Montreal Restaurants

February 2016

Deville Dinerbar

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There is diner food and then there is DEVILLE diner food.

This is NOT the place to even walk by if you are trying to watch your diet. Everything is big, rich and either wrapped in something fatty or deep-fried.

My guest and I shared the Coconut Onion Rings and Mac ‘n’ Cheese Stuffed Wontons to go along with our mimosas that afternoon and we had to ask our server to hold off on our entrees for a short while. The onion rings are about 1″ thick and are served with a root beer BBQ mayo. The sauce is a touch too sweet for my liking  to go along with the coconut in the batter, but I could see that mayo being a fantastic burger condiment. The wontons were also bigger and more stuffed than we imagined but at least the light marinara didn’t put us physically over the top. Kudos to the kitchen, though – neither starter were greasy!

My Fish ‘n’ Chip On A Bun with side frites was just as large as I now imagined it would be. The battered halibut was tender on the inside but the batter was so well-done and crunchy that it was VERY difficult to eat. I also noticed a “fruity” flavour in the batter (and therefore the fish) that seemed to compete with the tartar sauce and pickled onion. I inquired with the server who admitted it was the type of beer used.

All in all, I am going to guess that Deville is a hot spot for the day-after-the-big-night-out diner. It is hangover heaven, for sure!

FAV item? Coconut Onions Rings


 

Tapas 24

IMG_0317LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

I think we tried most of the menu.

It is so easy to order 3 or 4 items at a time, order another drink – and then order more.

That is the wonder of tapas!

The liquid olive elBulli-style bite was an ethereal kick-start to our evening dining at the bar. From there, we snacked on fresh oysters with various toppings, croquetas, seafood and iberican ham. Each bite was the perfect taste – just a bite or two and successfully mixed new flavours with traditional Spanish standards.

It was such a great dinner that I even splurged unexpectedly on dessert. BUT it was a plate of chocolate, bread, olive oil and salt and I could eat that every day with a great glass of Bierzo or cava.

FAV item? Cod croquette with maple syrup & lemon (the maple syrup was the star!)


 

0449_aparent_testMaison Boulud

Sunday brunch in downtown Montreal is CHIC.

Sunday brunch at Maison Boulud is FANCY.

Upscale and luxurious furnishings, classic colours and high-end finishes AND a classic French menu of brunch favourites with a splash of Boulud decadence and modernity thrown in for a punch.

Having dined at other Boulud establishments in the past (see my last trip to NYC), I was comfortable in my expectations and I thought I knew what I was ordering before I arrived.

I had obviously overlooked one item on the menu ahead of time. I almost missed one of my favourite dishes from Burgundy – Oeufs Meurette.

They have a $39 2-course prix fixe on the weekends, so I started with a classic soupe à l’oignon (but with braised oxtail and smoked cheddar). DIVINE!

The soup was so rich and filling, however, that I regretted pre-ordering a second course. The oeufs meurette was delicious but NOT the traditional recipe I was expecting. It was more like a classic Benedict-style plate that featured a red-wine hollandaise.

Even with all of that food, I could not possibly leave there without dipping into a small basket of freshly baked madeleines. They are my favourite treat from Boulud.

Along mimosas, a stellar bottle of white burgundy, a lot of great conversation, my guest and I dined liked queens for a full 3 hours!

I thank Maison Boulud for being patient with our slow-eating and excessive girl chat that day…but it was worth it. We will be back – and often!

FAV item? soupe à l’oignon gratinée


 

wienstein_and_gavinos_new_menu-13Weinstein & Gavino’s

Located on busy-for-bars Crescent Street, Weinstein and Gavin’s is a very large, dark and bustling Italian meca in amongst the tiny pubs and clubs that surround it.

My dinner guest was not feeling up to a full standard-sized meal, so my plan for sharing a few menu items that night was out, unfortunately. S0, I ordered my usual 2 courses.

Service was quick. Actually a little too quick. I barely ordered and my salad arrived. Our server barely pushed through the kitchen door with my empty salad plate and she was spinning back with my entrée.

The dinner was ok. Not terrible,  just not exciting.

The caesar salad was a little bland  – just lettuce, croutons, dressing and slice of cheese. There was also something different/unique about the flavour of the dressing that I couldn’t put my finger on. It didn’t taste bad – just not delicious or comforting with a classic recipe.

They had a special mac’n’cheese feature that evening – and I can rarely say no to mac’n’cheese.

Again, it was just ok. Classic baked, large portion, fairly cheesy, very filling.

Overall, it is a good place to take a large group (The place is HUGE!) or to meet friends for a quick and casual bite. I was expecting a little more fine dining, based on the online reviews and descriptions. Just my misunderstanding and not taking anything away from the overall experience.

FAV item?  Mac’n’cheese – but only if it was a side dish or appetizer-sized.


November 2016

Vargus Steakhouseimg_3608

A traditional Big Boy steakhouse with a more modern feel, Vargus is a sure-fire winner if you are looking to impress a business guest or to celebrate a special occasion.

It has a unique spin to offer in that it is a steak and SUSHI restaurant.

The prices are slightly steep, however, for most restaurant-goers, but if you ask enough questions about portion sizes and share certain items with others at your table, it can be manageable.

The wine list is generous enough to offer many good meat-pairing-friendly selections by the glass and the prices are reasonable enough for most people to select a good bottle for the table.

Simple, perfect execution is obviously the goal of Vargus. No abstract or unnecessary flair in plating, easy menu descriptions and well-seasoned classic fare.

The assorted platter of sushi that our table ordered was light, beautiful and flavourful. A perfect starter before a heavy entrée course.

The meat cuts and seafood on the menu range from the simple list from filet to rib eye to more unique offerings such as their pan-seared walleye to zinfandel beef ribs.

All sides are ordered and priced separately. Servers encourage guests to share a few to get a good selection.

Again, all sides that arrived were delicious.

My only complaint would be their decision to “fill” the bottom of sides’ serving platters and bowls with chopped iceberg lettuce. It didn’t distract me from the small portions of vegetables on top.

FAV item?  I wish that I had the appetite now to be able to finish an 18oz ribeye. It was delicious !


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