a while, and I have the suspicious feeling, they will. But it wouldn’t surprise me, if they move to a bigger place soon. They could fill it.

Untill then you will find them at:

1862 St. Catherine W.

Tel: 514.937 2333

restaurantkazu@gmail.com

Bon appétit, itadakimásu,

Erik

Categories: japanese, St. Catherine W.

News : Brontë closed down

17. February 2010 4 comments

Salut à tous,

today I’m very sad to tell you, that one of the best restaurants in Montréal, the Bronte, closed on Monday 15th Febr, 2010. And not just for holidays, but for all regular customers.

They now only serve breakfast, room service for the hotel and catering.

We had the pleasure of eating twice there and it was always an unbelievable experience. Not only did Chef Joe Mercuri an amazing job in the kitchen, but also his stuff were simply stunning.

It was so far the only restaurant we visited where the waiter, after we told him that we just moved to Montréal, went into the kitchen to ask the chefs what they would suggest we should visit. He came back with a list packed of addresses of restaurants and clubs.

And as mentioned before, the food was stunning. Read my article here.

Mr. Mercuri said, they just planned for 5 years when they started, and after that, they just kept on, even without a lease. But as the recession came, the customers didn’t as frequently as before.

I hope Mr. Mercuri will soon start something new here in Montréal. We will be one of his first customers. 😉

Deeply sadend,

Erik

Categories: Uncategorized

Alpenhaus – St. Marc / Swiss

12. February 2010 2 comments

Bonjour,

a couple of days ago we had a craving for cheese-fondue. Since this is not the most common dish in Montréal, we thought, that a swiss  restaurant at rue St-Marc would be a good choice.

Unfortunately, our first evening was canceled due to a fire in the kitchen of the Alpenhaus. But a few days later the reservation was confirmed and we met with some friends to enjoy an original swiss cheese fondue.

The interior of the Alpenhaus tries to imitate a swiss cottage in the mountains, lots of wood, robust wooden bars at the ceiling and old wooden skis decorating the walls. For some it might be a bit too dark, some will find this kind of illumination cozy. Never the less, the Alpenhaus tries hard to get it’s customers the idea of being in the swiss Alps.

Nice!

The menu of course contains the desired cheese fondue, but, and for me that’s a bit odd, even chinese fondue and cajun chicken. Not that I don’t like these dishes, but I can’t figure out why they are on the menu of a theme-restaurant like this.

Never the less, for the fondue maniac, there is the “Matterhorn”-Fondue, named after one of the highest mountains in the Alps. If you read the description of this Fondue, you get an idea why :

Swiss cheese fondue

followed by either beef or Chinese fondue (beef or chicken) including salad

swiss chocolate fondue

coffee or tea

A cheese fondue is filling, but this combination sounds like a real challenge. 🙂

Back to our choice. We ordered cheese-fondue for 7 people. It was served in 2 bowls of different sizes (one for 3 of us, 1 for the other 4). Served with diced baguette and, as we ordered additionally as side dishes, broccoli and mushrooms.

The tasted of cheese fondue was quite authentic. Made with (as written on the menu) white wine and Kirsch (a clear cherry brand) it was as close to the original as it can be. Unfortunately the molten cheese in the beg bowl separated after a few minutes from the wine, so that it became a, still tasty, but optically rather unpleasant molten cheese with wine topping.

The baguette could have been fresher. And better. It  tasted and looked like one of these long white breads you buy at the grocery. Since this is an important part of the fondue, you pick the molten cheese out of the bowl with these bread pieces, it would have been nice if the chef would care as much about the baguette as he does about the fondue.

And since some of the dices were getting dry, it would be much better to dice them just before serving than to dice them a few hours before the customer gets them on the table.

After all, it was a nice having been there, and if you don’t own a rechaud and caquelon, it is a good choice. But let’s face it, nothing beats a homemade cheese fondue.

Enjoy,

Erik

Stuzzichi – Notre Damen / Italien

25. September 2009 Leave a comment

Bonjour,

today I’m going to write about an Italian restaurant with a slightly different concept compared to it’s competitors.

The Stuzzichi is located in Vieux Montréal, being precise at 358 Notre Dame E. Just looking at the dining room doesn’t give you a hint of the approach to Italian cuisine they are taking. It contains a modern and lean interior, raw brick walls and an open kitchen. So nothing too fancy. Just the, for a restaurant, uncommon word “boutique” could draw your attention.

We have dined twice at Stuzzichi in the last 2 months, not only due to the fact that it is located quite near to our home, but also because we learned to like it.

The difference to other Italian restaurants is, that they prepare not the commonly known order of starter, pasta, main course and dessert but a lot of smaller, nearly tapas-like dishes. The effect is that you can happily test a lot more different meals than you would conquer getting regular sized plates.

And happily I mean literally. It’s just fun to sit down, choose 2 or 3 (if you are hungry) Stuzzichis per person and see every meal freshly prepared pile up the table. With 4 curious friends sitting at one table that can be a total of, well, 8 to 12 dishes you can share. Of course the waiter, by the way pleasantly one of the always smiling and being alert one, coordinates everything well, so you never work on more than 4 plates at the time.

The quality of the food is remarkable. As mentioned, everything is freshly prepared. You can verify by looking in the open concept kitchen and watch the chef doing her magic.
From the cold seafood (like tuna carpaccio or marinated fresh salmon), warm seafood (for example truffel rolled cod with mashed potatoes or grilled calamari) and of course pasta (like their Manicotti which is veal stuffed pasta or the every day new pasta of the day) to the warm meat stuzzichi like the meatloafs with orange and onion marmelade or the adorable grilled lamb with red honey (I could kill for one of those), everything was just… fantastic.

Perfectly cooked (if so), with high quality ingredients and avoiding the Italian cliché dishes, this restaurant looks like a very nice alternative to some of the higher class Italians in town.

And they also sell some of these ingredients, like olive oils, vinegars, pastas etc. You will find them in the shelfs at the wall opposite to the kitchen.

Oh, and by the way, ask the waiter about their wines, they are self-importing some really promissing wines directly from Italy.

Try it, you will enjoy it,

Erik