Posts Tagged ‘restaurant marconi montreal’

 

 ​MONTREAL – On the fine dining front, Atelier Joel Robuchon in Montreal was the major restaurant opening of 2017.  I went eating at AJRM in January. It  did deliver the type of cooking I  came to expect from the big majority of the celebrated restaurants in Montreal: some predictable/safe cooking, but of course…it can always be much more inspired when the food journalists or poster-diners have snatched a seat as  can be observed in the interesting difference between what I did experience Vs what stood as a life-shattering revelation to our  food journalists (just google what the food journalists have raved about and enjoy the bromance!).  At least, I can’t say that I did not know what I was getting into: as predicted  in my review of Atelier Joel Robuchon Montreal  ” Occasional local diners as well as our local food jounalists will  be impressed while well travelled foodies will be expecting more in light of the standards that AJR has set elsewhere” –  our local  food journalists were inevitably going to  have a blast, a totally different experience from anonymous /normal customers).

Fortunately, I also found, in Montreal, some restaurants that are cooking great food no matter who you are, and as it should be at  serious restaurants:  Nozy is a  gem I discovered this year, with a true skilled Japanese Chef cooking the genuine food of his motherland. I wish long years of success to this amazing true artisan Chef, and plenty of rewards for not running his restaurant from home (directed at  the myriad of pseudo cooks in Montreal, whose head got big, and are at home, watching tv, while their poorly trained assistants are left to themselves cooking food that should not be served at a restaurant).

Two other local restaurants impressed me during this first quarter, Hvor  with a brilliant  Chef at the helm, as well as Marconi of Chef Mehdi Brunet Benkritly, the last real  Chef that Au Pied de Cochon really had. Hvor, in particular, coming to the rescue right after my just correct / safe meal at Atelier Joel Robuchon in Montreal.

In little India , Maison Indian Curry House  has consistently delivered the best lamb curry  in town, but the lamb curry is not as consistently good as it used to be (sometimes, some of the chunks of meat are hard, while others are tender and  you need to ask them for the non spicy lamb curry, as the spicy sort is not that great). Their thalis and naan bread are not the best in town, all the rest is fine enough to keep MICH among my go-to places.

I also tried Gandhi and the Taj.  Gandhi is not bad, not the best in town, neither,  but  it is a way too pricey for what I was  getting. Le Taj is pretty, but I was not as satisfied, about its food, as much as at some of the restaurants of Little India.

I finally tried the very popular Escondite, which owners are very successful restaurateurs opening plenty of restaurants inspired from various types of cooking: japanese, hawaian and, in the case of Escondite, mexican. I am usually a bit sceptic about that formula (looking for the concept  that sells)  as it is, usually,  mainly about business (japanese style bistrot sells, so let us open one / tapas sells, so let us do the same thing),  rather than the type of artisan Chef cooking (a true artisan Chef who has mastered his craft his entire life and cooks with heart, first ) I deem worthy of my hard earned money, but hey… heart is not going to make you rich, lol, and the owners of Escondite are not promising artisan Chef cooking. Furthermore, they are opening pleasant restaurants offering enjoyable  food and that was the case of Escondite.

I was also curious to look into some of the major sushiyas in town, so I turned to the  local food experts (food journalists, etc), hoping that their recommendations could be useful. They seemed to have found world class sushiyas ran by exceptional itamae, so off I went to find out. Before I elaborate about my incredible findings, I just want you to know that sushiya/sushiyasan/itamae are generally terms that I use not just to enrich any vocabulary or showing up whatever kind of knowledge, but solely by respect to the true Japanese Craftmanship that we know as Sushi making. But in Montreal, whenever you see me using those terms,  keep in mind that it’s with the deliberate intent to be… sarcastic (rightly so, btw). Montreal is not making sushi. It is just molding rice and leaving pieces of fish on it. It could be whatever kind of rice, and anything that bears resemblance to a fish, does not need to be a fish — to be honest with you — and the aftermath (yep, aftermath is the adequate term, here)  will be the same. In case you think I am exaggerating, I will leave you with my reviews of the so-called (by our local experts) best local sushiyas of Montreal:  Jun I, Park, Sushi Yumi. Baffl.., baffled….I was.

 NEW YORK, on the other hand, is the world class foodie destination that we all know.

New York continues to dazzle, and their big gunz seem more concerned about being consistently great rather than waiting after a poster-diner to find some renewed motivation. Two of their latest “hot” restaurants are Ichimura and Le Coucou, both restaurants would qualify as  destination restaurants anywhere around the globe.

I did also visit Sushi Azabu in February, which  continues to be my preferred Sushiya in NYC.

Then a Brooklyn institution known for its cheesecake, Junior’s. According to the local medias, a rich sheikh had one of Junior’s cheesecakes flying over several continents and oceans to be savoured in his palace. I was not as impressed by that cheesecake, but Junior’s (reviewed here) offers some great food.

In Koreantown, I tried two korean bbqs: one that’s very popular, Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, as well as Dons Bogam. The former is a fun place, but it was disappointing on the culinary front, whereas the latter is an elite kbbq spot.

I also tried their most talked about ramenya, Ippudo, which I will review soon. I tried the one that is situated at 65 4th Avenue. Ippudo is not an elite  ramen shop, back in Japan, but in New York, it is doing enoughly well to rank among the very best at what it does. If you can detach yourself from the comparisons to Japan, then you won’t fail to appreciate my latest assertion…eventhough, like most ramen fans who happened to have tried some of the best ramenyas of Tokyo, I, too, would have couple of things to reproach to Ippudo NYC.

As with any major foodie destinations, if you let your guard down, you can stumble upon bad eateries, such as Miss Favella in Brooklyn (reviewed here),  but, overall, NY deserves its reputation as  a true world class foodie destination.

 ATLANTIC CITY – At approximately 2hrs drive from New York, you will find the coastal city of Atlantic city, famous for its picturesque ocean views as well as for its casinos. There, I ate at two of their most popular restaurants: Docks oyster house (seafood) as well as Kelsey & Kim’s (soul food). I will go back to Kelsey & Kim’s but not to Docks.

I​n May 2017, I hope I will be able to attend the burger bash in Atlantic city as some serious burgers will be available at that event. Traditionally, I do not take seriously foodie events of that sort, as the competitors are mainly present for promotional purpose, and it is always a joke to try giving your best miles away from the ingredients and tools that made you famous, but the best burgers of the burger bash event are known as some of America’s most serious burgers. You are on the land of the burger, after all. Of particular interest, during this upcoming 2017 episode of the burger bash:
-The Guinness Bacon cheeseburger from the Hard rock cafe. Atop the beef patty, Jameson bacon jam/Guinness cheese sauce/lettuce and tomato.
-The Margate dairy bar and burger’s The MDB Burger which is composed of a mix of short rib and brisket (from Pat LaFrieda)/lettuce/picles/tomato and American cheese. They will use a secret sauce for their burgers, therefore it will be interesting to see how that sauce would have elevated the burger.
-The Metropolitain’s steak au poivre burger (comes with bacon/gruyere cheese) as well as the Bocca coal fired bistro’s pepadew bacon burger (angus burger/aged white cheddar/pepadew relish/cherry wood smoked bacon/buttery brioche roll) are also on my list of burgers to try.
Event: The burger bash Url: acweekly.com/burgerbash
When: Saturday May 20th, 2017 from 1 to 4pm,
Where: The Deck at Golden nugget, Atlantic city

 

AA Gill dies at 62 – He was a food writer with unrivaled wit. A divise character (you definitely  need a sense of humor to appreciate AA Gill’s hilarious writings) , for sure, but one of world’s most  captivating food writers (He was also a professional journalist covering various topics for the Sunday Times and Vanity Fair). The kind that you are unlikely going to praise in public (certainly not a critic  favored  by the restaurant industry, an industry that he oftently  tore to pieces –a good example of that can be found in his review of L’Ami Louis in Paris —  ) , perhaps, but whose  rants will not  leave the most  indifferent. To the contrary of many food journalists who run after public relations activities  that promote the restaurants they review,  AA Gill has always expressed disdain at the  restaurant world / food writers “bromance”.

 

Gault et Millau  “Palmares 2017”  for Quebec  –  Yvan Lebrun from L’Initiale is their Chef of the year. Their “Chef of the future” is John Winter Russel from Candide. I ate the food of Yvan while visiting Quebec city once for lunch in 2010 (that review can be found here) , then for dinner in July 2015. Chef Lebrun is one of the best French Chefs of this province (Dinner was stronger than lunch, though), and I have no problem with his best Chef award. As for John, I  never ate at his restaurant. The “Palmares 2017” shows that G&M is slowly but surely getting familiar with our province’s restaurant scene, but it will be hard to explain to the local food experts, those truely familiar with our restaurants, how talented Chefs  like Mercuri (Le Serpent), De Montigny (La Chronique), José Pierre Durand (Poivre Noir), Jean-Francois Belair (who used to work at  Le Marly, ), Marc Cohen (Lawrence), just to name a few, do not count among G&M’s cream of the crop .

 

Restaurant Marconi, Montreal – Chef Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly is back in Montreal. He was at Au Pied de Cochon when APDC was in its prime and that is where I had the opportunity to sample his food for the first time. Back then,  I was impressed by what Mehdi was doing because he was an excellent interpretor of APDC’s Martin Picard neo-rustic North American/Quebecois bistrot cooking which can be remarkable in skilled hands, indeed, but utterly forgettable  in lesser ones (I have experienced both incarnations of ADPC and trust me…) . In those days, most foodies argued that Mehdi’s skills were second only to Chefs Picard/Dufour. For anyone who was lucky enough to have tasted the food cooked by Dufour and Picard in their heydays, that is no ordinary feature by any restaurant standard, here and abroad. He also worked at celebrated Montreal fine dining destination Toque!. Mehdi left the Montreal restaurant scene for many years pursuing his career as a Chef  in New York (Fedora, Chez Sardine).

This article of Tastet.ca  contains  beautiful pictures of the interior of  restaurant Marconi –

menuWhat  I ate:

 

mackerelNigiri maquereau fume (mayonnaise épicée , riz croustillant) – Nigiri of smoked mackerel /spicy mayonnaise/ crispy rice $6  Marconi is not a sushiya, therefore its nigiri is not a food item  that I was going to sample with the same expectations I would have at a sushiya, obviously, but this was delicious (a benchmark spicy mayonnaise, joyous flavours) and well executed. The excellent smoked mackerel from Gaspesie, a highlight 8/10

langue-de-boeufLangue de boeuf/ pommes/arachides/vinaigrette gingembre $13 cabbage and apple wrapped in slices of exquisitely flavored beef tongue. The vinaigrette packed with enticing fresh acidity (fresh acidity being an aspect of this evening’s meal  that is used to great effect on this dish as well as the subsequent one). Plenty of fun on  the palate. 8/10

duckPoitrine de canard/ble/abricots/melasse (sauce de melasse et citron) – Duck breast/wheat/apricot/molasses  $23 Enjoyably richly flavored  wheat, nicely rosy duck breast and a dazzling molasses/lime reduction. This was another creative and well executed delicious bistrot dish but I would incorporate perhaps  some veggies to that dish  7.5/10

panna-cottaPanna cotta/creme d’argousier/biscuit graham –  Delicately sweetened panna cotta, competently thickened, covered by a first-rate cream of sea buckthorn berries.  Tasty, with enticing flavor contrasts and as with the other dishes, when an ingredient is used  for textural contrast(in this case, the graham cracker crumbs) , it really  ADDS to the enjoyment of the dish 7.5/10

Pros: Inspired bistrot cooking using quality ingredients, friendly  service, interesting wine list.
Cons: N/A

All in all: 8/10 (Categ: North American/ Cosmopolitan bistrot ) – Strong level of local bistrot cooking with joyous  and creative combinations of flavors. My main waitress told me that her personal top 3 are the egg mimosa (with miso), the bone marrow (and she usually does not like bone marrow) and the homemade gnocchi. That is exactly what I am going to try next time I will eat again at Marconi, if those items are still on their menu. A coup de coeur, for me.  Marconi Addr: 45 rue Mozart Ouest, Montreal, QC. Phone: 514-490-0777

What I think a week later:  In the recent years, most  of  the restaurants I regarded as the very best   in Montreal and surroundings  have closed (Le petit plateau, le marly, bistrot cocagne, cuisines & dependances, la porte, au cinquieme peche  in montreal, Les zebres in val david), some  are not what they used to be (au pied de cochon, bouillon bilk, bottega, etc), others have Chefs I admire and will always do … but which transition from what they excelled at … to what works  best for their business ..did translate  in less  sparks on the plate (compared to the heights that their chefs have proven  to be capable of), as far as I am concerned (hoogan & beaufort, pastaga). People do what they have got to do, and I have to respect that, but for someone like me who values  true talented artisan Chefs, seeing so many talents “reduced to silence” only served to be even more  cynical. Abroad, people buy into the idea that  montreal is  a foodie destination. I would join that “bandwagon of positivity”  if montreal  was able to keep its best talents motivated. I am sure that in a city like Tokyo, Paris or San Sebastian, Chefs like Martin Picard, Jean-Paul Giroux, Jean-Francois Belair, Martin Juneau or Benoit Lenglet would still have the motivation to work hard behind their stoves.  But as ever, with montreal, the boat will “never sink” as there will always be some few great Chefs who continue to  believe in this city and who are proud to continue to work behind their stoves : Michelle Mercuri (Le Serpent), Olivier De Montigny (La Chronique), Marc  Cohen (Lawrence) are still around. Eric Gonzalez, too.  And now Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly.

 

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