Saturday, January 26, 2013

Aix Cuisine du terroir

Ah yes, the Happening Gourmand is upon us again (! Last year, we went to Verses and this year, we decided to try an all new restaurant in the old port: Aix Cuisine du terroir, or Aix for the regulars. Let me reiterate what this Happening is all about: 6 restaurants (Vieux Port steakhouse, Restaurant Modavie, Taverne Gaspar, Méchant Boeuf, Suite 701, Bevo Bar + Pizzeria) have 23$ table d'hôte instead of the regular 36$ and 2 restaurants (Verses, Aix Cuisine du terroir) have a 27$ or 37$ table d'hôte instead of 44$. About half of them also offer a table d'hôte for lunch at 15$ (22$ usually). This, from the 10th of January to the 3rd of February. Basically, this gives us poor-ish people a chance to eat a great meal at a lower price :) We liked our experience last year and we love the concept so we decided to do it again this year! This time, instead of going with a bunch of people (and risking that some will be late![lots of swearing ensued]), we went with one friend and we had a great time!

Aix is located in the Place d'Armes hôtel, right below Suite 701. Actually, the latter was also part of the Happening but Aix's menu looked more appetizing. It's a 5 minute walk from the metro so it is quite well located indeed!The restaurant is very nice and chic, with banquettes everywhere, brick walls (we love love love that!) and big lamps, 60's style. I kind of had the feeling I was entering a Mad Men episode :)The ambiance was very nice at the beginning what with people talking and the clinging of glasses (but then a: the couple beside us started fighting and b: a loud group came in).

Anyhoot, our friend was already waiting for us so we sat down quickly. On top of it... at 7:45, the resto wasn't even half full. A very professional waiter arrived at our table right after we sat down. The way the Happening Gourmand works is that you have either 3 or 4 choices of appetizers and entrées and one desert. We had some questions about the menu and he was able to answer all of them. This is nice because sometimes you get waiters that don't know their menu. This pisses me off. WHAT? I'm a difficult client :) 

We had had the chance of looking at the menu online before and we had chosen what we wanted so the ordering was quite quick. We shared a bottle of white between us three. I had the bison carpaccio and the beef medallion (served with swiss chard, shiitake, dried fruits, mashed parsnips---yum and porto sauce). Ze wife had the vegetarian poutine and the salmon steak (served with shrimp bisque, butternut squash pearls and herb chiffonade) and ze friend had the smoked bacon parmentier (soup), spinach and l'Île-aux-grues cheddar  and the salmon as well.

The bread arrived with our appetizers and I kind of expected it to be warm but alas.... :( The waiter served us wine the right way (well, the right way is of course the way they do it at ITHQ... duh :)... but seriously, I mean he asked who wanted to taste it, and after, served the others before that person got more wine. Also, he did not turn the bottle while opening it. That is key. Why? Because it looks better damn it! So koodos to him! Oh, what was also ITHQ-like is that they brought us the right utensiles before every course. THAT's nice. It's nice not to have 18 utensiles on your table at first, you know?

My bison carpaccio
Ze friend's soup
Ze wife's veggie poutine
Let's talk about food, shall we? Let me just mention that I was lucky enough to pick the best things on the menu (which will explain my score, later).My appetizer was darn good, if I may say so myself (and the two other girls at my table said so too!)! Very thin slices of bison accompanied with jerusalem artichokes' chips, beet sprouts, parmesan shavings and apple jelly. Ah man. It's rare that I'm THIS satisfied with my food and this was gooo-hoood! The mix of flavors was perfect. Every bite was good. I must say I was perfectly amazed! Ze wife's veg poutine was good too, very original I must say. In it, there was polenta, leeks, caramelized onions, pepper sauce and cheese curds. The mix was a weird one, I must say, but it kind of grew on you. Ze wife liked it but I don't know... it remained a bit of a 'weird special poutine'. Another thing was that the polenta itself could have been crispier according to her. Ze friend's soup was good but a tad watery... which always sucks when you order soup.I must say though that the smoked flavour from the bacon came out really well and was delicious.

As for the main, well I have nothing bad to say about mine. Only good. First of all, all the plates were beautiful. The different colours and textures were there and our eyes were more than pleased! My beef was cooked just the way I like it, semi-rare. I'm not even exaggerating when I say it melted in my mouth. The parsnip puree was so smooth and very well seasoned, the mushrooms and the sauce were a great addition to the plate and the little green deco on top was lovely. Lovely!

Ze wife and ze friend's meal was enjoyed but not as much. It had a shrimp on top of the salmon and it was a tad plastic-y :( Also, the skin was still on and it was quite soggy so that was a tad unpleasant. Ze wife said that if they are going to keep the skin on, might as well make it crispy. Ze friend's fish had many bones still in there which was rather uncool (on the other hand, ze wife's had none). Don't get me wrong here, they liked their salmon very much, they just didn't like it as much as I LOVED my beef.

As for the desert, there was only one choice... so no choice :p It was basically cream and cookie and tiny chocolate balls in a verrine. Tasted very nice but obviously, it was nothing special. But that's ok. It wasn't overly sweet either so that's good sometimes and ze friend liked it like that:) It was a nice, simple desert. We didn't go there for desert!

Without tip, it cost me 45$ for my meal and 1/3 of a bottle of wine. Not too shabby for such a good, very much appreciated meal!

The service was amazing at first. AMAZING. The waiter was very present and he answered all of our questions. But then, nothing. No more waiter. He did not serve the wine again, or the water. The only other time we got some water was at the end of our meal by a busboy. And I was the designated wine girl during the meal. He also did not come by (not even once) to ask us how our meal was. That's just common courtesy! Sheesh!

So, for the (much awaited) scores:

Food: Me: 9
          Ze wife: 7.5
          Ze friend: 7

Service: I would say an average of 7 overall because our waiter was not nearly as present as we wanted him to be.

All in all, such a great foodie experience, especially for me! You have to try the Happening Gourmand... it is well worth it! You still have time, it ends feb 3rd.

Aix Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Brit + Chips

Front of the resto in CDN. Meh.

We rarely go to fish + chips restaurants (well when the wife was in England in the fall she did take advantage of them f + c restos) so we decided on a whim to try one of them after going to see the new Bond movie (ha, you see the theme here?). So we decided to try Brit + Chips near our place on Côte-des-Neiges. There is one downtown which is quite popular and has a 91% on Not too sure this one would get that score.

I say that because well... the place has been opened about 6 months, maybe a bit less, and there is never ANYONE in there. NO ONE. EVER. Who wants to go eat in an empty restaurant? How good can the food actually be if it's empty? THAT's what passers-by will tell themselves. Of course I don't think like that :) I wanna see WHY there's no one in there! And we have our first clue right when we get in. The way the restaurant is laid out, at the front, there are single chairs at a counter. Obvisouly you won't eat there if you're not alone. It's just badely laid out. They must lose a ton of customers because of that! Makes me sad. I feel a tear a-commin'. Also, it is not well located. Just before Pacini on Côte-des-Neiges, it's kind of in a 'hole': on the first floor of an apartment building, it's kind of weird and well, there are people south of it and north of it but not many pass BY.

As the restaurant is layed out, there are about 25 [noticeably very empty] seats up front and about 70 at the back. There were 4 clients in the resto when we got there. 4. And it was prime dinner time too. This is not starting off well.Anyhoot, the lack of clients aside, something reaked. I mean really reaked. What was it? Well what do you think can smell so bad in a fish and chip restaurant? Frying oil of course. Bah. I swear, the next day, after having a shower, I still smelled like that damn oil.Apart from that god awful smell, the place seemed really nice, brand new moldings, counters, etc... all in white and beige with frames on the wall of, you know, british stuff :p The music started off nice but then we started wondering why, you know, as somewhat of a theme, they were not playing english music. There was french music, popular music, but no english music. Weird. I mean whhheird.

We were starving when we got there, therefore very eager to eat! I guess that's the good thing about there not having very many clients: service is quick! Our waiter was very friendly and peppy. We read the menu, and decided on a couple things that we were to share. Luck would have it that half the things we wanted (pasties and pies) were not 'available' because they make them in the morning and when they're out, they're out. FUN! We ordered the cod with burgundy batter (a beer batter, very popular in fish and chips' native England) and the haddock with maple syrup batter, mushy peas and as a starter, we had the curry fish cake. We also had a glass of white wine each. 7$. Full to the brim. TO...THE...BRIM. I mean it wasn't the best wine, but not the worst either.

Curry fish 'cakes'
Since we were 4 in the resto, the food came very quickly, so 2 minutes later, we had our first course. Our 'nibble' was good (curry fish cake) but I must say that it DOES say 'cakes' on the menu and there was only one :( It was very nice and tasty and well curried (oh, and hot, which was nice!:) Accompanied with a nice little mayo and a slice of lemon with a great batter that was quite crunchy and satisfying indeed. The cake itself was a bit smooshy (such a technical term!) but still very enjoyable.

Haddock with maple syrup batter + fries + mushy peas
Cod with Burgundy batter
Now for the main course, I was not so keen on the mushy peas. They just didn't taste very good. They didn't have mint in them like they do in England and frankly, didn't have much taste. As for the fish, we couldn't really tell the difference between the maple syrup and the burgundy batter. Maybe one was SLIGHTLY sweeter but that's it. Both fish were moist and well cooked but not seasoned enough. I also found that there was a tad too much batter on both but I guess that's why it's called fried fish. I also found it a tad too greasy for my taste again, I am aware it was deep fried...). The fish came with a lovely tartar sauce (it was quite lovely indeed!) and some lemon of course. For a couple bucks more, you can take the chips (fries) with your fish so we did for one plate. Meh, the fries were ok but nothing to write home about. A bit disappointing seeing as they are supposed to be half of what people come to this restaurant for.

mmmya, it dson't look good...
...but at least there's ice cream! :p
As for the desert, well... we just HAD to try their 'deep fried whatever', a deep fried chocolate bar! I've heard about this a lot and never had I tried it SO.... we had the choice between a deep fried O'Henry, Bounty, Reese, Sneakers and 3 Musketeers so we took the latter.It was OK. Weird but OK. The batter could have been crispier. Apart from that, not much to say... I mean it's probably one of the piggiest (!) thing I've ever eaten. Leaving the restaurant we actually uttered the words 'je vais exploser'. When we got home, I think we stayed on the couch for an hour  before we could move

The service began really nicely and then we didn't see our waiter for a while. He didn't even check up on us to see if the meal was to our liking. Uncool. I'm just asking you to at least be in the room, you know? Sheesh!

Now, for the scores...

Food: 6/10
Service: 6.5/10 Could have been higher but, you know, he deserted us :(

OK experience but from what I've read, the downtown Brit + Chips should be better.
Brit & Chips on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Ah, l'Avenue! Nous adorons, ADORONS ce resto mais à chaque fois que nous y allons, il y a une file d'attente. Nous y sommes allées hier et laissez-moi vous dire qu'il faisait froid en ti-pépère! Le mercure est descendu jusqu'à -22 je crois. Très, très plaisant! En plus, tout le monde qui est déjà allé à l'Avenue le sait, il faut attendre dehors et souvent, on attend longtemps. Mais bon, des fois il faut souffrir pour être belle...euh... pour bien manger :)

UNE HEURE plus tard, une fois rentrés, nous pouvons admirer l'excentricité de la place. Il y a des gros miroirs avec des cadres dorés et des grosses boules lumineuses. Plutôt rétro :) Les toilettes sont, comme à l'habitude dans ce restaurant, psychédéliques avec des télévisions et plein de couleurs. Il y a un mannequin en entrant avec des habits excentriques. L'atmosphère en tant que telle est très plaisante: musique moyennement forte (le soir, par contre, il paraît qu'on ne s'entend pas parler) des années 90, beaucoup de gens et des serveurs qui courent ici et là.

Je ne vais pas mentir, l'unique et seule raison qui nous amène à manger le petit déjeuner à l'Avenue est la sélection d’œufs bénédictines au menu. En parlant du menu, il est IMMENSE!!!Celui-ci a l'air d'un livre...Un peu encombrant lorsque nous sommes cinq à une table destinée à quatre personnes! Revenons aux œufs bénédictines adorés: ils avaient changé leur menu depuis la dernière fois que nous étions allées donc ceci était très excitant! Habituellement, nous prenons les oeufs bénédictines avec du vieux fromage cheddar mais cette fois-ci, nous nous sommes décidées à choisir un nouvel item. Celui-ci avait l'air tellement alléchant que nous ne pouvions passer à côté! Bien sûr, comme d'hab, les oeufs ben sont accompagnés de petites patates délicieuses aux épices et aux herbes. Mmmmmm! Une brochette de fruits accompagne également cette assiette et est servie avant de recevoir le 'plat principal', un peu comme une petite entrée :)

Vu que nous connaissons bien les grosses portions de l'Avenue, nous allions séparer notre repas. Notre choix, Tout le monde à poële: poêlée de champignons sauvages, lardons, ail confit, roquette, réduction à la crème, nappés de sauce hollandaise. Tout ce que j'ai à dire est MMMMmmmmm! Quel bon mélange de saveurs! Les lardons avec les champignons=mmm. Les lardons avec la crème=mmmm. La roquette et les champignons=mmmm!!!! La seule chose qui clochait un peu c'est que l'ail ne paraissait pas très présent dans l'assiette. La sauce hollandaise était parfaite, l'oeuf parfait, tout était parfait. C'est certain que c'était un peu plus salé mais bon, il y avait des lardons donc on devait s'y attendre un peu.Les patates étaient excellentes, aucun autre commentaire n'est nécessaire!

Nous avons aussi pris un petit chocolat chaud (avec crème fouettée, bien sûr!) qui n'était vraiment pas si petit donc nous étions contentes de ne pas avoir pris le grand!  La personne qui faisait les drinks était très occupée donc notre serveur est venu nous informer que nous allions devoir patienter un peu, ce qui fût très apprécié. La crème fouettée était délicieuse (comme toutes les bonnes crème fouettées :) mais le chocolat chaud en tant que tel était un peu trop comme de l'eau chocolatée. Même pour 2$ et des peanuts.. c'était un peu triste.

Nos trois amis de table ont tous pris quelque chose de différent. L'amie de ze wife a pris un classique, les oeufs bénédictines de Monsieur Séguin. Son commentaire: délicieux comme d'habitude, le chèvre est bon et soyeux mais il y a un mini morceaux de chorizo qui a quitté une autre assiette en cuisine et s'est rendu jusque dans son assiette. Elle aimait le petit 'kick' mais pas tout le monde aurait aimé ça. Elle donne un 9 pour la bouffe.

Son copain a pris une omelette nommée La biquette (fromage de chèvre, asperges, oignons rouges, poivrons, poireaux, épinards, champignons sautés au beurre): un peu sèche, aucune bouchée n'est pareil, et il trouve un cheveux (qui, on espère était le sien!) dans son assiette. Il donne un 7.5.

Le copain du copain avait pris le Bobby does Dallas (3 oeufs brouillés avec cheddar, steak, champignons, oignons sautés à la sauce BBQ, sur pommes de terre rissolées). Celui-ci a dit de son assiette qu'elle était fantastique, merveilleuse, un vrai orgasme culinaire! Surtout la viande et la sauce. Il donne 7.75 car l'omelette en tant que tel n'était pas très satisfaisante, un peu fade.

Notre serveur était très amical, très enjoué. Il venait voir si tout allait, il nous emmenait les choses que nous lui demandions le plus vite possible, l'eau était sur la table avant même que nous aillions le temps de regarder nos menus, et il était souriant. J'aime les serveurs souriants :)

Alors, pour le pointage:

La bouffe 9.5
Le service 8.5 ... Nous avons attendu un peu trop vers la fin pour avoir l'addition...

Nous adorons ce resto et vous allez l'adorer aussi... si ça ne vous dérange pas d'attendre! À moins d'y aller soit à 8h OU à 14h!

L'Avenue on Urbanspoon