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Jun 4, 2009 04:13 PM

Fino restaurant and gourmet shop

I have eaten a couple of times at this quite new place on the south side of Sherbrooke just west of Guy. Apparently it's a new branch of an upscale grocery and prepared takeout place on Nun's island, but which has no restaurant. The restaurant space is downstairs and the gourmet takeout/speciality grocery is upstairs from the entrance. The decor is spectacular - they have obviously spent a lot of money and I wish them well in this struggling economy.
The food is what I would classify as modern fusion with Italian overtones and the menu is quite expansive. They even have a raw bar. The first time I ate there, I had the lamb shank (reasonably priced at $21) which was not only enormous but excellent, melt in your mouth good, served with a change from the normal veggies - baby squash, coloured baby carrots, bok choy and velvety mashed potatoes. My dining companion had their hamburger which she pronounced excellent and which was served with superb Yukon Gold fries (although a little pricey, I thought, at $18).
The second time was last Friday evening with the Friday Night Dinner Group (a group which, obviously, meets each Friday night at different restaurants) and it was the first time I had recommended a restaurant for our outing. Well, we were about 18, and everyone there had only positive comments. I won't go into detail about what each person had, but everyone was very pleased. I had the breaded calamari and zucchini sticks as an appetizer, which were very good and their braised rabbit dish (half a rabbit) as a main, which literally melted in my mouth.
The menu is extensive with many appetizers, pastas, meat and fish mains, as well as grilled meat mains, and the aforementioned raw bar.
BTW, portions are very generous, so sharing an appetizer is recommended. I would classify the prices as medium to low high - figure $100 minimum for dinner for two with a couple of glasses of wine including tax and tip.
For the record, I have absolutely no connection to this place and sorry that this has turned into a rather long post.

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  1. Excellent post, davyboy. Living close by, I frequent this place for take-out, and had a light supper there once. I hope to try their restaurant soon.

    1. Great report Davyboy! I had not even noticed this place, I will keep my eyes peeled. I guess it also has an associated gourmet grocery area? Would you happen to know what kind of wares they sell?

      6 Replies
      1. re: moh

        Hi Moh. (I'm thrilled that the queen of Montreal Chowhound has responded to my post)
        The "grocery" area is upstairs from the entrance and they have a selection of quite upscale items inclucing spices (I didn't look closely, but the containers look like the same as Dean & Deluca in NY), oils and vinegars at rather high prices (eg. bottles of 250 ml. aged balsamic at up to over $200/bottle) and a very large selection of takeout foods in vacuum packed bags at more reasonable prices. There are also a couple of small areas to enjoy coffees from their coffee bar where you can also get assorted pastries, and maybe more - I saw salads in the main counter and the decor is great with crystal chandeliers. Defintely worth a look.

        1. re: davyboy

          I am looking forward to checking it out! I am a bit nervous, as it sounds crazy expensive. But I am a sucker for good oils and vinegars, and those gourmet products. Hubbie might pass a watermelon if I bring home a $200 bottle of balsamic vinegar though... Still, it is so much fun browsing in these kinds of places!

          1. re: moh

            moh, the owner of a cookware store once offered me a 250 ml bottle of aged balsamico at half-price as he had trouble selling it, I think. It was priced at $120. It was close to my birthday, so my wife bought it for me....$60 for 250 ml boggles the mind. But, believe me, I had no regrets. It was more viscous than the regular stuff, was a bit more peppery, and really had depth of flavour; amazing stuff. I used it very sparingly, and only in salads. Given the same situation, I would buy it again in a flash.

            So risk the watermelon and buy the vinegar :)

            BTW please let me know here if you see kumquats in syrup there.

            1. re: souschef

              Poor hubbie! he spends a lot of time passing large fruit! I agree completely about aged balsalmic, it is totally worth having some around. I love to dribble it on salads and simply prepared meats and really good vanilla ice cream and parmegianno regianno hunks... But we discovered that if you whisk it with oilve oil for a vinaigrette, it becomes almost gelatin like in texture! So now we just dribble it straight onto the salad.

              Personally I can even just lick the stuff straight out of the bottle, alone, with nothing else. it is like liquid gold.

              In the past, I have prowled the various stores in Little Italy, as well as Latina on St. Viateur, looking for various bottles of this stuff. I am looking forward to browsing at Fino to check out their selection, as I believe it is almost time to replenish stock. I'm hoping there are other bottles that aren't quite $200!

              Re: Kumquats in syrup - it is a pretty rare entity. I shall keep my eyes peeled. I love looking at jam and jelly selections, as well as searching for odd preserved fruit, and I can't remember the last time I saw it. BUT: I did see a kumquat marmalade with vanilla and cardamom on sale at Fous Desserts. I bought some as a gift for a friend's B-day, but haven't yet received feedback. I realize it isn't quite the same thing, but I thought it might be worth mentioning, just because of the rarity of the ingredient.

              1. re: moh

                moh, recently, while on holiday in California, I bought a bottle of blood orange balsamic vinegar, and really enjoyed it drizzled over home-made vanilla ice cream. Sadly though, I missed the blood orange sorbet at Havre aux Glaces (which you had said was wonderful).

                I do not like orange marmalade at all, so would be reluctant to try the kumquat variation.

                1. re: moh

                  Hi Moh:

                  The over $200 bottle was the most expensive. They had several bottles starting, if I remember correctly, in prices that had only 2 digits. They also have a selection of food oriented gift items, some quite reasonably priced.

        2. I live right opposite the place and I have to stay it's one of my favorite places for take out. The breakfast sandwich is also fantastic. The gourmet grocery store upstairs includes different types of luxury coffee and Guzzini products as well.

          It's really not as expensive as you might think though. I agree that it's mid-low high.

          1. So I had a chance to browse in Fino today, in the take out area. So remember the $200 bottle of balsamico? I saw it - next to the 100 year old balsamico selling for $1200. Yes that is correct, $1200. I almost passed a bird from my butt right there in the store!

            I have to say that is one of the best selections of high-end balsamic I have seen in a while. They have a nice selection of olive oils, Ursini marinated products, pastas, jams. They are also selling Philippe Vienne spices. The products look beautiful, and the prices match the aesthetic. Not cheap, but I may have to splurge and give some of them a try. I suspect I won't be purchasing the 100 year old balsamic.

            The take-out food products also looked lovely. Lots of hot entree choices, and an excellent selection of beautiful salads. I didn't have time for lunch today, but I'll be trying this place soon for a bite.

            1. Went to Fino today for lunch. On the menu were a number of platters for two: Viennoiseries for 2, fruit for 2, and foie gras cheese, and meat for 2. There was a club sandwich and a couple of items as well.

              We selected the foie gras platter, but started off with coffee and orange juice, which the server said was freshly-squeezed (the OJ, not the coffee). The OJ was very definitely not freshly-squeezed, which the server admitted to when pressed by another customer to confirm that it was freshly squeezed.

              The platter was really two large plates. The first plate had 5 different cheeses, grapes, and cashew nuts. The second plate had 3 slabs of cold foie gras on toasted baguette, together with an assortment of sliced salami and prosciutto.

              We enjoyed the food, except that the toasted baguette was infused with oil that had gone rancid. The food ($25 for 2) was more than enough for the two of us.

              At the end of the meal we were offered a complementary mimosa.

              After the meal we went upstairs to the gourmet store and saw a totally different menu for downstairs. It turns out that they have a brunch menu with egg-type dishes, but we were not shown that menu as I had asked if they were serving lunch, so we were given the lunch menu.

              I bought some balsamic jelly for $16.75, and just had it combined with olive oil and dressed over sliced tomatoes and basil; it was wonderful. The $200 balsamico was out of my price range.