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cinghiale

Does Montreal have a signature dish?

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...and go to au pied du cochon--i'm not sure if they still have the venison tartare. if so, order it. they have a few veggie options for your Mom, like something called "cromesquis", which from the looks of it is mashed potatoes with a *ton* of fresh cheese curds whipped in. mmm...

Cromesquis are Foie gras McNuggets (for want of a better term), i.e. vegetarians' nightmares. Have had mashed potatoes with cheese curds as a memorable side dish at APDC but don't recall seeing them as a separate menu item. Maybe you're thinking of brandade, the delicious purée of salt cod, potatoes and garlic? On the whole, I wouldn't consider APDC a vegetarian-friendly place, though it is possible to hobble together a meat-free meal (e.g. tomato tart; apple, endive and Roquefort salad; frites; dessert). But if Mom is willing to eat fish... well, come on down!

Edit: On second thought, scratch the frites. They're probably fried in tallow.


Edited by carswell (log)

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Yes I did say Toque! has changed more ambiance-wise than food-wise, but the food didn't thrill my socks off either. I went three times before I reviewed it and I wouldn't run back there for a while. What I would try out is La Chronique. Their June tasting menu looks delicious and I just stood next to the sous-chef buying some fabulous looking cheese at Yannick.

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Thanks, all. And thanks, carswell, for the La Chronique website. At Lesley's medicore reco on Toque!, looks like it'll be dinner at La Chronique on Tuesday (nice name, reminds me of Snoop's "The Chronic", a message I could never in good conscience condone :unsure:).

Mom eats meat and fish, etc. She sounded a little uncertain about APdC; but she's following this thread, so I hope she'll go for it.

I'm off to Germany today to check out my old stomping grounds in Hamburg and Berlin. N. Germany has certainly improved, culinarily. Three weeks after my return, it's on to your fair city. Should make for interesting comparisons.

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cinghiale--bon voyage and be sure to let us know how the end results, i.e., your trip here, goes.

i am frankly very glad that circumstances moved your trip from mid-winter to now. today is 23 celsius and sunny--glorious! :smile:

PS: i *think* you're going to be here during the boulevard St-Laurent Street Festival (17-20 june) and/or Fringe Theatre Festival. you and Mom are going to have an excellent time! :biggrin:

details at St-Laurent street fest and Montreal fringe theatre festival.

PS: carswell: thanks for the correction on the "cromesquis" thing--so what is that puree of potatoes and curd cheese called? you are an amazing resource; thanks.

gus


"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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so what is that puree of potatoes and curd cheese called?

My bad: it is a separate menu item. Pommes de terre Au pied de cochon. Made with cheese curds and roasted garlic. Have tried it once, served as a side — well, actually, an under — to various pork products (sauasage, meaty bacon, a chunk of loin, etc.; some sauerkraut may have been in there, too). Great rib-sticking stuff.

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I am back from my long-awaited trip, and I just can’t fully express how great your city is. I am truly smitten. Thanks to all eGers who made this trip fantastic.

Mom and I stayed at a pension at the top of the Parc la Fontaine, which turned out to be perfect, as I was blown away by Plateau Mont Royal and all that is has to offer. Since I arrived Saturday noon, several hours earlier than she, I immediately set off for lunch at Schwartz’s. Zigzagging my way there via Rachel, St. Denis, Duluth, etc., I was really taken by how urban yet laid back the neighborhood is. There are so many enticing restos, cafes, boulangerie, charcuterie as to be nearly overwhelming. But at Kenk’s suggestion, I went to Schwartz’s, and after a half-hour wait in the take-out line, I got the acclaimed smoked meat sandwich with a half-sour. The meat was less fatty, less succulent than NYC pastrami that I’m used to from Katz’s or Second Ave. Deli. Also, I found the sandwich rather, um, petit – it’s not really enough for a meal. Though priced right – $5, I think – I was disappointed that there wasn’t more. Proceeding with Kenk’s and gus_tatory’s itineraries, I decided to pass up Reservoir for Mile End, since I first wanted bagels. I continued north on St. Laurent to Fairmount (a bit of a hike, but it was perfect walking weather) to try a Fairmount Bakery bagel. Had a sesame w/cream cheese (they were kind enough to prepare one – I didn’t realize until walking in that it was pretty much just OTC bagel, pita, etc. sales). Light, sweet, just as described, and very good. I bailed on continuing on to St. Viateur, though I subsequently had several at the pension, which prefers them over Fairmount’s. I then walked up to Mile End – doesn’t open until 8 PM, gus :hmmm: Ended up having a few “blondes” at the Tap Room on Rachel.

Saturday night was Au Pied de Cochon. At riboflavinjoe’s recommendation, I reserved at the bar. However, it was far too warm in front of the kitchen, and we were kindly accommodated at the far end of the bar, at the beverage section. Eating at the bar also resulted in terrific service, as we could get ongoing recommendations from the keeper and the floor manager. I started with the cochonnailles platter – a sampler of sausages, pates, and the pickled deer tongue I was longing to try ($5.50), but I forgot about the venison tartare recommended by gus :angry: . Though the sausages were somewhat dry, the rest was terrific, especially the tongue. Mom had zucchini blossoms and also the blue cheese salad. For mains, the manager talked me into the lobster guédille, basically a lobster roll with three sizeable slices of foie gras. This was amazing (and decadent). The lobster is harvested from a whole Gaspé lobster cooked upon ordering and put together on the spot. The creamy foie gras harmonized beautifully with the buttery lobster. It’s priced according to the size of the lobster used: $30/lb. I asked for a “small” order and received a roll from a 1-½ lb. lobster. Mom had grouper, which looked pretty hearty as well.

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Sunday morning found us in Vieux Montreal. While there are varied dining options here, many seemed focused on the tourist trade, particularly in the Place Jacques Cartier/Rue Notre Dame vicinity. We happened upon Le Bourlingueur on Rue Saint-François-Xavier, which served simple food at very affordable prices. I had cauliflower soup and the “Alsatian sauerkraut”, basically an “Eintopf” with several sausage varieties and a piece of braised pork. Enjoyable comfort food (about $15 pp).

Sunday evening was Les Caprices de Nicolas. The space is very beautiful. We sat in the atrium-like area in the rear. Had the menu ($65). Amuse was green pea vichyssoise with mint and a drizzle of Castellano super first-press olive oil. Delightfully fresh and vibrant. I ordered an additional before the first course: foie gras with beautiful Quebec strawberries and ginger crisps ($28). The two generous slices of foie were perfectly grilled and silky beyond belief, and the strawberries were an excellent pairing. First course were two squids stuffed with ricotta and herbs, served with fig and preserved-tomato “lasagna” (think small sheets folded like crêpes), sauced with hen jus and 30-YO dry sherry vinegar. The squid was absolutely perfect – tender, not chewy, but still cooked through. The spicing with dead-on. My main was Le Porcelet (organic milk-fed piglet done three ways), which apparently changes with the chef’s whims. Mine were roasted, seared and “cake”, served with beet and green curry sauce, purslane salad, organic carrot tempura and mango-beet chutney.

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The plate was a tad busy. They could have skipped the carrots, as they came out cold. The pork was generally quite good, although the cake was unusual, an odd melange of shredded pork and pastry. I asked the waiter about it, who gave me some spiel about the pastry chef making it fresh. I really wanted to know how it was composed, but I got no answer. Mom had white sea bass with cherry tomatoes, zucchini, zucchini blossoms and mashed potatoes. Wine was 2000 Confuron Cotetidot Nuits St. Georges. All in all, the meal was very good, though the service was terribly slow. It turned out that they had only seven reservations and decided to go to half-staff. However, a total of 14 parties appeared between 7:30 and 8:30. The meal took 3-½ hours.

Monday afternoon, after visiting the botanical gardens, we bussed over to Rue Bernard (O) to check out the neighborhood. I hadn’t researched eateries but we ended up having a very nice lunch at Zorba’s Remezzo (Bernard/du Parc), which apparently vies with Kenk’s reco Arahova for best souvlaki. We had gyros platters. Man, that ranked among the best gyros I’ve had in quite some time, served with an enormous amount of delicious tzatziki and superfresh tomatoes ($10).

Monday dinner was Brunoise. What a delightful gem of a place in a quiet corner of the Plateau. The cross street dead-ends in the restaurant, giving a nice flow to the streetscape. Menu prices depend on the mains ($32-42). Amuse was porcini “panna cotta” with porcini oil, arugula, and marinated mushrooms. Wow, what a creamy, unctuous dish. My starter was quail “escabeche” with lentils, lardons, roasted garlic and almond cream.

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The quail was terrific. However, the almond cream (an Adria-like foam, actually) was surprisingly bland. Also, the lardons were served as bacon strips, not (as I always assumed) as crispy little nuggets. I think the latter would have worked better in the dish. My main was duck magret, served with Swiss chard and shitake tatin in a five-spice sauce.

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Superb. The duck was tender and succulent. The tatin was carmelized-sweet, a perfect accent to the duck. The wine was, I believe, a 2002 Minervois from Chateau Tour Boisée. Mom had the halibut in an antiboise sauce with artichoke puree, which I’m gonna try to recreate at home. My dessert were those wonderful Quebec strawberries with poached pears served with crème pâtissière and a caramel “minus 8 vinegar” (i.e., like ice wine) ice cream, with which I had a glass of cidre de glace. Terrific. Mom had the citrus salad with tea syrup, which was very fresh and refreshing. Service was exceptional. After the meal, Zach stopped by the table to chat about the restaurant. He is very engaging. He mentioned that they do little if any advertising and then asked how I learned about the restaurant. I mentioned eG, and he is pleased by the positive talk about the restaurant this board generates. I wished him well on behalf of the Montreal eGers who recommended the restaurant to me.

Tuesday lunch was at Hamel – thank you slbunge and others. The Jean Talon Market is wonderful, sort of an open version of our Reading Terminal Market here in Philadelphia. The produce was very fresh. I was amazed by the wild blueberries, which are pretty difficult to obtain here. As for Hamel, we did the cheese sampling plate – three cheeses (I didn’t note them and only remember the raw-milk d’Iberville, which was great; another was a beer-washed, also good), pâte, grapes, and almonds ($10). I then purchased five raw-milks, including the aforementioned d’Iberville, to take home. Next door, at the wine shop, I also picked up two bottles of cidre de glace.

Tuesday dinner was La Chronique. I’d have to say this was my most enjoyable dinner. As the menu didn’t interest me, and Mom wasn’t up for the dégustation, we ordered à la carte. I had two starters: “refreshed” langoustines with blini, smoked salmon, osetra caviar and crème fraîche, very rich and thoroughly enjoyable;

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and foie gras with poached apricots and pain d’épices.

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I also had a glass of 1999 Fonseca Muscatel de Setúbal “Alambre”, the most amazing wine pairing with foie gras I’ve ever had. I have unfortunately forgotten the name of the young woman who, with Stephan, was working FOH, but she was spot-on with her wine recommendations. My main was Beef Rossini with shredded beef tortellini in a truffle sauce. The sauce was strong without being overpowering and perfectly balanced the beef, which unfortunately came closer to medium than the ordered rare. Wine was 2001 St. Joseph Côtes du Rhône “Les Royes”, which I was permitted to order as a half bottle by drinking only half of the full bottle. Mom had the Dover sole, which was served in an unusual “rolled-up” style.

I am totally amazed by the excellence of the restaurants I visited. In the last two months, I’ve also eaten for four days in New York (i.a., Babbo, Oceana, Lever House) and for a week in Hamburg and Berlin at Michelin *’ed restaurants (still completing my report). But the totality of the food experience, the depth and breadth, as recommended by the Montreal eGers, surpassed those other gastro-tours. You have a wonderful, wonderful city, and I’m already scheduling my next trip to your mecca (between Christmas and New Year). In addition to trying the neglected poutine (definitely will do APdC), cromesquis, and brandade, I look forward to sampling more of your restaurant recommendations. Thanks again, all.

edited to add restaurant websites


Edited by cinghiale (log)

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If that doesn't make you hungry nothing will!! Thanks for a great review!! Can't belive I haven't been to APdC yet...... I want that "sandwich" NOW!

May I ask what kind of camera you used? I assume you'd have to use flash. I've been too timid to whip out a camera in a restaurant - what's the reaction - if any - when you take these pictures?

/gth

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I am back from my long-awaited trip, and I just can’t fully express how great your city is. I am truly smitten. Thanks to all eGers who made this trip fantastic.

cinghiale:

your photos are jaw-dropping, as it sounds like most of the meals were. thank you for posting this. and you cannot imagine how happy i am that you became "smitten" with our city. sorry for any minor mis-informations i might have provided.

a bientot! :smile:

gus


"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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