Posts Tagged ‘coup de coeur’

Pursuing my tour of some of the finest steakhouses of New York, having tried Peter Luger, Keens, Strip House, Quality Meats  and Wolfgang.

Dropped by Gallagher’s Steakhouse, a historical steakhouse, which, during the days of the prohibition, was the first illicit establishment selling alcohol where gamblers and stars of Broadway would meet.

In the incredibly competitive steakhouse market of NYC (perhaps, the steakhouse mecca of the world – I mean, do you know any other major city with that many world class steakhouses? Do you? ), you know you have reached the enviable status of a historic shrine at whatever you do when the NY Times writes romanticized write-ups with eye-candy photographs of this sort about you – .

At Gallagher’s Steakhouse,  I ordered:

Platter of 12 oysters – Dabob bay from Hood canal (Washington) and Canadian lucky lime. Nicely shucked quality fresh oysters. The lucky lime had the advertised citrus-tone finish in evidence. The intertidal beach cultured  Dabob bay oysters, quite briny for an oyster coming from the Pacific. The mignonette properly done. A platter of fine oysters. 7/10

The 20 oz rib eye steak (Grade: USDA Prime), dry aged for 28 – 32 days on premise in their glass-enclosed meat locker ( You can see it from the street – a sight to behold). The meat is grilled on hickory coals, a rarity in a city where most steakhouses do broil their steaks. Grilling meat over an open fire has always been my preferred grilling method for meats. The requested medium rare doneness achieved with utter precision. It delivered on flavor (the seasoning, exquisite –  the steak  as delicious as it gets) and was superbly tender throughout. The great grilling effect of the open fire in evidence to the eyes/smell/palate.  Dazzling crust. My steak had its juices settled within the meat, therefore timely rested. A steak is not a moon landing mission and one can do great steaks at home, indeed, but what matters here is that this is a steakhouse and it is doing one of the better steaks in NYC. Easily the best rib eye steak I ever had at all the top tier steakhouses of NY. 10/10

The creamed spinach. Here too, the G seems to have the edge as the creamed spinach had superb taste and great balance between the cream and spinach flavours. Superb texture too. Just some delicious creamed spinach like few — surprising, indeed – seem to be able to pull out at the NYC steakhouses. Vibrant fresh and delicious flavours. 9/10

Even the crème fraîche to accompany the baked potato was not of the ordinary sort. The baked potato managing, somehow, not to be just an average piece of tired looking baked potato simply because most kitchen brigades keep such simple things for granted (as most diners do, actually), when, in reality, the sourcing of your potato and how you timed its baking makes a big difference. Here, they did care about that difference.

Bottom line: A very beautiful steakhouse (the warmth of materials such as  wood and leather never failing to entice) in the classic genre. But the food was as great. Where many steakhouses seem to deliver  tired renditions of classic steakhouse food, the G seems to find a way to make it a bit more exciting in mouth (even their homemade sauce to accompany the steak, made of tomato/garlic/Worcestershire sauce, was well engineered as far as balancing flavors go, its taste great ). A commendable steakhouse, indeed.

Overall rating: Food 9/10 One of the very best steakhouses of NYC.   The steaks are great here, but everything else as well. For my taste, the G and Peter Luger are my No1 steakhouses in New York, with the G being a better all rounder, for sure. Furthermore, nothing beats the appealing  texture as well as memorable grilling aromas of a steak that is grilled on open fire (a broiled steak looks unappetizing in comparison). Service 8/10 (superb service in the typical classic NYC steakhouse way). Gallaghers Steakhouse Addr: 228 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019 Phone: 212-586-5000 URL:



Roberta’s pizza (above picture shows the take-out section of the establishment) has been hyped up as one of the biggest current hits of the dining scene of NYC.

It is relatively not that old (opened in 2008) and yet it is already a cult in NYC dining history. Its nontraditional

pizze featuring oftently in the top 5 of the best pizze in the nation, not a light exploit in the US.

It is an American-Italian pizza eatery, therefore I went with the flow and ordered exactly what the local crowd have been raving about, their Italian-American pizze (which ratings are not to be compared to my ratings of Neapolitan pizze, btw – two completely different styles).

-Torchietti pasta /topneck clams/ garlic/herbs – it is a pizza place. Not a pasta restaurant. Therefore no expectation, here. I just picked the pasta because I wanted some pasta as well. This was too salty (yep, the cook who cooked this dish seemed to have misjudged that the clams have already plenty of salt ) though pleasant enough 6/10

-« Babe: Pig in the city » is the name they gave to their pizza made of cheddar/mozzarella/ prosciutto cotto / onion / salsa verde – all their pizze are wood fired. Plated on metal pizza tray. No ample quantity of sauce, but just the right ratio. The dough made with specialty flour (they use a blend of specialty flours) and it did, obviously, rise for a long time, judging by the superb flavour of that crust. To get to such nicely rendered crust (excellent thin chewy crust with a superb light feel and ideal crisp to its texture) , they must have been using some of the best thin-crust pizza techniques of the industry. Delicious complementary flavours (the flavour of the crust responding well to the one of its toppings). 9/10

-Lieutenant Dan pizza (marinated summer peppers, pork sausages, cheddar, basil, onion, chili pepper, sesame) – They are so creative and fearless about their choices of toppings that, at times, a distracted palate can easily interpret the presence of some toppings as being « out of place ». That is not the case at all, in reality: take the sesame. It added to the overall festive mouthfeel of this pizza. Another thin crust pie that was well rendered (clearly, there is no quickie kneading operation in their pizza making process) as evidenced by its superb crunch, the right chew factor, and its exciting flavours. 9/10

-Freshly grilled pork collar /cucumbers/ spring onions /cabbage / salsa verde – had fine taste, the flavour that comes from the open fire always imparting an enticing smoky flavour as it did, here, with both the grilled protein as well as veggies. They seem to bother about quality organic veggies as that it how the veggies felt. The salsa verde had superb taste and texture. The grilled veggies tasted fine, too. Nice seasoning as well. Again, you are here for the pizza, but the non pizza items are still enjoyable enough as it was the case with this dish. 7/10

According to the media, the owners were not in the pizza industry before. Then one day they decided to open a pizza shop, went to Italy and learned from those in the know. And then came back and gave birth to Roberta’s. Well, if that is true, then they are the proof that sometimes, you need to come from « outside the box ´´ to offer a better show. As with any operation that is creative, they have to take risks (with their choice of varied toppings), therefore I suspect that it cannot be always as stellar as it was during my visit, but what matters is that Roberta’s has proven, once again, that it is capable of some of the best pizze in the nation.

Overall rating: 9/10 for the pizze – Category ´American-Italian pizza ‘ (They are technically as excellent as It is possible to be, they do come with a divine taste and a flawless crust). If you hear someone telling you that this is as good as any other Italian-American pizza in nyc, then that is coming from the same dude who thinks that mp3 and aiff do have the same quality of sound. 9/10 for the excellent service – no drama, no attitude here, but humble professionals who are passionate about their jobs and doing it really well. Ambience was a 9/10 (the place does not look like much from both the inside and outside, ´rough looking’ from the outside, situated in a ´tough looking’ area, but it is full of life, in a civilized way, which is of course a good thing). Roberta’s Addr: 261 Moore Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11206 Phone: 718-417- 1118; URL:

Le Divil (Addr: 9 rue des Fabriques D en Nabot, 66000, Perpignan, France Phone: +33 4 68 34 57 73)



According to  the international experts of the steak, the best restaurant of France, for meat, in 2017 is le Divil –  Franck Ribière and  Vérane Frédiani, authors of Steak in France as well as internationally acclaimed  experts of the steak have awarded le Divil with the title of France’s best restaurant, for meats, in 2017. Franck has also a movie  about steaks called Steak Revolution in which he documents his trips  around the world in search of the finest steaks possible.

Aging beef : an art or a just a trend? –  Beef aging is nowadays a trend in the restaurant world, but as it is the case with everything that is lucrative, many are aging their meat but rare are those who are delivering an aged beef that lives up to the hype. That is because it is not …lucrative enough to go through what it takes to get the job done properly: months of trial and error, matching the right technique….to the right cut of meat… at the right storing temperature, etc. It is a complex combination of know-how (that few can have because the most are busy running without taking the time to learn walking…) and genuine passion (the attitude of a true artisan, but that is too old school/too time consuming by the standards of the most, nowadays).

Aging beef is  also another strategy of the restaurant industry to ‘milk the cow’. But when done properly, I will admit that it’s a luxury (because …. obviously … properly aged quality meat will not come cheap) that is worth the hype.  Earlier on, I argued that it is rare to find people, in the food industry, that have the right know-how of aging meat, and that could not have been more accurate: just look at how, most of them, do store their aged meats and the lack of proper know-how is an evidence for those in the know. Another proof of the total lack of proper know-how: have you noticed that most restaurateurs do recommended the same doneness no matter the cut, no matter the marbling…that’s absurd as anyone with proper understanding of the science of meats should know that the doneness needs to be adjusted to, as an example, how marbled or not the meat is. Absurd is actually an understatement: many do mix wet and dry aging to…inevitably…an ordinary effect. Why? Well, again….the basic principles of ‘ science ‘ is misunderstood by most of those people aging meat: when you put something wet on something dry… guess what…the dry effect is cancelled. Aging beef is sublime when it is an art. Sadly, it is oftently  no more than  just a trend in the hands of the most.

What  I ate at Le Divil – I ordered a bone-in ribeye of Baltic Beef (tasting a bit of  nuts, saline), dry aged for 100 days days, from Poland as well as a 70 days dry-aged Montbéliard (France) bone-in ribeye (to the smell, before they cooked it, it had the smell of  dry cured ham) . Both were examples of world class dry-aged pieces of quality red meat.  Just remember that they do not serve them to you as  whole steak the  way that a steakhouse would serve it to you in North America, but as meat that is sliced  in pieces (a bit like how they serve your red meat at a Japanese teppanyaki). With meat of this quality, always opt for the default suggested doneness of the house as they know what they are doing (indeed, the doneness ‘bleu’, which the Chef did strongly suggest, was the best doneness for both dry-aged meats as the texture of the meat as well as its flavour were at their best).

Bottom line: Oftently, in the industry, many mix dry and wet ageing, and you are punished with a meat with no real beefy character. Both the Montbelliard and Baltic beef were dry aged meats (as well as all their aged meats at Le Divil), and it was obvious that the meat was aged in perfect conditions (finding the right temperature, and not just using the defacto recommended ones is key to a beautifully dry aged piece of meat, which is what was achieved here). And I am traditionally fond of red meat grilled on open fire, which is the cooking method they use at Le Divil. But next time I will go there, I will insist to get my 20oz bone in rib eye steak…The Chef finds it (a whole piece of 20oz of bone-in ribeye) too much, for 1 pers, but in North America, we are used to it. When meat is superbly dry aged like these, a chunky 20oz bone-in rib eye is what I am looking for. I will go back. Steaks (9/10), Appetizers (N/A), Sides (7/10 ), Service (8/10 )


Brigitte I discovered  La Frite à Brigitte during Le Grand PoutineFest 2016 in Montreal. I never went to their main shop in Vaudreuil-Dorion, QC . This review is about the poutine they did sell during that poutine festival.


The sauce:  An advanced and  perfected dark brown competently rendered gravy, characterized by a  concentration of delicious bold meat  flavours.  Oftently , you hear about the  velvety consistency of a poutine gravy, you try it and it is nowhere to be found,  but here, it was as flawless as it gets. A first-rate poutine gravy    8/10

The french fries:  quality homemade potatoes  (La frite à Brigitte particularly proud of the  Yukon gold potatoes from St Roch de L’Achigan that they were  cooking during the poutine fest as proven by the display of their quality potatoes pretty much everywhere on the premises of their  food stand at the poutine fest. It certainly has the edge over its local competition on the aspect of  the quality of the potato.  Concentrated  potato flavor. Brown crusted exterior , mealy interior that the majority of the Quebecois came to expect from a typical Quebecois poutine’s french fries . 8/10

The cheese curds: superb fresh squeaky big chunks of cheese curds, left unmelted , served at room temperature,  just the way I like it.  Just the way it should be. I did ask from where the cheese curds came from and they said they are  from Fromage St-Albert (Ontario). There’s a lot of competition in the market of the poutine’s cheese curds, this side of the sphere, but these were top-drawer  cheese curds.  8/10

PROS: One of the better poutines of Montreal and its surroundings.

CONS: The quantity of the serving of their poutine at the Poutine fest was not too generous. But with such quality, I can live with that.

The journey to Poutineland is a never ending one (you can find some of my prefered poutineries listed  here)  . Time and again, there is always a new spot that is recommended by my Quebecois friends. The suggestions are numerous, and this serves me well in my search for the finest poutines, but unless one does not understand what a properly executed classic poutine should be, there  was hardly anything to fault with the above mentioned poutine. I have no clue how it fares at their restaurant, but this poutine was way   better than the classic poutine I had at plenty of supposedly far superior poutineries such as  the legendary  La Banquise.  La Frite à Brigitte Addr: 347 Boulevard Harwood, Vaudreuil-Dorion, QC Phone number : 450-510-5151 URL:

Some of the poutines I liked or found satisfying enough across the province of Quebec: (they were visited in between 1998 and 2015. Not reviewed)

Mama Poutine Addr: 4516 boulevard Allard Drummondville / Saint-Nicéphore, Québec J0C 1A0 (CLOSED)
Roulotte Chez Marcel, 5, rue René-Richard Baie-Saint-Paul, Québec G3Z 3G3 (CLOSED)
Cantine Chez Dave & Dan Addr: 1655 Rang Saint-Édouard, Saint-Liboire, QC J0H 1R0
Le Coq Extra Addr: 535, boulevard Sir-Wilfrid-Laurier Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Québec, J3H
Cantine Annie, Addr: 27 Boulevard Arthabaska Est, Victoriaville, Quebec
La Roulotte Du Boulevard Addr: 4294 Boulevard Sainte-Anne, Québec, QC G1E 3M5
Patate Mallette Addr: 41 Rue Saint Laurent, Beauharnois, QC J6N 3M3
Casse-Croute Flash Bourg Addr: 21231 Boulevard Henri-Bourassa, Québec, QC G2N 1R
Cantine La Patate à Patou, Addr: 170 2 Rang, Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, Quebec, QC G0Z
Cantine La Fringale Addr: 100 Boulevard Sir Wilfrid Laurier, McMasterville, QC J3G 1P8
La Souche Addr: 801 Chemin de la Canardière, Québec, QC G1J 2B8
Casse-Croûte Chez Micheline Addr: 225 Rte 138, Saint-Augustin QC G3A 1W7
Casse-Croûte Route 66 Addr: 640 Wilfrid-Hamel Blvd, Quebec City, QC G1M 3P9
Mamie Pataterie Gourmande Addr: 1245, de la Seigneurie, Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies
Cantine Ti-Wick Addr: 1020, boul. Iberville, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
Dépanneur Poutine Hériot, Addr: 452, rue Hériot, Drummondville
Ti-Oui Snack Bar Addr: 201 Avenue Saint-Jacques, Saint-Raymond, QC G3L 3Y6
La roulotte du coins Addr: 2875 Chemin Royal, Sainte-Famille, QC G0A 3P0
Casse-Croute Buffet Du Nord Addr: 2750 Boulevard Père-Lelièvre, Québec, QC G1P 2X8
Cantine Bayeur Addr: 506 Rue Saint-Jacques, Napierville, QC J0J 1L0



Fenêtre Sur Kaboul – Restaurant & Salon de Thé | 901, rue Rachel Est – Plateau Mont-Royal Montréal |
Phone: (514) 522-6851 | Type of cuisine: Afghan | When: 13-12-2014 18:00 | URL:

This was food for those who love food for its primary role:  being enjoyable on the palate.

This was a meal with a friend who is not a foodie, therefore a meal devoid of the distraction of photo and note-taking. I’ll try my best to convey my impressions of this meal based on the mental notes I made.

The restaurant boasts  a simple classic white tablecloth’d decor, with white and a bit of red as the dominant tones. They also have a pretty dimly lighted section which serves as a tea room.

My dining companion had the  “Homemade Ash” soup. I did not try it but she was pleased with the depth of taste of the soup  and added that the noodles were properly cooked to the bite, the tomato flavor appetizing. From what I could see, the texture was  also superb.

I had the   manto dumplings which was filled with beef on this instance. The beef of great quality, the dumplings timely steamed to ideal chew , the spices not too bold in their expression as Afghan food does not lean towards agressive  flavors,  but this was judicious seasoning. 7/10

She picked the kofta kabob. The ground beef beautifully marinated and by beautifully, I mean nice enticing aromas. The basmati rice nicely cooked and perfumed. How refreshing was that to see …finally…on the Montreal restaurant scene…a true sizeable main course as, these days, main courses in our local restaurants are so meager in quantity. 8/10

I went on with the Kaboul Kabob combo, which featured the excellent kofta kabob that she ordered, delicious morsels of quality lamb, and flawlessly grilled chicken breasts. As ever, for my taste, charcoal grilling (which is the grilling method here) is half the battle. Flawless and exquisite grilling, indeed.  8/10

I took no desserts, but she ordered the Shire Yakhice cream, of which I had a scoop. The country where I was born is known to produce one of the finest vanilla of this globe, so it was hard for the vanilla aroma of this ice cream to impress me, but the ice cream still managed to dazzle with an enticing rose water fragrance. A delicious ice cream, and not one of the  ordinary sort. Furthermore, you should see the size! Such sizeable quality ice cream at only $6, well  …haven’t heard of such thing for years, in this city. 8/10

Bottom line: Fenêtre Sur Kaboul  was not a restaurant that was on my radar. My dining companion wanting to be original (her words, not mine), she turned down the usual possibilities of sushi/ Italian food/steakhouse (I suspect that all the great steakhouses/Italian/French bistrots/Sushiyas that are reviewed on this food blog and which count among this city’s finest…would actually pass as a pile of unoriginal food destinations to her ;p)  , lol, and came up with this choice on the sole basis that someone else has recommended it to her.  So, I went with no expectation  and it did not disappoint as everything was technically well executed, the service excellent, the restaurant itself barely decorated but  pretty (especially the tea room section), the prices fair (finally a restaurant where you can have a nice and tasty filling full meal for two at more or less $70, a rarity in Montreal nowadays), the ingredients  fresh and of good quality (by local restaurant standards),  and here’s a place where you can bring your date.  I am not denying the fact that it is not rocket science to cook a soup,make some dumplings and grill some meat, but then you’ve got to do  it well and that is what they did. A long time local foodie friend whose taste I trust is telling me that in Montreal, for  Middle Eastern food, Damas is her favourite restaurant. I am looking forward to  try restaurant Damas, but for now, as far as I am concerned, FSK nicely represents food of the Middle East in Montreal. I doubt it will knock your socks off, which is not its intent anyways,but it is certainly a good restaurant doing what it needs to do seriously.












Tofuro  is a chain of restaurant serving all sorts of food (soba, sushis, grilled chicken, misc Japanese bistrot food). I went to the one situated in Ginza .







I picked a bowl of hot Soba which featured perfectly thin delicate noodles. I usually prefer thick soba noodles, but this was soba of flawless technique, the noodle impossibly refined, the broth having balanced seasoning.  I won’t hide the fact that this was a bit too gourmet for my taste as I am fonder of the mom and pop type of soba noodles that abound in Tokyo, but that should not detract from the observation that Tofuro’s soba was superb. 9/10







The yakitori (grilled chicken) was another showcase of the high level of cooking technique found under this roof, with meat of fine quality and flavors that can only come from an inspired kitchen of talented cooks. Miles away from the poorly executed , oftently dry and tasteless, grilled chicken that can be found at plenty of bistrots. Superb yakitori offerings with not one single flaw to be noticed. 8/10

The service was also of really high standard.

Pros: It is rare to find a ‘jack of all trades’ (they do not specialize in one type of food) that does virtually execute pretty much everything flawlessly. I am not implying that Tofuro is exceptional. What  I can tell you,though, is that few restaurants can do as much …this well.

Cons: perhaps  such  refinement will not be the cup of tea of someone looking for rusticity

My verdict: 8/10 (Category: mid-level all-rounder isakaya/soba/yakitori in Tokyo) By reading reviews of local foodies, I realized that they tend to not like their chain restaurants that much, a recurrent trend  a bit  everywhere around the globe. But I could not care about feelings and perceptions. Chains or not, what matters to me is the food and how great it fared to me. Tofuro’s display was one of superb and consistent high level of technique. A place like this could easily remain in the top5 of Montreal’s finest restaurants for years and yet our top 5 is nowhere close in terms of consistency ( I ate 3 times, at Tofuro,within 1 week. Tried lunch and dinner and the  technique was great and  flawless on each instance).

What I think weeks later: Obviously, it would be irrational to expect a ‘jack of all trades’ to showcase the sort of homey/artisan feel that’s more appropriately the affair of a ‘specialist’ (sushiya, dedicated soba place, ramen ya, etc), but finding an all-rounder that does execute pretty much everything flawlessly, and oh, btw…at such low cost, with actually …quality produce, everything homemade, with such level of consistency, well …that is no ordinary achievement by any restaurant standards.