quick reviews of a few good places (long)
We've been doing food tourism at home this week as the kids are away and we can finally try spicy places and new things. Here's what we've done so far, many based on suggestions found on this board.
Lemeac: Very comfortable terrace, excellent yellow tomato soup. I made a mistake in ordering the potato sticks instead of a salad with my salmon tartar though, very odd large bowl of crunchy little chips. It didn't accompany the soft texture of the salmon very well. DH had the hangar steak and frites which he found only okay. A nice presentation with the dessert cheese we selected. Most memorable was a wonderful bottle of wine, a Minervois at $23 for 500 ml. Good service and I'd try the salmon pot au feu next time. We were too hungry to wait for the late night special and it was just as well as the prices were fine.
Niu Kee: Apparently the best hot and sour soup in the city and I'd have to agree, a great balance of flavours and not that thick cornstarch-y texture so many others have. Powerful mapo tofu and we'll be back with the little ones so they can have the pork and chinese cabbage dumplings while we indulge in more Szechuan peppercorn dishes. Less expensive than cooking, frankly.
Le Roi du Plateau: well, this was our fifth choice after we discovered most of the other I'd picked out are closed on Monday. Reminder to self - always check restaurant hours before heading out. Nice garlic shrimp, big portions of grilled sardines and chicken, some digestive upset caused by something. Very pleasant ambiance and strolling musician but I don't think I'll be back. So easy to go to Romados and pick a chicken up instead.
Amelios: we always order their pizza for delivery and love it. It tastes the most like homemade! Thought we'd see what it was like to actually go to the restaurant. I had the vegetarian lasagna because I love the vegetarian pizza and the taste was similar. But I'd opt for the pizza in the future as the lasagna didn't have the eggplant or zucchini. DH had the white pizza with added bacon, very nice. Really good attentive service. We were too confused to bring wine but we'll be back with the little ones and a bottle. Met a man who has been going there for 30 years and makes a point of telling the owner to stick to his recipe each time. I agree!
Jun-I: We didn't have a reservation so we sat at the bar which gave us a great view of the sushi making. The restaurant was only half full when we arrived but filled up during the time we waited. And oh, we waited! We ordered a bit of sushi, sashimi and two rolls, the grilled eel and the spicy scallop. Unfortunately it took about half an hour for each of these things to arrive one after another while at the same time we watched other people's sushi being made. Lost a lot of momentum in the enjoyment of our meal. While the fish was wonderful and fresh, the presentation of the rolls was pretty slapdash. I enjoyed the bbq eel roll although DH was not as excited about the rice crispies in there as I was. Spicy scallop roll was tasty but small, so we added half an hour to our adventure and ordered the rainbow roll, a large roll with five types of fish on it, very nice. However, next time I'd go off-hours and try some of the appetizers which looked more creative than our selections. A five fish tasting sashimi with five sauces looked especially good as well as the tuna tartar and some other things we saw go by. Great food, service needs enormous improvement.
Next on our list - some panini at Olive et Gourmando and tonight for dinner ...? Something in this 'hood we haven't tried before. Maybe the Peruvian on St-Denis? Tapas somewhere near? And I've heard raves about La Montee du Lait. Suggestions welcomed.
Thanks for the report!
Re Leméac: "Good service and I'd try the salmon pot au feu next time."
I've tried most of the 22h/$22 menu, and this was my least favourite dish. To sum it up: it's bland, *in my opinion.*
Preferred, in rough order: short rib, Cornish hen (with terrific polenta "frites"), foie de veau, steak frites. I'm sure I've had something else, but can't remember what just now.
re: Mr F
I had a very nice early Saturday dinner (4:30) last weekend on Leméac’s very agreeable terrace. I couldn’t help but order their veal chop with morel mushroom sauce again: the sauce is fantastic and they are very generous with the morels! My companion was happy with her “Pétoncles poêlés, écrasé de rattes au caviar de Mujold.” We ordered two appetizers and split them between us. The salmon tartare in truffle oil was very generous but otherwise unexceptional. On the other hand the “Ragoût d’escargots, portabella et tomates confites beurre mousseux au basilica” was wonderful. The wine list seemed a bit less interesting and a bit more expensive than I remembered it from last year, although still rather extensive. The rather inexpensive Coteaux du Languedoc rosé we settled on was quite agreeable. I had ordered a calvados and soda for an aperitif, but they were out; the armagnac and soda ($10 for the glass) I ordered instead was very good). The unpretentious service was excellent and the outdoor terrace delightful. All in all, a fine early dinner after a two hour exploration of the neighborhood.
>>To sum up: it's bland.<<
Oh, man, you are *so* wrong. The salmon pot au feu is wonderful: comfort food of the highest order, understated and homey with little in the way of extraneous seasoning and all the ingredients tasting of themselves. Grand-maman would approve.
My ranking (in descending order):
- Veal liver in an herb crust, mashed potatoes with caramelized onion
- Beef short rib, pearl barley ragout
- Salmon pot au feu with fleur de sel
- Grilled hanger steak, maître d'hôtel butter, fries (assuming the last time I had it was an off night)
- House boudin with cider sauce, celery root purée
- Cornish game hen with fried polenta (agree that the polenta is terrific)
- Beef filet tartare with matchstick potatoes
- Salmon tartare with truffle oil
- Duck confit, ratte potatoes roasted with coarse salt, salad
(Have yet to try the mixed salad with poached egg, beans and lardons.)
And let's hear it for the starters. Hardly a weak link among them.
Agreed, the starters are lovely for the most part, and some are a real steal to boot.
As for the pot au feu, we'll have to agree to disagree. I did finish it and there was nothing complaint-worthy about it, but I've never seriously considered ordering it again. A little too understated for my liking.
Next time we'll try the beef short rib and either the veal or the pot au feu salmon. Understated sounds okay for salmon, really. Although the salmon tartar was, as you say, unexceptional. Starters are definitely very good although DH complains that the fish soup is too much like his home-made. How to avoid a kind of mealy texture?
Sounds like a great week! Thanks for the wonderful reviews.
I've seen Lemeac recommended often on this board, and have been waiting for a time when I'm in the market for a 22h meal. However the inclusion of your ranked favorites has put me over the edge. I'll have to get there ASAP.
Amelio's is a neighborhood favorite for me. Even the sad little salad is endearing. I like the white pizza with a side of their wonderful sauce. Mmm... wish I was in Montreal tonight so I could have some!
Oh cool, glad it is helpful. We finished off our week last night with an excellent meal of tapas at Pintxo. Our favourites (of the 12 we tried) were the foie gras terrine, foie gras a la plancha, scallops, clams with artichokes and jambon de serrano, and the roasted veggies. Great service, nice ambiance. Seems to be popular for girls' night out as there were two tables with 6 women each that I noticed and at tables near us of the eight diners only one was male. Tapas seem to be a chick thing!