Monday, September 26, 2016

Ramen Ya

Ramen and I: a love story. I swear, I was meant to be born in Japan. I just LOVE ramen. I might even be IN love with it. OK, calm down. But seriously. My token Asian friend (everyone needs one of those fo realz) has made it his mission, nay, his life goal (ya, it goes far) to make me try every ramen in Montreal.

We've done Kinton (just no!), Misoya (aight) and Yokato Yokabai which is pretty much the epitome of ramen. If I could eat Yokato's ramen every day, I would. It was now Ramen Ya's turn. Jer told me on our way there (sheesh!) that it wasn't the greatest ramen. He told me I needed to try more ramen so this is why he was bringing me there. It felt kind of like I was training to be a ninja or somethin'. OR somethin'.
Ramen Ya has two rooms, lanterns everywhere, small wooden tables, and looks like I've just entered Japan. YES the whole country. We get seated right away in the ramen side of the resto (the other is the isakaya). And then we wait aaaaand we wait some more. We finally order (yes!) and then well, it's more waiting. Didn't they get the memo about QUICK Asian restaurant service? I guess not.
Beef with enoki and chives in teriyaki sauce. The sauce was f*cking amazing. Effin awesome. Seriously great. Point is, when all was eaten, Jer and I looked at one another, and by staring each other in the eyes, you could see that we were both thinking about licking that plate. The meat was very flavourful but a bit on the dry side (daaaaamn you to hell, dry meat!). The enoki were, like the meat, full of that yummy goodness, but like shitake, enoki have to be cooked just the right amount of time or else its near inedible. Near. Of course we ate it. Of course. The sesame and the chives added some texture and some tang to the dish. I just really wanted to lick that plate. Next time, I'm lickin' the plate.
Ramen: spicy beef! Jer had told me time and time again that this was part of me testing all the ramen in MTL for my blog and that I had to, in my quest of finding the perfect ramen, eat some bad ramen too. Sheesh dude. I guess he wanted me to hate it before I freaking LOVED it! The ONLY thing I didn't like in there were the obviously-store-bought noodles. Basically, they called my restaurant (where we make AWESOME sushi and not-so-awesome ramen) and asked us where we bought our noodles. Ugh. No. The broth was thick and very pork-y and reminded me of the Montreal king of ramen's broth, Yokato Yokabai. Let's face it, every ramen must be compared to the one I ate at Yokato. The beef was perfect. PER-FECT! It was spicy, it was tasty, and most importantly, it wasn't dry! It's actually quite the rare occurrence to have beef ramen: 82 % (just an estimate :) ) of the time it is pork. And then add another 14% for chicken. The rest is beef. Maybe. The egg was perfect. It was all very harmonious in my mouth and my taste buds were very satisfied.

Service was on the slow side unfortunately. Damn it, I just hate slow service. Especially when you think it'll be quick! Damn you slow Asian service! Said no one ever. But it does apply in this case. Took a while to get food and I was pretty much falling asleep. Water was not refilled when, well, we totes needed it with all the spices and what have yous.

And now, the scores!

Service: 6
Food: 8

Let's just say if Yokato Yokabai is closed or full that day, imma gonna hit up Ramen Ya!

Ramen Ya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Carte Blanche

I was invited to the tenth anniversary of restaurant Carte Blanche a couple weeks back. I actually had to make sure it was a real restaurant. Why? Well, I had never EVA heard of it. And it has been alive and kicking for 10 years! Only a handful (I may be exaggerating) of restos in Montreal have been open for that long.

To make matters worse (and I say this because it was a bit embarrassing having to tell the owner), I once lived only a couple blocks away! Damn girl! I probably passed by Carte Blanche hundreds of times!

Carte Blanche is a French chef's baby. He came to Montreal a bit over 10 years ago and never left. He has many Martinican friends who helped him put a Martinique twist on his cuisine. Actually, he is present at the festival Martinique Gourmande which is taking place as we speak (as we write? as you read me!).

We got there a bit early as per usual (am I ever late? Really?) and when the clock struck 5 (OK, there was no sound, but you get it), I went to open the door and it was... locked. Pouet pouet poueeeeet. I looked at them through the window and it seemed like they were still setting up. Grrr. They opened the door at 5h05. Don't worry, I'm over it :)
The place itself is actually quite small: they had changed it up for the event but it should not sit more than 30 people fo shizzle. They have a wall with multicolored lines, like a rainbow. Influenced by the fact that they are in the gay village maybe?

Aight so we sat down at this uber long table they had formed which hardly seemed practical. What do you do when you're in the middle and you need to go pee? What do you do, hot shot? What do you DO? OK, I'm just KIND of quoting the movie Speed here, which, by the way, IS one of the best movies of ALL TIME! All time I said, don't even try to say otherwise. Food started leaving the kitchen at around 5h45, which I thought was a bit late, seeing as I had told myself I was going to be outta there at 6h15 ish.
irst bite of the day! House gravlax with a mustarded (=word!) mayo. One of the best I've had. Ever. And I do NOT kid about my gravlax. Hells, I am a MAKER of gravlax at work so ya... I don't kid! It was coarse salt, maple and citrus and it was soft and melt-in-your-mouth èamazeballz. Of course, I like to use technical terms like 'amazeballz'. The little mayo right under it wasn't too strong as to not bury the loveliness of the gravlax. It was puuuurrrfect, as the cat would say. Or something less weird.
Flank steak on a skewer (in case you were wondering). Marinated in soya and caramelized onions, itas juicy and moist (ugh, word hate right here) and everything you want in a steak bite. E-VE-RY-thing. All the flavours came through in a great way and it was tasteful as all hell. Because we all know hell is oh-so-good ;)
Cod fritter. There are no words to describe how much I like me a good cod fritter. OK, there are a couple. It was soooo good. I mean, how can it not be?! It was, damn it I loathe this word... moist. And it was crunchy. And we could dip it in some kind of raspberry/tomato/balsamic sauce which was just oh shizzle damn good. OK, that series of words may not have made much sense to you but to me, it meant that it was just AWESOME.
What I had been waiting for the whole {not so long} evening: kangaroo tartare. Ah, kangaroo, that meat that people are either afraid of eating OR that restaurants are afraid of serving. Or, I'm guessing that maybe it's a tad hard to get, given that it comes from the other side of the world. I actually had never eva EVA tasted this jumping creature (makin' it realz for all of you) and I'd been wanting to, big time. Well, it was all I had dreamed of AND more! So, it was kangaroo with pine nuts and an olive tapenade which was not overwhelming at all as it tends to be. It had such a nice taste and a great texture. In my head (ah, my tiny little head) this meat was going to be on the tough side. But noooo! It was the opposite! The flavours went really well together and it was like a partay in ma mouth!

Service was greatness. Wine was poured many-a-times and the waitress was so cute. I mean, she was so cute. Damn it: she was so nice! She came to speak to us for a good 10 minutes and we talked about Carte Blanche and we talked about Sushi Taxi and we talked about waitressing and the service industry and all that good stuff. It was nice. She brought us some water and refilled our glasses. The chef came to talk to us a couple times about his vision and a woman, who I can only presume is his wife, also came to check on us a couple times which was uber nice!

And now, the scores!

Food: 8.5
Service: 9

I will go back fo shizzle dizzle. When? I do not know. But I will. Oh yes, I will go back.

Carte Blanche Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, September 16, 2016


I did a summer internship in a '5 star' hotel kitchen in Corsica 4 years ago. It's hard to beat that summer: it rained a grand total of about 5 hours over 3 months. And I met Emy. Even if she is over 10 years younger than I am, her and I bonded and it was so much fun traveling with her to neighboring villages and what not. But enough about the best summer EVER, let's talk restaurant! Her and her boyfriend are in town for a couple weeks and after spending Sunday together perusing Montreal, I was looking for a good restaurant to eat at. In my hood (sud-ouest), not that many places are open on Sunday. Seriously, sometimes it seems like only a handful are open. We chose Bitoque for 3 reasons. 1- I LOVE Portuguese food. 2- It's BYOW 3- Well, it was open!

Bitoque is located right where every other restaurant in MTL is located. Living here, I can bet you that at least 1.2 (this is a very specific number, as you can tell) restaurants open every 1.4 weeks (again, very specific!). I don't even need to get out of my hood to go eat, and I could do so every day for a good 2 months. I swear.
The restaurant is actually quite big, way bigger than what you would think from the outside. Its décor is sort of mixed, which I wasn't too fond of: different artists painted different paintings and they did not match at all. Brick wall here, old booth there, it was a mix and match kind of situation.

We decided on only tapas, which suited me just well. I loves me many small dishes, so I can try lots of different dishes! The menu suggests (yes, the menu can talk) we have 2 per person so just to be sure, we ordered 7. Something that must (yes it MUST) be mentioned is that on their tapas menu, some items have * besides them and those aren't available on weekends. When we asked, we were told that yes, they were available on Sunday. This makes me rethink the whole concept of weekends. I mean, can we say that Friday and Saturday is the weekend? Why not Tuesday and Wednesday. You know, life is full of difficult dilemmas and questions. And THAT, kids, was my thought of the day.

We were absolutely and positively starving when we got there so imagine my face when they start us off with tiiiiny little olives. Well, I devoured them. It was like I was on a deserted island and I had just found a fruit or something. You know that feeling? :D I also devoured the warm bread they brought us. The loveliness of the warmth was somewhat ruined by the fact that they put it on the table with butter in a cup. Butta in a cup. Butta. Cup. Come ooon! In a cafeteria, yes. In a restaurant, no!
Grilled sardines. I used to loathe sardines. I remember, in grade 4, Ed used to bring a little box of sardines for lunch and whenever he would open it up, half the class would start gagging. But I've learned to know that those were tiny, insignificant. ugly, stinky sardines. When I visited Portugal, I ate real mamas. And dem mamas were good. Makes no sense but y'all know what I'm saying! These sardines were packed with lemon and pepper and were nice and crispy. They were a bit dry but I think the flavours made up for it.
Tapa do dia OR tapas of the day: shrimp and chorizo. We were three, there were two shrimp. Not cool man, not cool. The chorizo was amazeballs. A-MAZE-BALLZ. It was juicy, it was spicy, it was screaming to be eaten. And be eaten it was! The shrimp were of a disappointing size. I'm a shrimp girl (some would even call me Bubba... OK.. no one ever called me that) and I know good shrimp. There was also some pepper and onion that were perfectly cooked and quite garlicky which fits me just perfectly. I loves me some garlic and I loves me some onion! Basically, I love all the stuff that will make me stink. Maybe that's why I'm still single.
Cherry tomatoes with basil and goat cheese. First of all, hello lactose. Or more like hello indigestion. Let's just say I sacrifice my stomach's health a lot when I go out to eat in restaurants. The tomatoes were hot as f*ck, the basil obviously went well with them and the cheese was lovely and soft. It was good but it wasn't special. By that, I mean I could have cooked that exact dish at home. If I can say that, I usually don't order it.
Piri-Piri mussels. I love good mussels. I am a fan. These were OK. They weren't big enough and sometimes I'd have to look really hard to see if there was one in the shell. OR maybe I just need to get new glasses! The sauce was what I loved and the chorizo. Wow! Seriously, chorizo in all the dishes was BANG on. Totes. That spicy loveliness in a spicy sauce. Mmmmmm! My lips were screaming out but I did not care! In the end, I was just scooping up that sauce with an empty shell. F*ck the mussels, I want the sauce!
Veal and pork meatballs with tomato sauce and parmesan. It was tasty and moist but nothing special and that salad... What in the holy hell was that salad doing there? I hate filler salads! And on top of the filler salad, a piece of caramelized apple. Why? Why I ask you.
Cod croquette on wakame with aioli. I need to know one thing: is wakame in any way Portuguese? Any way? That's what I thought. It was good, actually one of the best wakame I've tasted (I am not a fan) but why? The croquettes were a bit dry and I felt like there were still many fish bones in there which made it quite unpleasant to eat. It was like 'when will I choke?'
Pulled chicken poutine. See the fries? No? That's because there were 4. And they were old and soggy. I'm already not a poutine fan so giving me crappy fries really doesn't help here! The chicken was, AGAIN, on the dry side and the sauce reminded me way too much of the narsty brown sauce that is usually on that bad 'regular' very Québécois poutine. It was just not as good as expected. I'm kind of sad about it actually. Imma gonna go cry now.

Service was very good and efficient at first but as it always tends to do, became slower when more people came in. We had water on our table 3 seconds after sitting down and our wine bottle was uncorked 1 minute later. We were very warmly welcomed and our waiter was quite patient (we didn't know what we wanted to eat at first). He changed our plates many times throughout the meal and although he seemed new to the service world, he did a great job. Pat on back.

And now, the scores!

Food: 7
Service: 8

Imma gonna go ahead and say (again) that there are 8000 units of restaurants I need to try so I'll get back to Bitoque when those are done (and hopefully, sh*t won't be as dry).

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

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Wienstein and Gavinos

I was invited by Mr. Axler (maaaaan that guy sounds cool) to try W + G since I had never been. I gotta say that going to a huge mofo of a restaurant on a busy street like Crescent is never in my top 5 choices. But when you get invited, things change.

I'd heard good things, OK things and bad things about W + G so i had no clue what to think. Or what was going to be served. Or if anything was going to be edible. All I knew is that in the recent year, they had done a menu overhaul and changed many things for the better.
From outside, where there's quite a huge terrasse on the first floor, you can see a hint of the huge interior. When you walk in, it's somethin' else. Holy bejesus and Mary AND Joseph. Dang! So you walk in and there's this huge chandelier. I'm talking huge. HUGE! As in it's bigger than my apartment huge. Well, at least as big as my living room. I kid you not. This, to go along with the size of the restaurant: an employee, who i presume is the maitre d' told us it can sit up to 300 people. THREE hundred! I was just flabbergasted. And obviously, I still am!

Wienstein and Gavinos has a HUUUUGE (notice the 4 'u') wine collection. I'm talking massive like if I'd drink a bottle a day, every day, for the rest of my life, there would be some left. Ya. That big. The ambiance was nice, but that's Crescent. If a resto has a bad ambiance on Crescent, don't touch it with a ten foot pole.

Aight, so we get there, get seated right away after meeting the manager. There's no talk of menu or preferences or allergies even and they just start bringing us food. Hahaha! I mean, I don't really have a preference in general except for mucho lobster (duh!) and I don't got no allergies, so I didn't mind much. But before the food, we got the, according to Mr. Axler, their signature [girlie as all hell] cocktail: the Punch Drunk Love.
Girlie, right? Well, when you take your first sip and realize that it's a cross between a sex-on-the-beach (the girliest drink to have ever existed) and sangria, you know that you are in oh-so-girlie territory. It was Alyzé, Vodka, and orange juice. It was basically like putting a whole alcoholic peach in your mouth and biting hard. Hahaha! You know what, although it was a tad on the sweet side for me, I did like it.
Photo cred: Aude
Bread (in a W + G bag no less) and herb oil. Basil and dried tomatoes. The bread was unfortunately a bit on the dry side AND I didn't really know why they brought us a half baguette. I mean, Aude is so thin that sometimes, if she turns to the side, you can't see her (hihihi, jk!, but seriously) and I, with my AWESOME new body shape and muscles, obviously don't usually eat carbs in the evening. The oil was good and very fragrant but I think we both could have skipped this.
Photo cred: Aude
Hamburghini: tiny hamburgers with a beef patty, arugula pesto, roasted garlic aioli and tomato. At the first bite, I discovered the loveliness and awesomeness of the arugula pesto. Wow, that shizzle be goooood! The meat was on the dry side (seriously, what's up with dry meat recently? Is it a thing, because I did not get that memo) but packed with flavours. The aioli was just garlicky enough and fit uber well in there. All in all, one of the best tiny little cute burger I've had. Beats me why they gave us three, but hey, that just meant more burger love.

Tramezzino al salmone: smoked salmon, toasted pumpernickel bread, fig cream cheese, arugula, onion and tomato. The bread was so soft and softer and softest. You get it? The sandwich itself didn't seem like anything that special until I hit the fig cream cheese. Whaaaaat!!! The discovery of the century! What an awesome thing to put in there. It actually went really well with the salmon and complemented the whole sandwich. I kind of fell in love a little bit with that cream cheese.
Worst picture ever of the worst presentation ever. BBQ wings, thrown on a plate. In my head, I pictured someone at the end of the kitchen throwing them on a plate that someone else was holding at the other end. Kind of like football, but with my food. My food.

I'm going to use a word I hate here: moist. They were moist. Mmmmmmoist. Ugh, I just puked in my mouth a little bit, that's how much I hate that word. But sometimes, you just gots to use it! We both really liked them. Our hands and mouth were filthy during/after so that is the sign of a good wing. I almost feel like quoting Ace of Base but I won't (the sign... get it? Too young? Argh!). The BBQ sauce was spot on: not too sweet but not too tangy. Just perfect!
Arancini: fried rice balls with goat cheese and mozzarella, sun-dried tomato and spinach, on an Arrabiatta sauce. I've kind of been there done that with arancini. We made some at work one month and I had my share of it. This is back when I'd eat fried stuff in my every day life. Now I only eat fried stuff in my restaurant life :) It was quite dry and the cheese could not save it. The sauce was very herbal but a bit too acidic. I know, I know, what do I expect, it's a freaking tomato sauce!
Tiramisu. I totally fell in food love with tiramisu at Café International. This one could have competed against the latter. It was not too caffeinated, which is awesome for me because I tried drinking coffee a couple times and I literally wanted to vomit. All over. Ew. Back to the tiramisu. It was soft and creamy and I wanted about 8 more. 
I found it a bit whhheird that they only gave us food from their 'bar menu'. I would have loved to sample their risotto or their fresh pasta! Don't get me wrong, free food is always good, but this is an Italian restaurant and I don't feel like we got the full experience.
Service was awesome throughout the meal. At first, there was a bit of confusion with a young'un: he brought us another table's dishes and took them back as quickly as he had put them on our table. Poor little guy, he seemed so embarrassed. Then we got our 'real' waiter who was charming, professional and very present. He even suggested he help holding our plates up while we were taking pics of the food. See, that's what I want in a waiter; someone who's ready to hold my damn plate. It would have been nice if he had offered to get us other drinks when ours were done but hey, there was enough alcohol in one of those bad boys to give me a 2-day hangover. I kid, I kid!
And now the scores!
Food: 7.5
Service: 9

I'm never on Crescent and usually I make a point of not going there but I sure will tell my Crescent-going friends to hit it up!

Wienstein & Gavino's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Xavier Artisan

I was invited to try Xavier Artisan. OK, so this means nothing to half of you but for me, it meant that a: I touched base with one of the biggest restaurant groups in Montreal and b: I could talk about my blog AND get invited to restaurants on top of it.

At XA, pretty much everything is homemade so that's about plus 8 points in my books. And it looks good. They make simple look good. Fresh and good. Yummy and fresh and good. Aaaand you catch my drift. On top of it, and everyone should know this about XA, they give all their day's worth of leftovers to Old Mission Brewery when they close up shop. They're like the little angel of Old Montreal. The smart little angel: generosity AND awesome PR! Smart, smart, smart!
XA has a huge space, right smack in the Place d'Armes in front of the basilique Notre-Dame. I mean, there's about 4 million tourists there every freakin' day. Even if a small fraction of those tourists decide to hit XA, they will make a small fortune. It's half lofty with those uber high ceilings and exposed pipes and half French bistro with the wooden shelves and pantry and cute, really well labeled homemade products displayed everywhere you look.

How it works is that you can either pick salads, cold sandwiches, homemade beverages and desserts from the self-serve fridges or you can get warm sandwiches and ice cream at the counter. I was told to ask for Geneviève, the manager I can only presume, and she turned out to be such a delight! Sometimes, I think about how my OWN restaurant would be like and there's no doubt in my mind that I'd need a Geneviève to welcome the clients. She was very professional, yet really friendly, showed us everything and also told us a bit of the restaurant itself. I'd pay her around 49 THOUSAND dollars... an hour :)
Mint tea. It was unsweetened, which made it that much better. Cooled tea is one of my fave summer drinks! Well, fave summer drink that does not include alcohol (that's a mojito!)! The mint was very present and aaaaawesome! Can you tell I like mint: MINT tea, Mo-MINT-jito?
Salade supergreen et féta. This was so cute! They had me with all that green shtuff. I like me my green shtuff. And I LOVE me some edamame. You don't see those enough! The brocoli was nice and crunchy, the cheese was soft and just salty enough aaaand the greens were mesclun. Why? Why you do dis to me? So apart from the mesclun, which you guys know I dislike at the same level as dog poo on my front steps (what?), it was a very tasty and healthy salad. The vinaigrette could have been a tad less on the vinaigre-y side but it was still very good.

We also decided (we=Jer) to try their home made chips, not pictured because it was just THE worst pictures in the history of chip pictures. They were crunchy and tasty and although the transparent spots on the bag would say otherwise, not that greasy.
The Montrealer: smoked meat, provolone cheese, pickle, cured red onion, home made mustard on whole wheat bread. To paint you a picture of how much I used to dislike smoked meat, when I'd go with my dad or friends that 'needed to try Schwartz', I'd eat fries and a pickle. No smoked meat for me. This one was different and easily approachable. Hahaha! By that, I mean it wasn't as strong, I guess. The pickle was right on and the onion made all the difference when it came to that perfect bite. It was just cheesy enough without having cheese oozing all over the place and that bread was just spot on: soft and grilled just the right amount!
The eggplant parmesan: roasted eggplant, tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, fresh spinach on a roasted baguette. The bread was crunchy and all that goodness, the cheese was cheesy and yummy and the tomato sauce was on par. The spinach added that nice colour to complete that rainbow and supplied the sandwich with greenery. I could have been a tad happier with more eggplant. After all it's called eggplant parmesan! Jer thought it would have been a bit too overpowering if more eggplant would be put in the mix but I say yes to eggplant all the way!

We also tried their bold soup of the day (they serve one bold and one simple soup every day!): pineapple and garlic. I liked it more than Jer-Bear but the garlic did not really fit in with the sweet fruit. Good try though! A for effort!
Home made ice cream. Yes AND yes. And more of that 'yes'. I decided on french vanilla and pistachio. Great choice Marie, great choice. You could see the little vanilla freckles in there. Is freckles the right word? I vote yes! And the pistachio ice cream was very pistachio-y without being TOO pistachio-y, you know what I mean? Both were just great and I'd go back right now for some-o-that!

Service was, as you can tell by my Geneviève crush, awesome. She shook our hands and smiled from beginning to end. She came and checked if everything was fine and she praised her restaurant just enough. She put someone else in charge of making us happy and that woman was just so damn proud of working there OR was the best actress ever. But I like to think it was the first one. 

And now, the scores!

Food: 8
Service: 9 (only because the ice cream dude seemed a tad rude)

I think it's safe to say that next time I'm in Old MTL and I's got a little craving, I'll be heading to Xavier Artisan to say hey to Gen (ya, we're tight like that).

Xavier Artisan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato