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Everything posted by Adrian3891

  1. It seems to me that the issue may not be the treatment of the animals on either side of the debate. While I agree that many foie gras defenders do not care about the health of the animals, what makes foie an easy target has nothing to do with its supposed cruelty. How else do we explain the comparative lack of legislative action taken against practices that are almost certainly crueller than force-feeding? Factory poultry farming is not only cruel but may even be a public health concern. Also, few people doubt the cruelty of veal farming. However, no political ban against cheap, factory produced chicken would have public support. But, due to the perceived decadence of foie gras, it is a political winner. Instead of playing to classes and interest groups, what we need is an honest debate about the moral, health, and environmental consequences of our food production. Sadly, I doubt that we're going to get that any time soon.
  2. So I just moved back to TO from Montreal and I'm dieing for a good coffee. In Montreal I frequented Art Java and Olympico and am hoping that there's something at least in the ballpark here. I had an espresso at the Scene It Cafe on Queen and it wasn't bad but it wasn't great either. Most of all, I'd like some recommendations around Yonge and Eg/Mt. P and Eg.
  3. Just to quickly respond: Lesley, I think you slightly misunderstand me when I say that the restaurant does not need to evolve. I'm in no position to judge how the restaurant has changed over the years, I've only been once. It seems to me that, unlike Toque! which is a very modern restaurant, La Chronique has reached a place where its food is served in a very timeless way. The style of cooking at La Chronique works as well in 2006 as it would have in 1986 or will in 2026. Contrast that with some of the dishes at Toque!, which I do think is serving the best food in the city, which I don't believe will be as exciting as they are now in five or ten years time. Toque! is a restaurant that must be constantly evolving where Chronique is a place that can always serve food in the style it does now. Vinfidel, I didn't mean to say La Chronique was on the level of Le Bernardin. I have sadly never been to Le Bernardin. All I meant to say is that every April Chronique does something like Le Bernardin does; it makes fish the focus of its entire set menu. I did not mean to insinuate that Chronique is operating on the level of a multistarred, seafood-focused restaurant. Either way, it was a really fun menu to experience.
  4. Over the past two years, and especially over the past few months, I’ve been on a mission to try as many of this city’s culinary treasures as possible. After all, leaving Montreal without gaining some sort of understanding of its culinary culture is nearly a crime. So, this past Wednesday my girlfriend and I paid my first visit to La Chronique, the final restaurant on my ‘must try’ list. La Chronique is perhaps the most uncontroversial of Montreal’s top restaurants. Even the mighty Toque! went through a period of fairly harsh criticism and I’ve seen Anise skewered on numerous occasions. La Chronique appears to only meet with praise. This could be for one of two reasons: either the restaurant is consistently great or it is unchallenging, appealing to all palates without reaching for higher heights. To make my visit more interesting, in celebration of Poisson d’Avril, every year Chef Marc de Canck turns La Chronique in Montreal’s own La Bernardin; the tasting menu is composed entirely of fish and sea related dishes. The room itself is elegant but unspectacular. Easily the smallest high-end restaurant I’ve ever visited, the dining room seats no more the thirty or thirty-five guests. Peeking into the back, the kitchen is nearly as large as the main room. The walls are red and adorned with photos mostly of people reading. We began the meal with drinks, an especially nice house kir royale, and ordered the degustation with the less expensive set of wine pairings ($145 vs. $195 per head). The “mise en bouch” came promptly, consisting of a fairly large strip of marinated salmon accompanied with an avocado and green apple mouse, garnished slightly with basil oil. A perfect amuse, it livened the palate with the acidity of the marinade and green apple cutting through the butteriness of the salmon and avocado flavours. It also set the tone for the rest of the meal. The focus of each was to very much be on the flavours of one or two ingredients, subtly accented by accompaniments. From there, we moved on to what I thought was one of the more interesting dishes on the menu: smoked scallops served over a salad of tomato confite, buffalo mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar. While the smoked scallop peaked my curiosity, the buffalo mozzarella salad is probably the most staid idea in dining next to the crème brulee. I should have had more faith. The smoked scallop was served over the tomato, mozzarella, and, the key to the entire dish, a balsamic jelly. While the mozzarella was the best I’ve ever had, the intensity of the balsamic jelly acted in counterpoint to the smokiness of the scallop. Similarly, the tomato confite was really concentrated in flavour. The scallop had all the sweetness of a scallop but also a lovely smoky flavour. Be rearranging the typical ingredients, La Chronique elevated a tired dish into something fresh, new, and powerful. The next course was flounder, with a sort of garlic puree, served over a bouillon of bouillabaisse. This was probably the least impressive dish of the meal. The broth itself was little better than that from other fish soups I’ve had in Montreal. Although the garlic added an interesting pungency, the fish was slightly overcooked and the skin, from being submerged in the broth, was no longer crispy. The star of the course was the Riesling that played off nicely with the garlicky elements of the dish. Trout flambéed in whisky, served over a risotto of barley and radicchio and covered in a whisky cream sauce was next. It was stunning. I’m tempted to call this the single best fish course I’ve had in the city. The only comparable one was the poached salmon over fennel and green apple at CC&P. The trout was cooked to an absolutely perfect degree. It was moist, soft, and barely warm in the middle. Similarly, the barley risotto had the perfect al dente pop and risotto creaminess. The sauce itself was pure luxury: rich and creamy with just a hint of whisky. Even the slight bitterness of the radicchio was apparent. What made the course special was the classical nature of the preparation and saucing combined with the relative minimalism of the ingredients. Everything was clear, distinct and articulated its own flavour. Bravo. The main dish was a grilled tuna served with a vinaigrette of grilled vegetables. While the course played homage to the typical grilled beef and grilled vegetables that we all make in our backyards, it failed to attain the heights of earlier dishes. Although still raw in the middle, the tuna was slightly overdone for my tastes and the composition lacked the wow factor that the previous course had. The cheese service featured a delicious camembert which was served with a brandade de morue, a salt cod and garlic puree. It was very good. Desert was an apricot tart, spiced vanilla ice cream, and seared foie gras. Yes, foie gras for desert. It was a brilliant idea. The richness and needed sweet counterpoint make foie a logical desert ingredient. The foie itself was about as good as anywhere else in the city, except for Toque! where the quality of the liver is worlds above. The apricot tart was good, although I felt it was a little too sweet. Still, excellent. Chef de Canck has an interesting style; not nearly as modern as other restaurants in the city but is by no means classical. Precision, clarity, focus and seasonality are the strengths of this restaurant. His dishes centre around only one or two main ingredients, thereby articulating the freshness and quality of the products themselves. There is very little manipulation of the raw ingredients, instead they are cooked with exactness. This accentuates small flaws, like the slight overcooking of two of the courses. Similarly, flavours are clear and distinct, meaning that if anything is substandard it will show. The balance must be perfect every time. When executed as planned the results are superlative, as with the trout. Luckily, La Chronique makes very few errors. This gives the restaurant a sort of timelessness; where other restaurants in the city will have to evolve, Chronique never will. This is not a bad thing. People will always want to eat great ingredients immaculately prepared. Thus, perhaps the chronicle referenced is not a chronicle of the times, but a chronicle of the seasons. Indeed, La Chronique is not why Montreal is a hot food city right now, the non-faddish nature of its cooking is why Montreal will always be a great food city.
  5. Chez L'epicier is a good high end option for Mondays. It had a very enjoyable meal on a Sunday there over Christmas. The setting is beautiful. While it probably won't wow you, it will give you a good dinner. Also, most bistros are open on Monday.
  6. Rundles is in Stratford and it was ranked 12 on the Toronto Life top 20. And it's not that good. However, I have heard good things about the restaurant at the Peller Estates Winery which is on the Niagra Peninsula. Here's a thread on it: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=75524
  7. While I haven't been to Les Chevres, I have been to Toque! and CC&P recently, and Anise twice although not in the last six months. Toque!: I am of two minds about this restaurant. Firstly, it serves the best food I have ever had outside of Taillevent in Paris. Seriously. The execution, the flavours, the balance were simply that good. However, the place was pure business. Service was efficient and polite, but lacked familiarity with the food. Similarly, questions about the food (which were perfectly reasonable, especially since they were using some more modernist techniques) didn't seem to be appriciated. The room was also very corporate and cold. However, the food was sublime. That being said, my experience with the service may have been an atypical one. CC&P: Was just there this weekend. Food is excellent- straightforward, elegently presented, and delicious. Not at the level of Toque!, but that's not what the restaurant is trying to do. Desserts are good but, outside of 'adventure', a weak point on the menu. Wine list is superb with a good variety of wines and prices. Service is very knowledgeable about the food and is much warmer than at Toque!. The whole experience is very understated and the room is very masculine. Also, cheaper than Toque!. Anise: The last time I was there was last spring so things may have changed. More formal than CC&P but by no means a stuffy environment. I've had the 9 course 'surf' menu with wine pairings both times I was there. The first visit was mind blowing while the second was only very good. The menu lacked a bit of balance and was heavy on sweet flavours. I would say the food is slightly more complex than at CC&P. Wine pairings were perfect and the service itself was very warm and very knowledgable but by no means intrusive. As said above, very feminine and very romantic. I hope all this helps.
  8. You may not be able to afford the flight to Paris, but could you afford the trainto Montreal so you could have dinner at L'Express? Now there's a bistro.
  9. I'm surprised at all the hating on L'avenue. I've never had a bad experience there and their breakfast potatoes own. I agree with Reservoir although it's a bit more of a refined breakfast/brunch and not a stick to your ribs kind of place. The coffee is great. This brings me to my choice: Beauty's at St. Urbain and Mount Royal. The Beauty's special (lox, onion, tomato, and cream cheese on a fresh St. Viateur bagle) is my favourite breakfast ever. And it's a great Montreal institution with Duddy Kravitz and all that.
  10. From what I recall, the fish soup at Laloux was reasonable approximation of bouillabaisse. Although it's been awhile the base was certainly saffron and tomato and there was a good variety of fish. From what I recall, it was also served with croutons and rouille. It wasn't technically a bouillabaisse, but it had a similar flavour profile.
  11. Has anyone actually been to O Chalet? It's constantly appearing on these best of lists, but it doesn't have a website and has hardly been mentioned on this board.
  12. I'd hate to be unoriginal, but it seems like it is the year of Club Chasse et Peche: Best Restaurant: Chasse et Peche. Was there twice and both visits were nearly flawless. Wonderful food, wonderful concept, wonderful service. Best starter: Scallops at CCP. Simple, elegent and a wonderful flavour combination. Best main: To be boring yet again, braised suckling pig and foie gras risotto. I think enough has been said about this one. Best Dessert: The vanilla panna cotta with basil syrup at Brunoise. It's the most addictive desert I've had in a while. Best Service: Anise. Early in the year, before Samuel went to Pop!, he served us for a second time at Anise. It was wonderful, professional unobtrusive service. And the water glass was always refilled. And the bread never stopped coming. Biggest Surprise: Cocagne. I popped in one night when L'express was full and what followed was a surprisingly great meal. I've been back twice since then and have always been impressed. It seems busier now than it was earlier in the year too.
  13. I'd hate to be unoriginal, but it seems like it is the year of Club Chasse et Peche: Best Restaurant: Chasse et Peche. Was there twice and both visits were nearly flawless. Wonderful food, wonderful concept, wonderful service. Best starter: Scallops at CCP. Simple, elegent and a wonderful flavour combination. Best main: To be boring yet again, braised suckling pig and foie gras risotto. I think enough has been said about this one. Best Dessert: The vanilla panna cotta with basil syrup at Brunoise. It's the most addictive desert I've had in a while. Best Service: Anise. Early in the year, before Samuel went to Pop!, he served us for a second time at Anise. It was wonderful, professional unobtrusive service. And the water glass was always refilled. And the bread never stopped coming. Biggest Surprise: Cocagne. I popped in one night when L'express was full and what followed was a surprisingly great meal. I've been back twice since then and have always been impressed. It seems busier now than it was earlier in the year too.
  14. Considering all the negativity on this forum as of late, I thought it would be nice to try and start a positive thread that deals with food (and not websites). Since it's the holiday season, and best of lists should start coming out soon, I figured I'd take a page from the Vancouver forum and ask what people's best restaurant experiences were this year. I'm almost ready with my list, although I have one more dinner left before I can make a final judgement. Here are the catagories: Best restaurant Best starter or main Best dessert Best new restaurant Best service Biggest surprise
  15. I didn't realize Laloux ran degustation menus. The website doesn't seem to have one posted and it doesn't strike me as the kind of place that would run multi-course menus (except maybe for special occasions). When I've been, I've generally gone with four courses (starter, main, cheese, desert) plus the chicken liver pate you get at the sttart of the meal. Still, I could very well be wrong on this one. Write back on your experience, though. The past couple times I've been I've found the food to be really uneven. Service too has ranged from out of their way good to sub-par. Wine list is good, with lots of special imports. It would be good to hear some more up to date information, though.
  16. Stopped by PDC for dinner the other night to celebrate my last exam. I tried the PDC beer for fun. It was awful. Foie Gras poutine was better than usual (somehow the fries stayed crispy). The venison stew was a miss but the pig's trotter was delicious. Maple pie was also good as per the norm. Martin Picard was there socializing. And putting white sauces on things. To the point, they have a new website now: www.restaurantaupieddecochon.ca Now, if only Club Chasse et Peche could get their website up. They claim it's going to be up soon but I'll believe it when I see it.
  17. If by a place similar to Susar you mean a fusion type restaurant, Anise is a good option. They serve french food with a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean slant. It's a combination fairly unique to Montreal. I also find the service there to be of a very high standard. While the food at, say, Chasse et Peche may be better, I think Anise puts together a more elegant, well rounded elegant dining experience.
  18. This summer, my girlfriend and I traveled through France and parts of the British Isles. Although we both have a reasonable amount of experience with dining in Montreal and Toronto we remain relative neophytes on the larger scale. Thus, this trip afforded us somewhat of a culinary education; a chance to sample a large variety of restaurants from across France and, perhaps even more interestingly, Wales. Of course, with the exception of a few meals, we were faced with a budgetary constraint for our meals in France while in Wales, since we were traveling with my family, there was much less of a limitation. This made finding an acceptable place for dinner quite the hunt. Trying to find restaurants that served food within our price range and were not ‘tourist traps’ was often difficult. Anyway, here are some thoughts and observations from the trip. Paris In Paris we stayed with a friend of ours just off of place Victor Hugo. Paris was also to be the site of our big event dinner (okay, lunch), a four year anniversary present of a sort. In what seems like a thoroughly unsurprising decision after reading this board, we chose to eat at Taillevent. However, as compared to other destination restaurants I looked at, Taillevent seemed to offer a more classical version of French Haute Cuisine. This was what I wanted from an educational perspective- the goal was not only to enjoy the meal but to learn something from it. Taillevent’s style of cooking appeared to be both easily understandable, something I doubt a restaurant like, say, L’Arpege is, and well founded in the traditions of French cooking. Something that seems to be surprisingly rare in Canada. In the few days leading up to the lunch we ate at a variety of unremarkable but nonetheless good brasseries around our friend’s place. I had a fairly good chicken gratin and salmon tartar at Le Corner on rue Kleber, although the dinner was almost completely overwhelmed by the slow, rude service, an overcooked entrecote and the fact that our dishes came out in the wrong order. Luckily, this was one of the few instances of rude service we faced. Another Brasserie, Le Copernic on, you guessed it, rue Copernic, served me fantastic entrecote the evening after our lunch at Taillevent. When it came to the lunch at Taillevent, I had similar feeling to those Andrew Todhunter describes at the beginning of A Meal Observed. Like Todhunter I was nervous, apprehensive, and wary of embarrassment, unlike him I had to deal with a jacket and a tie in nearly 40 degree weather. I needn’t have worried. I was amazed by the courtesy and warmth of the welcome. We began the meal with the house aperitif and the standard cheese puff amuse. The second amuse was a surprisingly lackluster dish of melon in a basil sauce. Although the melon was beautiful and the flavors were very clean and pure, the dish seemed hastily put together, as if the fresh melons had just arrived and the chef couldn’t bare to not use them. We ordered the Menu Degustation that was described in another post on this board. Although if I were to do it again I would, due to increased confidence, order from the carte, the menu seemed to showcase the full spectrum of the kitchen’s talents: a soup, an entrée, a fish course, a meat course, a cheese course, a fruit dessert, and a chocolate dessert. Although we ordered only one bottle of relatively inexpensive wine to go with our menu our sommelier, one Monsieur Pelletier (a Quebecois from the South Shore of Montreal, actually), picked out a light, fruity, Burgundy that went easily with the entire menu. Sadly, I do not recall the name of the wine. He also gave us a complementary glass of desert wine. Although I fail to recall the name of this wine, it was made by a process in which the fermentation of the wine was halted by the addition of armagnac to the fermenting grape juice. As for the food, our feelings about it were much the same as that of the other poster. The risotto with grenouilles was perhaps my favorite. The depth of flavor and texture was so miles beyond anything I‘ve ever had. Also, the Gourmandise au Chocolat with thyme infused milk was delightful. The thyme flavor was both fascinating and surprising. What struck me most about the experience, after the professional, unobtrusive, welcoming service was the care that went into every aspect of the food. In contrast to other fine restaurants I’ve been to the food here was exceptionally precise. It was classic, streamlined, and elegant. Not one element of each dish seemed to be misplaced or out of place. It was not that every dish was ‘perfect’ but more that there seemed to be an attention to detail that does not exist in other restaurants I’ve been to. While I have no way of judging the merits of Taillevent in respect to the other 50 or so restaurants in the three star range, I can see what sets this sort of dining apart from the fine dining I’ve experienced in Canada. While my menu had very few of the typical luxury ingredients that I normally think of when I imagine a three star restaurant, it became apparent to me that the judicious use of truffle is perhaps the least important part of what makes this sort of restaurant special. It is a level of exactitude in the execution of dishes that is most important. In a somewhat humorous incident, a middle aged heavy set man with, what we gathered to be, his well dressed, pretty, also middle aged wife sat down across from us. In a stroke of brilliance, he pulled out a mini-fan and placed it on his table. The cheap fan looked hilariously out of place in the uber-luxury setting. Although, given the weather, I wish I had thought of bringing a fan. Evidently they were prominent food critics who received a large amount of attention from the staff. Interestingly, the women seemed to be engaged in a conversation with a member of the wait staff about my girlfriend and I. I guess being the youngest people in the restaurant makes you stand out as much as a fan on the table. Next up, Dijon, Lyon, Geneva and Grenoble.
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