Sunday, January 18, 2015

Portus Calle


 This restaurant has been on my to go list for a while, especially since I went to Helena last year and was just amazed by the tasting menu. Sooooo when a benefactor gave me 250$ to 'enjoy good food and have fun' (heeeeeelllls yes!), I called Portus Calle right away.


I was going with my friend Rach, who was here on vacation from them Cayman Islands (lucky bastard), and she was pleased with my choice of resto.

We got a very pleasant welcome by the maitre-d' that showed us to our very lovely table close to the window. The place itself is quite big... lots of room at the bar and even more room in the brick walled dining room. Portuguese music was playing, which was a nice change from let's say a Mexican restaurant playing 95.9 (ok... I'm not aware of the radio stations here.... but let's just say I was happy it wasn't pop music!). It was very cozy and cute.

Since everything on the menu looked great, and we were about to order every damn thing on there, our waiter suggested the tasting menu for 55$ each. OH YES!


 We started out with a glass of Porto, because hey, with that money in my pockets, we could! Ha! It wasn't too strong and went down well. If I had to, I'd have no difficulty drinking that all night! We wanted to have some vinho verde with our meal but the one we wanted was not available so we went with white wine.





 Alrighty, fooooooooooood (enter drooling here). First was chorizo aioli (hello!), olives, olive oil, bread and tuna rillettes with daikon. Hum, yum! Tuna melted in your mouth but tasted a tad like it came out of a can, the aioli was damn wonderfully greatness and had just a touch of spiciness! The olives were great but the bread.... meh... it was a tad too dry for my taste. Ps: wine service was ITHQ worthy and perfectly executed.



 Uh, hello tuna, is it me you're looking for? I really liked the plating on this one. Very modern and Picasso like (what? I dabble!). The crab salad was great and kind of sweet and had somewhat of a rice cracker to add some crunch. Breaded tuna looked like it was going to be a warm offering but alas, it was cold. Still yummy, but cold. The tuna tataki was melt-in-your-mouth good with a nice sesame crust and a wonderful tartar sauce. I could not have asked for more. Totally woke up my taste buds!



Ok, who knew warm tomatoes and goat cheese could be this good? It was a nice take on the bocconcini and tomato salad, but 100 times better. Flavours just popped right in my mouth. Man, this was good, yet so simple!

 Cod cakes. I've had them before and I'll have them again... these were good but a tad too potato-y but I loved the sauce which was quite spicy.



 OK, obviously this picture doesn't do it justice, but this octopus was WOW. Like, wow WOW! Fak! Perfect 'cuisson'. Puuuurrrrrrfect. Plus, the fried kale and the white beans were great with it. It's as if they were born together. Seriously. This was a good one.


Scallop with bacon 'chips' on top and lima bean puree with a cranberry and onion confit. OK, you guys know by now that's I'm a sucker for seafood but this was something else! The mix of flavours was to dssssiiiie for and the bacon chip? Well, I was aware that bacon could taste THAT good (yes, I'm aware it's freakin good!). Oh and that puree was so smooth and so tasty and well seasoned! Nothing bad to say about this at all.



You must also know that apart from lobster, shrimp is at the top of my list. Since the good old summer days in Maine when I was 6 and eating an actual PILE of shrimp, they have been my fave. They were garlicky spicy buttery unctuous goodness. Most importantly, perfectly cooked. 

 Pork cheek with aubergine puree. The veggies were cooked to perfection and the meat was so tender, so soft, melted in your mouth. It was perfection, basically.









 Our desert. Well hello there, how you doin'? First off, the pasteis de nata was exactly like it was when I tasted it in Portugal about 3 years ago. Hoooooolly! The truffles were good and dsamn good: the chocolate one was good but a bit too fruity for my taste and the champagne one... well hello champagne! It was so airy and right on. The panacotta had some sap and herbs in there and made it absolutely delicious. The last desert on the right was such a nice surprise: many stories of fluffy egg whites and caramel. The whole desert plate was just didily damn good!

 We had one last glass of porto to finish off the meal. What??? We were rich that night :) If we had known it was going to be 20$ a glass, I don't think we would have had it but hey, we were on vacation! It was even better than the first one.

Service was wonderful: great wine service as previously mentioned, we always had water in our glasses, plates were taken away and brought to our table in a timely fashion.

And now, the scores!

Food: 9
Service: 9.5

What a great experience! When I have the cash, I'm going back for sure!

Portus Calle Marisqueira on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 12, 2015

Junior

 
A new restaurant opened a couple months ago near my restaurant (yes, it's mine...all miiiiine!) and the owner kept on coming for sushi and telling us about this place so we were bound to go at some point. Tonight, I went with my partner in crime, Val, thinking hey, we're gonna have a good Filipino dinner (and there are just a handful of Filipino restaurants in MTL...) in a cute little place.  Mmmmya, we were wrong.


The place itself, we weren't wrong about: it's very cute, with vibrant colours, tiny, about 40 seats, complete with a very good vibe and ambiance. It's kind of like being in your living room with some strangers. 

I got there and 5 minutes later, we ordered and 2 minutes after that, I got my wine glass. So far, so good. 

And then...


Lumpia: pork and veggie rolls. Nothing exceptional at all. Even the sauce needed adjustments so we added Suka Pinakurat sauce which is a hot and sweet chili sauce and then it was just too vinegary. Pffff. This was a fail. A fail that cost us 7$.


This fish literally tasted like, hum, what's the word I'm looking for? Nothing. The onions and peppers were good but could not save the dish.

 
Seriously, I don't even feel like talking about this dish. Vermicelli that was overcooked with tiny (and when I say tiny, I mean tiny) shrimp and some veggies. When I say I could not detect  any flavor in there, I'm right. No, you KNOW I'm right. We had to drench it in relatively hot sauce for it to taste like anythin'.


Adobo chicken with lemongrass. I could detect a bit of taste but not nearly as much as I wanted. If I hadn't known there was lemongrass in there, I could not have tasted it. At least the chicken was moist and the broth not too salty.

We also ordered some rice, do NOT ask me why. It was very blend and way too pasty.

Service was alright. I think I was more preoccupied with the lacking aspects in the food to even notice most of the service. I mean, we got some water, they asked if we wanted a second drink, they gave us food. It did take a while to get the bill. And when you want to really leave, you want your bill quickly god damn it!

And now, the scores!

Food: 4
Service: 7

I'm gonna say something very wise right about now: I will not go back.


Junior on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Vicolo



Like Rachel in Friends once said: 'I think there was a restaurant... I know there was wine.'

I was invited to try a new Italian restaurant called Vicolo a couple weeks ago! And everyone knows that getting invited by Jillian Zrihen of Tracy Brooke PR means one thing: it'll be a party! And a partay it was, but I'll get to that later!

First off, I just want to mention how ridunculous it is (really!) to have an opening on a weekday evening. Why? This only means I'll get to work hungover the next day. I mean, make it a Friday, and then I don't care what I look like or how dizzy I am the next morning :p


We were welcomed by all smiles and DJ Abeille Gélinas, who has been at all the openings of recent. Good vibes and good people! We waited a couple minutes to give our coats and then, we were off upstairs to the dining and bar area. The place looks really good, with leather booths and lots of wood on the walls. There was also a huge bar, which is always important! Hehehe.


Wow, the place got full at around 6:30 and OH-SOOOO-FULL as in I-can't-move-a-bit at around 7.


We obviously (uh, duh!) headed straight for the bar because I just knew it was going to fill up real quick. We had their signature cocktail of the evening, Il Vicolo, which is gin, blood orange, lemon, egg whites, orange flower water and soda. It was...alright. Not really my cup-o-tea (or my cup-o-gin?) Too gin-y for me. I mean, I can handle too vodka-y or too rum-y but too gin-y? Nah.

OK, so basically, the evening was to be composed of free drinks, free food (tiny versions of  their plates) being passed around by waiters, a tiny cheese, bread and meat buffet type thang and a pizza etc table. That pizza etc table was really diddly damn good!

Alrighty, let's talk food, shall we?


The cheese, bread and sausagy buffet. It looked really good! It looked so good that I wanted to put everything in my mouth at once, but let's face it, my mouth is way too small :p The olives were, what's the word, oh-so-good! Mmmmmm, they pretty much melted right in my mouth (yes, apparently olives can melt). Some bread was a tad too hard but some was soft and yummy! Same with the cheese, some was soft and tasty and others were on the harder side, but good nevertheless. The only thing that really disappointed me were the little sausages wrapped oh so carefully in paper: they were so hard, I thought I was going to break a 5th tooth (mmmmya, I don't have the best teeth). Plus, my guest, Lea, found them way too spicy.


First thing that was offered to us by the waiters was this butternut creamy goodness heavenly thang. It was hot, which is not the norm when soup is served, especially during an opening, and so soft and unctions! I could have eaten about 11 of those. Just because.


This was a hit! Burrata atop an olive tapenade and crushed tomatoes on a crouton. The crouton wasn't too hard, the cheese was just lovely and surprisingly, the olives weren't salty at all. As I said, a hit!

This was also wonderful! Beef carpaccio with fleur de sel, parmesan, and truffle oil. I thought, like in many cases, that the oil was going to overpower the dish but it just added what was needed to complete it. The beef melted in your mouth and it was just goodness all around.

Ze calamari. Not squishy, thank the looooord! They were rather crunchy with a nice little mayo. Very pleasant!

The pizza bar! I think we hung out next to it for at least half an hour, just eating our way through every single pizza. There were meaty pizzas and one mushroom pizza which was to dssssiiiieee for! All were thin crusted and wonderful and oh-so-cheesy! And I don't say that lightly because I AM a pizza enthusiast.   

We also tried their mushroom risotto with a bit of parsley. It was nice and creamy but a bit too hard for my taste (FYI: risotto is not supposed to be soft, it's actually supposed to have some crunch to it).

 
Now, for the service! Seeing as the place was full or 'plein à craquer' as we say, service was actually on par (and the door dudes were really cool---I even gave one of them a plate of goodies :) There was a huge agglomeration at the bar and they were quite fast giving out drinks! At some point though, they stopped giving out free drinks :( That's alright, we became fast friends with the drunkered owner, so we paid for half of our future drinks. Hehehe. And then, like magic, everything became blurry....From what Lea told me, we hung out with the owner and a hot girl (hello!!!) for some time when everyone was gone. Oh and I woke up with her card on my night table AND in my jacket. I dream of a threesome, mmmkay? Hahaha. We ended up getting our pic taken in the Vicolo photo booth at the end, looking ridiculous, in good Marie fashion.
 
And now, the scores!
 
Food:8
Service: 8.5   
 
We had an excellent time, although the morning after wasn't so excellent! I'll go back for sure to have the REAL Vicolo experience!

Vicolo Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 22, 2014

La Petite Mangue

Courtesy of restaurant-montreal (forgot to take a pic!)
So, I was invited to try this Cambodian restaurant a couple weeks ago through my blog's facebook page and was quite excited! The menu looked so darn tootin good! Plus, when do I get to eat Cambodian food? NEVER!


I got there with my partner in crime, Val, and waited. And then, we waited some more. AND some more. Oh, and then the busboy came to see us and I tried to explain that I got invited because I have a blog and what have you and he seemed highly confused. Man, this wasn't going to be easy. Finally, the waiter (who was busy serving around 50 people!!!) came around and sat us at the most romantic spot in the restaurant. Hahaha. Yep, this was going to be quite romantic indeed! NOT! Anyhoot, I had to show him my fb with the invite! I think both parties were embarrassed by this. Point is, he got it. He suggested some items on the menu and the table d'hôte. Ps: you will find the best, cheapest, wine in town there. A bottle worth 16$ at the SAQ is being sold 24$ there. HELLO! 

The place itself doesn't seem to have the best set up: you enter and BAM, tables everywhere, some, cafeteria style with 3 or 4 tables stuck together. The decor is nothing to write home about and I have to stress, again, that that poor waiter had the whole restaurant to himself that night.

And now, let's talk food, shall we? We ordered two table d'hôte + a salad. We also ordered a bottle of white wine that, and I'll say it again, only cost us 24$!!!!


Siem Reap: curry soup with vermicelli, iceberg lettuce, onion and lemon wedge. A tad spicy and a lot lemony, with great flavours! This was a hit for sure! Loved all of it!


Your basic spring roll with mint, carrots, and what have you. Wasn't the best in town but still tasted good. The sauce was good without being too spicy.


Imperial rolls: obviously we had the pork ones (we love our pork!) and they were good but not great. Again, the sauce was lovely and not that spicy.


A bad picture. I mean, the papaya salad. Very spicy! I mean, we could definitely handle it but some might not. The green beans added just the crunch that was needed. The tomatoes... didn't really have a reason to be there, we found. the lemon added the my-mouth-is-on-fire-I-need-something-to-calm-it-down part :)


Amok: a Cambodian specialty! Fish bathed in coconut milk and infused with a lemongrass blend. You had me at coconut! Wait, no, you had me at lemongrass. The fish was spicy and moist but the broth was a tad too salty. The coconut was very present and the lemongrass as well. Great mix of flavours! An overall great dish. We hadn't even ordered it but the waiter thought we should try it. GREAT idea dude, great idea.

Kroeung: traditional Cambodian sauté with onions, peppers and infused lemongrass and peanut sauce. The beef was a bit on the cold side but the spices made it damn good! the veggies were well seasoned and were crunchy, which gave a nice texture to the dish.

Savory sweet pork with crispy bamboo shoots. It was good but not as good as the beef. The rice that accompanied it wasn't nearly as good as it should have been. I mean, the whole was good, just not the best.

And now, the service. The busboy turned out to be very entertaining. At one point, we were cracking up about something and he came to our table and started cracking up too. Twas very cute! The dishes didn't come as fast as we would have liked but I blame the fact that the other waiter was probably out sick for the evening.

And now, the scooooores!

Food: 8.5
Service: 7

This was a hit! I'll totally go back at some point and try their other dishes!

ps: with our food being free and our wine (we had a bottle and a half) being something like 30% off, we ended up only paying something like 12 dollars each plus a hefty tip. Good deal? Hells YA!

La Petite Mangue on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 17, 2014

Imadake


MTL à table is a wonderful event that takes place every year where restaurants lower their table d'hôte prices so that people can discover them and enjoy some good food. This year, most of them had their table d'hôte at either 19, 29 or 39 dollars. I think Toqué! was at 69$ but that's a whole different cup-o-tea. When a friend suggested we go, I immediately thought of Imadake because a: it was at 29$ and b: I'd heard lots of great things and had been meaning to go. 


An izakaya is basically a Japanese pub that also serves up good eats. Actually on Imadake's website, it reads 'Come eat and drink, yum! Good!' Makes me think of the shirts my best friend used to bring me back from Japan that made close to no sense. Anyhoot, when you're outside, you hear absolutely nothing and once you open those doors, WOW! It's really loud and vibrant, and everyone seems to be having the time of their lives. Plus, they sell sake bombs where there's something about hitting the table with your fists and the waiter yells 'SAKE!!' and the clients yell 'BOMB!!' like three times. This was fun at first but then, we just had a hard time hearing ourselves talk! But, you know, it's part of the Imadake experience! The place is quite big with a bar in the middle and lots of wood. Most tables are lower with wooden blocks as chairs (which, as it turns out, not too comfy for a 2 hour dinner).

So, the way MTL à table works is that you have a menu with 2 choices per course. Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all! I had already checked out the menu and knew what I wanted to eat of course!


I was the first one there as per usual so I decided to order a nice little drink for the waiting time. I didn't want anything too heavy so I ordered the Shiso mojito. Basically a run of the mill mojito but with shiso leaves instead of mint. And since shiso is in the same family as mint, it was a nice little refreshing, well executed mojito. At the end, it got a tad too sweet but it was still yummy.


My entrée: bonito tataki. The bonito itself had a nice texture but the dish was lacking an extra level of seasoning. Still great and and there was plenty!


Second course: Karaage fried chicken with wasabi sauce. There was a LOT of chicken. Like, a LOT! The chicken itself was very moist but the breading was so crunchy, I thought I might break a tooth. There was a bit too much fat in there which made it unpleasant at some point. The lemon added a nice touch and I loved that wasabi mayo! If I were beginning to be sick, this totally reversed it and unplugged everything! I even shed a tear or two :) 



Third course: Steak Yaki Niku. THIS was a nice surprise! They bring you a hot ass (yes, hot ASS) plate and some uncooked marinated beef with a teriyaki soya sesame kinda sauce that tasted great. The beef had a wonderful taste to it but some pieces were way too big to fit my tiny mouth so I had to cut them with chop sticks which wasn't ideal. Still, as I've said, and I'll say it again, this was like heaven in my mouth. Heaven I say! Mmmmm! So, you put the beef on the hot plate with a bit of sauce and then some chives and you barely cook it and then, wait for it, you put it in your mouth. AND you've reached umami (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umami) heaven!



As for desert, I chose the sesame ice cream. It looks, well, not too appetizing but it was oh-so-DAMN-good! It was so soft and smooth! 

And now, let's talk service, shall we? When I got in, I found it weird that the girls were all wearing school girl skirts but then I figured that a lot of them are wearing that in Japan right now so it became less weird. What WAS weird is that the waiter told us that the dishes came out when they were ready so we all ate at this different times which was kind of annoying. It took a while to start but then the food came in relatively good timing. Oh and, y'all know I'm serious about my water and we all had to ask for some, at different times during our meal. Meh.

And now, the scores!

Food:  7.5
Service: 7

All in all, I'm not disappointed and I'm happy we chose this restaurant for MTL à Table! Will definitely go back!


Imadake on Urbanspoon