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Long reviews of my Montreal trip part 2(Europea)

Continuing from part 1 of my review:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/582702

After stuffing ourselves the previous night, we pondered whether we should go with something a little lighter until we stumbled upon Europea which was also right around the hotel. After looking at their menu, we were hooked and walked in.

http://www.europea.ca/

After having lunch the previous day at Decca77, we weren't too sure Europea could top it. I did have high expectations for Europea after reading some very positive reviews prior to our trip. I did hype up the resto to my SO telling her that this could be better than Decca which she refused to believe. Well her mind changed as soon as she stepped into the restaurant. We were greeted warmly by the staff and asked whether we had a reservation. We say we didn't. The place was really busy and we kind of regretted not booking in advance. A minute later, they said no problem, we have seats for you and took our jackets away and led us to our seat. The room was beautiful and elegant in an artsy way. They seemed to have covered every little detail and we were both wowed. The lunch crowd was definitely older and full of business lunchers similar to Decca77.

There were two menus for the lunch Prix Fixe $26 or $36 and we decided to go with one of each. The $36 menu was definitely more intriguing and you can actually substitute your app with a foie gras dish for $10 bucks more which we wish we did.

Here what we had,

A gift from the chef: 3 large pieces of calamari lightly battered with tasty spiced mayo on the side. That was brought to us to our delight soon after their bread arrived. The calamari was tender and tasty and it started the meal on a great note.

Teaser:
Lobster cream cappuccino's, with truffle shavings

This was by far the highlight of the meal. The lobster bisque came in a little espresso cup and came with black truffle shavings on top. Let me tell you, I can probably drink a litre of this bisque because it was so flavourful and divine. We tried to soak up every last drop of the bisque in the tiny espresso cup, but there were too many people walking around and we felt too embarassed which is too bad haha. It was that good!

Starter:

Mesclun salad, herbs, lemon and honey dressing
Portabello mushroom stuff with confit duck

My SO was still stuffed from last night and decided to go with the salad and it was tasty and fresh. The salad comes wrapped with a large piece of crispy parmesan cheese I think which was delicious and I ended up munching on it like chips. The mushroom app was insanely delicious. A large mushroom cap was stuffed with very tasty duck along with some greens on top. The presentation was fabulous and my first bite sent me to heavens. It was like having mushroom steak, and we loved every little bite.

Mains:

Slowly braised veal cheeks, fondant potatoes and parsnip purée
Braised Kamouraska lamb shank, aligot style mashed potatoes, herbs sauce

We were both smiling like fools after our teaser and apps and couldn't wait for our mains and have already concluded that we made the right choice of dining here. After having veal cheeks at Chez Levesque and were greatly impressed, Europea goes even a step above in presentation and taste. The texture of the the cheeks was melt in your mouth and the sauce was also excellent. My lamb shank was nice and soft and well flavoured. I loved the herb sauce along with the creamy mash and we just can't say enough about both dishes.

We are both dessert crazy and couldn't imagine how good our desserts will be after what we've seen.

Desserts:

Chocolate Mousse
Chocolate macaron presented on a crispy feuillantine, chocolate ganache

This was the third time my SO had the mousse and she was wowed by the smoothness and texture of the mousse. She really savoured her mousse till the last scoop. My macaron dessert was beautifully presented. A larger than usual chocolate macaron rested atop a crispy feuillantine. This was my first time trying macaron and I've always wanted to try and were delighted that it was the dessert of the day. I fell in love of macaron after a taste of the dessert. The crispy feuillantine kind of reminds of my ferraro roche and was very tasty. ON a side note a nice surprise came along with our dessert, martini glass full of pink cotton candy. It made us feel like kids again and we never would have imagine having cotton candy along with such a great meal in a place like it. We were having a blast rolling our cotton candy into little balls. Just as we thought our great meal has come to an end, yet another surprise came along with our coffees, a box full of citrus flavoured mini madeleine cookies. They were freshly baked and still warm when it came to our table. Being stuffed they were simply too delicious to pass up on. Let me tell you, it was a fairly big boxful of them, no less than 15 or 20 or them and we ate every last one.

Completely satisfied, we both agreed it was the best lunch/meal experience we've ever had. In terms of ambience, the professional service, personal attentiveness were all top notch. After we took care of the bill and stood up from our table, the staff brought over our coats and handed us too gift bags and wished us a Merry Christmas. That really put us over the top in how much we loved this place. The gifts were their own branded sparling water but it was a very nice gesture and I can say for certain that I will be revisiting them again the next time I visit again and I will highly recommend them to anyone looking for a good dining experience.

I know I rambled on about Europea, but the experience really was memorable from the time we stepped in to the second we came out and I know Europea's well established and my review probably won't turn more heads, but if you haven't tried them, I say you give it a shot.

I don't want to make the post even longer so Part 3 will be next which will include Lemeac(again haha), Europea Espace Boutique, La Banquise so stay tuned hehe...thanks for reading.

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  1. Woo! thanks for posting. I've never been to Europea and now I think I need to go very soon!

    1 Reply
    1. re: TheSnowpea

      I love your detailed reports, keep them coming.

    2. As promised, part 3 of my trip will round out with another trip to Lemeac. If you guys read my first review, the first visit was not the greatest and we've concluded that we simply ordered the wrong items and/or an off night for them, so we decided to give them a chance to redeem themselves.

      Arrived at 9:55 and waited a few minutes to order and this time we made sure we tried the rest of the menu starting with:

      Calamari and zucchini, lemon and balsamic
      Smoked herring, warm fingerling potato and organic beet salad

      The sauce for the calamari was wonderful and tasty and we got extra bread to soak up every last drop of the sauce and the portion was big for an appetizer. The texture of the calamari was just right and not too chewy. The smoked herring was very light and flavourful and it work really well with the greens and potatoes. It turned out to be a good choice because had we gone with a different app, we certainly would not have been able to walk out of there because we were totally stuffed by the end of the meal. When I went on their website just now, the herring is no longer there, so not sure if they took it out or not, but we certainly enjoyed it.

      Relative to the smoked salmon and the snails the previous night, we much more enjoyed the herring and the calamari. Onto the mains:

      Duck leg confit with roasted fingerling potatoes and salad
      Hanger steak, french fries

      We finally got what we originally wanted the other night and boy did they redeem themselves. The steak was cooked a perfect medium rare and was very juicy and tasty. The frites did not last long and actually neither did the steak. I can see why steak frites is a must when visiting Lemeac, it was definitely worth the ticket for admission alone. My SO loves duck confits and when she sank her teeth into hers, her heart melted away. When I had a taste I agreed. We are no experts when it comes to duck confit, but we both thought it was delicious and definitely above average. What she also loved was the big salad it came with as we did not have too many chances to get some veggies in our system during our trip. At this point we were both stuffed, but could not pass up on dessert.

      I had totally forgotten the suggestions of some to try out their French Toast but rather we went with creme brulee and creme caramel. Both were delicious and it was a wonderful finish to our evening along with a nice cup of coffee.

      In conclusion, Lemeac definitely was worth our return visit and we felt really good giving it another chance once again goes to show that restaurants do have off nights and the advice on this wonderful board are usually pretty spot on.

      A little on Europea Espace Boutique: For our lunch, we visited the little boutique for their $10 lunch boxes which includes a sandwich, dessert, Perrier. We went with a beef and a lamb sandwich. The beef one had a hint of curry(maybe) and it was tasty while the lamb was good, but needed a bit of salt. On top of that I've been craving Macarons throughout the trip and after a taste from Europea, I couldn't resist buying some more at the boutique. We got a box of 6 for around 8 bucks and they were pretty tasty. It's only my second time tasting macarons but I think I can have about 20 of them in one sitting. We got a chocolate mousse and pecan tart for dessert and both were pretty good. It was definitely worth the $10.

      Thinking our dining tour is over, my SO reminded me that we never had poutine the whole trip. With a GPS in hand, we handed straight to La Banquise and ordered a large original to go to eat in the car. So halfway through our sandwiches from the Boutique and partially stuffed, we're looking at a large box of fries covered in tasty gravy and melted goodness, the only to do in that spot was to dig right in and stuff ourselves some more. It was really good, but I really can't say it's spectacular. Would I go back for another shot at their other varieties? Probably, but to be honest we really shouldn't have gotten a large, a small would have done just fine.

      And that officially concludes our trip to the great city of Montreal and we look forward to visiting soon and thanks to all that have given me recommendations, it was a great trip.

      14 Replies
      1. re: ragged25

        wow...gf and i are visiting in feb and our eating itinerary is eerily similar

        fri night - late night at lemeac
        sat - poutine at la banquise for lunch, le petit alep for dinner
        sun - au pied du cochon for dinner
        mon - europea for lunch

        good reference post! thanks for the great review

        1. re: rafer madness

          I do envy you Rafer...I'm sure you'll have a hell of a time, the one I regret not hitting up was APDC...and the possibility of tasting the duck in a can...I'm salivating just thinking about it...but it goes to show that even shifting gears on the fly, you can still end up having a great time eating out in Montreal.

          Happy eating!

          1. re: ragged25

            quick question for you ragged....how long was the lunch at europea? our tran leaves later in the afternoon so i just want to make sure we have enough time. will probably do the prix fixe like you did.

            thanks

            1. re: rafer madness

              My SO and I are both quick eaters and we did not order wine or alcohol. We went right before Christmas and it was peak lunch hour and the place was packed. The kitchen turned the food out quite efficiently. We had coffee afterwards and I don't think we were there any more than an hour and a half max.

              Hope you have a great time in Montreal!

              1. re: ragged25

                I just returned from Montreal and stopped in at Europea for some macarons - my expectations were high after months of reading about this place on the chow boards. But lo and behold, when I asked for a box, the lady started picking up the macarons with her fingers and placing them in the box. she tied a nice bow on it and sealed the box then cashed me out. I decided on getting another box and she proceeded to pick the macarons with her fingers again - no washing, no hestitation. now is it just me that's disgusted by this? went across the street to vanhoutte's for pastries and coffee and there the servers used tongs at all times to pick up the pastries. why can't europea do the same? are macarons too delicate for tongs? if so, can't they put on gloves and pick them up? I've brought the macarons home and after tasting two, they are sitting in the fridge - I'm normally not a very picky person but i'm a bit put off by this....has anyone else had this experience at europea or was I served by someone on an off day?

                1. re: berbere

                  I agree - that is not cool. I would have politely asked her to use tissue paper to pick up the cookies.

                  On the bright side, there is no serious danger here - just psychologically gross, like finding a hair in your food. After all, did you sanitize your own hands before eating? You handled the same money as her...and chances are her hands were cleaner than yours to begin with. ;-)

                  If you're still skeeved out, why not run the macarons under the broiler for a minute to "purify" them? Would be a shame to waste 'em...

                  1. re: berbere

                    Jeebus. Do you really think that chefs use tongs or gloves when they're plating your dishes in the kitchen ?

                    1. re: johnnyboy

                      chefs don't handle the money and tend to wash and wipe their hands frequently....

                      1. re: eat2much

                        anachemia and johnnyboy, i've seen more care taken by street vendors in asia (who use plastic gloves to serve you) than this clerk. while i am not overly picky about stuff like this (clearly not, by the way i've been going through those macarons today) i do admit to becoming a little more vigilant after seeing some close friends hospitalized after innocently picking up airborne bugs. i have also seen friends hospitalized due to serious food poisoning and salmonella.

                        in any case, what i really wanted to know by sending out this post was to see if this was normal practice in Europea, and other places that sell macarons. i was a little surprised that a 'higher' end place like Europea (judging by its prices anyways!) would have less hygienic practises than places like van houtte.

                        1. re: berbere

                          I assume you're talking about the Boutique and not the restaurant itself right? When I got their lunch combos, the man grabbed my sandwich using just his hands and no gloves either. I don't recall whether he handled cash or not as I believe it was the lady that took our money. Since I've only been to the place once, I can't comment on the common practice.

                          It is rather gross to actually see the lady handle cash then picking up your macarons, but then again anachemia does raise a good point, I'm sure we've all handled food ourselves and eating it while having 'dirty' hands. I bought ones that were pre packaged, so I did not see her handling them by hand.

                          1. re: ragged25

                            ragged25, thanks for sharing your experience at the boutique. i don't think i will be back to this place!

                        2. re: eat2much

                          @ eat2much:

                          Ahahaha if that's what you need to tell yourself to eat out, sure.... Wipe, yes, on towels that are usually already dirty with food. Wash - hate to break it to you, but no. Once we are getting slammed we have no time. You oughta read Anthony Bourdain.

                          1. re: Shattered

                            I have read Bourdain. We all tell ourselves little lies to help us get through the day. As such I am convinced that all commercial kitchens are very hygienic ;-). The problem for me is when we see the lack of hygiene in the front of the restaurant.

                            1. re: eat2much

                              Agreed. As the man said, if the washroom is a disaster, you shouldn't be eating there, because the kitchen will be even worse.

                              It comes down to the owner. I'd add to the washrom rule, that if you get indifferent or rude service from an owner or family thereof, you can pretty sure they aren't checking the cleaniless of the place at closing, especially in back of the house. Of course, not giving business to rude owners is a no-brainer anyway.

                              I also think chains/franchises tend to be cleaner, because if an outbreak of something occurs, it'll screw the image of the entire chain. Something to keep in mind when traveling, if you're on business or have a weak stomach.

                              The most hygienic place I ever worked at by far was my university cafeteria; second was a 24-hour Denny's where we hosed the place down, mopped, etc. every 6 hours like clockwork whether we were getting slammed or not.
                              I guess often, unfortunately, hygiene has no correlation with the quality of food.