Monday, February 23, 2015

Le Smoking Vallée

I have wonderful friends. Two of them (Lea and her main squeeze) decided to invite me out on February 15th for a little Valentine's day dinner. How nice! And to Le Smoking Vallée no less; a BYOW restaurant I'd been meaning to visit for a while.

We got there, on a -8000 evening and were nicely welcomed by the waitress and unfortunately coldly welcomed by the room... the temperature inside does not need to be the same as the temperature outside, people! It was 6 PM so it was quite empty...but it was about to fill up.
The place is very simple, lots of wood, mirrors, industrial type lighting (recurrent theme recently), no music (a tad whhhheird), and a 'menu à l'ardoise', meaning of course that the menu was written on a black board on the wall.

Our cute little waitress came and explained all the specials. She actually needed a piece of paper where she had them written all down and I don't blame her! I think there were about 5 or 6 specials that evening! I stuck to the menu, which I had thoroughly studied on their website. That's right, when I go to school, f*ck studying, but when I go to the restaurant, it is time to learn the menu, learn about the place and know what I should order in advance. OK, that 'f*ck school' isn't true, I mean I did graduate :)
As soon as this plate was in front of me, I started drooling. And then it became a puddle of drool on my table and it was just not classy. Alright, I'm kidding. But it could have happened! Puff pastry with enoki (to be honest, I'm not sure they were enoki because the head was a tad bigger, but I looked it up and I just cannot find a description) and button mushrooms, truffle, watercress and a poached egg. Let me just say that if I'd only be rating this dish, I'd give it a ten. A ten I tells ya! The puff pastry was super flaky, just like it should be, the mushrooms were juicy and full of flavor, the egg...OH the egg. I broke it and the yolk ran over everything and created the best sauce EVA! Holy bejesus. So silky, creamy, soft and unctuous! It was literally one of the best poached eggs I've had in my life (and we all know how old I am ;p ). The watercress added a great texture and another taste level to the dish and the bacon...OH, the bacon. Y'all know how I feel about bacon :) 'Nuff said.
My reaction to this plate was pretty much the opposite to the first one. Aight SO I had asked for the meat to be rare. It was rare alright... nope.... actually it was blue. For y'all who dson't know, blue is a notch above raw. I don't like my meat raw. I like some fish raw. But not freaking beef. (And I'm too shy apparently to tell the waitress...but I've thought about it...and I will next time instead of looking at my plate in disbelief). I used to eat it 'well cooked' until I discovered the beautiful world of rare. Flank steak (bavette) can get chewy if not done well and damn, f*ck, it did get chewy. I pretty much ate around the middle and left the raw part for the waitress. What they describe on the menu as marinated veggies is actually coleslaw. That's fine. With just a touch of vinegar, it was actually quite enjoyable and balanced well with the other elements on the plate. The potatoes were perfect: crunchy on the outside, smooth on the inside and well seasoned. The mayo tasted like there was a bit of wasabi in there. The hint of spice was very welcomed. 
Brownies with some caramel whipped cream. Whipped cream you say? You had me at 'whhhh' :) The brownie itself was a bit dry and un-fluffy, the caramel chantilly type cream was wonderful and was like a perfect girlfriend to the chocolate. All in all, it was a bit underwhelming but still OK nonetheless.
The service was.... uneven. Good welcome but then it kind of faded into oblivion. But forget about the service; the people watching was wonderful that evening. Lea and I had the better view... of people fighting, laughing, exhibiting most of their boobs (for me, of course) and then when we started singing the Star Wars song, everyone turned around... duh. Why again were we doing that? OH, because I brought TWO bottles of wine to the party :) Anyway, sad thing is that I believe one of the couples may have broken up during their Valentine's day dinner. Happens every year. 

And now, the scores!

Food: 7
Service: 7

I'll go back fosho but y'all know what now? I now speak/write with a Southern accent. Hehehe, no but seriously, I won't have the bavette, oh and if I do, I'll say it if it's blue. Mmmmmthank you.

Click to add a blog post for Le Smoking Vallée on Zomato  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sandwicherie St-Henri

On Tuesday, I was supposed to go out with my Sushi Taxi girls for lunch at Orange Rouge in Chinatown. That went down the drain. But when I KNOW I'm going to a restaurant, I just cannot NOT go. I just CAN'T. So, I decided to go to this random 'Chinese' spot called, and I'm serious here, 'Jean Guy Épicerie'. But they were closed.... and I think it's a forever thang cause I've been passing by a lot and they are always closed. SOOO, I decided to take the metro to Lionel-Groulx and walk on Notre-Dame (the cheap St-Henri side, not the more expensive Petite Bourgogne side) and find a restaurant. Wow, this story about how I found this restaurant is getting way too long, I'm deeply sorry. Anyhoot, the end of the story is that I went into the St-Henri Torréfacteur and when they said they didn't serve any meal-type food, they suggested I go to la Sandwicherie St-Henri a block away. And THAT, my friends, is how I found this place. Longest explanation of my freaking life.

I almost missed it because it's so tiny. But when I got in, I was welcomed with such warmth by the only guy working there: the cook dude, the recipe dude, the sandwich dude, the soup dude, the waiter dude. It showed that he was proud of this place. He even came up to me and explained all the sandwiches!
He answered all my questions and I ended up choosing the one with beet bread (uh, hello, when do YOU eat a fushia sandwich?). Oh and btw, for people on tight budgets, this is the place for you. It cost me 8$ including taxes.
OK so I instagrammed this picture BUT I swear that's the real bread color. Ps, holy fudge instagram has changed my life, merci Lea for literally FORCING the shiz outta me to open up an account. Alright, so it was goat cheese, sprouts, olive paste, pesto, roasted walnuts and tomatoes. It was so fresh tasting. It was like I was crunching into a garden. The sprouts gave kind of an onion-y flavor (y'all know how much I love onions), the bread was really tasty and very beet-y(?) and just lovely with a nice crunch to it, the nuts gave a great texture to it all (even though, at first, I thought they were going to break my teeth), the tomatoes gave more of a fresh feelin' to the whole thang and the goat cheese rounded it out nicely. And there was a lot of it. And I loved it. The only thing I could have done without was the olive paste. I'm not super fond of olives in other things than just themselves. Basically, lots of flavors in there! The potato salad was great too, thick mustard and mayo dressing and chives. Just in my flavor palate.

Service was great. It showed this guy loved his place and was passionate about what he was making. He made sure everyone liked what they were eating and service was prompt. 

And now, the scores!

Food: 9
Service: 9.5

I left assuring him that I was going to be back. And I will, for sure!

Sandwicherie Saint-Henri Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato   

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


One of my friend's ex just opened this new Mexican restaurant and guess what? I happen to love me some Mexican food. Oh and guess what else...I know some friends who do too. True story. So, this is how, on a very, VERY cold last Sunday, Val, Lea and I decided to head to Laurier Ouest and go to Agave.

We entered and it was completely empty except for one table, but soon enough after that, we were the only ones in there. Duh, it's freaking -30 outside. Sheesh. Anyhoot, we were warmly welcomed by the waitress and chose our table (again, duh). The restaurant itself has high ceilings, about 50 seats and cute hanging lamps. There was something missing though... I don't know...maybe the ceilings were too high? Anyhoot. Music was ok when we got in and then it was happenin'. Maybe it's all the margaritas we drank. Wink wink.

The waitress explained the menu and told us what she liked the most and what was most popular. We shared three entrées (pigs).

But first, ooooobviously we needed drinks.

I had meself a nice little margarita (oh, and then another...hum...cough...gotta warm up on those cold winter nights :) ). It was perfect. Hit the spot. So good, lime-y and refreshing. Excellent. You want a good margarita, you go to Agave. As Nike says, Just Do It.
Ceviche: good flavors and nice little pieces for my tiny mouth. At first I wasn't too sure but after the first bite, it hit me; this was good. The onions and the tomatoes brought in extra freshness and the lime made everything that much better. All in all, a hit. Oh and it was a huge portion too! Well worth that 10$.
Cocktail de camarones: shrimp, onions, and avocado in tomato and lime juice. This was nice. Very fruity, and well seasoned. Just perfect, really. It actually tasted as if there were strawberries or pineapple in there. Again, huge portion!
Mango guacamole. Wait. Mango? YES! Guacamole? YES! What do you do? Put 'em together man! The guac was soft and tasty and the mango obviously added some fruitiness but also a nice texture. 

Oh I almost forgot! With our entrées, we also had tortillas (what, were we supposed to eat those with our hands? You crazy!) and salsa roja AND salsa verde! My mouth was pretty much on fire. But damn did it ever bring me back to Mexico (ok, I've never been, but it's pretty much like I have).
For the main course, I chose tacos el pastor: pork marinaded in pepper and pineapple. This was totally me. I love sweet and savory dishes and this didn't disappoint. The rice (on the left...) was on point, and I know my rice, the pork was really tender and oh-so-tasty, the guacamole was amazing, the pico de gallo was refreshing and went perfectly with the pineapple, the frijoles (black bean puree) was even better than the one my Mexican friend makes (do NOT tell him). Let's just say I was pleased. We were all pleased. AND oh so very full by the end. So full that when the waitress came to ask us if we wanted desert, we looked at her with 'oh-please-don't-tell-us-you-have-deserts' faces.
No desert, but a tequila shot? Sure. Ah, I remember my tequila shootin' days. Or... I guess I don't ( I DO remember saying something like 'no more tequila for Marie' many times during parties...while drinking it). But this one was good. I believe it was tequila anejo, which tasted waaaaaaaayyyy better than what I used to drink! Leave it to a restaurant named Agave to have good tequila :)

The service was great throughout the meal. It IS true that we were the only ones in there, but still. Water service was good, she gave us suggestions, she asked if everything was good. I guess if there's one thing I can say it's that at some point it took a tad too long to get food. But a: that's not technically her fault and b: there was only one dude in the kitchen.

And now, the scores!

Service: 8.5
Food: 9

This is certainly one of my new favourite Mexican resto in town, so watch out, I'll be back. Margarita anyone?

ps: and to make things even better... they have a we-are-a-new-restaurant 15% discount. dsamn!

Agave Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato    

Sunday, February 8, 2015


*This is a special post: my ex English teacher (ok, my fave ever English teacher) at ITHQ asked me if I'd be willing to post some of her students' reviews on my blog (this one is by Darquise B.). Here's one. Oh and there are no pics (and, well... it might not be AS funny as my reviews, but you'll survive).

Hotel restaurants are not just for hotel customers. Indeed, in general, people do not necessarily think about going to those restaurants, but, in fact, the food is usually well done and flavourful and service very attentive. Yesterday was my first experience in a hotel restaurant. I went to the Intercontinental restaurant, Brasserie Osco, with my boyfriend, Guillaume (he is not really my boyfriend, but let me dream a little!) and wanted to share my impressions and comments with you.

First good thing about hotel restaurants is the atmosphere and decor which is often comfortable but luxurious. It is the case at Brasserie Osco. In the entrance, they impress their customers with their imposing and gorgeous glazed wine cellar. The dining room is elegantly decorated as well, with a mix between victorian and contemporary. The lovely hostess guided us through the colourful but subdued room to our romantically decorated table.

With a beautiful view on the Palais des congrès and the love of my life, everything was set up for a perfect date! However, we waited a few (read several) minutes for that perfect date to happen. Let’s just mention that this week was Montréal à table week, so that little (long) wait was understandable even if it bothered me slightly inside. So we finally met our courteous waiter, or I should say the manager, who took advantage of the busy evening to experience service customers again. He took control of the situation and the little wait at the start was quickly forgotten. He suggested to us
probably the best bottle of wine someone ever had suggested to me and served us impeccably until the end of our dinner, taking time to discuss with us between the services.

We enjoyed the Montréal à table menu which was an interesting selection of dishes. I chose the foie gras with stewed fruits and a brioche as a starter and braised rabbit with red rice for the main. The two plates were delicious especially the very well prepared foie gras which is one of my favourite meal of all time. The only thing I would say about the menu is the missing vegetarian dishes selection. Guillaume being vegetarian, it made things a little more complicated, but our attentive (and vegetarian) waiter dealt with the situation very well.

I could not say if Guillaume, the waiter or the wine was responsible for my excessive happiness when we got out of the restaurant, but let’s just say that the overall experience deserve a 4-star mark. To be very honest, I was, at a certain point, extremely disappointed by the eternal wait at the start, but as a waiter, I can understand that that kind of thing happens and would definitely go back to appreciate the experience to the fullest.

Osco! Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato  

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Last week, I was feeling rich. Oh-so-rich! I had booked my Via1 ticket and felt on top of the wooooorld. And then I realized that the reason I felt so rich was that I hadn't been to a restaurant in a while! This had to be fixed: I decided to try Sumac. My super friend Lea had tried it the week prior and oh so wanted to go again so I had my resto partner! Yay!

This middle-eastern restaurant seemed very inviting. OK so I was kind of comparing it to a restaurant that is 100% better than Amir. Don't get me wrong, I love some Amir here and there but this... this! Basically... no comparison! At all!
The place itself is very white and pale wood, loft-ish, open kitchen at the back, lots of movement.  And, on top of it, they were playing Livin' On a Prayer by Bon Jovi! Hellllooooo!

The thang is that you get in and get in line. Some peeps pass by and give you numbers (for your order) and a table. After you order, you go to your table and wait for the marvellousness to arrive.
Oh and it did (can you tell I like this place?)
The yumminess. I don't care if you fight me on this, 'yumminess' IS a word. I had the Sumac fries and the falafel sandwich and Lea had the baba ghanouj and the chicken shawarma.The bread was fluffy and moist, and there was a perfect mix of textures in there: crunchy, soft, and down right good. The fries were a tad spicy and lemony (sumac is known to be lemony) and oh so good AND totally worth that measly 4$. The baba ghanouj was tasty and smooth. Although it seemed a bit slimy at times, it was still very good. My falafel was wonderful: so many veggies in there, and great falafel balls!  Not dry at all, very tasty, although a bit too crunchy at times, it was nice to have somewhat of a contrast in there.  Plus, as you eat it, because of the bread, the sandwich stays together! The shawarma also had some nice veggies in there and the chicken was so tender and wonderful! You could taste a bit of cinnamon in there which was great! Their sandwiches were so big that when I went to take a bite, my nose dipped in the sauce. Hehehe. 

Service was good. Although our waitress AND what seemed like the maitre-d' sih guy forgot some things we asked for (and later got from the 2nd waitress), everything else was on point. We got our food and drinks fast and our water even faster. All in all, great service. the only thing that's not going to work in the end; getting in line and being assigned a table and then ordering and THEN sitting down. It was quite unpleasant to have a line-up behind us for half of our meal, with some pushing and shoving. This won't last, but this restaurant will.

And now, the scores!!!

Food: 9

I will definitely go back 100% to share this wonderful experience with all my friends (all of em, I swear!)!
ps: it cost me 15$ or so with tip. Uh hello, can you say 'worth it'?

Sumac Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato