Posts Tagged ‘tapas 24 montreal’

LeSerpent-LaChronique***My top 5 restaurants in Montreal in 2015 are:

Position#1 La Chronique and  Le Serpent – Ever since Chef Thierry Rouyé has left Montreal, La Chronique and Le Serpent are, for my taste, Montreal’s number 1 restaurants. Hard to beat Chefs De Montigny and Mercuri, in Montreal,  at whatever they cook.
Position #2: Lawrence, Kitchen Galerie on Jean Talon and Jun I  – Go to Japan, eat some serious sushis, come back here and if Jun I is still not your top  destination for sushi in Montreal,  then there is not much that I can tell you. Regarding  Lawrence, they have a dictionary with just one word in it: FLAVOR. It is at the heart of their cuisine …a rare feature in a city where most  kitchen brigades are just busy cooking food to cash in. Kitchen Galerie on Jean Talon, in the category “North American bistrot”, this place has been my #1 pick for the past 5 years. They are serious about what they  do,  still have the same line up of talented Chefs (Axel, Bourdages) working day after day behind their stoves, the food is simple (which is the nature of bistrot food) but far more delicious than anywhere else. Just avoid their tarte tatin…it’s a mistery, for me,  that such a talented kitchen brigade has not been  successful at pulling off a dazzling version of their tarte tatin.
Position #3: Tapas 24, Bottega, Kanbai (the one on Ste Catherine street), The tiny portions of some of their dishes is a big frustration for me, and I did hesitate for a long time to declare Tapas 24 as one of my preferred tables in town, just because of that flaw…but on the strict aspect of the technique, no Tapas restaurant is better than Tapas 24 in Montreal. As for Bottega, it as close as you’ll get in Montreal to a perfect Neapolitan Pizza. For me, the benchmark pizza in town (the one on St- Zotique, I mean).  Bottega has consistently perched high on my list of preferred restaurants in Montreal for at least  the past 7 years. Regarding Kanbai, it is currently cooking some of the finest  Szechuan cuisine, Cantonese, and Hunan food  you will get in town.
Position 4: Reuben’s deli, Le Bonaparte – Montreal has the best delis in the world, so we can afford being particularly picky  when it comes to the  smoked meat. My preferred deli  in Montreal is actually my top pick for reasons that go beyond the smoked meat. Whatever they do taste great and is done well and at times, some of  their food items are benchmarks of their kind in Montreal: I  remember one summer spent chasing the best sliders in town. The highly recommended spots for sliders in Montreal were visited and when I tried the sliders at Reuben’s deli … theirs  were miles ahead of the supposedly top ones (meatier, far more flavorful). It is not hip  to recommend RD, but I could not care less:  RD is in my top 5 in Montreal because most of what they do ..is simply   better. Le Bonaparte: once upon a time, my favourite classic French food in Montreal  could me found at places like Le Mas des Oliviers, Chez la Mere Michel, etc. They are still good, but the kitchen at Le Bonaparte had the edge, for my taste. I do not know how the  newer generation of diners as well  as those not familiar with true classic French fares will cope with this  ( if , as an example, you can’t appreciate  the difference between a good vs great vs excellent  simple filet mignon …then you should stay away from classic French food ) , but if you really know your classic French food , then Le Bonaparte does it …well, meaning ..the way it’s  always been done.
Position #5: Fenetre sur Kaboul,  When you read the reviews of  local food journalists  on FSK, it is usually written by ppl who have no clue of what to expect from  Afghani cooking. That is perhaps the main reason I went there…expecting nothing. But FSK cooks delicious food, and when they grill your meat,  it is not on gas but on charcoal. Quite a difference.  Places like FSK won’t attract the hipster of the moment, which to me is not the point of real great cooking, anyways. But it will seduce you if you are into genuine delicious simple food (my case).

My disappointments in  2014/2015:
Au Pied de Cochon  – Once, my #1 table in Montreal. Alas, I am afraid that those days are gone.  You’ll find the review of one of my recent meals at APDC here,  a dinner  over which I will draw a veil.
Europea –  Jerome is the most amicable Chef that I know, his restaurant is regarded among North America’s best, but what happened during this meal reviewed here …??? AN off day I hope…

There are many great tables in town, so this is my personal top 5 based on what we all should better know: no matter who you think you are,  your choices of food are just subjective/personal. Furthermore, I did not visit the most acclaimed tables in 2015 (Mousso, Lili Co, Montréal Plaza). Last  but not least, food for me is about classic rich / bold/ strong flavors.  And, obviously,  I do not dine out with trends in mind. You need to consider that when reading this post.

WARNING (YES, you ware WARNED!!!!): The reality of the restaurant world, nowadays, is that most of the good Chefs who are marketed as the masters of those kitchen brigades have a life, SO..some of them go to work on the busiest nights only ..and you / your pocket  won’t fail to be the poor victim of that evidence. So, be wise, and try to eat at those restaurants during a weekend , to take an example. And if the food sucked, well…remember that the Master Chef may perhaps not be in the kitchen and that it is the REALITY of nowadays restaurants.

PALERMO STREET FOOD***Palermo is known as one of world’s top 10 street food destinations, but keep in mind that most of their street food is generally found near markets. If you are used to street food in Africa and Asia, which is my case, then you will quickly notice that grilled red meats (which is a must on the streets of Africa and Asia) is missing in action here. Certainly a different street food experience from what I grew up learning to appreciate as dazzling street food, but interesting nonetheless: superb arancini, delicious grilled goat intestines and sandwiches. If you are sold to  the finest seafood  of  the Italian riviera ( Cinque Terre, Portofino) /   Indian Ocean / Carribean, then I am afraid that the seafood in Sicily may not impress you (as it was my case), which made their street food’s prawns/octopus/squid…not as dazzling as I came to expect from their finer examples.

HURLEYS****I was impressed by the food at the Hurley’s Irish pub on Crescent street.   For sure, do not go there expecting wowness: it is  just food, not a lunar landing mission. But food tasting and done way better than at most restaurants in town. A simple platter of fried calamari featured seafood with an exciting  mouthfeel   that I have not experienced in Montreal in a   while. Even the accompanying sauces were of a quality that is rarely found in town. Was that pure luck?  I have no clue, and I am not a regular at   the Hurley’s Irish pub, so I won’t be able to tell you if it is always that good under their roof. Furthermore, Montreal is not in the Mediterranea, so that was obviously  not some calamari snatched from the floor of the ocean a  few minutes prior to cooking.   All I know is that what I had on that evening there was food which quality surpassed what you’ll get at most of our local restaurants. Hurley’s Irish pub 1225 Rue Crescent, Montreal Category: Pub food My rating for the food on that evening: 8/10

CHEZ CHEN***A taste of Northern China at chez Chen – On my 3d visit here, I   had “Pork ribs and sour cabbage stew” which was generous and heavy as one should  expect from meat and cabbage as a stew, the pork tasting fine, the overall judiciously seasoned. In Asia, the flavors of this particular rustic  dish  would have been a tad more pronounced, but aside from that, this was a fine stew. All in all, Chez Chen delivers what they advertise, meaning some genuine flavors indeed. My observation about the flavors of the cabbage stew — being less strong than what you will find in Asia — substracting nothing from their good work … this having more to do with the caliber of the ingredients found in Montreal. That said, I noticed (based on 3 visits) that the popular items like wonton soup /  fried rice are not the best I had in this city, though, to be fair, fine enough. I was not, to the contrary of some of my fellow chowhounders, floored …but I can see where they are coming from: the food is fine, the service too, and they go to great lengths to please the diner: some beans serve as an amuse bouche, sometimes some fruit to wrap up your meal …nothing life-shattering, obviously, but such nice gestures did certainly add to the raves because it is not that common in Chinese restaurants in Montreal. If judged by our local Chinese restaurant standards, perhaps a 6/10 when they cook the popular dishes like wonton soup/fried rice, but more than that (varying between 7/10 and 8/10) for the northern Chinese specialities and some of their menu of the day’s offerings. Capable Chinese cooking. Chez Chen Addr 1618 Avenue Lincoln, Montréal –   Phone: (514) 933-6888

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Time for a long break. I shall be gone till November. Leaving you on the following notes:

-My recent restaurant reviews: Thursdays, Tapas 24 MtlVertigo StkBar, Gia BaRestaurant Mercuri, Bar Mercuri, Le Serpent, La Chronique, Jun IL’Européa, Sushi Yasu, Kyo, Peter Luger, Kam Fung, FiregrillPatrice Patissier, Raku, Au cinquième péché, Au Pied de Cochon, Callao , Shinji, Mochica, Bottega .

La Porte, a restaurant that I have always regarded as Montreal’s #1 (click here for past reviews of my meals at La Porte ) has recently closed. Chef Rouye’s food has always fared, to me, as one of the very  best that  Mtl has ever been able to offer and he was pulling it off on a consistent basis. Couple of weeks ago, Chef Rouyé has opened a more humble restaurant in Val David, called La Table des Gourmets (https://www.facebook.com/pages/La-table-des-gourmets/1463806720537762). It’s, apparently, already a big hit overthere,which, knowing Chef Rouyé’s talent, came as no surprise. Check that out: La Table des Gourmets 2353 rue de l’église, Val-David, Quebec (819) 322-2353

La Queue de Cheval,  Montreal’s very best steakhouse,  has now re-opened. Lavish/luxury/pricey, whether you like it or not, it leaves no one indifferent. I’ll leave the debate over cost performance/price/tolerance to lavishness/perceptions based on price…  to your discretion (you’ll have a lot to say about it, trust me) and will stick to what matters to me: not one single steakhouse in Montreal masters the nuances of  its steak as well as QDC. Just remember, it is very pricey (though ,the Q is aware of that and is consequently also offering  affordable lunch and late night menus).   La Queue de Cheval 1181 Rue de la Montagne, (514) 390-0091 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/queuedecheval  .

I finally tried Tapas 24 Montreal, which is is affiliated with Barcelona’s reknown Tapas restaurant Tapas 24. I was very pleased with both the food and the experience, and if they pursue with the standards I found on the evening of my two visits, then Tapas 24 Montreal will easily rank among the few truely great  restaurants in  Montreal. Keep in mind that it is bite-size food (which is what tapas are), so obviously  not your usual ‘big eater’ destination .My review here. Tapas 24  420 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montréal, Phone:(514) 849-4424

I recently tried couple of places in Laval, a city North of Montreal: Enotecca Mozza did nothing for me, Pirate de Laval continues to be a decent restaurant by local standards, Le Cosmopolitain remains my preferred breakfast place in Montreal and its surroundings and my once preferred poutine place in Laval (Le Croque) is not what it used to be. You can peruse that report here.

Went back to my other preferred Isakaya in town, Kazu, after a previous meal that was average. This time Kazu was in top form with the best Japanese-isakaya inspired roasted salmon that I ever enjoyed in a restaurant of Montreal as well as a spectacular soft ice cream tasting of the raw fresh cow milk of my tender childhood. I could have a bone to pick over the fact that their omnipresent secret homemade sauce lessens  (a bit, I find) the enjoyment of the food, and the more affordable offerings are  generally not what you should come here for, but Kazu continues to deliver the most delicious Isakaya fares of this city.

Couple of places visited this summer: (1)Bier Markt 1221 René-Lévesque Boulevard West (514) 864-7575- I tried their hamburgers as well as silders which I did both rate with a 4/10 as, for my taste,they lacked the deep beefy bold flavor that such basic fares have no choice but to deliver. Furhermore,  the meat was overcooked/border dry  on both instances. The  variety of beer is amazing, indeed, for a beer destination in Montreal but I wish the food could be up to par. The welcoming, at the entrance, could be warmer.  (2)Le Hachoir 4177 Rue Saint-Denis, Montréal (514) 903-1331- It’s being a while that I wanted to visit Le Hachoir which  name aroused  the carnivore in me. Here, I tried their trio of mini burgers which was  certainly not bad at all, the quality of the meat really good, but I wish theirs had a beefier kick. The quality of the meat was also the saving grace of a nice fresh meaty tartare that I also enjoyed there, but the seasoning lacked  spark. I get their point though: they want the main ingredient to shine through, but in both cases a beefier kick for the trio of mini burgers as well as an exciting seasoning for the tartare, as long as it’s judicious…they would have brought those items a long way. A 5/10 for me,  but this place is popular, fun, the service amazing so consider this to  be a NO sour 5/10 (you can see that they are capable of better). (3)-Reubens Deli 1116  Ste Catherine  continues to impress me. It is the only other restaurant in Montreal, alongside Bottega on St Zotique, that you can rely on, in my view, in terms of consistency.It has been consistently good,for me, year after year. This summer I   had my share of sliders in town and theirs simply blew away any other serving of  sliders I have enjoyed in town. The beefy flavor as well as superb  moist meaty consistency of those sliders were ages ahead of the rest. Their 10 oz “famous super sandwich “continues to be the most refined smoked meat in town. This is not refinement sacrificing flavor, to the contrary it’s technical prouesse in demonstrating that you do not need messy smoked meat to pretend that it is good or authentic, you just need one that’s deliciously meaty, the meat of top quality, the seasoning exciting. Their Montreal-style cheesecake  is also one of the few tastier and better executed ones out there,with strawberry of spectacular fresh ripe /wild flavor. Overall, a 9/10 by Delicatessen standards. Reubens Deli’s refinement may hit on the nerves of those who believe that delicatessen should taste,look and be served in rustic settings –which is pure BS as food is well done or it is not, delicious or not…and nothing else—  , but ultimately it  is one excellent Deli, one of my few preferred Delis anywhere around the globe.

 

On a non-foodie subject, the habs have signed Pk Subban for 8 years worth $72 million. This is little money for one of the greatest athletes of our decade, an exemplary ambassador of his sport  . I think we are lucky, in Quebec, to have such inspiring  athletes such as PK, Georges St Pierre and of course, our latest rising star Eugénie Bouchard.

 

***In June, the  most popular (among the readers of this blog) reviews  have been the ones on Le Louis XV,  the one on the city of Nice, L’ Ambroisie, L’Arpège, Le Serpent , Kam Fung as well   as my humble article on Montreal steakhouses (folks, it’s summer, enjoy a good steak in your backyard…far more fun, lol!).

***Shinji’s report, already the most popular among the readers of this blog –  I have just updated this current post on July 17th and shall observe that I was surprised by the popularity of the recent post on Shinji (which can be found here). Published on July 3rd, so only couple of  days prior, that post topped the charts on each day, since then. It’s rare that I see a restaurant’s review  attracting that much attention on this blog as soon as it was posted — the sign that the web is googling Shinji a lot, these days  (last time this happened, it was following the first review on Le Serpent — interestingly, the second report, which was more detailed and covered more meals, never got to enjoy the popularity of the first one. Even months later, the initial report on Le Serpent is the one that you have mostly perused and are still perusing).  Great then for Shinji, which managed to pull off benchmark sushis (by Montreal standards).

 

 

***Glad to hear that one of my all time favourite bistrots  in Italy is still doing great: A cantina de Mananan is still as excellent as ever as/per the report of a very picky foodie friend who went there in early  June 2014.  I did recommend Cinque Terre to him, a place that’s simply a ‘ gift from the above ‘as far as its visually stunning scenery goes. While there, he also tried A cantina de Mananan upon hearing great things from my part about this little jewel. He was floored and ranked A cantina de Mananan as his favourite discovery in a trip where there was no shortage of great restaurants:  he tried Osteria Francescana, Pipero al Rex , Piazza Duomo,   . He stressed that  A cantina does not compare, in terms of culinary sophistication, to all those places, but that  in hindsight,  the great  cooking of A Cantina de Mananan is what blew away his palate because it was the most delicious food of them all. Well, I haven’t visited OF, PR and PD, but I certainly can  understand such conclusion as I myself found the finest bistrots in Italy to be quite stellar.  So, A Cantina, I hope you will be as great as my first date with you, next time I’ll go back to Cinque Terre, lol. My humble quick notes on my trip in Cinque Terre in summer 2012, here.

***Everyone should go and peruse the twitter account of L’Arpège: https://twitter.com/ArpegeLive. Once you do that, keep in mind that all the beauty your eyes will have the priviledge to espy  is most likely backed by an exceptional work of flavors and a spectacular sense of creativity. Alain Passard, you are a Chef like we do not see anymore!

***La Queue de Cheval, Montreal finest steakhouse will open soon. Very soon. Check their facebook account for any update. For now, you can enjoy their burgers at QDC Burger (check that out here). The folks at QDC are also planning the opening of the Angry lobster bar (check all of that on this link).

***You remember Thursdays, Montreal iconic bar/bistro/club  on Crescent?  It is now reopened. The bistrot‘s  Chef is Jean-François Vachon. I first discovered Chef Vachon’s cooking when he was at the helm of Club des Pins (now closed), then at restaurant  M sur Masson, many  years ago and at both restaurants, it was an instant success back then:   food was delicious, cooking skills really sharp and both restaurants  reigned supreme on my list of favourite tables of Montreal during Vachon’s tenure. Then he went opening restaurant Projet soixante-sept (now closed), which I tried but that I found less  impressive compared to what he managed to pull off in his prime at Club des pins, then at M sur Masson.  I have not tried Bistrot Thursdays yet but I hope I’ll find the Jean-François Vachon of the great old days. I’ve perused their  online menu and found it appealing with items such as ‘guinea fowl cooked in hay’ (an old fashioned cooking technique that’s  common in Europe and that I favor but it’s rare to see a restaurant doing this in Montreal) , ‘rack of lamb à la provencale’, ‘spinach malfatti”, etc. Thoughtful bistrot menu for Montreal as it seems to take seriously the concept of a true French bisrot (for eg, on their menu, I can see that they have days where they offer the bouillabaise, or the coq au vin, all French bistrot staples that few French bistrots in Montreal do mind offering – you’ll see this in the ‘promotions ‘ section of their menu)  . In his prime, Jean-François Vachon is certainly one of Quebec’s most talented Chefs, so I’ll surely try his bistrot hopefully in a near future.

***Tapas 24 MTL will open to the public on July 19th 2014. It is a restaurant that is owned by Barcelona’s highly regarded Chef Carles Abellan as well as two other local Business partners (Journalist  Sébastien Benoit and restaurateur Jorge Da Silva), so a sister of Barcelona’s Tapas 24. According to the facebook page, the Chefs are  Haissam Souki Tamayo as well as another Chef who goes by the  name Ildemar, both names sound  unfamiliar to me, so this will be opportunity to discover their craft.  I saw couple of Public relationship write ups on their pre-opening activities and have decided to not try it on its official opening first weeks. It would have been tempting to dine there while Chef Abellan is still around (he’s there, these days, according to the reports I’ve perused) , but I’ll wait couple of months and see how it will fare while Chef Tamayo and Ildemar will be in full control of the house. When I’ll head there, I’ll do it with realistic expectations, though:  I still have fond memories  of my foodie trip in San Sebastian. A year later, I had the good fortune to repeat the feature in Madrid and the tapas adventure was also memorable (low cost, spectacular  flavors).  I do not expect those dazzling tapas of Spain to be replicated the other side of the globe as the produce of the Mediterranea is hard to compete with, the value simply not something that can be matched this side of the world (especially those of the Pais Vasco where I remember having two divinely-tasting  servings of tapas with a glass of txacoli for less than 5 euros (around $7). In comparison, a similar serving of tapas in Montreal would cost at least $16, and the glass of wine would range in between  $12 to $15 on average, so my $7 tapas serving in San Sebastian (with the glass of txacoli included) would cost me around $31 in Montreal, and I am being generous here. Restaurants are there to make Business and I do understand that, but it’s tough to justify bite-size food of such price tag.  I do not know the prices/menu at Montreal’s Tapas 24 since it’s not online yet, but hopefully, they will offer enjoyable food of great value (the point of tapas, in the first place). As for the flavors, I am confident that they can’t go wrong:  the tapas currently served in Montreal are decent  but nowhere close to the quality of the tapas of Spain.

***Abroad, one of France’s most brilliant Chefs of the recent decade, Chef Nicolas Lebec has resurfaced in Shanghai, China. Nicolas is incredibly talented, think world class skills, and it’s great to see him around after years of absence. Villa Le Bec – http://www.smartshanghai.com/wire/dining/villa-le-bec-is-finally-happening  Xinhua Lu, near Dingxi Lu – Shanghai

WOLD CUP SOCCER 2014

 

 

On a non foodie subject, the world cup was full of surprises (Costa Rica and Colombia have impressed, Spain’s early exit)  , but in the end it was a finale between  two giants of the game, Argentina and Germany. I think Germany largely deserved it, but the title of best player of the tournament (Messi won it) was a big joke akin to believing in Santa ;p  // The Dutch –by now, eliminated  — had to attend a penalty shootout session in their semi finals against Costa Rica and their coach, Louis Van Gaal chose a substitute goaltender (Tim Krul) just for the shootout , which is a rare move for those in the know.  As an analogy to the world of food, this reminds of what they have been doing for so long in Japan: you have a specialist of this, another specialist of that, etc. Just to master the slicing of a piece of fish, you spend an entire year or years focusing on that sole task. Then the same to master the art of cooking some rice. It gave what you’d have expected:  artisan Chefs, and not just generic cooks, pulling off perfected crafts to be enjoyed and not just generic food to be washed down. So, Louis Van Gaal is obviously of that same mold, only he is transposing the theme into soccer. Simply amazing. //Brazil suffered an unbelievable defeat to Germany (7-1!), but that came as no surprise as their two main leaders, Neymar and Thiago Silva  were not playing. I do not understand their coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari: I know he is  a great coach and has won a world cup in the past,  but it was hard to be appreciative of his decisions this time around -> the spectacular (and best replacement for Neymar) Willian coming on around the 69th minute (what the heck??) , Hulk as a winger rather than as a striker, position that suits him better (??).  ///   Last but not least, the now famous Luis Suarez bite has earned  him national hero status in his country, Uruguay (check that out here).  The jokes about the bite are funny, though.

 

VACANCES

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wishing an amazing summer to all of us!