Sunday, August 25, 2013

Food Trucks on Monkland!

Last Thursday, Isa told me that there were a few food trucks around her work on Monkland for somewhat of a street festival. I just HAD to meet her on her lunch break the following day to witness this. Oh and I did! There were about 7 or 8 food trucks lining the street so of course, we didn't want to try only one or two... we tried four :)

The first one, right around the corner was P.A. Gargantua, a gourmet grilled cheese specialized truck. We, as good pigs that we are, just had to have the bacon,  smoked butter, cheddar des îles-aux-grues (cut by one of my good friends that works at la Fromagerie Atwater!!--apparently they cut about 100 kg a week for them!) and échalotes confites one (8,50$). Holy YES! First of all, as soon as you put your nose in the bag, you are in grilled cheese heaven: it smells so freaking good. You take a bite and dsamn! First off, I need to stress that we ware talking about REAL bacon here. Thick, juicy, freshly cut from ze pig bacon. Although pleasant to eat, it is quite hard to eat it without taking the whole piece in your mouth with one bite. The cheddar was so freaking good and added a tad of saltiness to the grilled cheese. The shallots, well, hello! I'm an onion type-o-girl so this was more than perfect for me! It added a certain sweetness to it that was welcomed.
And the score: 9 !!! It was also my fave of the day.
P.A. & Gargantua on Urbanspoon

The second truck was Lucille's. They serve up some seafood and that day, they were serving a lobster roll. How can I say no to that? Well, I can't! It was 10$ for the roll and both Isa and I thought it was pretty steep. At least gimme a pickle, chips, something! It had great flavours with some green onion in there but a tad too much mayo based sauce and meeeeeeeeeeeeeeh, the lobster was overcooked :( When it's squishy, it's overcooked people!
 And the score:6,5
Lucille's Oyster Dive on Urbanspoon

The third truck was Route 27, Marché 27's truck. Isa brought me to Marché 27 for my birthday 3 years ago and it was damn freaking diddlydamn good. So we just HAD to try it. We had the tuna taco. Basically, it is tuna tartare with a mango salsa. Good right? Meh, I guess. First off, it was more like a fajitas: soft shell that kept on breaking and was very unpleasant to eat :/ I would have preferred a hard shell. And everything was mushy, the shell was mushy, the tuna was mushy and the salsa was mushy. The flavours weren't even that great. Oh, and it was TINY. I don't even think it was worth our 8$.
And the score: 6
Route 27 on Urbanspoon
The final truck was Pas d'Cochon dans mon salon. They had like 4 things on their menu, which is just perfect for a food truck; don't complicate things. Oh, and they had their smoker right RIGHT there. We had the pulled pork sandwich (7$) and it was the best deal out of all the food trucks that day. First off, it was fresh fresh FRESH out of the smoker. And it was HUGE!!! We had to eat it with a fork! Mmmmm the pork melted in your mouth it was so tender!!! The flavours were there, the everything was there, it was perfect! Not too salty, and surprisingly not too meaty.
And the score: 9
Pas D'Cochon Dans Mons Salon on Urbanspoon









Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Barque Smokehouse

Sylvia and I had been walking for a while and therefore starving. We were on Roncesvalles ave (try to say that 5 times in a row) right beside High Park in Toronto and we found this little gem of a place. 

This restaurant is not too big, not too small, with around 40 seats. It has a nice feel to it, with picnic tables, a bar and some higher tables. Lots of wood in this place which makes it quite homey.

Popcorn!
On top of it, as soon as you sit down, you can eat! Eat what you ask? Well, the big arse bowl (more of a bucket) of paprika and cinnamon sprinkled popcorn. SO GOOD. I don't even care if someone else had their hands in there, it's too good! And, well, the bucket is full so I'm thinking no one has :p

Heaven in the form of a drink
We started by ordering drinks. Duh. Had the Barque Caesar and do I ever NOT regret getting it. One of the best drinks I've ever had. Seriously. And as most of you know, I've had quite my share of drinks, hehehe! On top of tasting great, it had this lovely pickled asparagus in there which added just a touch of brininess with a salty and spicy side to it. The star, OH, the star was of course the candied bacon rim. Holy bejesus. It was HEAVEN-IN-MY-MOUTH. I'm not even kidding. It was passed caramelization, it was freaking candied. Think how much bacon is oh-so-good and then multiply that by 100.


Burger
Brisket

As for food, I had the smoked Barque burger and Sylvia had the Barque brisket. Sylvia said this about her meal: 'it's the best thing in the world'. The bread was moist, light and fluffy, the horseradish and the mayo were great and the whole thing was just oh-so-good. The slaw was sweet enough and the fried onions were there to balance out the whole thing. And then, she tasted mine and she said holy shiz, I didn't think it could get better than my brisket. Oh but it did. Did I mention that I had candied smoked bacon in my hamburger as well? Oh yes I did! Plus aged cheddar, caramelized onions and bbq sauce. So, basically, heavenly. Obviously, the bacon made it great. The cheese was just salty enough to balance the sweet side of the bacon, the bun was airy and fluffy and the meat was perfectly cooked. The mayo was spicy and the pickle added a fresh touch to it all.The fries were homemade, crispy and well seasoned with a hint of paprika and cinnamon=so good!







As for the service, it was wonderful: the waitress even attempted to fix our slightly wobbly table. She had a smile on her face from start to finish.






And now, the scores!
Food: 8,5 (a 10 for the drink!)
Service: 8,5

So basically, the key word here is HEAVENLY. Go there and please PLEASE order the Caesar and the burger! You will not regret it, I assure you!

Barque Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 19, 2013

La Panthère Verte mobile

FINALLY, a food truck! And by that, I mean I finally got to eat food truck style! I was meeting my English teacher, her girlfriend and my friend Gab from school. We had to find a veggie place for my veggie friend so we chose La Panthère Verte. I looked on streetfoodmtl.com and looked for trucks. Turns out La Panthère Verte was in the Old Port that day! 

We met there and it was beside two other trucks: Le Quai mobile (I think it's called) and Le Cheese which I need to try. Anyhoot, La panthère verte has two restos: one in Mile-End and one downtown. Basically, in order to have a food truck in MTL you need an actual restaurant where you can store and cook some of your meals etc. 

Obviously, since its a truck, they don't have the complete Panthère Verte menu: 5 choices + desert + sodas. I had the Tempehtation: tempeh (FYI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempeh), tomatoes, lettuce, sauerkraut, sprouts and hippie sauce which is some kind of mayo. Oh and they didn't have anymore lettuce (this is the downside of food trucks: they run out of stuff) so they just added some more sauerkraut which was just fine with me.

First off, it was really drippy. Dripping EVERYWHERE. My dress, the ground, my hands... That was a tad unpleasant. Secondly, the tempeh, which was very tasty and soft and actually just plain damn good was at the bottom of the wrap so I got there like 10 minutes after having started and I was already annoyed by the whole thing. The wrap had layers of flavours when in fact, the flavours should have been mixed together. Oh and beware tiny eaters, this wrap is huge.

And now, the score:

Food: 6,5

It could have been better, you know? Not totally pleased with my first MTL food truck experience but I can't say I won't go back to try other vegan choices on La Panthère Mobile's menu!


la Panthere Verte on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 16, 2013

L'Atelier d'Argentine

I got invited to try L'Atelier d'Argentine with a friend a couple weeks back. I was so excited and I was thinking 'hey, we'll buy a bottle of wine and we'll get some free food'. Oh but we got sooooo much more!

This restaurant, part of the Tom Nacos Group (Decca77, Newtown, Weinstein + Gavinos, Guido + Angelina), is located in Old Montreal, close to De La Commune. It's quite a big restaurant with two rooms, a private dining room for a small group, and a table downstairs pretty much in the kitchen. When you reserve this table, you have the chance to get served by the chef!

So my friend Cat and I go in, and we are welcomed by the host/maître d'/sommelier by the name of Alexandre. He shook our hands and seemed very pleased that we were there. Yay! He brought us to our perfect table, by the window.

Ze bubbly
First, we got ze bread...including this tiny little bread with cheese that we dubbed 'little pieces of heaven' because they were. They pretty much melted in your mouth. YUM. Then, it was time (already) for some bubbly. Hello! It was great: not too sweet, not to dry. It went well with the four empanadas he brought us right after.
Empanadas minus 1 because we forgot to take a picture with 4 :)

Empanada #1: Cheese. Very cheesy but not great flavours
Empanada #2: Beef (cut by hand). Great. Moist. Well seasoned.
Empanada #3: Ham and cheese. Very nice. Crusty on the outside, moist on the inside.
Empanada #4: Corn and crushed tomatoes. Well seasoned. Very creamy. Fresh. Nothing too fancy.

By the way, Alexandre had given us menus but then asked if we had any allergies/preferences and told us that he would take care of everything and we didn't even have to look at the menu. So that was great and it made us feel even more special!

Next were two plates of tartares. The first, tuna. Fine slices with tomatoes, lovely when you put it in your mouth, great texture, but unfortunately didn't taste much. This came with very floral white wine that I loved but was a tad too sweet for Cat. Still, a great pairing.

Then, the crudo di corvina, very pleasant and soft, with guacamole and homemade chips. Very tasty and well seasoned. The tomatoes added a nice fresh touch.


Risotto
Chorizo
Bavette
As for the main course, since we got two different plates, we, of course, got two different red wines :) Since I was having meat (+ meat), I got the Malbec and Cat (veggie), got the Shiraz. For Cat it was the quinoa risotto. It was a fresh alternative to meat, with perfectly cooked mushrooms and
Provolone
other veggies. I got the 10oz bavette, which was perfect, perfect, PERFECT! With awesome chimichurri (garlic, oil and herbs). It was a HUGE piece that I didn't finish but it was so tender and cooked to perfection! On the side, Cat got the provoletta, a nicely textured piece of fried cheese with a couple sweetened carrots. They were just soft enough. On my side, I got a chorizo sausage which was nicely charred but a tad on the hard side yet very tasty.

As for ze desert, well, we told them it wasn't necessary because we were so darn full. But Alexandre insisted and so he brought us a small plate with three different deserts. Oh, and desert wine :) A goat cheese cake which was quite cheesy and not too sweet. A milk semi-fredo which was damn good. A dulce de leche (well good day to YOU!!!!) crêpe which was smooth with a flambée banana on top. There was also a homemade icecream on top which was so lovely and well balanced.

At the end of our meal and after leaving a hefty tip, we went to see Alexandre to thank him and instead of leaving, he asked us if we wanted to see downstairs. Of course! We got to see their wine cellar and the kitchen with the table reserved for a lucky group that would be served by the chef. Awesome.

Now, let's talk a bit more about the service, shall we? Well, it was wonderful. I've seriously never had this good a service. Alexandre was marvellous; always there to explain our dishes and wines and answer any question we had. The waiter/busboy was always there when we needed water. We were asked at every course if it pleased us and oh it did!!

And now...the scores!

Food: 9
Service: 10

This experience was a once in a lifetime thang! Even if you don't get invited, please go, you'll be pleased!

L'Atelier d'Argentine on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 9, 2013

Simplement D Liche Cupcakes

The cronut is in town people! OK, I have to say that I had never heard of such a thing until recently. I know, I know. 

Anyhoot, I went to school for 3 years right next to this place and even though I had noticed it (it's been opened for about two years), I had never gone inside. It is SO cute. It LOOKS like a cupcake place, you know? It's all nice and clean and white. I was very pleasantly surprised and happy to get invited by Jade Nguyen (turns out she did her Bachelors in Management and had some classes at ITHQ). 

Oh and they sell a bunch of cupcake paraphernalia. It's all very cute. You want to have a birthday party for your little girl? Well, they have Hello Kitty stuff. Your boy? They have robot stuff. Oh and when I said 'your little girl', I meant me. Y'all know I'm a bit of a Hello Kitty freak.

The two owners were once in finance and in pharmaceuticals but decided to follow their dream and open a cupcake shop. Nice! And they just seem like two very happy-go-lucky guys. They also told me that they don't use shortening... just butta... oh yes... BUTTA :p They try to use natural ingredients and to just, well, make it as good as possible!

The croooooooonuuuuuuuuut!
Alright, let's get down to business; the cronut. The cronut, as wikipedia explains, was developed by Dominique Ansel, a French, NYC based pastry chef, not too long ago. It's basically a mix of doughnut and croissant. Basically, they take the croissant dough, put some crème pâtissière in there, there's some frying, some powder sugaring and voilà. Ish. So Simplement D Liche tried many recipes before getting to this one, as Jade was telling me. And it's a huge one (for 5$); I had to bring 1/4 of it home with me! Apparently only one other bakery in Montreal serves up the cronut and it's in Little Italy. D Liche has been selling the cronut for only weeks now and already, their getting lines around the block and selling out every day!

Holy decadence batman!
The cronut, or at least D Liche's cronut, is not overly sweet. Way less sweet than you would think, which is a good thing because it's very decadent. It's moist and fluffy all at once. Some parts seemed to be a bit undercooked but that has never stopped me :) As I've mentioned before, I loves me some raw dough. The crème pâtissière added some moistness, which was welcomed because of the richness of it all. It's a good thing I had a glass of water! I'm not much of a doughnut girl so I think I had a hard time appreciating the full value of ze cronut.


And now, the scores.

Food: 7
Service: 9,5

I will definitely go back to try their good lookin' cupcakes (many friends have gone and loved them) but I think the cronut and I were a one time thang.


Simplement D Liche Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pho 198

So, I lived for many years 2 blocks away from this marvellous spot and had never tried it. Bravo Marie, Bravo. Anyhoot, Pho 198 (so it's called Pho 198 because the owner's address is 198...)is located close to many restaurants in Côte-des-Neiges and right beside a Subway. No competition there!

I was sick (and still am...grrrr) so I decided to get myself a nice soup in an effort to try to get better. You know, soups do that. The waitress was very nice and considerate. She asked me if I wanted them to add ginger in there, you know, cause I'm sick. I thought that was nice. And then when she saw me take pics, she gave me a card and I told her I was a food blogger and she practically threatened the cook: 'if you FORGET to put ginger in there.....'. Hahaha.

Broth and goodness
I ordered the chicken pho. Mmmmmm....phooooooo! It had been a while for pho and I and this reminded me why I like it so much. Just opening the bag, you get a wiff of goodness. The thai basil brought so much flavor to the broth...so wonderful! The noodles were perfectly cooked. The chicken was charred and had great spices. Thing is it was a bit chewy. Meh. There were big chunks of ginger in there which could have been overpowering but it was actually very nice to bite in a big piece like that. The green onions and the bean sprouts added a needed crunch to the soup. Oh and they give you a mix of hoisin and hot sauce to either dip your chicken in or to simply put in the soup. 

And now, the scores!

Food: 8 Damn chicken!
Service: 9

You want pho? Go to Pho 198 and you will be pleased, I guarantee it!

Pho 198 on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 5, 2013

Nadège

After walking through Sylvia's favorite park, Trinity Bellwoods Park, we stopped by a lovely pâtisserie on Queen Street West. It looked very white: white walls, white counters. But then you looked at their produce and a BANG of colour! Sandwiches, macaroons; everything was so colourful!

Macaroons, macaroons, macaroons!
Nadège is a French pastry chef (actually, pretty much her whole family is into pastry) who opened her first bakery in Toronto in 2009. She then got rave reviews and just opened her second pâtisserie in Rosedale I believe. It's more of a fancy place then a 'let's go get a small croissant for breakfast' place. Their sandwiches range from 7 to 9$, so it's not that cheap but they do have great ingredients. Their macaroons are 2,20$ each. I find it kind of steep (ok, I never really buy macaroons) but damn worth it because they were amazing (bought the cherry chocolate one and the mojito one...both great).

Yummy sandwiches
Anyhoot, I had the fig and goat cheese croissant. It was very nice, the croissant, very soft and buttery. The cheese was lovely and there was just enough of it. The figs, on the other hand, meh. I LOVE figs and since my Sciences des aliments class, I have a real fondness for them and how and when they are ready. Those figs were not ready. They were almost tasteless and a bit on the hard side. Darn it.
Oh but I had a pomegranate and elderberry drink from bottle green which turned out to be the highlight of my meal. It was cold (YES!) and refreshing and just sweet enough.

Sylvia had the smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich which was apparently amazing. The cheese was whipped into a frenzy and therefore really soft and unctious. She also had homemade juice. It was really tasty but there was too much foam (like 1/4 of the glass).

The service was really great. Always with a smile, always efficient. They were all nice and considerate. We sat down outside and 4 minutes later, we had our meal. She even came by to check if everything was fine. Y'all know how much I appreciate that!

And now, the scores!

Service: a big 9,5
Food: Sylvia gives it a 9 and I give it a 6. Sorry, figs!

A great place to enjoy fresh produce and soft croissants. Go. Enjoy. Don't take the fig sandwich if they are not ripe :p


Nadege Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Chef on Call

I got an invite to try Chef on Call and of course I had to take it!!! It seemed like a great place to order from especially when you're a student working all hours of the night! These guys are opened till 4 am most nights and serve good homemade kinda food. Just what you need after a night of studying! 

So, Gabriel Malbogat, one of the co-founders of Chef on Call came to my door one day last week with a plathora of food :) I had chosen the vegetarian meal so I had five different dips, a spinach, cranberry and goat cheese salad, a grilled veggie wrap, the vegetarian burger and fries, sweet potato fries and onion rings. Oh, and a freaking huge chocolate chip cookie. So basically, I had food for 3 meals :)

Let's talk about the service. Well, it was wonderful! Gabriel was very courteous and told me about what I had in front of me, gave me the press release and a bunch of Chef on Call stuff. I tried to give him tip for the delivery but he refused many times. He finally took it when I told him he could just give it to the cooks.

Alright, let's get to the food! First off, the different sauces.

Before the unwrapping
1- Chef on call: Very nice even if on the thick side. It was actually a bit sweet. Paprika was very present but welcomed. Our favorite.

2- Spicy mayo:  Very spicy but very good.

3- Garlic mayo: Isa found it too garlicy but if you know me, you know I loves my garlic. So I liked it although I felt that the mayo was way too thick.

4- Garlic dill: I'm not much of a dill girl but Isa who liked dill more than me, found it OK. The dill was a bit overpowering. Our least favorite.

5- Honey dijon: Unctuous but a tad too thick. 

...and after! Yum!
And now, the salad. We found it to be a great mix: the cranberries were great in there and we all know cranberries go well with goat cheese! And, well, what's healthier than spinach? :) The leaves were HUGE though; we almost had to cut them. But it was a pretty salad. The vinaigrette, I thought, was a bit overpowering, but Isa liked it. It was pretty much olive oil and some herbs.

Ze burger now. Mmmm, this was very tasty. It was a vegetable and legume based patty which was so dsamn good, some greens, onions, tomato and garlic sauce. Ah, garlic sauce. Obviously, Isa found that they could have picked a different sauce but I loved it. I did smell like garlic until the next day though. But the patty was very tender, well seasoned, moist and lovely. I'd order that again.

The wrap. As soon as you unwrap,,, the wrap, your nostrils are filled with yummy smells. I love grilled vegetables and this was right up my alley. The goat cheese made the wrap what it was by tying all the flavors together and making it creamy and silky. Oh, there was also a nice balsamic glaze that gave the whole thing a nice kick.

The fries and the sweet potato fries were good and well seasoned but not crunchy. Isa didn't seem to mind but for me, fries need some kind of crispiness. We both agreed that the onion rings could have been crispier as well.

Now, the cookie. WOW, what a cookie! It was soft and was actually a bit raw in the middle which I loved. We're talking about a girl who used to eat raw cookie dough. Although not healthy, it was damn good! The cookie also had a lot of chocolate chips. It's rare that I actually eat cookies so when I do, I want it to be worth it.

And now, the scores!

Food: 7
Service: 10

All I have to say is that back when I was a student and all my peeps went to McGill, we ordered from Alto's (haha, remember that place?) many nights a week and that if Chef on Call would have been there, we might possibly would have prefered that!!!

ps: They use biodegradable  packaging AND electric scooters!

Chef on Call on Urbanspoon