Archive for the ‘Best bistrot’ Category

The old tavern of psaras (Erotokritou ke Erechtheos 16, Athina 105 56, Phone: +30 21 0321 8733) is located in the very touristy area of Plaka

If you meet someone complaining about plaka’s  food been touristy, he is certainly not wrong, but then he needs to eat at places like the old tavern of psaras. The  food, here,  is genuinely Greek. 

I discovered this tavern after a joke with a local. I argued with him that Plaka was the worst place for a foodie. He responded that I needed to try the old tavern of psaras, and that I should let him know how things went.

The tavern is situated at the top of a flight of stairs of Plaka, in an area called anafiotika. 

Feta cheese ravasaki – the folks at Fato o Mano should come here and have a taste of how grilled feta cheese, sesame seeds and honey does rarely fail in the hands of the Greeks. An example of a benchmark feta cheese ravasaki (dazzling flavours, superb ingredients). 10/10

Boiled octopus in vinegar and olive oil – loved the rustic presentation. they do not go rustic because tourists are looking for that. The cooking is rustic because it is genuinely traditional. big pieces of semi firm octopus (the texture I grew up to consider as the right texture for octopus, in the fishermen village of the Indian Ocean where i was born), with a good chew. Superb maritime flavour and exquisite seasoning. 9/10

Baked Chicken in lemon is very Mediterranean and, of course, very Greek. Delicious traditional sauce, the quality chicken cooked expertly. This is one of my preferred classic Greek / Mediterranean dishes and although not a dish that is hard to execute, I cannot say that it has always been as great as this one that they made at the OToP. Excellent 9/10

Fava purée- after the refined versions at R41 and Argo, I was ready for a rustic rendition of the Fava purée, which is what the OToP offers. Another successful traditional dish 7/10

Overall food rating: 9/10 Flawless traditional Greek cuisine. To the local who has recommended the old tavern of psaras, you know your food really well, buddy! 


NICE, COTE D'AZURSome few bistrots that both my wife and I had recently tried in Nice.  Sorry for the lack of photos. I took no picture of the meals at each of those places for the simple reason that I find it more important for a couple to share the moment of being together  rather than being constantly distracted by such subjects as food photography or food discussion in general. It is one thing to know your food and appreciate it,  it is another thing to have it invading even the private moments you need to enjoy. Though we happened to cool down with this photo restriction as we, during this strip, took pics of  our meals at 3 star Michelin L’Arpège and Le Louis XV (see other reviews on this blog).

*** Chez Acchiardo
38 Rue Droite, 06300 Nice, France
Phone: 33 4 93 85 51 16
CA is an institution of Nice, its cooking of typical provencale traditional bistrot style, its setting representative of that cooking style, though somehow packed with enough warmth, both in the décor and ambience, to  keep this place inviting, many institutions having lost that feature.
Personal verdict:  6.5/10 –  I am always nervous when I visit an institution, having high respect for the weight of their history, for sure, but that should never be an excuse for the food performance to step back (the faith of so many institutions), and  my visit here did not suffer from that aversion: the food, in the traditional spirit of Nicois cuisine, was executed properly.  Keep in mind that it is not meant to wow, and I do not see why that should be expected from it neither (unless, of course, traditional Nicois cooking is the ultimate thing to you), but things here are done as it should (which means, as it has always been).  The highlight: they bake an excellent pissaladière ! The weak spot of that meal: the chocolate mousse of my wife was average.  PS: My wife was not blown away, but as I told her, in this particular case it is surely because she is not into that kind of food.  It’s like in Montreal, where we live, we know what’s a great poutine and great traditional Quebecoise cooking is delicious to us, but for someone who knows nothing about those….it means nothing.  I was exposed to traditional Nicoise cooking in my tender teenage years in Southern France, so I know what is bad or good Nicoise cuisine, but I do understand that for someone who has no clue of what it should be (not to be taken the bad way, just trying to be pragmatic here) , it remains just food that they judge based on their own point of references.  I also understand that it is hard to get excited over a classic salade Nicoise, some farcis, but they are doing things the way it should here at Chez Acchiardo, they are doing it well  and the two brothers (Dad and Mum are still around) are amazing hosts. What they did and that younger generations will perhaps like is that they have imparted a bit of modernity to the house (for eg, the toilets, downstairs,  are very very contemporary especially when I dig into the souvenirs I have of Chez Acchiardo, last time I was there over a decade ago).  Remains one of my favourite provencale / Nicois  bistrots in France.

***La P’tite Cocotte
10 Rue Saint-Augustin, Vieux Nice, 06100 Nice
Phone: 33  497084861
This is one popular provencale/nicois bistrot, the revered cookware being the cook pot,  the cooking traditional but without the heavy old fashion feel that traditional cooking can sometimes suffer from.
Personal verdict:   5.5/10  in the classic ‘ provencale/Med/Nicois bistrot’  category. Again a score to be taken in relation to my assessment of my food here on this dinner  rather than comparing to scores of other meals.  In view of the fair prices, La P’tite Cocotte is definitely a good value restaurant. Though I  did not find the flavor combinations to rise beyond the ordinary of this type of bistrot food (for eg, my terrine of foie gras was good, but not particularly memorable as I have enjoyed at many bistrots, my filet mignon of beef was cooked well and had good taste but nowhere close to the most exciting filet mignons I had at numerous bistrots).    The highlight: the original idea of using the cook pot as their trademark tool. Even the bill is found in a tiny cook pot.  The weak spot: no particular weak spot, just not great emotion like the pissalardière I had at Chez Acchiardo  or the food I had at Bistrot D’Antoine. Still,  go find for yourself:  it’s a cool place, the staff is  nice, the Chef was there working hard in his kitchen (you should always encourage that, it’s called ‘respect’ for the customer), the food had no technical problem (all cooked well)  and as always, it’s a matter of preference / style/ taste (nothing was wrong with our  meal here, but both my wife and I prefer flavors that are bolder / more eventful).

***Bistrot d’Antoine
27 Rue Préfecture 06300 Nice, France
Tel: 04 93 85 29 57
This is one of the most popular bistrots of Nice, and it was not hard to face that reality:  almost fully booked at 7:15 pm when we arrived, 7:15  pm being their opening hour for dinner. Then it simply never stopped: hordes and hordes of diners kept getting in and out. There are two servings here, but we did not felt rushed at all.
Personal Verdict: 9/10  in the  Nicois/Provencale/French  category.  A sign that your meal is memorable is when, days later, you remember each item you had and its exact price. When we were there, they had (among several of their very appealing menu combos) a 33 euros 3 course seafood tasting of lobster. The first course was a lobster bisque with texture coming straight from a photoshoot, that glamourous, and then there was  such character in the flavor of that bisque that I thought a top 3 star Michelin Chef like Joel Robuchon or Frédy Girardet came out of retirement and decided  to please some diners momentarily and  discretely in this kitchen, Lol. The rest was stunning after stunning bistrot food: a risotto of lobster like few kitchen brigades can deliver. Even a simple Panna cotta, looking not that refined at all ( rustic, traditional looking, which I think is not a bad thing after all), avenged my hasty judgements on its looks by storming my palate with divine taste.    I was a bit afraid that its online popularity would have more to do with tourists simply finding this place to fit with the usual   clichés that they are looking for,  but I was wrong: that meal was food that I  now rank in my top 10 French bistrot meals ever. I do not know if BA performs like that every night, I just know that for its outstanding work of profound delicious flavors, great texture of the food, overall enjoyment of it all…that meal…that one we were having…was one of those rare bistrot meals that I  had no other choice but to use as a point of reference. I am almost afraid to go back, lol. In facts, when I asked my wife if we could try booking  it a second time during our stay on the French Riviera, she replied ‘you do not want such souvenir to be wiped away…,lest it rest intact on our  minds‘ ..Rfaol!!l!

***Café  de Turin
5 Place Garibaldi, 06300 Nice, France
Phone:+33 4 93 62 29 52
This is was a reminder that France remains one of the few greatest destinations for oysters.  I am a long time huge fan of oysters and their big plump, creamy and juicy oyster had myself going back there day after day all along our 4 days stay on the Cote D’azur, oftently 2 times per day in between 2 other restaurant meals.  Crazy, I know…but their oysters commended loyal follow up, Lol. Imagine…in France,   there are many other great and even  better oysters than those,,, That said, I did not find  CTD’s eur 42 seafood platter to be that stunning, though largely a winner when compared to any seafood platter in Montreal … just keep this in mind: no oyster in Canada or in the US, as great as some might be, do get close to the Roumégous oysters offered at Café Turin).   It’s the oysters that really kept me going back.  The rest was so so (my wife picked a pasta/seafood dish 4/10 and an Ile Flottante 3/10 that were average at best). So, CDT, for the seafood platter 7/10 ***  (yeah, perhaps ..well at least, far better than anything found in Montreal, of course) and the Oysters 10/10 (YEAH..YEAH..THE BIG JUICY/PLUMP ones with fabulous taste of the sea!!!). The Roumégous oysters are indeed among world’s finest. Oh la la! ***my seafood platter had tiny pink prawns of  not much interest ( I had far more memorable ones elsewhere ),  whelk that was excellent, winkles I did not care for and the star oysters.

NICE, COTE D'AZUR (2)Nice was really great as I remember it from almost two decades ago. They really have the sun shining for them, and it continues to be one of the GREAT FUN GORGEOUS CITIES OF THIS GLOBE. Some few places  that I regret of not having visited on this trip: Carré Llorca ( of Michelin star Chef Alain Llorca and Chez Palmyre (5 rue Droite, 04 93 85 7 Nice, France (Old Town / Vieux Nice) of an amazing Chef who trained under 3 star Michelin star Chef Guy Savoy and is now offering his food at very low cost (for eg, less than eur 20 on lunch. And he is there, in his kitchen…no wonder why France remains one of the REAL world’s greatest food destinations….

Summer is at the Gates (ironically, it’s not warm at all here in Mtl, despite being in the middle of May..anyways..). Time for some seafood feast!

When it comes to seafood, I skip lots of  requirements I would usually look for in most dining situations such as  the best value for my money or the layout at my eatery: I just fly deep into my gustatory involvement of the quality of the seafood that is put before me. What brought me to food has always been my  lifetime sacred veneration for Seafood. The problem: being born and raised on the banks of the Indian Ocean with Dad, on his spare times,  fishing the freshest seafood one tastebud can imagine raving over from the warmest sea waters, and I devouring them right there on the beach with barely any long delays between fishing to eating…you just grow up with very high expectations about seafood. Moving far from my  memorable seafood pals, being in so many places where  seafood rose as pure jokes, I litterally hoped that I turned allergic to them. But for some reasons, I just could not stop myself to try seafood everywhere I went with some places truely giving the seafood of my childhood an almost close “run for their money”.

Everywhere I go I knock at all possible doors that has seafood on their menu. Montreal is no exception.
Montreal is  a city that many regard as a great city for French/North American Bistro fares BUT only decent on the Seafood department. The reality is actually brigther than just “decent”: Lots of seafood tables  like Milos and La Mer offer seafood shipped from abroad (Mediterranea in the case of both previous mentionned restaurants) on top of some North American seafood products as well. In my humble opinion, there’s  in Montreal, a nice selection of restaurants who are truely serious about providing some solid quality seafood. It is just a matter of rigourously stepping into the field and finding them.

With time some few seafood tables in this city made their way among those I adopted  as personal frequent reliable seafood favourite tables, based solely on the remarquable high quality of their seafood  (Le Nantua when I want to be alone or with my sweat half in a quiet atmosphere of Classic French elegance, Milos — their lunch and late night dinner specials are un-matched bargains for such high quality seafood in this City –, Joe Beef when I am with a bunch of folks and feel like partying over high quality fresh seafood in a cool warm bistro-esque setting, Trinity when I feel the need of a touch of the stunning beauty of Mediterranea, La Mer once in a while, and — although I found myself at both places on very very few occasions — La Queue de Cheval, Rib N’ Reef. The latest are primarily Steakhouses BUT they do offer stunning Quality fresh Seafood.). And you have many more (Restaurant Les Crustacés is another one great seafood place that had served me top quality seafood too, Oyster Shack did a good job last time I was there about couple of weeks ago, and virtually the big majority of tables do offer drop me a word about those that have emerged as your favourite seafood restaurants in Montreal) , but those I mentionned previously stand out of the pack as far as top quality seafood goes in this city.

Naturally, one smart reminder would be this: you can’t buy top Caviar with Loonies!  As most will guess, for Seafood, you truely get what you pay for: do not expect stunning seafood in a $8 Lunch, or a $12 lobster please…I am not here to launch a debate over how much a lobster should cost. I am not here to debate over the best value for your $$$. I am here to talk about the best freshest quality seafood and to remind you that there’s a cost to it! And that cost, If one is well placed to have challenged it, it is your humble who used to pick the freshest top quality seafood right from the sea, for free! But I won’t. I wont because there’s no point for this: we are not at a stone throw from the Ocean, we are not fishermen and we need to be conscient that we have to pay for the cost behind a top quality seafood. Basta!

Event: Dinner @ Lucille’s Oyster Dive
Friday May 14th 2010, 18PM
Type of cuisine: Seafood
5626, avenue de Monkland (Montreal, QC)
Phone: 514 482-1471


Lately, I was curious about  this seafood eatery


that is attracting hordes of eaters in the Western side of Montreal  and where I never went to:  Lucille Oyster Dive.


I went paying a visit to Lucille Oyster Dive this Friday evening and I was warned by friends who went there: this is a small and very busy table, as busy  as Au Pied de Cochon, Joe Beef,  Le St-Urbain. Exactly what I was seeking for: feasting as in seafood, feasting as in crowded! I went earlier than the 6PM opening to maximize my  chances of shooting photos before the rush hits the place.

I came at Lucille’s Oyster Dive

with pre-defined orders in mind (Rfaol): I was in for some oysters (I came close to ask if they could grill it like at Etxebarri in Spain…I am telling you, I just can’t take that place out of my mind. I need to go there, in this life or the next!) , Lobster roll (Heard that Lucille has the best ones in town: what do you think? Let me know. Not that I am a huge fan of lobster rolls — I prefer raw seafood usually and if cooked, I like them served on their own, with nothing surrounding them so that I sense them in their pristine purity or close to that  —but this place is known for it’s lobster rolls so I had to pick this item) and a Grilled Lobster (If you ask me what have been my most memorable lifetime meals, the answer my friend  are those tremendously fresh Grilled lobsters “‘with a bit of garlic butter aside” from my tender Childhood …Ah the beauty of the simple things, so delicious, so pure, that just make you so happy! ). And If I could humanly eat more without getting full, I would have surely asked for crabs, fish, and the sea too!

Kicked off with Blackberries Mojitos:

Sorry, but this was not a successful cocktail: more watery than memorable (rhum was muted and prdominance of lime would be better than those berries). Anyways, berries do not seem to be a friendly mojito ingredient. Just keep it classic (white rum, sugar lime, sparkling water and mint) and it will sing! 2/10

Jannice picked the Salmon tartare:

I stole some bites from hers: perfect fresh salmon, meaty, fully flavored, masterly spiced (kudos to the nice balance in spicings here). Very good 8/10

The wine I chose to accompany our diner:

2008 Simi Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County – Perhaps the most memorable white wine I ever enjoyed since a while: Oozing of unparralel freshness, it’s concerto of amazing fruity notes (guava, apricot. melon, apple) makes of this wine one that can be a crowd teaser particularly in summer with high quality fresh seafood. I now understand why this wine is highly rated among wine experts (it was the first time I was trying it). Lucille has identity, Lucille has personality as in hosting that heavenly wine in a an unexpected cute recycled Heinz Ketchup tin can:

Started off with my first order:

The Oysters:
Although I have rarely came across bivalve molluscs of stunning quality as those the Indian Ocean pampered me with, I still enjoy my bivalve molluscs friends everywhere I go: Sometimes, I was amazingly satisfied  On  some rare occasions, they were the opportunity for me to crack some smart jokes at the wait staff like “It’s from the Sea and not the fridge that you should have picked it up!”’.
SO at Lucille Oyster Dive, I started my seafood journey with an order of 12 bivalve molluscs and while sampling them with the hightest respect I always pay  to anything coming from the sea, I scribbled some notes:
-Marine robustness: HIGH
-Quality of the oyster: TOP
-Work of the shacker: 10/10
-Level of deliciousness: SUBLIME!
Their oysters come from various locations: New Brunswick, The Main, British Columbia.They offer some from the West (British Columbia), some from the East (Main, etc). Western ones were bigger in size, did I notice. Briny, with a remarquable depth of marine robustness, those oysters were among the best I ever had on any Montreal seafood tables and I am including the big names here! EXCELLENT oysters!  They were served with the classic mignonette sauce (expertly executed with perfect balanced acidity from the vinegar and an amazing freshness oozing out of the shallots), a Tabasco Green Pepper sauce (nice idea, try it! I prefer my oysters in their natural state but pick just one oyster, match it with that sauce and see if you like), and their in house tomatoey sauce:

You will never ever see me mixing oysters with sauces (I am a purist), but I had their in house hot sauce sampled separately from the oysters and that sauce rocks: it’s a delicious spicy tomatoey sauce, dense and instense, made of scotch bonnet peppers and vinegar. Delish! I know some friends who would love mixing up that sauce with anything, oysters to start with. 10/10 (the oysters, on this specific visit, were simply stunning!)

The Lobster Roll: I am not a huge fan of lobster roll. As you would expect  from someone who favors high quality seafood in it’s full pristine greatness, a lobster roll is just a comfort food item that can be undoubtly tasty when done well, so this is an exercice that I find pretty straightforward: I will judge my lobster roll not based on pre-defined expectations (just make it tasty and I’ll be a happy camper!) but solely based on how tasty it turns out to be.
-Quality of the lobster meat: Top
-Cooking of the lobster meat: Top
-Quality of the Mayo: Top (not overhelming. gently spiced, still flavorfully enjoyable)
-Quality of the roll: (Fresh bun, nicely cooked hot dog looking bun)
-Type of roll:  it’s hot dog bun roll as you can see on the pic
-Level of deliciousness: High. I have no complaint here. Realy well done, but I am just not into lobster rolls in general being a purist in anything seafood.  7/10

@ALL– So where could your favourite lobster roll be found (New England, I guess)? Let me know! To me, my lobster roll should be an equation of: great quality lobster meat + mastered seasoning/taste + an appropriately thought bun (I am not a baker, but there is surely some fun evolutive work to do on this department) + a well balanced mayo mix (way too much requirrements for comfort food, hein?)

The Lobster:
Poached? Grilled? After a slight hesitation I went with my lifetime favourite cooking of the lobster: grilled! Just put a bit of garlic butter aside, keep that lobster fresh, simple and I’ll walk away with a huge smile on my face.
In Montreal, you can get lobster virtually anywhere. The thing is to get it cooked the way I like it (yeah..yeah..ya..they all say it is easy to cook a lobster..sure..sure..sure…but very few have delivered the proper balance of nice cooking/great quality lobster/resulting memorable taste I search for. To me, a meal of Lobster is the epitome of the equation “talent behind a kitchen” + “top quality ingredient”).
So, here again, the notes that I scribbled on this one:
-Marine robustness: HIGH
-Quality of the lobster meat: HIGH
-Cooking of the lobster meat: SUPERB
-Level of deliciousness: PERFECT
-Work of the Fishermen: Lol..just kidding on this one ;p I highly respect fishermen, especially them!

Before heading to a location, especially for seafood, I always phone and enquire about where the seafood comes from: the Gentleman over the phone explained that the lobster currently served (at this moment) at the restaurant comes from Nova Scotia. Their lobster weight around  1.5lbs/Maximum 2lbs and cost between $can28 – $can 32 (In Montreal, you can pay in between $52 to $80++ for some top of the top lobsters of that size..but again, that pricing probably reflects the fact that those tables  are not seafood distributors/providers). Quite a bargain for  top quality lobster, imho, but they explained to me that they are also distributor/providers of their own seafood, which explains the low cost. Their lobster is of exact same high end equality as those I had at $80 elsewhere …! At barely $30, half the $$$ I would pay at some highly regarded seafood spots, this lobster was remarquable: perfect depth of flavor, tasty, well cooked and of top quality.  The classic garlicky aside sauce was superb too. Excellent! 10/10 (This one lobster, on this specific visit, soared so high in terms of exceptional quality ).

Seafood soup – This place has idendity/personality. And this soup is just one example of just that: done differently from your usual seafood soups -> instead of a bowl full of seafood broth, you have here the seafood morsels shining atop (crab, clams) and a bit of the broth seating beneath. The freshness of the seafood continues to impress here: delish, tatsy and oozing of enjoyable saline flavors. The bit of broth beneath was delicious and harmoniously flavored. 9/10


Even when the boat could have sunk, Lucille fought back and shone:
Impressed, I should concede: even when the boat could have sunk, Lucille fought back and shone as in very little details like  those that will follow — very little details, barely noticeable to the most, but that I am taking time to write about because they mean a lot in my own  appreciation of this seafood spot:

Detail #1: At some point, while Jannice was talking to our main waitress, a young very tall charming lady, she ..the waitress…out of nowhere .. cut short to the discussion, dived in distraction, and hop la ..reappeared! I then said to myself  “Oh NO, I think Jannice will hate this move”…Jannice was a long time waitress, and such little details are noticeable to her. And she did notice it. BUT, the waitress came back, charming and focused as ever! From there on, she was shining on par with all best wait staff  I ever encountered in this province. When you come back strong like that, how to not fall under the charm of it all? Great come back ;p

Detail #2: Before going there, the Gentleman over the phone told me they usually have lobster in the kitchen and that I could just request that one is grilled. The same main waitress, instead of verifying with the kitchen, told me straight that there was no grilled lobster available. I told her that I was informed they would have lobsters in the kitchen but that it’s fine, we could forget about it. BUT she smartly thought about the most important principle in a restaurant: pleasing your guests as she managed to find a lobster for me. Another GREAT come back!

I know those are little details, but they mean a lot to a guest: it shows ACCOMODATION and DESIRE TO PLEASE! All of a sudden, the little futile sorrows turn into MINES OF GOLD!

The wait staff in general was great (always made sure that water was available, wine refilled, table cleaned from water drops. One young charming Gentleman even came and promptly fixed the unbalanced table we chose) and I should say .. HANDSOME.
Lucille Oyster Dive has deeply seduced me: this charming tiny spot has seriously made it’s way to the top of my favourite seafood tables in Montreal for it’s stunning quality of seafood, charming service, and cute minimalist and yet warm bistro alike decor. And this place gets crowded very fast (make no mistake: my pics were taken early, as soon as they opened the doors, a bit before people arrived, but less than half an hour later it got busy), so book in advance (albeit you still can find seats at the bar if you haven’t booked and are lucky enough).
Service on this dinner had perfect  timing: we started at 6PM, were done by 7:40PM with no feel of being rushed and enough space in between services to digest before the next food item would hit the table.Furthermore, the staff was accomodating with regards to the timeframe we wanted to follow. But anyways, this is purely a subjective matter: you should not go to a restaurant to complain about delays JUST arrange your timeframe with the wait staff (I never understood people complaining about slowness in a restaurant…what about talking to the wait staff and telling what you really want..instead of expecting them to guess for you??)

Lucille knows how to be distinct
I do not know for you, but to me , as little as they may appear, I like little details that makes a table distinct from others. I know that the wine presentation (in a Ketchup  tin can) or the unexpected rendition of the seafood soup (focused more on upfront presence of the fresh and top quality seafood items with just a little bit of soupy broth underneath as opposed to be entirely brothy) will not revolutionize the Gastro world, but they sent to me a clear message: this table is passionate about what it does.

Bottom line: Seafood is not just seafood. At least, an iodized saline soul like me  can’t  think that way. Quality in seafood is priceless, and Lucille Oyster Dive impressed me with top quality fresh seafood like I wish I could find everywhere else. I will run back at Lucille’s Oyster Dive way before running back at any of my other favourite seafood tables in Mtl, because of the overall cool, charming, unpretentious mood and above all, for the freshest seafood that this city has to offer. This report is disproportioned, purposely reflecting my sacred epic lifetime fascination for seafood.
Respect to the sea!    Thanks for reading, Aromes.

WHAT I THINK MONTHS LATER – My initial meal at LOD was a superb one in regard of the seafood bistrot standards here and abroad. Not only the food was delicious, but it was technically well accomplished. It remains,  years later, one of the finest meals I ever had in a Montreal restaurant.  The typical kind of issue  that unfortunately awaits this type of place (quality seafood bistrot)  is this: people, when things are pricey (quality seafood can’t be cheap) .. they do not care about details  such as the cooking skills, the quality of the food. It is the price tag that dictates how good is your food. And I will  add that the nice looking wait staff at LOD may bother some with a very high level of jealousy ;p  Oh well, too bad for those. There’s also the fact that ppl tend to associate  a certain type of experience with a price tag:  for example, Bistrot La Marine in Cagnes sur Mer is one  of world’s finest seafood bistrots. Consequently,  since it is quality seafood that is served there, there’s a price that comes with it. And yet, many flock there to complain about the place being a ..bistrot and that it’s too $$$ for a bistrot.  A way of foolishly suggesting that they expect a certain price tag to be associated with fine dining only … as if bistrots are condemned to earlier century’s  clichés with you know…the bottle in the hands…the hunter’s hat…It’s being a while that I haven’t re-visited LOD (it’s  far from where I leave),  but I hope they keep up with the standards I found on that initial visit (my second and third visits here  were not complete meals. I took oysters only, but quality oysters always leave a deep hole in a pocket when you pick them  at restaurants, so I’ll need to try another proper seafood meal here). But yes, it is not cheap as expected


Event: Dinner at Cuisine et Dependance
Friday Oct 16th, 2009 5:30PM
Type of restaurant: Mix of Modern and Classic Bistro fare

4902 St.Laurent Blvd, Montreal, QC
Phone%20Icon 514-842-1500
Arome’s the food blog: Q&A’s, Guidelines, Ethics, Vision

CUISINE ET DEPENDANCE - OUTSIDE This is one restaurant which sudden growing interest for (see page 9 of the Chatboard) had caught me by total surprise. Well, I know that their chef was a star back to the days of his old restaurant at St Augustin (I even  highly regarded him as one of Quebec’s best chefs based on the amazing job he did overthere), but when I heard he moved to Mtl and was doing bistro, I never manifested any particular interest since I prefer bistro-centric star chefs (M sur Masson’s Filiatreault, Michael Ross from Old Brunoise, Loiseau from Bistro Cocagne, etc) behind a .. bistro kitchen!

But I owe you a lot from your old time loyalty (already 10 years of following me all around!), so I said “Why not?”, specially for a bistro that has barely been reviewed by the next door foodies that most of us are (there are reviews on C&D by newspapers/magazine’s  food journalists, couple of comments here and there on the web, but apart one article that was once published on — I think the article was retrieved since I do not see it anymore / pls correct me if I am wrong here — I haven’t yet read any next door foodie’s fully detailed review about this restaurant). To that regard, it was kind of interesting to break the ice. So, after the luxurious dinner of last Friday at XO, I was searching for a counter-balance: something more bistro-esque, this time! My heart said “Go to Mas Cuisine!!” (it’s about time I give Ross’s Brunoise successor a try…I can’t believe I’ve never been to this one!!), but another part of me whispered “Don’t forget the girls and boys who have been asking you to try C&D for them”. I went for the latest this Friday evening (Mas, I am coming at you soon!! believe me!).

Decor is minimalist (no heavy distracting decorations) and yet of stylish modern bistro type with an omnipresence of warm colors (green, brown, wall bricks painted in white) and darker ones (black, darker floor, dark roof). Very pretty decor, very airy (even when it is busy, you do not get that uncomfy feel of beeing jam packed)

and welcoming glass windows offering a perfect penetration of natural light:

They have both a fixe menu available everyday (basically, some menu items that were so popular that they decided to make available on a daily basis such as some delicatessen, ray wings, their very popular veal cheeks):
AND also a variable menu that changes daily (written on  paperboards):
paperboard menu
The paperboard menus are very accessible and omnipresent, so you wont have to worry about beeing able to read the menu or not (anyway, the waiter re-explains the entire menu at the table).

I started by chosing a wine. As usual, I always go for a wine that I am not familiar with.
I went with the 2007 Corsican Fiumeseccu (Domaine d’Alzipratu)  red wine. This wine really gets better upon decantation. Some wines gets worst after they are decanted, but this was is the total opposite: at first, it sports a strange confusing acidic deep taste barely detectable berries, liquorice and peppery touch (really not that pleasant on the first 5 minutes, well at least not to my tastebuds)…then, it evolved gradually (10,15 minutes after it was decanted) into a  a nice wine suddently characterized by a pleasant light fruity and subtly spiced enjoyable good wine:

Fiumeseccu, Dom d'Alzipratu

I picked a first appetizer of crab, called “Crabe tourteau”:
Crab This starter consisted of crab meat, nicely concocted in a light taragon-flavored delicious cream of mayo, sandwiched between two very tasty buttery slightly-toasted slices of “dodu du fromentier”‘s bread: the crab meat was amazingly fresh (as if it came right from the sea), tender, nicely seasoned, flavorful and very tasty. It was served along fresh mesclun baby leaves that were ideally crunchy on top of complementing perfectly well the crab meat. Refreshing and Delicious!
PS: Do not search far for what “Crabe Tourteau” is. “Crabe Tourteau” is just another naming for the big majority of some common crab species. It’s just “cuter/more inspired/etymologically richer” to put it as “Crab Tourteau” 10/10

I then picked a second  appetizer called “Tartelette de Boudin”:
TARTELETTE DE BOUDIN The blood sausage tart was surrounded by nice fresh green salad (amazingly light and tasty vinaigrette, Yeah..I could do that salad  at home, but hey this was very nice nevertheless), topped by tasty crunchy slices of fresh green apples (apple as a salad could be a wow. That is the case here!), a chunk of rich greasy bacon lardon (I could live without it..but it was irreproachably tasty). The two pieces of blood sausages were nicely concocted, had an awesome inside smoothness and was perfectly flavored. They were sitting on a flat savourish slightly enjoyable sweet biscuit topped by an intense rich and all flavorful onion fondue. I liked the precision both in terms of mouthfeel and cooking of that fondue: It was more of a jam of chopped pieces of onions, cooked to perfection with flawless  well balanced tastes and flavors. It’s when simple things are done so well that you measure the grandeur of a chef, and this is a perfect example of just that -> straightforward onion jam-alike fondue that’s very tasty. Not one flavor was outperforming here! The biscuit was light, had a heavenly enjoyable subtle buttery taste and was litteraly melting mouth crispy!A lot of great work here on this appetizer: various layers of tastes that paired so well between one another. 8/10

Then the braised veal cheeks:
BRAISED VEAL CHEEKS The braised veal cheeks were sitting on top of a nice rich creamy delicious potato purée. The cheeks were undeniably very tender and packed with remarquable flavors. Nicely cooked and delectable mouthfeel on top of being perfectly well seasoned. Not too salty, not too greasy, not lacking at all in terms of flavors. In the plate, there was a nice piece of beet (nicely crunchy,  lightly sweet) with carrots. I am not a big fan of veal cheeks, but since this is one of their signature dishes, I had to try it and this was definitely lovely. 7.5/10

Concluded with a vanilla pot de crème:
VANILLA POT DE CREME The pot de crème was flawless on all accounts: light, rich  and delicious in taste. Topped by a nice little touch of little slices of nuts. 8/10

I also ended with a nice warm brazilian coffee:

I really liked the non formal, relax service provided by my waiter, Yves Larose. This gentleman is what I would qualify as an open minded intellectual with lots of outlooks on practically anything. Interesting person to talk to. And really passionate about what he does: he takes proud detailing each product and reminding how pure and natural they stand (I trust him: the freshness of the ingredients here are undeniable! As fresh as if there was a market and a fishermen’s village right in front of the restaurant!).

Jean-Paul Giroux is one of the few Chefs around the globe that I hold in high esteem. If I had to spend the rest of my life on a desert Island with just 3,5 Chefs to feed me, he would be among those very few. Because he has a great palate (not all Chefs do, believe me!), because he knows how to deliver the most important: delicious food. Because he knows how to deliver them: the simple way possible, but with remarkable palatable impact. Where some do  skip  many essential steps and are busy discovering the next trends of the moment, I remain convinced that great food needs no complex interventions but simplicity expressed with tremendous personal culinaric skills.

Bottom line: this is exactly what I am looking for when I go to a restaurant -> food that is profoundly delicious, executed with inspiration and talent by a Chef entirely dedicated to the ultimate purpose of dining: leaving pleasurable imprints on his customers palates.

-See more  pictures on my picasa’s gallery: