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comptoir à vin « bouchonné »

carswell Dec 8, 2007 07:06 AM

Joined a friend for dinner yesterday at the city's newest wine bar, open since Wednesday. In its previous incarnation, the small space (around 35 tightly packed seats) was Checkpoint Charlie's last stand. A gorgeous old bar dominates the room; the open kitchen (with an electric range!) is behind it, where the bartender would normally be, which means the room is filled with wave after wave of aromas (obviously not ideal for wine appreciation, but less bothersome than at places like À l'os). A banquette running the length of the room faces the bar. The space between the bar and the front window is filled with high tables and counters with bar stools. The dominant colours are wood and red and the lighting has a warm, incandescent glow; it all makes for a cozy place to spend a winter's evening.

The menu is short and composed mainly of small plates. Lots of meat, a little seafood (including oysters on the half shell) and a grand total of three vegetable sides (mushrooms à la grecque, leeks vinaigrette and, and... I forget, but something marinated). A vegetarian would have to content him or herself with that trio, some deviled quail eggs and a short but enlightened assortment of raw milk cheeses. Based on our choice of dishes and the smells emanating from behind the bar, I'd say savoury is the operative word when it comes to the cooking: escargots à la bordelaise (cooked with bone marrow and shallots, mellowness on a plate); a gratin of sliced boudin, tripe and Yukon Golds (one bite had my initially hesitant friend keeping an eye peeled to make sure he got his fair share); venison carpaccio (slightly warmed, drizzled with olive oil and served under a thatch of mini-arugula and Parmesan shavings); and an off-menu thick slice of bacon braised in semi-sweet wine and topped with squash purée and insanely delicious "croutons" (paper-thin slices of baguette fried crisp and seasoned I know not how), the standout in a pretty impressive lineup. A small plate of 18-month raw-milk Comté came with slices of superb and superbly toasted walnut bread, roasted almonds and a minimally sweetened apricot compote. There's also a short dessert menu, which we didn't check out.

Written on blackboards over the banquette (meaning you have to leave your table to take it all in), the wine list comprises around 35 bottles and is just studded with the kind of hard-to-find, off-the-beaten-track wines I find impossible to resist, like a vin jaune from Overnoy or a 2001 Priorat "Clos Mogador" from René Barbier (the resto had two of the six bottles sold in Quebec). All the wines are available by the 5-oz glass, carafed in 500-ml increments or by the bottle. There's also a short list of wine duos, two 2.5-oz servings of wines that share a connection (a Petit Chablis with a Chablis Grand Cru, for example).

Service was friendly and attentive, though a few kinks remain to be worked out. We had to ask three times before receiving our first bread basket, including twice after our first flight of dishes arrived. No water was offered or provided. The menu was explained to us twice. But, hey, the place was hopping and it was their third day in business.

All in all, immensely satisfying. Bouchonné shoots straight to the top of the city's list of wine bars, alongside or maybe even surpassing BU.

comptoir à vin « bouchonné »
9 Fairmount East
514 273-8846
Open evenings seven days a week and for lunch on weekdays

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  1. phedre RE: carswell Dec 8, 2007 03:35 PM

    After that huge write up, I'm not sure what I have to add!

    I'm lucky enough to live a few blocks down from Fairmount & St. Laurent, and I've watched this place with anticipation. I finally stopped by tonight and took a seat at the bar. Imagine my surprise when, half an hour later, carswell tramped in.

    What can I say, I'm in love. The atmosphere is fantastic: cosy, inviting, and warm. The wine list is peppered with "must try" items, including the aforementioned Vin Jaune, which at $25 a glass made me choke a bit, but well worth it. The waiter suggested the aged comte; it arrived accompanied by a toasted nut bread and almonds, delicious and simple.

    If you have half a chance, definitely stop in and give it a try.

    2 Replies
    1. re: phedre
      carswell RE: phedre Dec 8, 2007 05:47 PM

      My biggest regret about Friday's dinner was not having had the opportunity to taste the vin jaune, a rare bottle of a quirky wine from one of the Jura's most idiosyncratic and idiomatic producers. Hence the repeat visit tonight for a pre-dinner snack of Comté. Yes, $25 is steep but vin jaune is expensive (the 1999 Tissot and Rolet sold at the SAQ retail for $69 and $63 a bottle respectively), the pour was generous (despite the fact that vin jaune is sold only in 620-ml bottles) and, a fact both of us have neglected to mention, the wine was nearly 20 years old (the 1989). I savoured every penny's worth.

      1. re: carswell
        phedre RE: carswell Dec 10, 2007 04:08 PM

        Oh, the vin jaune was worth every penny. I'll grant you that! I look forward to my next visit... probably tomorrow!

    2. t
      TomMorg RE: carswell Dec 9, 2007 06:32 AM

      Couldn't agree more. By the way, I think the name goes the other way around: Bouchonné -- Comptoir à vin.

      3 Replies
      1. re: TomMorg
        carswell RE: TomMorg Dec 9, 2007 07:55 AM

        Could be. I took the name from the announcement of the opening I received. Haven't seen a business card. As I recall, the name isn't printed on the menu or wine cards. There's no sign or other identifier outside. The answering machine message refers to "le bouchonné" period. Will try giving them a call during business hours, or maybe the lucky phedre can drop by and ask.

        1. re: carswell
          phedre RE: carswell Dec 9, 2007 08:35 AM

          And force myself to have yet another glass of the vin jaune? What a horrible punishment.

        2. re: TomMorg
          carswell RE: TomMorg Dec 14, 2007 07:07 AM

          Picked up a business card yesterday. You're right about the name. bouchonné -- comptoir à vin.

          A dense mushroom and milk soup/purée garnished with a slice of smoked sausage (morteau?), cheese shavings and whole parsley leaves is as intense a mushroom experience as you're likely to find. The suckling pig steak -- pan-fried and finished in the oven, served with onions and the slightly enriched cooking juices -- is huge, succulent, delcious and a great match for a glass of Volnay. As reported elsewhere, the cupcake -- I was allowed only a bite -- is another intense experience, a dense-bordering-on-gooey profundity of chocolate and walnut with an elusive flavour (when I inquired the chef replied "You mean that haunting flavour? That's my secret."). A steal at $3. The nuts notwithstanding, not vin jaune-friendly; the by-the-glass Pedro Ximenez would probably be a different story.

          The oyster selection has been doubled, with Pickle Points joining the Lucky Limes.

          The vodka chiller is way cool, especially when they turn it off and it's not.

          And that Prioriat mentioned in the original post was a special cuvée, "Manyetes", 70% old-vine Carignan and 30% Grenache.

        3. m
          Maximilien RE: carswell Dec 11, 2007 06:07 PM

          I hate you guys, really!!! I think I will spend all my christmas "allowance" in that small restaurant.

          spend part of the evening there tonight, got to taste a few dishes, and couple of wines.

          The marinated salmon, served hot (but not cooked) on a bed of coliflower purée really good; then the escargots(see other post) and finished with the braised bacon with a watercress soup (server separatly).

          All the food was very good and well seasoned.

          for the wine, i did not indulge myself with the vin jaune. I started with a glass of champagne (Lassaigne) followed by a glasse of Chignon (Savoie) and a Cotes du Rhone (Petit Pif).

          A very nice experience, and I take back the bad joke I tried to make about the name of this new restaurant.

          1. phedre RE: carswell Dec 15, 2007 04:44 PM

            Surprise surprise, I ended up at Bouchonne for dinner again on Friday night with a friend who hadn't been yet. We were both completely blown away - a much repeated phrase over the evening was "Oh my god." from both of us.

            We ordered half a dozen devilled quails eggs (75c per egg), which were devoured with glee, sprinkled with crunchy rock salt. My partner absolutely swooned over the shrimp sticks, and my plate of three cheeses was to die for, but what do you expect of a place where a former manager at Hamel picks the cheeses.

            My companion had the special of the night, a salmon tartare which he said was divine, and I had the venison with shaved grana padano, savory and delicious. I'll admit I was tempted to get the mushroom and sausage dish that I'd had the previous evening, but I decided to try something new, and I wasn't disappointed.

            For dessert I once again had to have the cupcake, while my partner had a chocolate torte. I tried a bite and it was lovely. I still prefer the cupcake though!

            All of this was accompanied by wines suggested by our waiter, who was both knowledgeable and personable. My friend declared the entire experience sublime, and was thrilled to know about the new "hot spot" before it became too busy to just walk in and get a table on a Friday night.

            Another amazing experience at my new favourite dining establishment!

            1. s
              susannajones RE: carswell Dec 18, 2007 09:26 AM

              Sounds wonderful! I can't wait to try it -- do you know if they take reservations, or are they not really necessary just yet?

              4 Replies
              1. re: susannajones
                carswell RE: susannajones Dec 18, 2007 10:07 AM

                Yes, they take reservations. 514 273-8846.

                Are reservations necessary? Depends on the evening. Last I heard, it's been nearly full on some nights, quiet on others, with no discernible pattern. I'd expect that once it gets reviewed -- and you can be sure it will -- reservations will be de rigueur. For now, they're probably just advisable. However, if you prefer to sit at a table on the banquette or in a chair, reserve. Otherwise, you may find yourself on a barstool.

                1. re: carswell
                  phedre RE: carswell Dec 18, 2007 04:39 PM

                  That's not such a bad thing! The barstool overlooking the kitchen is my favourite seat in the place.

                  1. re: phedre
                    carswell RE: phedre Dec 18, 2007 04:48 PM

                    True though the kitchen perch is a less viable option if you're a party of four, say. Ditto for the counters along the wall and the front window.

                    And I'm awfully glad we had a table on my first visit. To our amazement, after leaving we realized we'd spent nearly five hours at the place. Had we been sitting at the bar, I'd probably have called it a dead end.

                    1. re: carswell
                      t
                      TomMorg RE: carswell Dec 19, 2007 08:18 AM

                      Definitely go for reservations. I tried last Thursday and they were full.

              2. k
                Keramel RE: carswell Dec 19, 2007 09:25 AM

                Can anyone tell me the price range of this restaurant? I realize some of their wines are pricey but do they have some more moderate choices as well? What about main dishes?

                3 Replies
                1. re: Keramel
                  carswell RE: Keramel Dec 19, 2007 10:11 AM

                  As I recall, apps ran $8-10 while most of the small "mains" were in the $12 to $18 range. On my first visit, two apps, two small mains and a hunk of Comté were enough to satisfy two moderately hungry men. The suckling pig steak -- big enough that I brought home leftovers -- is $21. There are several affordable wines on the list. They also have beer on tap.

                  1. re: carswell
                    k
                    Keramel RE: carswell Dec 19, 2007 10:18 AM

                    Thanks Carswell! I think I can manage that! :) :)

                    1. re: Keramel
                      k
                      Keramel RE: Keramel Dec 20, 2007 10:31 AM

                      I went last night with a friend and it was great! Thanks Carswell for bringing it to our attention. I have walked by the space in the past when it was vacent and thought it looked like such a waste to be closed.

                      We started with oysters and the tiny deviled quails eggs. The quail eggs were delicious and creamy and the oysters left a lovely aftertaste. The waiter recommended a petite chablis and so that's what we had.

                      Next I had a salmon tartare and my friend had the salmon from the menu. We liked them both although I think I leaned towards the cooked version - it was incredibly moist and served with nice contrasting flavors. The waiter took the time to explain all parts of the dishes and was very nice and knowledgeable overall.

                      We were still hungry (came with a big appetite) so we ordered the liver and some leeks vinagrette. I liked the liver but didn't like how it coated my tongue (not sure it had anything to do with the preparation though, as I never had liver before last night!) and the leeks were very tasty.

                      Finally we tried one shrimp stick each, which seemed lightly fried and were served in a plum sauce in a shot glass, nice presentation!

                      We had cupcakes and the brownie for dessert, both exceptional, and a dessert wine again recommended...sorry blanking on the name!

                2. s
                  susannajones RE: carswell Dec 20, 2007 08:40 AM

                  Carswell mentioned, in his first post, that Bouchonné is open for lunch, too. Have any of you tried lunch there?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: susannajones
                    t
                    TomMorg RE: susannajones Dec 21, 2007 07:32 AM

                    They aren't open for lunch until January so we'll all just have to wait I guess.

                  2. v
                    Venusia RE: carswell Dec 27, 2007 09:30 AM

                    We were there with two other couples last Saturday, and good thing too, as only three other 2-tops showed up in the 4 hours we were there. It made for a cozy and relaxed evening. Apparently Saturdays are their quietest nights.

                    We started with a charcuterie plate from the Kamouraska salt marshes; had to ask for bread, which made the waiter wince (he knew it!) One of our 10 shrimps was undercooked, and we were each offered a devilled quail egg as goodwill, it was cute and tasty. Loved the warmed raw venison (not really a carpaccio, these were 1/8 inch slices of meat).

                    Apparently the pintade and morteau were excellent; my husband and I shared a generous slab of suckling pig and some veggies on the side. Unfortunately, we were too stuffed for the cheese plate, and we really didn't want to skip dessert. I found the cupcake ordinary, but the brownie with caramel sauce was out of this world. We all asked for seconds and they had run out! I didn't want to lose the feeling of the brownie with a taste of the lemon curd but my husband loved that too. Food cost for 6 was about 150$.

                    Am not a big drinker so can't comment on wines, but I'd say over 15 different wines were tasted at my table. Least expensive at 7$ was a dessert wine from France. They are planning on offering takeout in the new year, and since you can legally takeout alcohol with your meal (thanks to St-Hubert the waiter said), they will make their wines available for takeout too.

                    1. Eve1979 RE: carswell Dec 27, 2007 02:30 PM

                      Having heard such wonderful things about this place, my friends and I were not disappointed when we decided to visit one recent Saturday night. I enjoyed my experience and agree with the majority of what has been posted here.

                      I was wondering if someone can refresh my memory--which estate was the chablis Grand Cru from? I was very impressed by its charm, and even though it put a rather large dent in my wallet (at 85 dollars for a half bottle) I am already thinking of an occasion to uncork another.

                      1. c
                        cybergod RE: carswell Dec 31, 2007 11:55 AM

                        If it's the same one as was on the wine list last night when we had dinner at bouchonné, the Grand Cru Chablis is from Christian Moreau, a fantastic Chablish producer.

                        Overall, our experience last night was very good. Our server was really friendly and knowledgeable (both food and wine), and the wine selections were eclectic and awesome. The wine standouts were a Marsanne-based wine from the Ardeche region, a great Nicholas Joly Savennières, and an excellent Domaine Le Sang des Caiiloux red from Vacqueyras.

                        As for the food, overall the eating experience was good. There were a couple of minor misses though: the Tripe and Boudin gratin was just too greasy and soupy for my liking, and the Suckling Pig steak, although cooked perfectly (medium to medium-rare) and a fantastic piece of meat, was under-seasoned.

                        What was really good:

                        * The charcuterie from Kamouraska (we tried four different sausages).

                        * From the list of starters: the Salmon with mustard and squash and the Hake dish with fennel; they were both enjoyable and both pieces of fish were really moist.

                        * From the mains, my wife had the Morteau (a nice piece of sausage, with a delicious mushroom broth) and I had the Pintade, which was awesome. The Pintade was a very authentic, Basque-style dish. The guinea hen had tons of flavour, and the accompaniments of roasted red peppers (they actually tasted like iquillo peppers, but may have just been very flavourful red peppers), olives and arugula made for a really balanced, flavourful dish.

                        An FYI: both the Pintade and Suckling Pig (as noted by others) are generous portions, easily a full main course each (although you probably will want a side veg dish with the steak), whereas the Morteau is more of a small plates size dish (and priced accordingly).

                        1. zekesgallery RE: carswell Jan 6, 2008 06:54 AM

                          Howdy!

                          Allow me to pile on here as well, we went last night and had a superb and wonderful time. As we usually do when at restaurants like Bouchonné, gave the waiter (Steve) carte blanche. He shared the carte blanche with the chef, Julie, and it was as they say in the neighborhood; Wicked Cool.

                          We pretty much ran through all the shellfish and vegetable dishes, had four glasses of wine each and will be back very soon. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective) did not take notes, so I can't even try to wax eloquently (or write a bunch of run-on sentences) about the pairings of wine and food, or the attentiveness & graciousness of all the staff.

                          We pretty much giggled ourselves silly with the "what do you think that is?" versus "oh, you gotta taste This!" and "no, you like it more, so you finish it."

                          Overall a stupendous and thoroughly entertaining evening, recommended to all without hesitation.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: zekesgallery
                            m
                            moh RE: zekesgallery Jan 6, 2008 07:26 AM

                            Wow. I can't believe i haven't made it there yet. We walked by on Thursday and they were closed... Will make a reservation for this Friday hopefully, and now I can't wait. Doesn't sound like diet food, boy this diet is doomed.

                          2. t
                            TomMorg RE: carswell Jan 7, 2008 09:35 AM

                            Does anyone know what the lunches are like at Bouchonné?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: TomMorg
                              phedre RE: TomMorg Jan 31, 2008 02:45 PM

                              I hit them up today. They're reasonably priced (I paid $14 for an appetizer, main course, and small dessert), and tasty! For that price I had a longe de cerf and a delicious coq au vin main course, perfect in this chilly weather. I'm not sure if the dessert was included or a freebie!

                              Of course, my wine purchases upped the bill a bit, but overall I was not disappointed.

                            2. phedre RE: carswell Jan 8, 2008 05:01 PM

                              After being stuck in the wilds of New Brunswick for two weeks, I ran to Bouchonne for a fix this evening.

                              If you have half a chance, go try the oven baked cod with salmon cream cheese, capers, and bagel crisps. Oh my dear god it is SO GOOD. I was just in ecstasy tasting this dish, and wondering how on earth they had come up with the idea of pairing bagel crisps with cod! So tasty!

                              For dessert, I had a glass of Juracon sweet wine. The crisp granny smith apple acidity made my mouth water. I had seconds. Gorgeous!

                              1. m
                                moh RE: carswell Jan 11, 2008 07:59 PM

                                Finally got my butt over to this place - woah, what was I thinking waiting so long??? Beautiful setting, creative and delicious food, well-informed staff with excellent suggestions. We were a party of three, and we made a valiant attempt to eat our way through the menu.

                                Started with oysters, we had the pickle points, and they were perfectly plump and briny. They went very well with the Muscadet and the Moreau Chablis Grand Cru and a Saint Brie from Goisot et Arnault (a sauvignon blanc from Burgundy! How unusual! It was excellent). Then we continued with the marinated salmon (like a gravlax without the dill), bagel chips, cream cheese and capers. Also had the scallop with a celery salad base. Then the quail eggs, and the shrimp stick.

                                We then ordered the escargot a la bordelaise (I adore bone marrow! What a great addition to the escargot) and the tripe/boudin/yukon gold gratin. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the gratin. We drank a white Lou Coucardier Costiere de Nimes with the gratin which had been recommended by the staff. It is made out of Grenache Blanc (WHAT???? I know, crazy..) It matched perfectly with the gratin. This was my favorite wine of the evening. If you haven't tried this one, go right away. Unfortunately, it is an importation privee. (Carswell, any chance we could get our hands on this one???)

                                Next the pork steak, served with a fabulous side dish of pickled vegetable (cauliflower, fennel and I think Daikon). We had this with the Collioure Schistes 2006 (Coume del Mas).

                                By now I am really slowing down. But I forced down some wonderful Conte and Morbiere. The cheese plate is simple but classy. Could not be resisted....

                                I had to stop before dessert. Another time. But what a great evening! The only issues were that the space is very warm, and it can take a fair amount of time to get your food after ordering. But it is otherwise a real gem of a place. Will go to bed content...

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: moh
                                  m
                                  moh RE: moh Jan 11, 2008 08:39 PM

                                  Whoops, Saint Bris....

                                  1. re: moh
                                    cherylmtl RE: moh Jan 11, 2008 09:43 PM

                                    Is it Lou Coucardier, or Gougardier? If so, I've had one of their one of their wines at CC+P (can't think of which it was at the moment - too late, not enough sleep...) but it was truly lovely. I have tried (with no luck whatsoever) tracking it down in my travels elsewhere, but if we could find out who imported their wines,I would love to get my little hands on some....

                                    In the meanwhile, these posts are making me drool as I type... must get to Bouchonne... soon...

                                    1. re: cherylmtl
                                      m
                                      moh RE: cherylmtl Jan 12, 2008 06:17 AM

                                      It is Lou Coucardier, and the gentleman at Bouchonne told me that it is an importation privee from LCCvins. I looked at their website, but didn't see it. I'm telling you , it blew me away! Might have to go back for a small bite and another glass...

                                      1. re: moh
                                        carswell RE: moh Jan 12, 2008 08:19 AM

                                        LCC's website hasn't been updated in ages, so it's not surprising you didn't see the wine there. As far as I can tell, it's made by Michel Gassier. Gassier has a connection with Château de Nages, which LCC represents in Quebec, so they may well also bring in the Grenache Blanc you enjoyed (the name is Lou Coucardié, by the way; see www.michelgassier.com for the story, though you won't find the GB listed). Anyway, if LCC has the wine, it can be ordered by the case over the phone and a week or so later will be delivered to a designated Sélection outlet (e.g. Laurier) for payment and pick-up.

                                        1. re: moh
                                          cherylmtl RE: moh Jan 12, 2008 09:01 AM

                                          I had obviously had more to drink when I was told the name of the wine, and it's loud at CC+P. That's my story and I'm sticking to it...But the wine on the website Carswell refers to is definitely the one I had (which explains why I was getting no results looking for it under "Gougardier")...

                                          1. re: cherylmtl
                                            m
                                            moh RE: cherylmtl Jan 12, 2008 09:29 AM

                                            Your story is good, it is always better to have "more to drink" at CC+P! Thanks to Carswell for the information, we really rely on you to keep us informed! I found the name in another source written as Coucardier, but I think we can trust the bottle..

                                            Anyhow, I'm thinking of heading back for another taste of that glass, just to make sure I really like it. I'll try to do that soon...

                                    2. zekesgallery RE: carswell Jan 16, 2008 09:56 PM

                                      Howdy!

                                      If you haven't been, yet. I strongly suggest getting there today or tomorrow (Thursday 17, or Friday 18). We were there (again) tonight, and were told that they are being reviewed in Saturday's La Presse and Saturday's Gazette.

                                      I am happy for them - sad for us.

                                      (Or at least make reservations now for later.)

                                      1. cherylmtl RE: carswell Jan 17, 2008 06:03 AM

                                        Can anyone tell me if it would be an appropriate place to bring a very well-behaved 11-year-old (or would their license not allow it?). I don't have a babysitter lined up, and would like to try it before the review comes out, which means bringing the child along. I'm not worried about the food - that I know he'll eat...

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: cherylmtl
                                          v
                                          Venusia RE: cherylmtl Jan 17, 2008 06:37 AM

                                          I think it's okay. It's a resto with wine, not a bar. And since it's an open kitchen, it gets fairly noisy while they are cooking. It's not a white tablecloth place, rather casual neighborhood joint actually.

                                          1. re: Venusia
                                            cherylmtl RE: Venusia Jan 17, 2008 07:42 AM

                                            Thanks - I have a reservation now! I checked with whoever answered the phone there as well, who confirmed that it was fine, they were licensed as a restaurant, not a bar. I can hardly wait...

                                        2. hala RE: carswell Jan 19, 2008 07:01 AM

                                          Today's gazette has a review.
                                          http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette...

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: hala
                                            m
                                            moh RE: hala Jan 19, 2008 08:12 AM

                                            hmmm. Not absolutely glowing. It has some fair points. Agree completely about the chaklboard menus. But 2 out of 4 stars? And Vegetarian friendly? I guess so if you eat fish. And I'm surprised she didn't like the bagel chips.

                                            Still, does that mean us mere mortals will still be able to get a reservation?

                                            1. re: moh
                                              b
                                              BLM RE: moh Jan 19, 2008 03:37 PM

                                              It has been opened just a month when she reviewed it. The restaurant is still making changes. From reading her review, she was generally fairly positive about Bouchonne, but she gave it just 2 stars.

                                              1. re: BLM
                                                hala RE: BLM Jan 19, 2008 05:17 PM

                                                I agree that it was a bit weird.

                                              2. re: moh
                                                t
                                                thelonious777 RE: moh Jan 20, 2008 04:54 AM

                                                The reviews in both the Gazette and La Presse are more in line with my experience than what I have been reading on this board. I too, thought the food, taken as a whole, is good but not great.

                                                1. re: carswell
                                                  m
                                                  Moosemeat RE: carswell Jan 20, 2008 07:08 PM

                                                  I don't want to get in the way of all the vitriol flying around, but it seems to me that bouchonné could easily be put into the fine dining category, even if the atmosphere is casual. Besides which, I'm willing to bet that such distinctions are an editorial decision.

                                                  1. re: Moosemeat
                                                    l
                                                    Lesley RE: Moosemeat Jan 21, 2008 03:24 AM

                                                    Everything I ate was listed in the review, and we had three 500 ml carafes of wine plus a glass. As mentioned in the review, you can eat here cheaply (frankly, you can eat almost anywhere cheaply), but you can also spend a lot. We only had two desserts (only two were available) including the cheesecake. The La Presse critic next to me did not because she was told they were sold out a half hour before I got mine. There were also a few dishes that were sold out at 7:30 p.m. What really failed here was the whole menu system. But as mentioned in the review, they are working on fixing that.

                                                2. re: hala
                                                  The Chowhound Team RE: hala Jan 20, 2008 07:21 PM

                                                  Folks, while we welcome your opinions on the chow, please move to the Food Media & News board if you would like to discuss the reviewer. If you start a new discussion there, it's fine to leave a "heads up" post here so that interested posters can join the discussion in its proper place.

                                                  Thanks for helping us keep this board focused on sharing tips on where to find great chow.

                                                3. zekesgallery RE: carswell Jan 20, 2008 07:57 AM

                                                  Howdy!

                                                  If anyone would like some background on vin jaune (and why it costs $25) might I suggest this article on The Percée du Vin Jaune, which is happening in two weeks.
                                                  http://travel.nytimes.com/2008/01/20/...

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: zekesgallery
                                                    c
                                                    CocoBean RE: zekesgallery Jan 21, 2008 10:32 PM

                                                    Hi all,
                                                    I unfortunately have to chime in here with some negative feedback about Bouchonne. I'm so pleased to hear that most of you have had pleasurable experiences there recently, especially since it's my neighbourhood wine bar! However, I was there on a recent Sunday night, and was not thoroughly impressed. Firstly, regarding the food, it wasn't as delectable as I'd heard. The "shrimp sticks" were gummy and chewy and not at all desirable. The deviled quail eggs were cute, I guess. The chopped liver was delicious! But the "fairmount" bagel chips and salmon was just ok. I know this is a wine bar. I know this isn't about haute gastronomie. I realize it's about complimenting the wine with the food and not the other way around... but let me tell you a bit about the wine. My friend and I had a 2 glasses of the Lou Coucardier, and then asked for 2 glasses of the Sauv. Blanc St Bris Goisot at 7$ a pop. Unfortunately they were out, so the waiter made an off-the-list suggestion on a similar sauvignon blanc. We accepted, drank, and it was very good.... that is, until we got the bill. This wine was indeed lovely, and we powered through 6 glasses of the stuff only to realize at the end that they were charging us 18$ a piece! That's quite the upsell from the 7$ glass I originally asked for. The worst part is that, if asked, I may have said yes to this exorbitantly expensive but delicious vino, but having been unaware made me fuming mad and I felt very ripped off. Our bill was well over 200$ for two, and we both left quite angry. I am happy to spend that amount on a quality dinner with a great bottle of wine, but the circumstances were infuriating. We had the chocolate brownie with caramel for dessert and it was truly bad. Nothing about it was good... not the runny caramel, not the dry brownie, not the abundance of almonds on top. The entire thing left a very bad taste in my mouth, and I hope to return one day but will be vigilant of what I drink and eat... and how!

                                                    1. re: CocoBean
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                                                      moh RE: CocoBean Jan 22, 2008 05:34 AM

                                                      I agree completely with Lesley Chesterman's point that they need to provide printed menus at each table. The chalkboard thing nearly gave me torticollis, and people need to know what the cost of the wines are. In this day and age of computers, surely they could update a piece of paper with the selections fairly easily? I hope you had a chance to give the waiter the feedback? If not, someone should. I would also have been upset in your situation.

                                                  2. s
                                                    salomon RE: carswell Jan 23, 2008 02:26 PM

                                                    I visited bouchoné last friday and I must say the wine selection is great, the service is very firendly and helpful and the food is good, but not as great as I thought it would be. One bad comment: the ventilation in this place is terrible. We went home after our evening smelling "greasy". I had to wash my winter coat the next day (it wasn't wearable with that smell). Anybody else noticed this or was I the unlucky one?

                                                    All in all, I still prefer BU (food and space), but this is a nice addtition to the neighborhood.

                                                    Sal

                                                    1. s
                                                      swissfoodie RE: carswell Jan 24, 2008 09:37 AM

                                                      Another review, this time in the Hour, to chew on: http://www.hour.ca/food/food.aspx

                                                      Would be interested to know everyone's take...

                                                      1. carswell RE: carswell Mar 22, 2008 07:33 AM

                                                        Four of us dropped by late yesterday evening for a post-tasting bite. All the food was delicious, though the standouts were the scallops with yogurt, the chopped liver, the suckling pig ribs and, of course, the mushroom "soup." For lovers of off-the-beaten-track wines, the list was as appealing as ever. We all agreed this is one of those places that makes us happy to call Montreal home.

                                                        We also learned that they intend to start serving Sunday brunch once a month, at least initially. The first is slated for March 30, starting at 11 a.m. Reservations required. 514 273-8846.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: carswell
                                                          phedre RE: carswell Mar 22, 2008 11:57 AM

                                                          There's a reason that the chopped liver is one of my favourite dishes as Bouchonne, and I don't even like liver! Even the scallops had their appeal, a very rare experience for me.

                                                          1. re: phedre
                                                            Fritzy RE: phedre Mar 22, 2008 02:20 PM

                                                            Do say more! What makes a person who doesn't like even like liver swoon over this particular chopped liver offering? (I'll have at try to get up there to try some of these things out for myself soon.)

                                                            1. re: Fritzy
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                                                              TomMorg RE: Fritzy Mar 28, 2008 06:55 AM

                                                              I see they have a website now too for registering for tastings and stuff -- www.bouchonne.com

                                                              1. re: TomMorg
                                                                phedre RE: TomMorg Mar 29, 2008 05:01 PM

                                                                GAH. Music that plays automatically, full-on flash that replaces the built-in browser scrollbar, and a menu that pops up in PDF. It hit all top three of my usability pet peeves.

                                                        2. m
                                                          Maximilien RE: carswell Mar 29, 2008 05:16 PM

                                                          Just came back from Bouchonné!

                                                          I love the place.

                                                          a very wicked "fish" soup with clams and chorizo for a chilly saturday evening.

                                                          and (not with the soup) couple of glasses of "Carbone 14" (Côtes Catalanes).

                                                          1. carswell RE: carswell Apr 24, 2008 09:32 PM

                                                            Just back from Bouchonné, where, in conjunction with the Rézin agency, they're featuring the organic wines of up-and-coming Loire producer Domaine du Moulin. $40 gets you four small dishes, each paired with a different Moulin wine. The gratin of mussels and ratte potatoes on a bed of creamed fennel was good on its own and even better with the fresh 2006 Cherverny blanc (70% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Chardonnay). The 2005 Cheverny blanc "Bodice", the same blend but subjected to a more serious élevage in various wood vats and casks, was a knockout with the gravlax-style striped bass in a cool broth of orange juice and Cheval Blanc white beer under a raft of mini arugula. Tasty venison tartare with herb mayo made an initially rebarbative match for the 2006 Chevery rouge, a 50-50 Gamay and Pinot Noir blend, but quickly reached an entente cordiale. Dumb on its own, the 2006 VDP du Loir et Cher "Pivoine", a blend of Côt (Malbec) and Gamay sang when paired with the excellent, cinnamon-scented boudin noir (from Slovenia on St-Laurent, it turns out; who knew?) on a bed of caramalized onions on a crust of puff pastry. All in all, a superb sequence of food and wine pairings. The wines, all of them private imports retailing at prices ranging from $17.75 to $22.45, will be available by the glass, carafe or bottle for the next week. Due to its fussy mise-en-place, the special dinner will probably be offered only through Friday, April 25, i.e. today. If the menu appeals and if you're a fan of artisanal Loire wines, seize the day.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: carswell
                                                              m
                                                              Maximilien RE: carswell Apr 25, 2008 03:23 AM

                                                              Cheverny Rouge is a rare commodity in Québec ... was one of my best wine 2/3 years ago when a few cases were imported by Rezin.

                                                              Will break my piggy bank to get some.

                                                              Thanks.

                                                            2. m
                                                              Maximilien RE: carswell May 16, 2008 03:49 AM

                                                              What about the Brunch at Bouchonné? went there yesterday and they have one on june 1st ( I don't think they have it every week-end).

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Maximilien
                                                                cherylmtl RE: Maximilien May 16, 2008 09:28 AM

                                                                It's really a lovely brunch - they have a good selection of things, from light snacks to heavier plates, and wines selected to accompany them. Highly recommended.

                                                                1. re: cherylmtl
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                                                                  TomMorg RE: cherylmtl Jun 2, 2008 03:16 PM

                                                                  It is only once a month so you could register on the website for updates for the upcoming dates.

                                                              2. e
                                                                emerilcantcook RE: carswell May 26, 2008 10:15 AM

                                                                Can't believe I haven't been there yet, but finally dragging some friends for a weekday post-work "research meeting". The thing is they sound like they are into a 5 a 7 type of experience, but perhaps with a few small bites. I can perhaps have more than a few bites (never been a problem). I still don't get the intricacies and etiquette of going to a wine bar. So will it be acceptable if we don't eat a lot and just enjoy the wine, or should we head to a "bar" instead if we just want a few snacks?

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: emerilcantcook
                                                                  m
                                                                  moh RE: emerilcantcook May 26, 2008 10:24 AM

                                                                  No fear! I think they make most of their money on the wine, so if you drink a lot, they'll be happy. Most of the dishes are small little plates that are fairly reasonably priced, and you don't need to eat a lot if you don't want. But the food is wonderful! Cheese is also excellent there. You can eat as much and as little as you like, and the food will be more interesting than most bars. But be careful to ask prices of wines if you ask for suggestions. Some of the wines can get pretty pricey pretty quickly.

                                                                  If you like light reds, the Cheverny from Domaine de Moulin is $40 per bottle, and very quaffable. Goes well with the food. It is importation Privee, so you can't buy it in the SAQ, and the importer is now sold out, so this place may be one of the few places you can get this little gem. This is a wine from the Loire.

                                                                  1. re: emerilcantcook
                                                                    cherylmtl RE: emerilcantcook May 26, 2008 10:25 AM

                                                                    Bouchonne is perfect for what you're looking for. The menu has smaller dishes (snack like in size, but really good...), and some larger ones, so your group can have both if you wish. There's a good selection of wines, and the atmosphere is quite cozy - I don't think you'll regret dragging a group there.

                                                                    1. re: emerilcantcook
                                                                      carswell RE: emerilcantcook May 26, 2008 10:27 AM

                                                                      Not to worry. They're very accommodating. I've had everything from full meals to light meals and, once, a single piece of cheese with a single glass of wine (Comté with vin jaune). Many of the dishes are snack size and many lend themselves to sharing. You can also order on an as-you-go basis. And if they have the salt-cured venison loin on the menu, don't pass it by.

                                                                      1. re: emerilcantcook
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                                                                        TomMorg RE: emerilcantcook Jun 2, 2008 03:13 PM

                                                                        You could also try to make it there for the daily Happy Hour from 5 to 7 if price is a problem for anyone in your group. They have specials on a half-dozen wines by the glass for between $5 and $7 per glass. A great idea I would say.

                                                                      2. carswell RE: carswell May 26, 2009 04:05 PM

                                                                        This just in.

                                                                        Bouchonné's moving around the corner to 5171 St-Laurent.
                                                                        Official opening's this Thursday, May 28.
                                                                        Opening hours look to be different; now listed as:
                                                                        - weekdays noon to midnight
                                                                        - Saturday evening
                                                                        - Sunday brunch.

                                                                        www.bouchonne.com/bouchonnebouge (An endlessly looping Flash animation that leaves the relevant info on screen for about ten seconds. I sat through it four times so you wouldn't have to.)

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: carswell
                                                                          m
                                                                          Maximilien RE: carswell May 26, 2009 04:38 PM

                                                                          crap, you've beat me to it :-)

                                                                          1. re: Maximilien
                                                                            carswell RE: Maximilien May 26, 2009 04:39 PM

                                                                            Hey, Bouchonné's good enough to be reported twice!

                                                                          2. re: carswell
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                                                                            sweettoothMTL RE: carswell May 27, 2009 07:19 AM

                                                                            Didn't know they did lunch. Is that a new offering following the move only? If it's been on before, has anyone been? What do they serve and how is it?

                                                                            1. re: sweettoothMTL
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                                                                              Maximilien RE: sweettoothMTL May 27, 2009 10:12 AM

                                                                              I think it's new; probably the same menu, maybe a "prix-fixe" ?

                                                                            2. re: carswell
                                                                              phedre RE: carswell May 27, 2009 11:27 AM

                                                                              I'm glad you did, because I have no patience for this kind of lack of usability. It's one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to the restaurant industry: their websites are almost invariably terrible.

                                                                              I'll be stopping in on the 28th for lunch maybe, if anyone's interested. Failing that, Friday for sure.

                                                                              1. re: carswell
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                                                                                wapiti RE: carswell May 27, 2009 01:21 PM

                                                                                On a recent visit (two Fridays ago) our waiter claimed the location on Fairmount would remain open, too, but with a limited menu and wine list. Not sure how (if?) that will fly but this closet-sized spot has always felt like another great feature of Bouchonné. (Though, possibly not so great for margins...)

                                                                                1. re: wapiti
                                                                                  phedre RE: wapiti May 28, 2009 02:35 PM

                                                                                  Odd. I walked past there yesterday and things were taped up, the wine fridge had been moved out across the floor, etc.

                                                                                  Who knows?

                                                                              2. carswell RE: carswell May 30, 2009 10:18 AM

                                                                                Popped into the new Bouchonné at around 10:30 yesterday evening. The place was hopping but we managed to snag a two-top.

                                                                                The setup's smart: roomier (capacity looks to be about double the old locale's 25-30) yet not devoid of intimacy. Two long, high-backed banquettes covered in the same nubby red Naugahyde as the banquette at the old location frame the main dining area, creating a virtual room. The spacious kitchen is visible through openings above another banquette at the far end of the virtual room. A bar with movable stools runs along a recessed part of the south wall. The floor is wood, the ceilings blue-painted tin. The south walls are covered in columns of bottles racked horizontally and parallel to the wall with labels facing out behind huge sheets of glass. The wood-top tables are close together and covered with butcher's paper. The paucity of sound-absorbing materials, the present though not oppressive sound track and the number of animated conversations meant sound levels were high.

                                                                                The menu's similar to but longer and more ambitious than the old one, surely a reflection of the bigger kitchen. It now includes a $62 prime rib with fixings for two. We had:
                                                                                - Three crab cakes with an arugula salad (More like crab balls actually, four bites per deep-fried ball. Tasty but as much about the spicing as the crab meat.)
                                                                                - General Tao sweetbreads (A witty take on cliché Chinese-American food. Lightly battered and expertly fried, served on bok choy with a smear of sour cream and a drizzle of sweet sauce. Fun if not detour-worthy.)
                                                                                - Snails with beef marrow. (Updated. Inspried by a dish at a two-star Beaune restaurant where the chef once worked. Now two marrow bones filled with a purée of caramelized shallots, garlic, red wine, thyme and marrow, topped with a snail and a succulent square of marrow.)
                                                                                - Chopped liver with pickled onions. (Virtually unchanged. Somewhat more livery than usual, with very sharp onions. The two large croutons were hardly enough to vehicle half the copious portion of liver.)
                                                                                - Cheese plate. (Quebec-only options, though that was hardly a deprivation. We choose a creamy cow-milk Sauvagine from Saint-Raymond de Portneuf; Le Bleu d'Élizabeth, an outstanding salty/tangy raw-milk cow cheese from Lanaudière; and Tomme des joyeux fromagers, a firm raw-milk goat cheese from Saint-Ludger. The cheeses were served with toasted slices of baguette and walnut-raisin bread, a pile of chopped nuts and dried fruit, and a purée we guessed was spicy apple-apricot.)

                                                                                The wines by the glass -- about 20 in all -- are listed on a blackboard above the opening to the kitchen. Despite the glare from the overhead lights, this blackboard's much easier to read than the old one. The wine focus is unchanged, with a penchant for small, iconoclastic, organic/biodynamic Old World producers. We chose:
                                                                                - 2 Puffeney duos (Arbois Chardonnay and Arbois Savagnin)
                                                                                - 2 Moulin-à-vents (don't recall the producer)
                                                                                - 1 Tournelle vin jaune.

                                                                                Cost: about $130 with taxes but before tip. Seems a little pricier than before.

                                                                                Owner Hugo says they have exciting plans for the old space but wouldn't provide more specifics.

                                                                                1. m
                                                                                  Maximilien RE: carswell Jun 26, 2009 05:51 AM

                                                                                  Here are couple of posts made in a recently deleted (not because of me) thread about Bouchonné ...

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  I disagree. I feel the move is a normal and natural "upgrade", not too much, but just enough.

                                                                                  The old location was just too small; there was just too much "bar" space compared to seating places, and I've seen a few times people turning around because they did not want to seat on bar stools.

                                                                                  I have to agree that the old location was really fun, cozy and the size of the room made the client part of the restaurant a little more than what it is right now.

                                                                                  To answer the original question, I went to the new location twice since the move, and both time it was good and fun; yesterday was nearly full house with couple of groups.

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  I agree about the new menu additions, I tasted the tao thing and it was bad; the crab cakes are ok, but should be, IMO a seasonal thing; but it's easy to eat and share.

                                                                                  Me think they will review the new menu when things settle down a little bit.

                                                                                  -----

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Maximilien
                                                                                    carswell RE: Maximilien Jun 26, 2009 06:07 AM

                                                                                    [Unclear why the other thread was deleted but the mods encourage me, too, to repost. So, here's my reply to your reply to my earlier reply -- which I don't have a copy of but whose point was that, in the days following my visit, I'd begun wondering whether the the new Bouchonné hasn't taken a step away from the cool and cozy neighbourhood hangout we loved and -- foodwise, pricewise and scenewise -- a step toward the St-Laurent glitz strip.]

                                                                                    It's a natural business move. But I'm a consumer, not a business person.

                                                                                    On my visit (my only visit, I hasten to add):
                                                                                    - The waiters were too busy to spend time chatting with patrons (and by chatting I mean providing anything other than cursory information about the wine and food on offer); service was competent but impersonal.
                                                                                    - The menu was peppered with dishes (General Tao sweetbreads and crab cakes were two that we tried) that seemed chosen more for their cutesiness and trendiness than for their deliciousness or wine-friendliness.
                                                                                    - Soundtrack-fuelled noise levels were high enough to make normal conversation difficult.
                                                                                    - The beautiful people were out in force and striking women seemed to get special attention.
                                                                                    - And prices seemed higher (my last dinner at the old Bouchonné, which involved at least as much food and nearly as much wine, came to $50 with tip; my first meal at the new Bouchonné came to $80 with tip).

                                                                                    In short, I felt like I was more at a restaurant reaching out to a younger (which group you fall into, whereas I don't), trend-driven crowd, less at a friendly neighbourhood watering hole staffed by quirky wine enthusiasts. Again, it was a single visit and a day or two after the reopening, so here's hoping I'm wrong. But my companion -- whom I'd long wanted to take to the old Bouchonné because I knew she would have been charmed like she was the first time I took her to, say, Le P'tit Plateau -- was not particularly impressed. And I'm wondering if the price alone will mean we'll have to drop it from our already too short list of post-tasting dinner venues. A repeat visit or two will tell. In the meantime, I'm pinning my hopes on the new old space.

                                                                                  2. m
                                                                                    Maximilien RE: carswell Jul 13, 2009 09:31 AM

                                                                                    While on the bus yesterday, I seem to have seen a new "store-front" in front of the old bouchonné location.

                                                                                    any info ? (other than the rumor making it a "sport bar" ?)

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Maximilien
                                                                                      m
                                                                                      MartinSLR RE: Maximilien Jul 13, 2009 11:52 AM

                                                                                      "Bagg Taverne, located in the Montreal neighborhood of Mile End, is just this type of place. Being a person who likes this kind of spot (I think I might have one in every neighborhood in the city), I swung by during their opening night to take a look...

                                                                                      Bagg Taverne is a comfortable little spot on Fairmount (a couple blocks from Fairmount Bagels), just east of St-Laurent. Frédéric Authier, the bar’s manager, calls it “a cozy little tavern”. His assessment is accurate- it is small, but well designed and a bit classier than that bar in the TV show Cheers. In fact, the space used to be occupied by a great wine bar called Bouchonné (which has since moved around the corner) and the new place has retained some of its upscale charm. But don't let it fool you, the main draw of Bagg Taverne is their wide selection of beers (go for the big bottle!), home made bar snacks, free foosball (known as "Babyfoot" in Quebec), and if there’s soccer, hockey or football to be watched, sports a-plenty. All in all, a nice addition to the neighborhood. If you go there soon, you might even become a regular before the locals do."
                                                                                      http://www.tourisme-montreal.org/Blog...

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