Thursday, December 28, 2017

Nacarat

Ma girl Clo's husband is none other than the head mixologist at Nacarat. Hello. Obviously, this place was bound to be on my list! We had gone to the official re-opening of the Fairmont Queene a couple weeks prior and I had gotten a glimpse of Nacarat. And I loved it.
Nacarat looks ubs fancy from the outside and, you know what, it's ubs fancy from the inside too! Classic everything. Just classic! Marble counters, elaborate drinks, leather seats. You feel a bit like you are in Mad Men. And that's not a bad place to be! Save for all the cheating and the conniving. You know.
We were ready to be wowed by those awesome drinks we were promised. OK, promised is a big word, but Clo had told me a bit about them and, by looking at the menu beforehand, I was expecting some goodness.
I started with the Mr. White: vodka, apricot, Grand Marnier, vanilla, tonic. This was a perfect drink: sour and sweet at the same time. I drank it in 2.5 seconds AND ate the confied orange on top. Hey, I guess I was hungry too!
The Negrogen: mescal, cognac Hennessy, bitters, vermouth, amaro. What a freaking presentation!!! When it arrived, our mouths legit dropped. It was in this glass box filled with smoke, and when they opened it, it was basically a smoke show. WHAT!
A ribbon of chocolate on the inside of the glass made for an even nicer presentation. It was UBS strong. Wooooow! I drank it very slowly haha. I think the mescal got to me, man. It got to me. With all that alcohol, no wonder these cocktails range from 16$ to 24$ a pop.

Service was great! It sort of works like in a restaurant with the order being taken by the bartender up front and then everyone putting in their ingredient. Exactly like working the line in a kitchen. It works like a charm and it makes for perf drinks every time. Service was quick and professional. The only thing that sucked a bit during this experience was that we were sitting on the 'bad' side of the bar, where all the bottles were. We felt like we didn't get the whole experience.

And now, the scores!

Drinks: 9
Service: 9

Of course I'll be going back. You ALWAYS go back when you know the head bartender :)

Bar Nacarat - Fairmont le Reine Élisabeth Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Baba Yaga

Ah, Polish food. OK, I have NO clue why I opened with that. But seriously: Polish food. Some people say that Polish food is super simple, and usually not uber tasty. I say that you can make anything tasty with a bit of creativity :) OK, that's a terrible saying! I just suck today. Point is, I went there with my friends Lea and Chris. The latter being Polish so that was just perf.
 
The place is located only two steps away from metro Lionel-Groulx, in the South West. Let's face it, the South West of Montreal is exploding right now. Yes: exploding! It's a cute and tiny restaurant that was playing old school hip hop. WHAAAATTT!!! That was totes awesome. It was very basic, but, seriously, name me one fancy Polish restaurant.
 
I started with the braised beef pierogies. Let's get something clear: they had me at pierogies but they had me more at BEEF pierogies. DAMN! It was paired with celery of all things and it was perfect! Tender, juicy, hot. With a splash of sour cream and a drizzle of onions, this was an awesome dish. A filling dish. But an awesome dish. Two words: awesome and filling. I am done, this is NOT a class. Geez.
Kielbasa sandwich with Polish mustard and sauerkraut. I loves me a good sausage! The sandwich was egg bread, which was ubs fluffs (I'm really into shortening words now btw) and the sausage was juicy and perf (see!). The sauerkraut was just fermented enough and the mustard had a bit of a spiciness to it, which went really well with the sausage. I didn't finish the bread itself because, hello dinner full of carbs. But that don't mean it wasn't good!
Lea's dish was, in our opinion, the winner. It had ALL the good flavours, for ALL the good mouth feels. The meat was oh-so-tender and the little tiny kopytka (dumplings) were balls of happiness (no, I was not on drugs). The mushrooms were right up there too: we thought they were fancy mushrooms, but noooo: button. You know when something as simple as a button mushroom is cooked just right? Now THAT'S satisfying!

I did not have dessert on account of my ubs full bells (uber full belly--geez, get with the program!).

Service was very friendly, efficient and quick. Water was on the table. One small detail: they had their blender going for almost half of our visit. Blenders aren't really pleasant. Especially when you are trying to have a conversation. Don't get me wrong, I get it: you have an open kitchen, when you need to use le blender, there WILL be noise!

And now, the scores!

Food: 8.5
Service: 8.5

A very nice experience. I will def be goin back.

 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Tran Cantine Vietnamienne

Tran, Cantine Vietnamienne is one of the many new little Asian babies in town. I'm just happy this one happens to be on my side of town. Yay, South-West wins again! Or something. Anyhoot, I headed to Tran with my bud Margo on one of MTL's first VERY cold day.
There was no question as to where the resto was: it was lit up like the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center in New York City. Like lightning. Like fireworks. You get it, it was damn bright. You could've seen it from space. Aaaand I'm totes exaggerating again. Very simple décor: white walls, black tables, open kitchen. It was quite cold, and every time someone would open the door, it would be freezing. There are ways to fix this problem. Buy an Abris Tempo :p
We shared everything, because that's how we dso. We started with the spring roll: vermicelli, shrimp, mint. Everything was very fresh and the noodles were perfectly cooked. Obviously, this was awkward to eat, split in two. We should've just taken two. You live and you learn. The peanut sauce was just thick enough and very tasty.
The pho. Margo was worried about msg (I'm more of an msg? No worries! kinda gurl). When Margo asked, the girl who seemed to be the manager/owner, kind of lowered her head and said 'there's a little bit'. Hey, at least she was honest. The noodles were perf (not too soft, not too hard) and the beef was perf too (just bloody enough). Basically, everything was perf. The broth was awesome too. A really good pho. I've read that it's one of the best in town, and although I find this a bit exaggerated, I don't think it's far from it.
Banh mi. I looooves me a good banh mi. Like, LOVE. The bread was soft and ubs  (short for uber of course!) fresh and the grilled chicken was nice and juicy. The veggies were, seriously, some of the best pickled veggies I've had in a banh mi. Dikon and carrot, HELLO! The level of sauce was also right on. Damn it, I want to get another one right NOW!
The beef salad had some great flavours goin. The beef was great and the coriander was, well, duh, it was coriander! They could've added somewhat of a sauce to make things a bit less dry. Also, even though y'all know I'm a huge fan of onions, there were way too many on there. Like a whole onion. A big one. It was a good dish, but it could've been better.

We were totes in to try a good Vietnamese dessert, but they didn't have any. Boo. It's a new resto, so there's always room for improvement :)

Service was just OK. The girl we spoke to at first was great and gave us info on the resto and how she came to open it, etc. The waiter forgot to bring us extra plates about 3 times. Hahaha. But seriously. We did get our food very quickly though, which was much appreciated since we were starving!

And now, the scores!

Food: 8
Service: 7

Well, as previously mentioned, I'll be going back for one of those banh mi. For SURE.


TRAN Cantine Vietnamienne Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cari Mela

Cari mela is literally right around the corner from my house. It's really a mystery why I haven't been before. I just...I don't understand it. I went with my girl V, who is a big fan of the Indian persuasion, a couple weeks back, for lunch.
The place itself, like a lot of Indian restos, is nothing special. Dark room, old tables and chairs, crap on walls. That sums it up, I think. We got there for a late lunch and had not realized that they close again at 2PM until dinner time, so our lunch was cut short a bit, which kind of sucked. But hey, we should've checked! My bad!
We had the midi table d'hôte, starting off with the dahl, a lentil soup. This was such a great soup. WOW!!! The lentils, the coriander; so fresh!! Really... wow! There was a hint of lemon that added a bit of tartness and went really well with the lovely coriander. God, I love coriander. If I could marry it, I would. I would've ordered another if it wasn't a dish that was about to make me fart up a storm. Ps: gym peeps, I'm sorry, it was me.
The vegetarian thali. I loves me a good thali. Usually, I have the non-veg one, but this time, I didn't really feel like eating le chicken. Don't get me wrong though, butter chicken is oh-so-effin-good! That was a sh*t load of rice though, damn! The chick peas were perf and the coriander, once again, was so fresh! Seriously, I'd eat a big bouquet of that, any time. Just imagine a big rabbit, but instead of a carrot, it's coriander. Anywaaaaaayyyy. The eggplant was uber tasty but salty AF. Damn! The boiled veggies were very good but I thought they could have used more spice.
The naan. I'm serious when I say this was the best naan that has ever touched ma lips. Ever. It was so buttery and soft. Basically, what dreams are made of.
Dessert. I'm not going to say much about this. I WILL say that they had just taken out of the freezer and mine was still... frozen. Everything was just wrong.
Service was very quick and efficient, like in most Indian restaurants. GO GO GO! $$$! Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

And now, the scores!

Food: 8 (let's just NOT take that doughnut into consideration)
Service: 8

Well, I can't NOT go back: they are my neighbours AND they have the best naan. Hello.

Cari Mela Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Fieldstone

I was invited to try Fieldstone, a very new resto on the increasingly cool St-Laurent strip in the mile-end. This restaurant consists of very interesting and accomplished people: chef Yen worked at the El Bulli Foundation in Spain (HELLO!), and owner Emiliano, who really believes (as he should) that local is the way to go. They've been serving brunch and were inviting bloggers to try out their dinner menu! Don't mind if I do! I brought ma gurl Mar to this because, damn it, it was her turn.
Fieldstone has a floor to ceiling window, which makes you feel like you are entering someone's living room for some reason. Actually, the whole décor is pretty laid back, with some shelves, long mirrors, plants. Un salon, quoi! It was very zen. It was also very quiet when we got there: even making noise with our chairs while we sat down actually made us feel bad. As the evening went on, it got fuller and louder so we felt better about the volume of our voice.
Emilio welcomed us very warmly, especially since it was freaking freezing outside. You know, the first really cold night and your car is parked just far enough (1 block), that your extremities have time to get frostbite? I exaggerate, of course. He asked if we had any allergies and informed us that we would be served a three course meal. Yes. My kinda night out. Since we were both recovering from drinking nights (I had my very boozy Office Christmas partay), we stuck to water for once.
Amuse-bouche. I love that word. As Chandler says in Friends, "It is amuuuusing". Alright guys, I WARNED you that I would quote Friends every opportunity I have. #obsession. Kimchi and nopales dumpling. Ps: Nopales=cactus looking prickly pear. With me, you learn every day. And that's a promise! All this to say that the mix was not a good one. It was weird, but not in a good way. The kimchi was too present, and although I'm a huge kimchi fan, this did not work for me. The dumpling itself was also not on par. The dough was not cooked enough and lacked crispiness.
The entrée: pear and radish salad with sumac, tamarind, oka and pearl millet. Now THIS was quite a hit. The little tiny millet created such a big explosion of flavor in my mouth! Our eyes literally lit up. For serious yo! We immediately asked what it was so that we could organize a shipment :) This was such a weird mix but such a lovely one at the same time! The heat of the radish created quite a contrast to the pear, and the cheese was such a nice addition. The sumac and the tamarind added an extra level of flavor to make this dish one of the best entrees I've had in a while.
Le main: chicken with yucca and a very fine puree of coconut n'curry. My first question was this: oh, what kind of fish is this? HAHAHA!!! I then proceeded to hide my head in the sand. But for serious, it LOOKED like fish. It was boiled chicken. Don't get me wrong, it was the most perf poultry I've had in a while, but who boils chicken? I really liked the flavor of the yuca but wasn't too cray about the texture. It was, hum, filamenteux. Ya, I tried, there are no English translations. The puree right under was bang on. That's right. It tasted perfectly of coconut and curry. OR the best food pairing ever. It was the kind of dish that raised questions in my head. And in Mar's. It was good but we wondered why all these things were together in a dish. Also, why boil the chicken? WHY?
Palate cleanser. Wow, I haven't had one of those in a while! It was quince with some sparkling wine and guava. It was different and very good. I think Mar and I could have had one of those bad boys as an actual dish. For real.
Le dessert. Foie gras ice cream and the rest. Because what's more important than foie gras ice cream? For those of you who care, there was also meringue and some blueberries. The ice cream was super soft and thick and, I was going to add 'just melted in your mouth' but I think we all know ice cream tends to do that. The mix of ingredients had been carefully chosen and everything fit together perfectly.

Service was good as well. It would've made my profs at ITHQ proud. Water was always refilled, and we were asked if we enjoyed our meal a couple times during dinner. The girl seemed a bit weird-ish. She didn't smile much and she seemed even evasive at times. In the end, we did discuss with her about the resto and what they were doing so she seemed more like a human then :)

And now, the scores!

Food: 8
Service: 8

I think it's safe to say that we enjoyed our experience. I must say that we were still hungry after so we went to Cacique to eat Tequenos. BTW, this was a whole other WOW experience.

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

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Le Butterblume

This place is totes known for being one of the new hot spots in Montreal. Just check it, it's on ALL the cool websites. Wow, I sound like I'm 15. Moving forward: I went there on a very chilly, very rainy Sunday for brunch with Laura.
This resto is riiiight at the cusp of the cool, up and coming, uber hip, Mile-End-Outremont neighbourhoods. There's a bunch of restos around it, but a bit further down and up. All this to say that it seems like the peeps going there would have to go about doing a little detour. That's how much they like it. That means a lot.
Le Butterblume is quite spacious. Actually, from a restaurant management graduate's point of view (ya, that's me), it's TOO spacious. Hahaha! As soon as you enter, you notice a huge unoccupied space. Well, OK, it has a couple chairs for le waiting, and a table with hipster things to buy. You know, like recipe books and the house aprons. They ARE nice (and expensive), but hang em' on the wall, don't take up 8000 units (#iloveyoujad). There are about 10 seats at the bar, some on the opposite wall, and tables in the middle. It's half wooden floor, half cement, which I really liked: it made for a somewhat cozy/industrial feel. Yes, the combination is possible. The lighting was cool too: big lamps were hanging at the front and smaller ones at the back. I'm realizing more and more that I'm a lamp girl. Yes, a lamp girl. The kitchen was open concept and everyone was wearing an apron: waiters and cooks alike. I liked that. Of course, in good hipster fashion, they were all wearing tuques and cool headwear. Hehehe. I really don't have nothin' against hipsters... I just find that half of them try too hard to be oh-so-cool. You could just be ME and be that cool. Wow, I'm super totes really kidding (but am I????).
 
Butterblume's menu is all over the place, but at least, they don't have 200 choices. Kimchi, buns, fried cauliflower, oatmeal, other thangs.
I started with a drink: the one item on the menu that you should ALWAYS start with. #alcoholic, am I right? This was a big winner. You know what it tasted like? Like packaged lemon pudding, back in the day. Way...WAY back. Whatever, I'm old. Anyhoot, it was fresh, it was perfect.
I continued with a cauliflower cake/bread. This was a big hit in my book. I'm talking, of course, of the "Big book of Marie., blogger extraordinaire". It was really moist (I will PAY someone to find a word that means exactly the same thing) and packed with that cauliflower yumminess. It was a bit on the oily side but who gives a sh*t when it's that good? No one. No one does. The cherry on top was taking a bite with a bit of the Italian parsley, dipped in the sweet chili sauce. YES! Oh, and a pinch of espelette pepper (seriously, this looks like a bad translation but iz what I got) gave just the right amount of spiciness!
Milk bun, pork flank, red cabbage, kimchi mayo and green onion. You had me at pork flank. No, wait, you had me at kimchi. Hold on...OK this could go on for quite a while. The bad news first; the kimchi mayo was a bit disappointing. It wasn't kimchied enough. Ya, it's a thing. Ok, that's it for the bad :) The bread was like a perfect little cloud, the pork was juicy and the cabbage had a very soft texture (without being too soft, as in it's old). Argh, I LOATHE hard ass cabbage that's difficult to eat. Insert puking emoticon. Insert puking sound. It was hot, it was of a good sandwich size and I really enjoyed this. Thoroughly. Yes, I'm serious about this sandwich.
Dessert. OK, I will be completely honest and say that I was effin full after all that food. But it looked good, and it was cheap! AND, I mean, come on, I gots to review the desserts! Chai sponge cake with cherry glaçage (haha sounds fancy!). It looked a bit dry, but, surprise surprise, it was the opposite! It was very chai-y and very cherry-y. A nice...surprise!

Service was quick and efficient. We had a pitcher of water so we could refill our glasses, which, let's face it, is usually the way to go! Apart from fancy restaurants. If I pay the big money, you BEST serve me water. I have to mention that when we went to pay at the cash, the girl was not friendly. OK, she wasn't friendly at all. First of all, it took her a while to figure out which seats we were at (down there! at the wall! near the exit!), and she gave us some attitude to boot. Meh.

And now, the scores!

Food: 8.5
Service: 8

Apart from the hipster-y-ness of it all, I really enjoyed the food, so, yes, I'll probs be goin' back!

Le Butterblume Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Barley

Barley is new new NEW. So new that most people dson't even know it exists! BAM! Yes, I'm that cool. I knew it was opening before THEY knew they were opening. What do you think about THEM apples. Wow, I'm obviously getting overwhelmingly intense. Imma stop. I went for lunch-ish, last week, with ma girl, little Boo.
Barley is the new (and only) cereal bar in Montreal. It's located on Notre-Dame (what else is new?) and it is a huge space. HUGE. Think about the biggest thing you've seen, ever. Multiply that by 8 and you have Barley. Hihihi! Basically, you enter the place, you have couches and tables and comfiness and then you enter somewhat of another room and you have some more tables. There is also this meeting room surrounded by glass, which, I think, is there only to, like we say in French, nous faire parler. 'Like, what the f is THIS doing here'. THAT kind of talk. We weren't even certain that it was actually part of Barley's... I really dug (ya, I talk like a surfer dude now) the brick wall and the fact that there was a lot of greenery. I likes me some good greens! No, not THAT kind of green. Sheesh! 
At the far end (far, far, faaaar end), the cereal bar. The owner actually brought in cereal from many places, and a lot of them reminded me of my childhood. OK, not necessarily MINE, because my parents weren't really fond of us eating crap like fruit loops, or just any kind of cereal that was overly sweet. But I totes get the reminiscence. Hey, I remember my rice krispies like it was yesterday. They don't only serve up cereal, but also smoothie bowls, parfaits, chia bowls, and salad.
I started off with a white hot chocolate. Excuse me, homemade white hot chocolate. I specifically asked because I do NOT pay for powdered choco at a resto. I do NOT. I was uber happy to be able to order a homemade white hot choco. When do you get that? Well, not all the time, that's when. I took my first sip, getting ready for pure joy, and I got... pieces in my mouth. I was like 'what the f*ck is that?'. Little boo tasted it and, in 2 seconds flat she said 'it's coconut'. She is a coconut expert, see. I love it as well. I can't get enough of it. EXCEPT, when I'm getting ready to drink soft, velvety goodness, I get coconut flakes in my mouth. I would've loved for them to warn me so that a: I would not have been so surprised and b: I would've probably thought long and hard about actually having it IN ma drink. Apart from the coconut incident, it tasted lovely: not too thick, as if I were drinking a chocolate bar, and not too thin either. Also, it wasn't overly sweet. White chocolate tends to be just that and I was glad to be drinking a hot chocolate that wasn't on the uber sweet side-o-things. I'd go back for one of those ASAP IF I'd have the no-coconut promise.
We were there for lunch, and I hardly saw us having, like, a bowl of cereal on the side, as you do with appetizers in most restaurants. So, we both went for the smoothie bowls. The guy behind the counter told me it was thicker than most smoothies and it was more consistent, seeing as there were berries and grains and what have you on top. I had the Tassie Devil: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, avocado, tofu, acai, double chocolate granola. It was very VERY berry! I loved the fresh berries on top and although the acai added an extra crunch, they added TOO MUCH crunch. As in, if I crunch you one more time, my teeth will break. I am being very serious. I am ALWAYS serious when it comes to my poor little teeth! I liked how the smoothie was thicker than a usual one, but, let's face it, this was not a meal. I really don't know how I feel about this. I'm having a big internal dilemma. OK, here it is: even if I would've had this for breakfast, I would've STILL have been hungry. On top of it, if you're going to be open all day, perhaps add stuff to this dish that will make me full. Like a salad with protein or something. NOT a mesclun. Don't do that, because then I'll really be disappointed.
Le Tannery: avocado, baby spinach, pineapple, mango, banana, ginger and green hemp granola. I do give them props for two things: beautiful presentation and different granola flavors! I absolutely loved the ginger-avocado mix! It was fresh on top of fresh! The granola was good (better than mine) and the banana was perfectly ripe. The whole time, I was thinking DAMN I should've ordered this.

Basically, you go up to the counter and you order and they bring it to you. What we found a bit on the funny side was that the guy gave us a block with a table number 'in case' it got busy. We turned around, only to find a very empty (except for 2 patrons) restaurant. I think it took just a tad too long to get our food; just long enough for us to look at each other and give each other weird looks. He checked up on us which is always a plus.

And now, the scores!

Food: 7
Service: 7

Maybe I'll go back for a snack, but I hardly see myself going there for lunch or any other kind of meal.

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

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Cocoro

Ma boy was in between Asia trips (ya, he's, like, super cool) for work, so we had to hit up at least one resto. Cocoro is the new Asian baby on Parc. There are new Asian babies everywheeeere!!! I loves it, seeing as I AM half Asian. I'm not. I lie.
Cocoro is this small spot close to St-Viateur, with a curtain, nay, a noren, at the front, welcoming you. Well, thank you there, noren. Thank you. Don't worry, I'm on my way to the insane asylum. Right now. It's a very simple restaurant, except for the shelf at the far end of the restaurant with a big bonsai, some paper lanterns and other Japanese thangs. It looked a bit corny if you ask me. Come on, just ASK me. It's corny. The place has about 26 seats, and the tables were somewhat weirdly set up, but hey, who am I to judge? Well, I'm actually pretty well placed to judge. Hahaha. I ain't judgin' (I'm judgin').
We started with a very simple salad: iceberg and veggies. Iceberg, much like mesclun is not my fave kind of green. But the sesame dressing was silky and enhanced the flavours. There was a nice crunch to the lettuce which is 150% better than eating a wilted one. Bah.
We shared the octopus as an entrée. It was very tiny, but it was very good, too! It was sliced really finely with some pesto and a miso sauce. Weird? Yes. Good? Surprisingly, yes! It was pleasant to take a little sliver of octopus and dip it in both the pesto and the miso! There were raw onions in the dish as well, which brought in some texture and, well, hello, onions! I would've never thought of all  these components harmonizing so well together, but hey, miracles happen every day (they don't actually HAPPEN, ever. Don't be fooled.)! On top of it, it was such a beautiful plate! They always say that you eat with your eyes first! Argh, I just got a mental image.
Le ramen. the quest continues!!! I was quite excited to continue this life-long quest. OK, life-long is a bit exaggerated, but I do tend to do just that. The broth had a meaty flavor, which was right up my alley, but it wasn't thick enough for our taste. That's right, we like ours so hard, we can't put our spoon or chopsticks through it! In all seriousness (yes, it happens sometimes), I like my ramen broth with some consistency, not one with close-to-water thickness (or lack there of). The egg was perfectly marinated and the meat was actually one of the best ramen meats I've tasted: just fatty enough to convey great pork loveliness on my palate. The noodles were disappointing and overcooked, and I don't know about you, but I REALLY (REAAALLLY!) appreciate a homemade noodle. And these were no homemade noodles. I know it's a bunch of extra effort but it's approximately 150% better when they are. There were some sprouts on top which actually added a bit of heat, which was appreciated. Quite indeed!

Service was good: I had a very warm welcome from the waitress, we were seated quickly, she checked up on us and we had water on the table in 2 seconds (I totally counted). On top of it, it was very quick service, which is what you like during lunch time!

And now, the scores!

Food: 7
Service: 8

On to the next ramen restaurant! I swear, every week, Jer bear sends me a new one to try. I only have about 16 left to try in Montreal. This is an approximate number.

Cuisine Japonaise Cocoro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato