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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Nini Meatball House


I was meeting my ex English teacher J and her girl Yez for dinner. Soooooo, I thought we should meet two doors from work (Sushi taxi), you know... cause I have such a hard time being away from work :p  Geez! So, we did! On top of it, since I'm two doors down, I'd been through the buying, the remodeling and the everything that makes this resto what it is today!


The place: very simple, very white, industrial type of lighting. Cool feeling.


The drink: Rebel lemonade. Maker's Mark, soda, lemon juice, simple syrup. Told the waitress we make a really meeeeaaan lemonade at Sushi Taxi and she convinced me that hers was going to be better. Nope. It was OK, very strong and not lemon-y enough.


OK, let's talk food! First off, I must mention that their menu has pretty much nothing too original or new, which was a tad disappointing. We ordered 4 sets of 3 meatballs and our own sides. 1- Beef meatballs with tomato sauce and parmesan: lacks taste, lacks salt, nothin special there. 2- Beef, cheddar and bacon meatball with a smoked BBQ sauce: the sauce was great! I'd even go as far as to say mouth watering. BUT the meatball itself was tough and again, lacked flavour. 3- Pork and fennel meatball with spicy tomato sauce: I'm not even kidding when I say that this tasted like NADA. 4- Pork and chorizo meatball with chimichuri sauce: Man, you had me at chimichuri! I LOVE that stuff. Needless to say this one was my fave. As a side, I had the mashed potatoes which tasted alright, although they could have used more salt. I was more annoyed at the price (7$).

Service was alright: we got water quickly and the dishes a bit less quickly. Plus, our waitress kept on going back and forth between English and French so that got annoying really fast.

And now, the scores!

Food: an average of 6 
Service: 6

If you ask me again to pay 7 dollars for mashed potatoes, I'll say no.


Nini Meatball House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Bolo Bolo



*review written by my friend C.S. because I could not attend the opening*

My sister and I are first-time critics of restaurants and had the great honour of representing M-C and her fabulous blog for Bolobolo’s opening night in early October. We entered the gourmet meatball (boulettes gourmandes) restaurant/bar with keen and empty stomachs. Located on the Boulevard Saint-Laurent in the space adjacent to the Excentris theatre (in the old Café Méliès: an ambitious location?!), we imagine that Bolobolo is looking to attract movie theater goers and late night snack-seekers.

As we entered the bar, we were pleasantly greeted and offered free cocktails--- in exchange for posting Bolobolo’s hashtags to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. We took advantage of this early on in the evening and ordered a few of their “signature drinks”: the “Sweet Mexico” (spicy and aromatic, with fun chilies rimming the glass), “Hocus Pocus” (very yummy with a giant mint leaf), and the “Smoking Hot Bloody with a Ball” (Bloody Mary + boulette).  All great drinks, particularly the one with the meatball!  We enjoyed our fun free drinks as the night began, but it wasn’t long before things at the bar got out of control.  Free drinks = total chaos in no time at all, we found out. The most obvious issue was that there weren’t nearly enough staff to accommodate all the drink orders.

As hunger was setting in, we were promised over and over that the boulettes would be making their grand entrance at 7pm. There really were a lot of people so I didn't get too worried when it was 7:10 and I hadn't yet seen anything closely resembling a meaty sphere rolling my way. A few minutes later though, we noticed the intermittent and fleeting rushes of people around the back of the restaurant, which we assumed to be in the vicinity of the doors to the kitchen (we were right). Okay, okay, I get it: the first few trays were quickly attacked and we just had to be a little patient until they brought out some more food. Soooo, um, yeah, bring out some more, please! Right? Weeellll, didn’t quite go that way: they had about two or three wait staff bringing out a paltry 5-10 tiny 2-boulette bowls at a time from the kitchen. It took over half an hour for us to get our first bites. We did our very best to make ourselves visible, but things did not improve as the night went on. I understand that they had a lot of people there, but heck, you invited them all so ya better feed 'em, no?

Of course, this was an opening night event and, though we are but rookies of the food critiquing business, we understand that these things are probably not logistically super simple. Though we really hated having to try so hard and compete against so many people to finally get some food, we get that it’s not necessarily indicative of what service would be like on any other night. We did eventually, finally manage to get some food and were in fact quite pleased with what was served. First to sink our teeth into: a classic beef meatball with tomato sauce. Good, but our least favorite, just a little dense.  The next boulette we managed to get our paws on was the spicy veal ball. A nice touch was the parmesan cream/foam served along with it, which went well with the sauce and spice. Next to arrive were the delectable mac + cheese balls, which we happily tucked into. Not impressive from the outside, but a very nice snack: not heart-cloggingly fried, lightly breaded and super cheesy, with a nice kick (good dose of cheddar).


Another yummy meat-a-ball we tried was pork boulette served with a good amount of ricotta and a tasty sauce. This was the juiciest ball we had (aside from the one the came with the Bloody Mary) and we agreed that we would certainly order this dish again. 

Overall, to get your meatball fix, this place is a fair to good bet, based on what we sampled. We didn't get any of their “plats principaux” (described as “pizza” and “sandwich” boulettes, amongst others), so we can't speak to those. The restaurant also offers some basic sides and desserts. In truth, food-wise, you’re really here for the meatballs, which you can order in quantities of up to 20. It’s comfort food done up all fancy, and we figure you might come here for 5-à-7 or a pre-/post-movie bite and cocktail. It may also be fun for late night drinking munchies (it’s open until 4am Thursday through Saturday, and until 11pm on other nights).

Bouffe: 7.5
Service: 5

Note from me: I wish I could have been there! MUST go try these meatballs... and soon!

Bolo Bolo on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pasta Casareccia


Val and I had some early business at Sushi Taxi and when we were done, since I wasn't on the schedule till later in the afternoon, we decided to have lunch at her friend Mauro's restaurant, Pasta Casareccia. This family owned place is located where I neva eva go, Sherbrooke West. There's a bunch of nice restos in this end of Sherbrooke, it just seems too far, ya know?


Anyhoot, there is a large terrasse, obviously closed because it ain't getting any warmer, and two dining rooms inside. Oh, and they also have a gourmet boutique where Italian everything is sold. My mouth was watering just looking at the sausages and meat and fresh pasta and home made loveliness. Drooling isn't polite, is it? I HAD to eat, like NOW.


We didn't even see the menu because Mauro knew what Val liked, therefore what I liked: Val and I have some pretty similar tastes when it comes to great food!


The starter for two: antipasti. Hello! Homemade or Italy made, this was a plate of wonderfulness! Olives, old cheddar glazed with balsamic syrup, homemade olive bread sticks, homemade fennel -tiny- bread ...thingys, sopressata and capicolli. Everything was darn good. The bread sticks were freshly made and the cold cuts were just so good! I'd even go as far as 'mouth watering' good. Yes, that's right. The olives were a tad saltier than I would have liked but still hit the spot.


Olives ascolane. Although I am TRYING to watch what I eat, especially everything breaded, I just couldn't resist these meat filled, breaded olives. With just a tad of lemon, they were, well, heaven in my mouth! The lemon helped bring out all the flavours and I just wanted more!


Pumpkin risotto. Pumpkin: YES. Risotto: hell YES! It was very silky and the pumpkin was well cooked and super soft. The pancetta was great although it made the dish a bit too salty. Green onions made for a nice texture change. All in all, I would have this risotto over and over again. Maybe i'll go now! But first, there's more!


Speck and porcini tagliatelle. Oh man, eating one mushroom was like an explosion of flavours in my mouth. It was like they had been marinating for 100 years! Ok, that would be a bit gross but you get the idea. They fly them in from Italy and rehydrate them here. Dry, hydrated, rehydrated, I don't care; they were probably the best mushrooms I've ever tasted. Chopped parsley added some freshness to the pasta which was not too creamy and not too wine-y. Val had guaranteed this was going to be good (she had tasted it before) and she was right! The speck, which is a type of prosciutto, was, again, a bit too salty in itself but within the dish, was just the right salty element.


Lemon sorbetto. Very tasty but it was sooooo cold that my brain surgery scar started hurting! Hahaha!

Let's talk about the service! Well, when you're friends with the person that owns the restaurant, it certainly helps! We got water in 3.5 seconds from our waiter and our dishes arrived in a timely fashion. Plus, we got the chance to learn about the history of the restaurant and where most of the products come from straight from the owner's mouth! He also answered every question we had about the dishes.

And now, the scores!

Food: 9
Service: a well deserved 10

I'll say this: if ever I'm on Sherbrooke West again, I'm coming to see you, Mauro!

Pasta Casareccia on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 26, 2014

KYOZON part deux


I was re-invited to try Kyozon 'for real' since the opening in September. Obviously, openings are mostly grandiose with a full house (and then some), a dj and lots and lots of staff.


This time, we got there for an early dinner with the intention of trying dishes I hadn't eaten when I had gone two weeks prior. We were warmly welcomed in an almost empty restaurant. What a difference! Our waiter came to take our order and made some nice suggestions. We ended up getting four entrées (yes, we are pigs) and we were to share the duck and all its fixings as a main. What a treat this was going to be! Oh, we also had a cocktail on the house and then got a couple more glasses of wine for our meal.

Leeeeeet's do it!


The drink: 6 May 2014. Hennesy very special, bergamot liquor, palm sugar, kumquats, mangosteen, fresh mint. Man, talk about a fresh tasting cocktail! It was very citrusy, almost too much. It hit all the right tastebuds.


The calamari were a disappointment.  When I ate them at the opening, they were perfect but when they arrived at our table this time, they were cold. Not like 'oh, they must have been hot in the kitchen' but more like 'oh, they must have been cold for a while'. They were good the first time and oh-so-unappreciated the second time.

Crab and chicken Sui Mai with smoked chili jam. I found them full of flavor, not too spicy, not too mellow. The sides were a bit on the hard...side. My dining partner wasn't as fond of them as I was. Which turned out to be good for me because I got to eat three quarters of the dish. Hehehe!


Beef teriyaki on skewers. They were a bit hard to chew but they still tasted great. Again, they were a bit on the cold side. I've said it and I'll say it again, dishes that are meant to be served hot should be on hot plates! The pickled veggies were great, with just the right amount of vinegar. This finished off the dish nicely.


Baby pork spareribs with black bean sauce. Holy bejesus this was good. OH-so good. Food orgasm good, I'm not even kidding!  The meat was fall-off-the-bone goodness and the seasoning on the veggies was just right. Not too salty but not bland either. The black bean sauce was wonderful and added just what was needed to the dish. I have to say, next time I make ribs (and I'm oh-so-due), I'm making a black bean sauce. To tell you how good this was, we both gave it an 11 (on 10, of course).


Kyozon's take on Peking duck. THIS was a winner.  The duck was cooked to perfection aka on the rare side and the little pancakes were a great vessel but were a tad on the cold side (I think they are having a problem in the temperature department). There were two sauces; hoisin, which I looooove, and prune, which could have been a tad sweeter. This was accompanied by some greens, some pickled veggies, coriander and mint. Mmmmm... put all of that in that little pancake and it's the perfect mix of sweet and sour! I pretty much devoured this.

We were very full after all these dishes but were convinced to eat desert. We had the brownie, which always seems like a good idea! The brownie was a bit on the hard and dry side but mixed with whipped cream, well everything is better with whipped cream. The cream itself was supposed to be infused with green tea but we didn't really detect it. 

Service was wonderful throughout the meal. Our waiter was more than present and we got visits from pretty much everyone that was working there, including the owners. One of them actually sat down with us to discuss the dishes. That was pretty cool. The ambiance at first was quite non existent but at around 7, it began to fill up so there was a good vibe in the house. We got the dishes in a timely manner, except for desert, which took quite a while. Anyhoot, courteousness  was all around and well appreciated. 

And now, the scores!

Food: an average of 7,5
Service: 9,5

A great new restaurant with very affordable dishes! I would definitely go back!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Labarake-Caserne à manger


I was invited to try the new fall menu at Labarake so I decided to bring someone that would know what he's talking about: ze chef at Sushi Taxi, Phil.

Labarake is located in an old firehouse in the Shop Angus. So, pretty much far from everything! 


We were invited for a 5 à 7 ... although without actually knowing it. It's a good thing we got there early as to take advantage of everything we could within that time period! Anyhoot, this place is kind of family oriented, kind of a happenin' bar, kind of a new business type people place. It's very nice to get a whole view of the restaurant when you arrive. Brick walls, industrial lighting and lots of wood made it look very homey and inviting.

We sat at the bar to, you know, be closer to the drinks and all! The owner of the resto came and said hello and explained the history of the building which was nice to know and then he left....and I was like, wait, what's the deal here? Even the waiters and the bartenders weren't aware of what bloggers were getting: food from the menu? drinks? whatwhat? Turns out, and we discovered this when we were about to order our food, that waiters were to go around with bite size versions of their popular dishes. Mmmmkay. But first, we needed some drinks!

There were 4 ceasars on the menu, all of them quite original so I was excited to taste 'em! I picked the Bloody BBQ first: whisky, steak spices, liquid smoke, clamato. All I's gotta say is YUM-MY! I could have easily chugged this in less than a minute but I'm a lady after all! Well, sometimes :) It was like I had ribs in my mouth. OH YES. And y'all know how much I like my ribs! Oh, and lots of alcohol It was refreshing and all the right spices were in there. Nothing bad about this. At all.


Second ceasar was the Bloody Carnivore: cognac, veal stock, clamato, steak spices, bacon and dried beef. The veal stock made it a tad too salty and it was a biiiiit unpleasant to see little bits of fat swimming in my drink. But the rest was damn good.





Third ceasar was the Bloody Marin, or the Sea salt Bloody if you will. It was accompanied by a lovely oyster (yes, I am now an oyster fan. Can't get enough.). There was nothing to write home about the ceasar. Very basic. Maybe it's because it was my third one of the evening!

OK, food, shall we?


Beef and salmon tartare. The beef tartare was classic with a bit of mustard and shallots. So, basically, your classic beef tartare but with a bigger, quite unpleasant cut. The salmon tartare was a tad too creamy and the pomegranate pieces were too present and got stuck in my teeth. So it was a miss right there.


Scallop wrapped with Spanish ham. THIS was a hit. A total hit! With that smooth cauliflower puree, it just melted in your mouth. All the flavours just blended together to make a great dish. Lovely, really!





Beef cheek with parsnip puree. This was greatness. The puree could not have been smoother and the beef was well cooked and not too salty. Very yummy. That's the technical term, of course!


Clafoutis. Good but not great. Not too sweet and very moist.

Then, there was the 'desert shooter'. Bailey's with some cold coffee. This was good even if I despise coffee. And since we weren't aware that this ended at 7PM, when the dude said 'a last shot?', I was just sad I wasn't going to taste the last of the four ceasars!

Service was very attentive, they even came back and offered us seconds. And always with a smile :) It was a new menu so there was some confusion with the waiters and the bartenders but that was to be expected.

And now, the scores!

Food: 6
Service: 8

To be honest, I'm not going back simply because it's too damn far but it is worth a try!

ps: My mom, who is forever on the look out of thangs that might interest me, found an article in I believe Chatelaine (or Coup de Pouce?) that says that Labarake is one of the restaurants to absolutely visit in MTL.


Labarake - Caserne à Manger on Urbanspoon