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Restaurant Reviews

Fourteen new restaurant this time! And there's always the Archives.



m:brgr
2025 Drummond Street
514-906-2747
http://www.mbrgr.com/

This was the next logical stop on my quest for the best burgers in Montreal. They might be it so far.
You start by choosing your patty (there are different kinds of beef and options like tuna or veggie), your bun (lettuce wrap is an option!), then you add your toppings. On the plus side, there are some very interesting choices (grilled portobello mushrooms, grilled asparagus, cucumber mango relish); on the downside, they might want to add more basics (like avocado, for example). The meat is cooked perfectly to my taste, still a touch of pink inside the patty. They don’t grind their own meat, though, so rare is not an option. I chose a AAA beef-burger topped with bacon, caramelized onions and goat cheese – divine!
The fries must be ordered separately. We had a basket of fries, sweet potato fries and French fried onions – the latter were very good, though hard to eat by hand. The basket is big enough for three people to share. And the milkshake are pretty good, too.
The service is good, if not overly friendly. Our waiter was a James Franco look-alike, with Johnny Depp glasses; another waitress was flaunting her cleavage all over the place, but she was relatively classy about it.
The ambiance is that of a trendy bar/bistro, with urban music and trying to attract yuppies – though there are many families sitting at the tables. Here’s the twist: it’s actually a spin-off of Moishe’s, but less stuffy. This immediately brings me to price. Yes, this is more expensive than any burger restaurant I know. That being said, if you stick to only a few toppings (and stay away from, say, the Kobe beef burger with white truffle shavings), you can keep it reasonable, although we ended up with a $50 tab for two burgers (with the cheapest patties and three toppings each), a basket of fries, one soft drink (which was small, mind you) and one iced tea. Also, keep in mind that you should make a reservation.
All in all: One of the best burgers I’ve had in town, and I like the atmosphere of the place, but the prices will keep me from becoming a regular.



The Burgundy Lion
2469 Notre-Dame Street West
514-934-0888
http://www.burgundylion.com

This recently opened pub is packed full every night, it seems, so reservations might be in order, especially if you are a large group.
The menu is pretty typical of British pub fare: Scotch egg, Yorkshire pudding, Welsh rarebit, Ploughman’s Lunch, Fish & Chips (in beer batter and with real mushy peas), Bangers & Mash, Sunday Roast, etc. There are also a lot of dishes with British inspiration (like a salad with lettuce, pears, nuts and Stilton cheese, or another one with Marmite Croutons) as well as the Indian dishes for which Great-Britain is renowned. I had the Highland Burger with chips; it was quite good, though the meat was perhaps a touch dry. The chips were perfect, though, home-cut and hot. And portions are very generous. The décor is great, really pub-like, and there is a nice heated terrasse. I must say I loved the music, too. A lot of it was American music from the ‘60s, so not exactly British, but it was a nice touch. There are various theme nights, though, so this may not be typical of the place. And apparently, it has become one of THE places to watch soccer.
All in all: A Lovely pub that I’d enjoy visiting again to test more of their menu.



Buns
1855, Ste Catherine St. West
514-303-8889

Yes, I am still looking for the best burger in Montreal. I must admit that I hold them up to a pretty high standard (The Works, in Ottawa, has by far the best hamburgers I’ve EVER had). The closest I’ve come so far is m:brgr, but the prices keep me from fully enjoying the food there.
Anyway, Buns is a minimalist joint if ever there was one. There are a few chairs and tables for two, for those who insist on eating their meal on the spot. And there are only four items in the menu: hamburger, double hamburger, roasted potatoes (not fries) and soft drinks (from a fridge). All burgers come with tomato, pickle, lettuce, ketchup and mustard; you can add a slice of mozzarella cheese at no extra cost.
Taste-wise, I would say that they are good, but not extraordinarily so. The patties probably frozen and are only cooked well-done. I personally found the burgers better than those at Mr. Steer’s, but the Engineer vehemently disagrees. I think it’s the dressing on the burgers and the bread that make them worthwhile. Also, the seasoned roasted potatoes are very good, and a nice change from the fries (which I never thought I would say).
All in all: I think that those burgers are ok, and the prices are more than reasonable ($4 for a burger, including taxes). It’s a nice hole-in-the-wall, but not the best burgers I’m looking for.



Stash Café
200 St-Paul Street West
514-845-6611
http://www.stashcafe.com

I recently discovered this Polish restaurant, which I really liked.
The ambiance is great: I loved the red lamp shades, the church benches and the beautiful old tables in the restaurant, as well as the huge wood hutch in the back. Moreover, there is a pianist playing all evening.
As far as the menu goes, I immediately recommend the Primer, which groups all the classics. It starts with a bowl of borsch, which is a delicious consommé of beets with a little bite-sized flaked pastry covered with caraway seeds, and sour cream is served on the side. There’s a green salad with special house dressing. Then comes the main dish, a bit of everything: bigos (stew with cabbage, meat, sausage and mushrooms), placki (potato pancake), krokiety (pancake stuffed with meat, breaded and pan-fried) and pierogis (dumplings filled with meat or cheese). The meal ended with a small apple strudel covered in crème fraîche. It was perfect to warm up, because it was really cold out on this late-February day.
All in all: An excellent meal!



Juliette et Chocolat
1615 Saint-Denis Street
514-287-3555
http://www.julietteetchocolat.com

I’ll say it right away: the Juliette who founded this restaurant, I know her from high school. I have good memories of her, but I admit I have not run into her in Montreal (since she’s opened a second location on Laurier Street, it’s hard to just drop by to say hi!). I’ll still try to be objective.
Juliette et Chocolat, as you have probably guessed, is known for the quality and originality of its chocolate. I am very impressed by the way chocolates are described like wines. After all, it’s absolutely true that the origin of the chocolate and its percentage of cocoa influence its taste, but it’s rare to see a store care enough to explain that to customers and let them choose which king of chocolate they want in their hot chocolate!
There is a good selection of small chocolate treats, but one can also have a meal there. The place serves salads (including one with chocolate, that I will try one of these days) and very good sweet and savory crêpes. I had the pear and goat cheese crêpe, which was really good, and I loved my husband’s crêpe, which had pesto, ham and cheese. The dessert was also excellent, of course: I had a big brownie containing pieces of cake and served with fleur de sel caramel. I loved this mix of salty and sweet! And yet, I’m not usually a fan of caramel, but this was really good.
As far as accommodations go, let’s get it out of the way right now: the restaurant is small and almost always packed. Moreover, in the back, it would be nice to finish the decoration (exposed electrical wires are not the most appetizing sight!). But it’s a really friendly place, just like the location on Laurier.
All in all: I really liked my experience and I’m looking forward to going back to continue tasting chocolate dishes.



Les Bouchées gourmandes
1226, rue Bernard
514-845-3663

This little shop serves brunch on weekends – and what a brunch! You order a brunch for two people, but really, you easily have enough food for three or four people if you toss in a few extra croissants, and it’s $35.00, so the quality-price ratio is very high. Actually, the food itself is French-inspired, bordering chic, but the service is relaxed and friendly. It’s informal, and the nice lady who serves (while her husband prepares dishes) treats customers as if she were their mother.
The parade of dishes starts with croissants, which are the perfect vehicle to taste the salted-butter caramel, the apple jelly and the pear compote that are on the table in small jars. Then, a fruit plate with a bit of cottage cheese: everything is freshly cut, nothing comes from a can. After that come a plate of salads (carrots, beets, potatoes), with smoked salmon and grilled bread; it was all excellent. We then had the choice between foie gras with port, duck confit and creamed chicken; we had ordered two brunches, so we tasted the foie gras and the duck. The duck confit was excellent, as was the onion compote accompanying it. We then tasted the souffléd omelet with chives and cheese, which was absolutely excellent. Finally, there was an apple crêpe with melted chocolate, which I happily smothered in caramel.
Two warnings, though: they don’t take credit cards, so pay in cash or with Interac. Also, the place is very small, so I recommend you make a reservation if you want to brunch there.
The store also sells pastries, coffee, chocolate, all the treats you would want.
All in all: This was, by far, one of the best meals I’ve had. It is absolutely certain that I’ll go back any chance I get (actually, I have to gather a few people to help me eat it all).



O Noir
1631 Ste Catherine Street West
514-937-9727
http://www.onoir.com

For those of you who are not familiar with the concept: you arrive at a set time, order from the menu and leave your jackets, big purses and any luminous items (cell phone, iPod, etc.) in a locker. You are then guided by your waitress or waiter into a pitch-black room to your table, where you proceed to eat your meal in complete darkness. And the waiters/waitresses are blind, which actually makes it much easier for them to navigate through the room and help you situate yourself once at the table. (Also, the restaurant gives 5% of its profits to charities helping the seeing-impaired.) Kim was our waitress, and she did a wonderful job of making us feel at ease.
I have no other way of reviewing this but to describe the experience as well as the food. I had the avocado salad as an appetizer, then filet mignon and a raspberry-chocolate mousse for dessert. We started with bread and butter. I know this will sound clichéd, but not being able to see really makes you focus on your other senses: the noise made by the bread’s crispy crust, the bread’s warmth, the taste of it along with the butter... Heavenly. It’s just a little hard to butter it “properly”, but not impossible.
Then the avocado salad made things a little harder: it’s hard to figure out where pieces of food are on a plate when you can’t see them, and you can’t figure out how big they are and what shape they have until they reach your mouth! It turns out that the avocado is cut into slivers lengthwise (which I realized after getting pieces to touch my chin or my nose before my mouth). There is also some lettuce on the plate, along with a few tiny cubes of bell pepper and great dressing. I must admit that at the end, I used my fingers to feel around the plate and get all the lettuce (it’s really hard to poke a fork through it!). Of course, no one could see me, so it wasn’t too embarrassing. It was a really good salad, though, and the avocado was perfectly ripe. As far as I know, I ate all that was on the plate.
Then the filet mignon arrived, and all I knew was that it came with peppercorn sauce, potatoes and asparagus. Luckily, it was precut into pieces, so I didn’t need a steak knife or anything – not that I would have been very successful at using one! The only problem with the dish was that the steak pieces were much too big for me, so I had to tear them apart in two or three smaller pieces before I could eat them. I’m sure it would not have been a pretty sight! After poking around the plate, I figured out that the vegetables were at 8 o’clock: the first I tasted was a green bean, then asparagus. The meat was at 12 o’clock, and something that could have been the potato was at 4 o’clock. I poked around with my fork, but couldn’t get anything to stick onto it, so I used my fingers to feel the potato: it was baked and cut into slices, which I was then able to push onto my fork. I eventually felt a spherical piece of food with the vegetables; it turned out to be a piece of carrot. Once I was situated, it was much easier to pick what I wanted to eat! I ended up leaving a little food on my plate, though I’m not sure how much. I just felt that I had reached my limit (and I had to save a little room for dessert).
The chocolate mousse arrived. (I took some Lactaid out of my purse; luckily, I can do that blindfolded by now, so it was not an issue.) I located it around the middle of the plate and eventually realized that some pieces were more raspberry-with-gelatine, while others were more chocolate-with-cream, and there was a thin cake base. It was very good, and I’m pretty sure I finished my plate.
Being in the dark for so long, you end up distracted when a sliver of light peaks through from another room, even though it’s never enough to really see. You also are more aware of noise around you. We ate near a table of about six, who were obnoxiously loud (and using their outdoor voices). The couple at the table next to us was much quieter. At one point, someone broke a glass, and people started clapping. I have to say that’s one of my pet peeves: I find the clapping not only childish, but extremely rude in this circumstance. Anyway, the darkness took some getting used to, and also made us laugh quite a few times as we were trying to get used to it. At one point, the Engineer asked me if I was hunched over my plate like he was – and I realized that I was.
When we finally came back out, the dim light in the foyer was blindingly bright to us. It was like a completely different universe.
All in all: It was a really great experience; I think everyone should try it at one point!



Tiffany's
7977 Décarie Boulevard
514-737-7977
http://www.tiffanysrestaurant.ca

I couldn’t resist referring to this meal as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” after having breakfast at Tiffany’s, on Décarie. The restaurant is like a cross between Bâton Rouge and a nice diner. Tiffany’s is not strictly a breakfast place, it is also a grill, but they are known for brunch. It’s got an American-style menu with eggs, pancakes, French toast and waffles, as well as more health-conscious options. For my part, I couldn’t help but order the Holly Golightly (two eggs, pancakes, potatoes, fruit and toast) with a side of bacon (not included in the meal itself). The pancakes were wonderful. The potatoes were intriguing: halfway between roasted and mashed, and with an unidentifiable spice. After the first bite, I wanted more, but by the end, it just became weird. I’m told those were not the potatoes that are usually served, though, but they are described on the menu only as house potatoes, so I guess anything goes depending on what the chef has on hand. The bacon was cooked perfectly and the eggs were quite good. The fruit was a few slices of melon and orange. I opted not to get the toast, though, because I’m never hungry enough for the whole thing. But the meal itself was very satisfying.
All in all: Tiffany’s, while busy, is a nice place for breakfast, and I would like to try more of their dishes. I’m glad I got to try it out.



Taste of India
6127 Monkland Avenue
514-486-4545
http://www.tasteofindiarestaurant.com/

Taste of India (Goût de l’Inde) is one of the best Indian restaurants in Montreal. While you peruse the menu, you can snack on papadum with a delicious salad of onions, tomatoes, cucumber and coriander. I always seem to turn into a klutz when I eat that, but it’s worth it – it’s so good! And before you order, let it be said that I always recommend a ginger ale with Indian food (though they do have a good selection of Indian beers).
There are several different combos that are very tasty and give you good variety while covering the classics. I definitely recommend the onion bhajis, along with samosas for a starter. The Mulligatawny soup is also very good. The butter chicken is always a safe bet, as is the chicken tikka masala and the tandoori chicken (which is excellent). The beef bhoona is also very good, as are some vegetarian dishes, like the saag aloo (potatoes and spinach) and the aloo gobi (potatoes with cauliflower). The rice pilao, while a little dry, tastes wonderful by itself and is also great to absorb sauce or cut spices. And let’s not forget the nan bread, which is amazing! Off the combo menu, I recommend the coconut chicken or chicken korma, if you like mild dishes, as well as the vindaloo or naga chicken, if you like spicy dishes.
For dessert, try the gulab jamon (pastry and Indian cheese dipped in sweet honey syrup and rosewater) or the borfi (squares made from coconut and Indian cream).
All in all: One of my top two favourite Indian restaurants; I always look forward to eating there.



MeatMarket
4415 Saint-Laurent Boulevard
514-223-2292
http://www.meatmarketfood.com/en/index.html

I went to the MeatMarket in my continuing quest for the best burgers in Montreal. I would say they are in the top three, which is great news to me.
I had the Swiss Miss hamburger: bacon, Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, pesto mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato. I was a little scared when I received my plate, because the burger looked huge! But it turns out that the bun is oversized compared to the filings. The beef patty tasted really good and was cooked perfectly; the toppings were a perfect match. The burgers also came with fries and a mixed-green salad. The salad was good and had a tasty dressing. The fries were what really caught my attention, though: a wonderful mix of sweet potato and potato skinny fries. I loved the whole dish!
The meat brochettes are quite good, too. Actually, the menu was very interesting, and had I not been there specifically for burgers, I would have had a hard time choosing only one thing to eat. You might be interested to know that there are several vegetarian options that looked quite good, so don’t be fooled by the restaurant’s name. The MeatMarket also serves (and sells) its own spice mixes, which include Buddha salt – a delicious mix of salt, coriander and fennel seeds, cloves and nutmeg.
The restaurant itself has a very urban feel and is quite busy on most nights, so reservations are recommended. Service was friendly, fast and efficient. We were given an olive tapenade with chips while we waited for our mains, which was an appreciated gesture. The only downside: the chairs seemed a little narrow because of the way the arms of the chairs met the thighs of the person sitting in it. But that certainly won’t keep me from going back!
All in all: A restaurant I’m glad to add to my repertoire.



Leméac
1045 Laurier Street West
514-270-0999
http://www.restaurantlemeac.com

I finally had dinner at Leméac, which I had been dying to try. I had the panko crusted goat cheese with apple and walnut salad as a starter, while my husband had lobster and saffron ravioli in a tarragon bisque sauce. Both were delicious. I then had the roasted duck breast with date chutney. I was a little taken aback by the duck, but I think it’s because I’m used to serving it sweet (I often season it with nutmeg as well as salt and pepper, and the last recipe I tried had pears and honey). It was still good, though, and the chutney was wonderful. Hubby had the grilled Cornish hen with black olive polenta fries. Black olives and polenta, together? Those were the magic words for him. For dessert, I knew I absolutely had to try the pain perdu, but then I got distracted by the Valrhona chocolate variations... We ended up ordering both and sharing. Both were truly wonderful desserts, and just for that, it would be worth going back. I was also intrigued by the coconut-basil sorbet, and I’ll have to try a variation of it with my anniversary present – an ice-cream maker attachment for our Kitchen Aid stand mixer.
All in all: More expensive than my usual meals, but a thoroughly enjoyable dinner nonetheless.



Sauciety
425 Summer Street
Boston, Massachusetts
(617) 532-4670
http://www.sauciety.com

This turned out to be, by far, the best meal we had in Boston. The busboy was absolutely wonderful, and the waiter was very friendly, too. We started with a complimentary appetizer of a small assortment of bread and crackers along with three delicious dips (white bean, roasted red pepper and feta, and roasted garlic oil). We then had some crispy sweet potato wedges, which were very good. My husband ordered a baked lobster macaroni and cheese, which was really gemelli pasta with lobster in a creamy, cheesy sauce. It was absolutely excellent. I had a Bosc pear salad with goat cheese, arugula and roasted walnuts, with a lemon dressing, beautifully presented in a tilted bowl, and I spent the rest of the evening oohing and aahing all over it. It was truly a wonderful salad, and the best meal I had eaten in recent memory. I’m still dreaming about it! We ended up not ordering dessert, because we were both too full from licking our plates clean.
All in all: If I’m ever in Boston again, I’d go back there in a heartbeat.



Galleria Umberto
289 Hanover Street
Boston, Massachusetts
(617) 227-5709

For a casual lunch, be sure to visit this place. The fare is very simple, and service is both extremely fast and friendly (though curt to the maximum, for efficiency’s sake). This cafeteria-style restaurant serves some of the best pizza in the US (according to a recent MSNBC article). While there is only one choice of pizza flavour (plain cheese and tomato sauce), it is truly excellent. The crust is thick, fluffy inside and crunchy on the bottom, and the sauce has just the right amount of herbs. Be sure to walk to this diner if you get hungry on the Freedom Trail. There are also calzones (several flavour choices) and arancini.
All in all: Excellent pizza, in a very relaxed atmosphere.



Saki
258 Commercial Street
Provincetown, Massachusetts
(508) 487-4870

What a wonderful dinner we had! First, the restaurant itself is really beautiful, in a historic building, with a bar and tables made from 200-year-old reclaimed wood. The owner spent over a year getting all the details right.
The staff was extremely friendly and helpful, going so far as recommending their favourite dishes – which did not disappoint. We started with the vegetable pad thai: truly awesome. My husband does not like bean sprouts in his food (he sees them as a cheap filler, which I understand), so at first, he was reluctant to order it. But the waiter insisted it was very good and even said that if we didn’t like it, he wouldn’t charge us for it. So we went for it, and it was the best thing we could have done. There were very few bean sprouts, and those that were there were served on the side, so there were no fillers in this dish. As a matter of fact, every last morsel was tasty. The noodles were perfect, and the vegetables were cut small enough not to overpower each bite.
Then, we had the (mild) curry chicken skewers, served with a peanut sauce, tempura-fried slices of sweet potatoes and a delicious salad of julienned mangoes and cucumbers, with fresh mint and coriander. My mouth is watering as I think back to this dish; I wish I could have some right now.
We also had some sushi: the unagi was wonderful, and I really liked the roll that combined tuna with apples – unexpected, but it works quite well. We didn’t get to try the avocado salad our waiter swears by, because we were stuffed to the gills. It turns out that the restaurant, run by real foodies, does not serve dessert, because they count on giving you enough delicious food as a main course that you shouldn’t be hungry after that. It was really an exquisite meal.
You should also know that they have a very extensive sake list as well as interesting tasting courses of the latter (we don’t drink much, so we didn’t take advantage of that option, but it looked very interesting for those who either like sake or who want to learn more about it). Also, from about 10pm each night during high season, the place turns into more of a lounge, with dancing and dimmed lights, so you might want to eat before that if you want a quiet dinner.
All in all: I am SO going back there next time I’m in Cape Cod!



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