Thursday, February 27, 2014

Boom J's

*Super flash review alert*

Boom J's! Hehehe what a cute name :p Anyhoot, this place, located in my neighbourhood (yay!) is tiny: only counter space, no actual tables, totaling around 12 chairs. 

I went there once in the fall, passing by it by accident (chance?) and looooved their beef patties. I'm a beef patty freak, see. In Toronto, when I go to my friend's that lives at Landsdowne, everytime, I pass by 'Caribbean Queen of patties', and I MUST stop. One could say I'm a patty expert. Mmmmyes. Anyhoot, so today, I woke up and just had to go back. I WILL go back when it's nicer and actually eat there and have a full meal but today was patty day.

Beef Patty
-Nice and flaky
-A lot of meaty goodness
-Just spicy enough
-Even better with my Cayman Islands Citrus Heat Hot Sauce that JUST ran out :(

And now, the score:

Food: 9.5

You want a great beef patty? Come on down to Pointe-St-Charles and go to this little gem of a place.

Boom J's Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Café Presto

Flash review alert!

I went back to this little place for lunch today with my dad. This restaurant is tiny and you could possibly miss it while walking by. OH but it's right beside Chez Parée so, uh, ya, I don't know why that matters. Perhaps go watch a little bit of strippin and then eat some italian? No? Shut up? Mmmmkay. The place has around 30 seats and has a maitre d'/owner that is usually very enthusiastic. Today, I think he was having a bad day.

Anyhoot. It is SO cheap there for some good ol' home cookin' (in an actual kitchen that looks like my kitchen at home but older...) :they have a board with about 8 choices, all at 6.95$ Not too bad, eh?

-all you can bread

Spaghetti a la bolognese
-Pasta cooked just the way I like it
-Not enough spices

-Not crunchy at all
-Made many hours prior...

As for the service, I mean, our waitress didn't seem to care much plus she was coughing without covering her mouth which was just not cool. Plus, we had to ask for water after my dad's glass had been empty for 10 minutes.

And now, the scores:

Food: 6.5
Service: 5.5

Not the best scores today but last time was better. And I have an inkling that I will end up going back there for a dad lunch at some point :)

Cafe Presto on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 24, 2014

Il Focolaio

Flash review alert!

My dad and I went there a couple weeks back for our weekly lunch! Man, this place is so busy and crowded!! Seriously, I don't even know how the waiters smoosh in through the tables... because they are pretty much all touching!

We were obviously going to have pizza. They have over 65, yes, SIXTY-FIVE, kinds of pizza on their menu and then they have some à-côtés like caeser salad.

We had half a pizza and half a caesar salad each.

Caesar salad:
-kind of blend
-nothing special
-caesar salad!

-Grilled veggies were excellent
-Great spices
-Great crunch

Service was fast and efficient. Water was at the rendez-vous and our waiter was a smiling little dude.

And now, the scores:

Pizza: 8.5
Service: 7.5

Very busy place... located in Square Phillips. VERY busy during lunch with all of dem business people!

Il Focolaio Pizza Resto on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Régine Café

I'd been meaning to go to this resto for a while. Well, I don't like giving in to all the hype, but gosh darn it, I gave in! And it was worth it! Last, minute, I asked my cousin and her husband to join me and with 2 hours notice, they said yes :) yay!

Located on ever developing Beaubien Street, Chez Régine is right at the corner of Papineau. And you can see the line-up from afar! Good thing is that even with a line-up, it took us 10 minutes to get a table! Twas quite funny actually, the hostess comes outside and notices that she hadn't taken our name yet and then she looks at us, asks us for how many, we say three and she looks again: 'come right in!'. OH YES!!! I thought she was going to tell us it was going to be another 10-15-20 minutes! 

The place is so darn cute: mirrors everywhere, kind of 20's style with big comfy chairs and a huge bar right when you come in. It has two rooms, so there's no saying how many it can sit.. all I know is that it was full and it's been like this for months!

First off, our waiter served us a shot of chocolate, banana and cinammon. Although there were little pieces (banana) in there, it was a nice touch!

We decided to each choose something different so we could all eat off of each other's plates :) oh ya!

Of course, as soon as I saw 'mimosa' on the menu, I went for it! 8$ is a pretty decent price. It was good and bubbly but there wasn't enough alcohol in there. Is there ever? :p

This was one of the specials of the day; my cousin's meal. It's very rare that I have a sweet breakfast and although this one was really good, I was happy I had ordered something else. It was very sweet, with a [great] overload of chocolate and bread that melted in your mouth. The raspberries and the coulis added just what was needed, taste wise.

My cousin's husband had 'Le gros jambon'. So basically, pig, pig and more pig! Just my kind of breakfast! The ham was serious. Serious ham I tell you! It melted in your mouth. Man, that was pleasant ham! The cretons were soft and dsamn tasty... and I know my cretons!

I had the Champi: poached egg, Le Mamirole cheese on rustic bread, mushrooms with sage, pepper compote. Oh and I had the extra bacon. Duh. It was darn tuttin' amazing or, as Penny from Happy Endings (love it) would say: AH-MAH-ZING! There was also watercress and somewhat of a potato ball with spices in there that was as amazing as the rest of the dish. The watercress was surprisingly pleasant... I never really eat it because it can be quite bitter but it fit in very well here. The mushrooms were mostly good but shittake mushrooms are meant to be cooked a bit longer and they were a tad squishy. The cheese was perfect and the whole thang was super. The bacon was thick and great. That's all I have to say: thick and great. The fruits were kind of an after thought to me... 'here's something healthy' kinda thing. Hahaha!

As for the service, it was good. I mean, our waiter didn't even use a notepad to get our order and I couldn't do that in 1000 years :p Plus, he came and checked if we were all good, which, as you know, I always appreciate! But, as we were talking scores, my cousin, her husband and I were thinking that, although service was good, it wasn't the BEST.

And now, the scores!

Food: them: 9 me: 8.5
Service: 8

A great new find and I will for sure be going back to try something else on their menu.

Régine Café on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Olive et Gourmando

I had been meaning to go to this restaurant for a looong lohooong time! All I had heard were good reviews so I just HAD to go! I met my bro's gf, Chris, who had gone many times and loved it, and we headed to Olive et Gourmando.
Obviously, the place is full when we get in. We gave our name and surprisingly only waited about 15 minutes before being seated. Just enough time to look around, love the decor and all the little knicks and knacks that make this place unique. Also, to notice that one of the employees is a girl I went to high school with in Toronto! Whhheeeird! Anyhoot, the whole place was oozing comfort and good times, with a mix of business people working in Old Montreal and, well, people like us, looking for good food and nice ambiance!
We weren't even sitting down and our waitress was explaining the specials. We kind of felt like, dude, let us sit before you tell us this stuff. Oh well. I knew I wanted to get a panini and Chris wanted one as well.
The Cajun, 10.95$
The cajun chicken cold sandwich. Soooo, that was damn good. The chicken was nice and moist, the mango gave it that needed sweetness and the guacamole was darn tootin good. Oh and the tomatoes were so plump and juicy. Plus, there wasn't just a bit of guacamole, there was a whole bunch! I hate it when it says avocado on the menu and there's one slice. Pfff.
The Cuban, 10.95$
I had a hot panini; the cuban. Pancetta, roasted pork (yay meat!), raw milk gruyère, and lime, chipotle, cilantro and pickle mayonnaise. The mayonnaise was super duper tasty (you had me at cilantro!), the pancetta was alright but kind of lacked in the taste department. The pork was not dry at all which was nice and the cheese was very present which is always a win in my book! I didn't like mine as much as Chris' though. Even if it was good, I kinda wished I had ordered the other one.

As for the service, it was good. Our waitress came to ask us if all was fine and we had a bottle of water on our table for easy refilling. We did kind of feel like we had to leave right after we were done our meal because of the line-up at the door. That was a tad unpleasant... we were told twice to just go pay at the counter when we were 'ready'.

And now, the scores!

Food: 8
Service: 7

I'll go back for sure to taste something different and you should go too if you like good ambiance and good 'easy-going' food!

ps: I've read comments on blogs saying that their sandwiches were overpriced but I really think it's worth the money!
Olive Et Gourmando on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Le Chop

Since I had to work AGAIN, I had to give up my two invites for Le Chop media event a couple weeks back. Two friends went and this is what they had to say. (note: I was personally invited to visit all of the Tomnacos group's restaurants late last year. I visited Newtown, Decca 77 and L'Atelier d'Argentine. I thought this was going to be an evening where all the restaurants would be offering their succulent creations but alas, it was only G + A)

Two thirds of the way into my meal at Guido and Angelina’s, the manager approached the table and said “What, you don’t like the food”? My friend, who is brave, said “Nah, not really”.  I am not brave and said “well it’s a lot of food and I’m not that hungry.”  Both things were technically true.   To her credit, the manager crossed her arms and suggested that the kitchen could give it another shot.   As we could see the (over salted) light at the end of the (bland, crappy tasting) tunnel, we declined to reengage.  But you have to admire the effort.  So some solid marks for managerial effort are in order, assuming that managerial effort does not involve the tasting of any of the food at any time for any reason.  

Guido and Angelina’s is a restaurant on St-Catherine’s that I had never been into before, nestled in between “super sex” and “other super sex”.  The logo features a cartoon Guido leering at a cartoon Angelina, and they are separated by a sort of bulging cartoon of the tower is pisa.  I’m not kidding. 

So it’s not the kind of place I would venture into.  I work down the street and until I was invited, this place had been essentially invisible to me because it looks like a Boston Pizza.  Yeah, I’m probably a snob.  But I’m a snob who eats at McDonalds once a month.  So I went in with a mind as open as humanly possible, and the whole thing was terrible.  A  super bland when-will-eating-ever-be-fun-again sort of terrible.  My dining companion was hungry, and she couldn’t finish more than three bites of her main.  I was hungry, and I had to fill up on dessert.  Everything tasted - and I know this is not how you can really describe a taste - watery.  As in a sensation diluted to the point of nothingness, with a dash of savoury and presumably a ton of empty calories.  

Enough preamble. Let’s get into it.  Here’s what we had, according to the menu:
Bread (with hidden surprise).
Chef Salad
All three available appetizers, including:
Fennel, mandarin and cherry tomatoe [ this is how they spell tomato]  salad
Hearts of palm and artichoke spread on garlic crostini 
Pesto and sundried tomatoe orzo salad
Veal Picatta, which was pan seared with butter, sage, cippolini onions, grainy mustard, demi-glace of madera and sundried tomatoes, served with a rice duo and roasted vegetables.
Cavatelli Classique - Saute of shrimp, merguez sausage, julliened vegetables in a garlic, white wine, fresh basil and tomatoe sauce. 
Dessert of the day - coffee cake and a brownie

We were having the table d'hote, which came with your choice of house wine, beer, or a cocktail.  The staff heartily recommended the house special, the “Angelina”, and we both ordered one.  Turns out that it was made with Tequila, Fresh Puree (no mention of what was freshly pureed) and Fresh Basil.  As far as cocktails go, it wasn’t that bad - lots of basil.  It was sugary but refreshing.  Plus it was served in a convenient plastic cup. 

The bread was white bread with a ton of flour sprinkled on the top.  After the second bite we realized we had no butter.  Now at this stage, a normal customer would ask for butter, and they would get the butter and everything would be fine.  My companion and I were trying really hard to be food writers, because we were filling in for Marie, who blogs about food often and probably adheres to a set of ethical standards common amongst the food blogging community, and this made us both feel that as food-blogger-stand-ins we could not ask for butter.   We had to take this entire meal simply as it came.  We had to evaluate it on the merits of a service unblemished by requests or questions.  I know this seems stupid, but it is honestly what we were thinking.  

After some weighing of pretty narrow pros and cons, we decided on our dishes and lodged our order with the nice waiter.  The timeline here is sketchy, but doubtless we were still sitting there dryly chewing bread because the waiter returned and indicated to us that the butter was under the cloth at the bottom of the bread basket.
I buttered my bread but elected to just stop eating it, and mercifully our appetizers arrived.  Here are my notes that I made as we ate our way the platters:
- Doughy bread.  Undercooked.  Semi baked frozen bread freshly reheated.  No butter available [see above].

- Fennel salad.  Bit oily but refreshing. The balsamic not carefully dropped [see picture.  I think when I wrote “dropped” I meant “drizzled”].

- Crostini is best.  Orzo is pass.  Tastes like a falling apart pizza.  
So all in all, appetizers were pretty bad. The fennel salad was okay, but only marginally better than just eating fennel by itself.  The artichoke spread on the crostini was not too shabs.  It was a spread, and it’s hard to mess up a  spread. 

On to the mains -  the veal and the cavatelli.  
Let me remind you how the the menu describe the veal picatta. “Veal Picatta, pan seared with butter, sage, cippolini onions, grainy mustard, demi-glace of madera and sundried tomatoes, served with a rice duo and roasted vegetables”.  All that stuff that the veal is pan seared with sounds great, right?  Not being an onion man, I googled cippolini onions and man did they look tasty - claims that  “you haven’t had caramelized onions until you’ve made them with cippolini onions”. Intriguing. Possibly delicious.  
It wasn’t delicious.  At all.  It was bad, bad news.  The sun-dried tomatoes dominated the veal and added a whole schmack of savoury to an already over-salted dish.  The veal was kind of mushy - now granted, I don’t know what great veal is really supposed to taste like, but I think that no matter what your level of veal expertise, one should enjoy the sensation of putting the veal in one’s mouth, no?  Did not enjoy. Did not enjoy.  
So the veal wasn’t great.  How was the rice?  The rice was unfinished.  I don’t mean that we didn’t finish it - which we didn’t - but that whoever was cooking the rice just hadn’t finished cooking it.  I thought my pallete was going cray-cray until my buddy confirmed that yup, the rice wasn’t done.  Blech.
At least the veal and the rice looked sort of ok.  The vegetables, however, appeared to be leathery and pretty close to expired.  A quick taste confirmed that yes, indeed, said veggies were leathery and were likely no longer “best”.  
As for the Cavatelli Classique, my buddy had about five bites and had to stop, after which I had one bite out of journalistic duty.  I’m sad to report that the trend continued.   It went into my mouth and it made this noise when it was in there - “splech”.  I don’t really remember what all the ingredients tasted like, to be honest, because I had the one bite and it was so bland that I just stopped.  I don’t think I got any of the sausage, for example.  So the sausage part of it might secretly be great. I honestly have no idea.  
There was one bright spot. The coffee cake was pretty good.  We ordered two deserts, and boy did I like that coffee cake.  The whole meal had been so bad up to this point that this statement could be relativistically skewed, but that’s a whole discussion about how taste profiles escalate throughout a meal that is beyond the scope of this review.

My companion had the brownie and remarked that the only evidence that it wasn’t store bought was that the plastic film wasn’t still on it.  And she was right, it was pretty bad.   But I would go back and eat the coffee cake.  I’m not saying that I would go back *for* the coffee cake, but if I found myself there again, I would just order the coffee cake with a side of coffee.

The service from the waiter was actually pretty good.  I’ve had much worse service basically everywhere in Montreal.  He refilled our water glass and was generally affable and smiley.  Just a nice guy, you know?  Plus he helped us with the butter.

So, the food sucks.  Sucks.  We emerged not wanting to eat again.  Not because we were satiated, but because the experience of putting all of that terrible, terrible stuff into our mouths had convinced both us of that doing it again in any way shape or form was a bad idea.  We were suffering from something like a taste hangover, I think.  

As per Marie’s scoring system, here’s how Guido + Angelina’s stacks up:

Food: 2
Service: 7

This place should appeal to broke students, because the one thing G+A’s legitimately has going for it is an absolutely kick-ass calorie-to-dollar ratio.  You get a lot of food.  Not great food, but it is a lot of food.  We couldn’t finish a single thing.  We couldn’t finish the chefs salad, or the tapenade, or the orzo salad, or the veal or the cavetelli.  Even the dessert, which I sort of liked, I couldn’t finish.  However, when I was a broke student, I was just hungry all the time and I loved feeling truly, stomach-distendingly full.  So if you want that feeling, is it available downtown on St.Catherines, a short walk from Concordia. 

Guido & Angelina on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Ma Tante Quiche

yes, that IS my finger... geez
*flash review alert!*
This restaurant is about a 7 minute walk from my place so I just HAD to try it. Plus, it looks so darn cute! Located on Centre, it's pretty central for us Pointe-St-Charles folks. And it IS cute... you enter and you feel at home. What a warm place! Plus, today, there was a singer entertaining the clients!

I was welcomed by someone that seemed to be the owner and she had a huge smile. That was very refreshing. I'm sick of arriving to a restaurant to a non smiling host/ess or waiter/tress.

I was a bit shocked to see that they only had TWO quiches on the menu. When you have quiche in your resto's name, one would hope there would be more than two choices.

Chorizo, red pepper and paprika quiche
-crust was not crunchy enough
-you can barely taste the paprika
-texture was a tad gelatinous (and YES, I know eggs are involved)
-chorizo was nice and just spicy enough
-chorizo and pepper were a very nice pairing

And now, the score:


I will go back to taste other dishes and perhaps a quiche but I was not very thrilled with this one.

Ma Tante Quiche on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sushi Taxi

I was invited to try this new restaurant on Notre-Dame West and, while looking it up on the internet, my mouth was watering as I was looking at all the great sushi! Sushi Taxi has a bunch of other restaurants everywhere in Québec, including one in St-Sauveur which is doing really really well.

The place itself is damn cute! Very simple, very cool with a brick wall and wooden tables and chairs. It sits about 40 people. They also have specials. I LOVE specials!

I was welcomed by Valérie, the manager. She told me about Sushi Taxi's history and their philosphy of not doing the usual sushi (aka kamikaze, california) and I told her that MTL is probably the best place for a restaurant that is innovating. She also made me taste a maki, kind of a teaser... and it just melted in my mouth so I was excited to eat more! I was about to order an appetizer and a main. So many choices! And they all looked so good. Valérie helped me out and I ended up choosing the Guac-amore and the Shogun. This was going to be good!

Guac-Amore 9.95$
Oh man! This was heaven in my mouth. HEAVEN I say. If you are a fan of avocado, order this!!! Por favor!! Mmmmm! The idea was to kind of imitate guacamole but, well, way better! Fried ball of avocado that just bursts in your mouth, red onion, salmon tartar and mango topped with a tad of sour cream. It was very original and oh-so good! I was actually kind of sad when I finished all four.

Shogun 23.50$, 18,50$ lunch special
This plate of sushi came highly recommended by the manager so I just had to dso it! The shogun (this month) is a salmon wafu roll with mandarine on top, snow crab maki with leek 'fondant' on top, shrimp tempura maki with a little peeper mousse, tuna and salmon tataki nigiri and scallop tartar with some strawberries. I chose well, I tell ya! First off, let me reiterate my love for sushi and let me RE-reiterate my love for funky, original sushi. I LOVES it! The maki with the mandarine on top was just sweet enough and fit perfectly well! It was quite refreshing. Oh and the Taxi sauce was soooo good!!! Kind of a spicy mayo mixed in with soya sauce. Added a certain je ne sais quoi :p The tuna nigiri just melted in your mouth but the salmon tataki one was not as appreciated. Don't know why but it just didn't fit with my taste buds. The scallop and strawberry roll was good but the strawberries were a tad overpowering. Even so, there was somewhat of a cereal in there adding just the crunch needed! The snow crab maki was great but I didn't really feel the leek fondant on top... Just didn't go for me. It WAS original though so points there. The shrimp tempura maki, again, just melted in my mouth. Man, that was a great roll! The shrimp wasn't SUPER crispy which was all good and the little mousse on top added the touch that made the roll.

When I was done, even though I was darn tootin' full, I wanted more! They DO deliver (to a 4km radius) but I wasn't about to exaggerate!

Although I didn't eat there, I have to comment on the service! Obviously, I'm biased because I got invited because of my blog, therefore, got great service. Still, Valérie was really cool and explained all the dishes to me and told me about the other Sushi Taxis out there. We talked about management, food cost and revenue.

And now, the scores!

Food: 9
Service: 10

You must try this new sushi restaurant! If you like innovation and new things, go to Sushi Taxi!

Sushi Taxi on Urbanspoon