Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Le Smoking BBQ

I was invited (yes, yes, I'm THAT special) to try a new-ish restaurant recently. Le Smoking BBQ. BBQ? Fo free? Hallo! Actually, it was a food truck first and now they've opened a place on Ste-Catherine right in front of the Forum. I invited my friend Bridgert, who had been to a previous restaurant invite that had turned out to be God awful. This was gonna have to be good.
The place is huge: many big tv's (which I'm not too fond of, but I guess it was OK in this case), two dining rooms, a bar, a huge open kitchen. Country music was playing and I thought that was very fitting for a BBQ joint! The floors were half cement, half wood and the tables were made of somewhat used up wood, which gave a nice style to the restaurant. Oh, and I absolutely loved the light fixtures! SO cuate!

Our plad wearing waiter (seemed to be the theme-and it was oh-so-cute) came and introduced himself and told me that usually you order at the cash and get your own food (and then you place your tray on a garbage...) but that tonight we were going to get served. What up! My guest was late (hum hum) so I looked at the cocktail menu. The 'menu' was barely three drinks, which was quite disappointing. I mean, why do you have an actual bar if you only serve up three kinds of drinks? Anyhoot. I ordered a Bourbon Caesar. What! I thought 'hey, this will be awesome and different AND awesome'.
Well.... you guessed it: it wasn't different nor awesome. Grrrr. It actually barely tasted like anything. When I have a drink--and these days they are few and far between--I want it to taste like alcohol damn it! Although I did detect a hint of cinnamon and a tad bit of spice, it was unfortunately quite bland. Like something was missing. I dunno, maybe someone had replaced the alcohol tap with WATER. Ha ha ha. No, but seriously.

So, we pretty much ordered everything on the menu. Cause, well, we be pigs like that. And we just HAD to taste a variety of dishes. For the blog, you know!?!
Yep, this was THE plate. Ugh, I'm getting a stomach ache and gas just looking at it. Ha. Haha. But really. Let's start at the beginning: potato salad. I don't even feel like talking about this salad: it tasted like water. Like nothing. I literally felt nada on my taste buds. Tomato salad was a bit tastier but could have been better seasoned. The Mac n' Cheese waffle was very heavy, very cheesy (which is the number one thing that you look for in a mac n' cheese) but burnt at some spots and the taste wasn't particularly there either.  The corn bread was dry and very greasy and barely passed the corn bread test. The poutine was good and well seasoned and I think it might be the only thing on that huge plate that I would order again (and as you may know, I am not usually a poutine fan). The pulled pork was good but was half fat sooooo... Oh and everything, yes, EVERYTHING, was on the cold side. Bah. What a nice way to ruin my dinner! The sauces on the table were really nice though: the coffee sauce I actually really dug, the spicy sauce was the least appreciated by me cause I'm a spicy kinda girl and it wasn't nearly as spicy as I would have liked it to be, the mustard sauce had a nice kick to it and the sweet BBQ sauce was a tad tangy and went well with everything. I also just want to mention that eating on (read: cutting into) a piece of paper is not the best. There, I've said it.
This was one of two desserts on the menu. We both preferred the brownie over le pouding chômeur. As you can see this is brown on brown ON brown. It's very sexy; the new 'in' thing if you like. Juuuust kidding. It had a crispy, perfect crust, and inside it was a surprisingly great mix of hot and cold. But it was a simple brownie that I could have made at home. Nothing special. 

Service, as I mentioned, is usually limited. We got the good stuff because I was a guest that evening. Our waiter was pretty awesome and we got everything served to our table. I felt like I was in a cafeteria when I had to bring my huge 'plate' to the garbage after we were done.

And now, the scores!

Service: 8

Mmmmya, I don't think I'll go back. Even though I'd eat that brownie again right about now.

ps: I am aware that I am a tough cookie and hard to please when it comes to restaurants. Hey, that's why I'm a food blogger. If I seem extra tough, it's for the good of the restaurant :D

pps: Sorry Bridgert, you are quite the unlucky person (well, we all know that!) :p

Le Smoking BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hong Mère

My friend Jer and I had been meaning to go to this restaurant for about a year and a half and it finally freaking happened last weekend! What!!! I was looking forward to eating 'real Chinese food'. Not that crap Manchu Wok, Tiki Ming or the other ones that are advertising 'Chinese food'. Come on people, General Tao chicken is NOT ASIAN. Thank you for listening. That'll be all.
You could walk right past this place and not even know it: it's tiny and does not stand out in any way, shape or form. Even when you're looking right at it, you wonder if it would be a good idea to actually go IN. Anyway, obviously, we DID go in. Surprisingly, the place holds around 26 seats. The room is decorated with, you know, Asian-y art and stuff. Dudes, I ain't Asian-ist, I'm being realz. Lanterns, fake gold stuff, the usual, really.

This establishment serves up north-eastern Chinese and Szechuan (south-western) food.  I was letting Jer do the ordering because A: he had been there many times and B: he knew his sh*t. Oh and C, he speaks Chinese. You know, a detail. Jer has these evenings called 'Strange Meats' where we go somewhere to eat cartilage-y, squishy, gooey stuff, which, although I really tried, and as a food blogger, I should be open to everything, I just can't effin do those kinds of textures. So I kindly asked (read: threatened) him NOT to order that cucumber and egg soup or the intestines, kidney or ears.
Stir fried green beans with minced pork. This looks normal. This looks just alright. This looks almost a bit boring. No. It was effin amazing. Well, first of all the green beans were uber deep fried, which, as we all know, makes everything better (I hate that!). They were crunchy and greasy and delightful. I love grease. Damn it! Second of all, that pork. Oh, that pork. Little bites of goodness. It had something like Chinese 5 spice that made it pop with flavor. I write 'something' because Jer and I, after researching the dish, can't find any example of it with 5 spice. Hot pepper added another element to the dish. That heat was awesome with the 5 spice and the beans.
Chicken with special sauce. How special you ask? Oh, very! Tasty and on the thick side, I wanted to dip everything in there. The ingredients that we remember are the following: soy sauce, vinegar, black pepper, Szechuan pepper, brown sugar, Shaoxing wine and green onion. It tasted sweet and a bit sour. Yuuuuummy! The chicken was deep fried and then stir fried. Yep, fried was the word. Nice and crunchy on the outside, a tad dry on the inside. But there was the sauce so hey! The hot peppers and chives gave it that extra kick. I love me some kicks!
Leek pie. Yes. This was, according to Jer, from a usually-less-tasty part of China, if that's possible. Well, he were wrong: it was awesome. By the way, this was also fried. Ha, big surprise! I mean, why wouldn't it be good? It had leeks, glass noodles, egg. Everything was to perfection in there. But you know what made it even better? Just dip it in the sauce man! Ya, dip everything in the special sauce.
Service was wonderful. That guy spoke quite a rare language: Chifrenglish. That's right. Perfect Chinese (I presume. Oh, I mean, I know :p ), perfect French and perfect English. This is a rare occurence and I loved it. He was friendly and explained our dishes. Water service was good too. Hahaha, ok, it's becoming a bit ridiculous how important that is to me. Whatever, I like to be hydrated! 
And now, the scores!
Food: 8
Service: 9
I'm totes going back! There's a lot more deep, DEEP fried stuff I have to try.

Plâts De Pates Hong Mère Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, March 14, 2016

Nouilles de Lan Zhou

I love G & D supermarket in Chinatown. Actually, it's probably my favorite: they have everything and it's clean. Oh and after speaking to 3 people, I usually get someone that speaks chinefrish (chinese-french-english, duh) that can tell me where I can find something that three other Asian grocery stores don't. Point is, it rocks. Other point is that on the main level, Nouilles de Lan Zhou is cookin' up a feast of hand pulled noodles, beef and spices! Just my cup-o-tea!
We were lucky to get a seat because the place is quite tiny! I'd say around 20 people can sit comfortably. It has beautiful lanterns right on top of the escalator bringing you down to the supermarket and little ones all around the room. The 'noodle-pulling station' is right up front with a large window so that passers by can see the gifted men (I've only seen men doing it there...) pull dem noodles. It's pretty spectacular and while I was waiting for my friend, I looked for like 5 minutes without a clue of how they actually get the noodles to such a small size from a pile of dough. If anyone knows this secret, please contact me ASAP.
I had the medium sized beef soup. The small one would have been enough! The one I had resembled the size of a large salad bowl and the large one, that our next table neighbours had, was HUGE! I'm thinking, fruit punch at a wedding party huge. Oh and they don't give you a spoon, they give you a tiny ladle! Just to make you feel like a tiny person (well, I always feel tiny but this was somethin' else)! The colours were B-eautiful! I just wanted to jump in there and frolic. Oooor... something else that wouldn't burn me to the third degree. Mmmmmkay.  

What's fun is that you can pick the width of your noodles. And yes, that counts as fun for me! I asked the waitress which one is most popular and had that one (my friend thought they were too big). The broth was very tasty: spicy (they ask you if you want some heat in there), tangy, and it just warmed up my insides. Green onions and fresh mint and coriander added that freshness I like in any dish and another level of flavour. Let's just face it, coriander and mint is just THE best herb mix you can get! The daikon was actually quite amazing in there and added some crunch! The beef was OK: in my opinion, it lacked seasoning, rendering it a tad bland. 

Service was quick and efficient (give me ONE example of non-efficient service in an Asian resto). We had tea in a matter of seconds and our soup in less than 8 minutes (why 8? because I just like that number... SEE, I AM half Asian!). We didn't get water glasses though and had to finish our tea to use our mugs for the water that was on our table. That was a bit bizarre.

And now, the scores!

Service: 6.5

Yep, Imma gonna go back and try all the different widths of noodles. Now THAT's a life goal right there!

Nouilles de Lan Zhou Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Le café Bloom

I discovered this cute little café last summer with Val and since then, I've seen way too many colorful pics of their dishes on facebook: I just had to go back. 

This place most likely survives because of all the regulars. Seriously, you get in there and it's like everyone knows everyone! Plus, it's not located in the best spot: near the end of Center street where no one ever ventures. It has a nice vibe and chill music with just plain friendly staff. With its mismatched tables and chairs and comfy lookin' sofas, you just know why people stay there for hours.
When I got in, since one of the waiters was busy, the one at the counter just took my order and it was just that much quicker. The menu is mostly really healthy and simple (even though it looks kind of disheveled on this pic) and I knew what I was going to order, anyway!
Hello, perfection! The Sweet and Sour bowl with tofu (you can also have it with pulled pork). If I could eat this every day of my life, I'd be a happy camper. Plus, they change it up every now and again. Basically, this was a mix of a shiz load of shiz that I love: quinoa with grilled veggies, grilled tofu and a little cabbage salad on top. The mix of hot and cold was great and always makes for a nice bite. The tofu was marinated in soya sauce and sesame and, although it was a tad on the salty side, I could have eaten twice as much (yes, I am now a tofu enthusiast, people! Watch out!). The quinoa, which, by the way, is one of my favorite things, was smoky, which is a flavor profile that I've come to adore (read: 'adsore' with the hand gesture) with some veggies cut up in brunoise (I know, I know, I sound fancy). The quinoa, compared to the tofu, lacked salt. I guess one would say they balanced each other. The corn added some sweetness and the peppers were grilled to perfection. Although I do appreciate somewhat crunchy cooked veggies, the carrots remained too hard for my taste. The cabbage salad on top (..of a salad!) was refreshing and had just the right level of acid. The whole dish was very sesame-oriented (I swear, it's a thang) and I just loves me some sesame!

Oh and right before leaving, a bunch of yumminess on their counter were calling out my name so I bought myself an energy ball made of oats, peanut butter, coconut and all that jazz and it was a-maze-ballz.

Service was great. Ordered on the spot and got my dish within minutes. Much more efficient than last time, if I remember correctly. Water was on my table about 15 seconds after I sat down so that was a plus! Although he didn't come and check how I was liking my meal, he was very present.

And now, the scores:

Food: 8
Service: 8

Ya, I'm gonna go ahead and go back the next chance I get!

Le Café Bloom Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato