Caf & Bouffe -- Villeray
We had dinner with friends at Caf & Bouffe in Villeray last night. It's a small neighborhood Italian place, and doesn't seat many people. It wasn't busy last night but on our way out the cook suggested we call for reservations in the future.
The place could best be described as "Italian with a Quebecois vibe" -- prices are reasonable (it's BYOB). The menu is not long but contains about 18 different pasta selections, including several vegetarian options, much to my pleasure. There are also several "just meat" options (as opposed to pasta) including standards like Osso Bucco. There is also a table d'hôte, where you get soup, salad, and dessert for $9 extra.
I had the ricotta stuffed pasta dumplings (I forget the name, but they're like giant thick ravioli) in a walnut and cream sauce. Very rich, but well done. Spouse had the linguini with clam sauce -- she's been looking for a good clam sauce since we arrived in Montreal -- and liked it. Though it was more herb-y than garlicky (which is how most of her favorite clam sauces are). Our friends had the linguini with pesto, boncoccini and sundired tomatos, which tasted good but was a little heavy on the olive oil; and the carbonara sauce, which was reported to be very good.
The highlight of the meal was the table d'hôte, which spouse and I split. The cauliflower soup was to die for, as was the goat cheese salad (mostly because of the interesting viniagrette), and since it was about to be Féte Nationale, we chose the sugar pie for dessert, which had the predicted intense maple flavor. Also worthy of mention was the excellent onion confit that went with the bread they served (the bread was also excellent, though I'm not sure that it's baked on premises).
Service was great, though oddly, they don't keep take-out containers on hand. Dinner for spouse and I -- 2 pastas, 1 table d'hôte and a generous tip -- set us back $50.
171 Villeray Est., 514-277-7455, staff is Francophone but will speak English. We will definitely be back.
We checked out Caf & Bouffe last night. When we arrived at 6:30, there was only one other party eating. However, it quickly filled up throughout our meal. The place is indeed small, as there are about 30 seats total. The layout of restaurant is adorable. It's small and cozy. The kitchen is literally like a home kitchen. It's run by two women, both of whom had trouble speaking English, but were very sweet and welcoming.
The menu is small, but the options are great for everyone...they even offer gluten-free pastas for $1.50 extra. I ordered the table d'hôte which I split with my spouse: a mesclun salad, a plate of liver pâté as my entrée, the ricotta and walnut médaglione, and moka mousse for dessert. My spouse ordered the pepperonata plate. The mesclun salad was very simple, but the vinaigrette was is what made is stand out. It seemed like she used a nutty oil, vs. olive oil. I couldn't quite tell if it was sunflower oil or walnut oil. The pâté was perfect....smooth in texture and not overpowering in taste. The ricotta and walnut médaglione was amazing. I rarely order cream-based pastas, but I had to try this. The médaglione (similar to ravioli) was stuffed with a mixture of ricotta and herbs (thyme and parsley?). The sauce was a walnut cream sauce, made with cream, chopped walnuts, parsley, black pepper, and a hint of nutmeg. Absolutely delicious! I'd like to try to make my own version of this, but for the sauce I would use olive oil with a bit of truffle oil, diced pancetta, and chopped walnuts. I love walnuts in savory dishes. This was very rich, but really worth a try. The moka mousse was also light and delicious, but it seemed to be sitting in the fridge for a few hours, as the top of the mousse was a bit hard and tasted like...well, refrigerator.
The pepperonata was equally amazing. This dish was made with penne pasta and the sauce was made of chunky fresh tomatoes, large chunks of mild and spicy Italian sausage, sautéed sweet peppers, red onion, and raw chunks of garlic. Also rich, but delicious! Although they have a small menu, each dish seems to perfected. I will definitely go back to this place, as it's only a stone's throw away from my home.