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Happening Gourmand

chilipepper Jan 9, 2008 10:03 AM

FYI Press Release:


News release via CNW Telbec, Montreal 514-878-2520 -ME-

Attention News/Food Beverage/Nightlife/Lifestyle Editors:

First Annual Happening Gourmand Features $15, $20 or $25 Prix-Fixe Menus

at Eight Old Montreal Restaurants

MONTREAL, Jan. 9 /CNW Telbec/ - Affordable dining will be on the menu during the first annual Happening Gourmand, from January 15 to 25, 2008. Inspired by the original New York Restaurant Week, Happening Gourmand will shine the culinary spotlight on Old Montreal. Restaurant-goers may enjoy $15, $20 or $25 prix-fixe dinner menus at eight diverse establishments throughout the historic quarter. Additional details are available at www.happeninggourmand.com.

"Our city boasts an extraordinary wealth of dining options, but the costs can often prohibit us from exploring new venues. With Happening Gourmand, Montrealers can expand their culinary horizons while enjoying a 40 per cent savings off the bill," said Dimitri Antonopoulos, Vice President of Marketing for the Antonopoulos Group.

For 11 nights, diners may take advantage of $15 dinner menus at Galianos Mechant Boeuf Bar Brasserie, Narcisse Bistro + Bar a vin, and Suite 701; $20 menus at Modavie Restaurant Wine Bar and the Restaurant du Vieux-Port; and $25 menus at Aix Cuisine du Terroir and Verses Restaurant.

The tempting three-course menus will offer a taste of each restaurant's specialities - from Chilean Sea Bass or Wild Game Fricassee to Roasted Boris Beer Can Chicken or Tiger Shrimp with Orange Zest and Grand Marnier. Menus will feature a choice of at least two entrees, three main courses and two desserts. Beverages, taxes and gratuities are extra.

"This is only the beginning for Happening Gourmand," added Antonopoulos. "We look forward to growing the program each year, showcasing extraordinary restaurants, and reminding Montrealers that Old Montreal is a year-round destination for trendy and fine dining experiences."

Happening Gourmand will take place from January 15 to 25, 2008. Paid parking is accessible near all participating restaurants, with valet parking available at Aix Cuisine du Terroir, Mechant Boeuf, Narcisse, the Restaurant du Vieux-Port, Suite 701 and Verses upon request. For additional information, please visit www.happeninggourmand.com.

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  1. afoodyear RE: chilipepper Jan 9, 2008 10:45 AM

    Hopefully they're still working on the website... but an excellent idea.

    1. m
      moh RE: chilipepper Jan 9, 2008 11:33 AM

      Looks fun, but my only caveat is that i have been reading the thread on Restaurant Week and how blah it is on the Manhattan Board... Hopefully these restaurants will not make the same mistakes, and that this event will be very successful for all involved.

      Have only eaten at Aix Cuisine du Terroir. it was a couple of years ago, but I recall enjoying my meal immensely. May be worth checking it out again during this festival.

      3 Replies
      1. re: moh
        Richelle RE: moh Jan 9, 2008 11:44 AM

        Having studied what the Antonopulos group/family has done in Old Monteral, I am terribly excited about this, the Méchant boeuf is still a new restaurant and perhaps finding it's legs, but I always enjoy myself there.

        The other restaurants are good also, what I notice more about the poeple that work for the Antonopulos family is how much they love working for them and are devoted and this shows up in the quality of food and service in their Hotels and restaurants.

        I definately will be taking advantage of this offer in the coming weeks, it is my DH's 45th birthday after all.
        I hope more chowhounders take advantage too!

        1. re: moh
          eat2much RE: moh Jan 9, 2008 11:46 AM

          I am not quite sure that this qualifies as any sort of festival since all of the restaurants involved belong to the same company. This is more like a sales promotion but a nice idea nonetheless.

          1. re: eat2much
            Richelle RE: eat2much Jan 9, 2008 01:52 PM

            They own enough restaurants so they can do this...I like it!

        2. Em24 RE: chilipepper Jan 17, 2008 11:11 AM

          anyone been?

          14 Replies
          1. re: Em24
            atoz RE: Em24 Jan 17, 2008 11:41 AM

            I'm going to Verses ($25), never been before, when I called there were still some tickets left. Didn't sound like it was full. promise to report back. My hopes are not too high, so I'm ready to be surprised (hopefully, positively.
            want to try Mchant Boeuf as well and Aix. Probably all booked by now.

            1. re: Em24
              cywd RE: Em24 Jan 18, 2008 07:30 PM

              Went to Narcisse for $15 set dinner tonight - I had duck gizzard + walnut salad, quails in raisin sauce, and chocolate banana pie. My friend had goat cheese, braised short ribs, and creme brulee. the braised short ribs were definitely the star of the evening - melt-in-your-mouth fall-off-the-bone tender and delicious. The goat cheese appetizer was encrusted in sesame seeds and also amazing. There was an unfortunate over-salting problem with some of the veg sides and the duck gizzard salad (the gizzards were like chewy little salt-bombs.. are they supposed to be like that?). The very generous desserts wrapped up the meal nicely - especially the creme brulee, which had a lavender crust. Odd... but good. All in all, it wasn't a perfect meal, but there was a nice ambience with the live jazz duo, and at $15 each (+$9 for the recommended glass of wine), it was a steal!

              1. re: cywd
                SnackHappy RE: cywd Jan 19, 2008 03:25 AM

                Thanks for the writeup, cywd. About the gizzards, although they are salt cured before they are confited, they should be thoroughly rinsed before cooking. If they were too salty, somebody got it wrong.

                1. re: SnackHappy
                  Richelle RE: SnackHappy Jan 21, 2008 08:53 AM

                  Like I posted elsewhere, we went this weekend, we were a group of 12 for a birthday party, I too feel the 15 dollar meal is a steal and really worth it.
                  Some found the wine list a bit steep, but for 53 dollars, I had a Mountain View Zinfandel and they even suggested decanting it for us when I mentionned it was a 2000. The staff is more then awesome, you can tell they love what they do.
                  The Chicken on a can was the best chicken most ever had, it had rave reviews, the hamburger also, the starter was not skimpy and the desert perfect, either a lemon pie or cheesecake.
                  I strongly recommend reservations and a good 4-5 days ahead. We finished our evening in the Verses Lounge and the evening ended on a perfect note.
                  Parking can be had fo 16 dollars, it is the Hotel 'Nelligan's valet parking, well worth it considering the difficulty of parking on Rue St. Paul and the vehicle remains warm in the underground parking. Yay on both counts.
                  And with Hotel Nelligan such a gem of a place, a couple from our party stayed the night!

                  1. re: SnackHappy
                    atoz RE: SnackHappy Jan 21, 2008 08:53 AM

                    went to Verses ($25) and it was okkkkk....
                    for $25. I would have been extremely disapointed if I had paid the retail price of $42 for my lamb shank.
                    Serice was attentionate though, nice warm atmosphere. Not pretentious.
                    I had calamari, a lamb shank, and creme brulée. Crème brulée was tiny and still cold in the middle. Calamari & lamb was extremely well executed, but lacked flavor, a kick to it. Should use more siices. The porcini mushrooms were perfectly cooked, the risotto was cremy. Pefect.

                    should just be more adventurous and play with spices to give it a little kick because nothing was outstanding, flavors were almost blend. For $25 it was a real deal, bu there's no way they can sell this meal for $42. (my partner,s feedback is the same with his chilean bass, btw).

                    They had no wine by the glass, so I had to inquire. I asked for a sauvignon, and they just brought me a glass. I had to inquire as to what I was actually drinking.

                    the bill came and I had been billed $14 for my glass of wine........

                    1. re: atoz
                      cywd RE: atoz Jan 21, 2008 09:46 AM

                      I went to Restaurant du Vieux Port Saturday night with a large group - i'd never been before, and they and Gallianos were the only restaurants that could accommodate 10 people on just one day's notice. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of ordering the catch of the day where Vieux Port is a steak house - the halibut was *horrible* - I wouldn't pay $5 for it elsewhere, let alone $20. Tasteless, rubbery, and burnt to a crisp on the bottom. The starters were so-so - I had decent escargots and tried some crab cake, but the flavour was nothing special. On a good note, my friend's tenderloin medallions were delicious and generous - well worth $20 (though maybe not the $34 they would cost at the table d'hote's regular price). I did also enjoy the humongous slab of decadent chocolate mousse cake there was for dessert - so rich that half the people at my table couldn't even finish it (myself not included..). The resto has a really nice, warm atmosphere and it's well lit - none of that 'romantic' i-can't-see-my-food darkness nonsense. The service was remarkably speedy and attentive, and the bread came warm - always a nice touch, in my opinion. However, in a contest between Restaurant du Vieux Port and Narcisse, Narcisse wins hands down - and it's cheaper, too.

                      1. re: atoz
                        stak RE: atoz Jan 26, 2008 08:52 AM

                        Went to Verses last night and was VERY disappointed. I can't imagine that they could get away with charging $42 for that meal. I had the roasted shrimp (not bad but kind of blah and lukewarm), sea bass (way too salty; big chunk of fish and not much else), and creme brulee. My companion had the goat-cheese tomato tart thing (just ok), the duck breast (not bad, but the accompanying ravioli was undercooked) and molten chocolate cake. The desserts were by far the best part of the meal. The service was very nice but could not make up for the very mediocre food. Starting to think that these old port restos are really tourist traps.

                        1. re: stak
                          eat2much RE: stak Jan 26, 2008 10:01 AM

                          As I said earlier in the thread the Happening Gourmand is a sales promotion rather than an attempt to "shine the culinary spotlight on Old Montreal" as per the press release. If the food at Verses doesn't turn you on $42 then it certainly won't be any better at $25.00. Don't get me wrong, one of my favourite things in the summer is having a burger on the rooftop terrace at the Nelligan so I am not trying to "dis" the Antonopolis group but rather the high expectations that some chowhounders had for the "event".

                          1. re: eat2much
                            stak RE: eat2much Jan 26, 2008 03:29 PM

                            I'm not sure where you got the idea I was expecting the food to be BETTER at $25 than it is at $42. I was simply saying that I expected more from a meal that is supposedly regularly priced at $42. My Verses meal was nowhere near as good as what I have had at, say, La Colombe for around $40. I don't see this as an overly high expectation. I suppose the Happening Gourmand was an attempt to lure new people into these restaurants with the promise of a bargain, in hopes that they will return again, paying full price. Seems to have backfired in my case (and several others, judging by the posts here). I have no intention to ever return to Verses, or to recommend it to anyone.

                            1. re: stak
                              eat2much RE: stak Jan 26, 2008 03:35 PM

                              That was my point. It was perhaps not the greatest idea to lure people in with good prices and then serve mediocre food.

                    2. re: cywd
                      oana RE: cywd Jan 21, 2009 11:26 AM

                      I loved your description so much but it looks as if they changed their price and their menu ...and not for the better ...
                      I will check back in the next few days ...
                      Happy eating, Oana

                    3. re: Em24
                      carswell RE: Em24 Jan 26, 2008 09:56 AM

                      Another Chowhound wrote me about a disappointing experience at Aix and says he won't be gong back. For the money quote, see www.chowhound.com/topics/482113#3335101

                      1. re: carswell
                        fedelst1 RE: carswell Jan 26, 2008 12:33 PM

                        I was hoping that the food at Vieux Port would have been as good as at Mechant Boeuf, but no go. The table d'hote was no better that fare served at a bad wedding. Then to end it all with a clotted Creme brule...er rather should we say an over cooked creme caramel parading as a creme brule, was the final stake in the heart.

                        Folks, leave this place to the tourists. Because this local is never going back.

                      2. re: Em24
                        pickyfoody RE: Em24 Jan 19, 2009 07:46 PM

                        I went to Aix Cuisine Du Terroir, I had the Smoked Salmon, gravlax Artic Char and Smoked Scallop with Mango Salsa it was ok except the sea asparagus was on its last legs and the mango salsa was made with unripe mangoes (rather crunchy and not much flavor). For the main I had the Strip loin "Covered" in Wild Mushrooms the beef was good but pretty stingy on the mushrooms, the mashed potatoes were excellent but the veg was just blanched no salt and pepper or butter. To finish I had the Lemon Tart, the best course, not the most visually appealing plate but tasted wonderful!
                        All in all I would suggest going to La Brasserie Brunoise it is not as fancy in side but the food is amazing you can see, smell and taste the love and the two restaurants are about even in price!

                      3. s
                        scottylew RE: chilipepper Jan 18, 2009 03:31 AM

                        We just happened to be in Montreal for the weekend during the Happening Gourmand and thought this was a great opportunity to try out another great Montreal restaurant... well we were very, very wrong. From the moment we stepped through the door our dinning experience was horrible. Our waiter was rude and inattentive, the food was underwhelming, and the manager almost assaulted my partner when she attempted to register a complaint. Needless to say, these foodies will not be dinning at Gallianos again.

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