Festival Montréal en Lumières 2010 : New-Orleans & Portugal
(note to moderators: This is a local, local to Montreal cultural AND FOOD/RESTAURANT event, please do not move, thanks)
Get your reservation book in order, clear your social calendar, the 2010 Festival Montréal en Lumière food/restaurant schedule is now open for your own enjoyement:
New-Orleans & Portugal are the 2 cuisine in the spotlight this year.
Had a nice time at Cocagne yestesday, with their Maple and Foie Gras special menu for the festival. 6 courses and a pairing of 4 wines (70$ / 125$ with wines). To me, one of Cocagne's strong elements is plate composition; everything is there for a reason, often in subtility. We had very high expectations, based on our first visit a few months ago which enchanted us; food was generally very good but sometimes lacked that little something to make it great. I have to say we were the very first customers to get the special menu for the festival, so some indulgence might be in order!
First course is a delicious cauliflower /nutmeg creamy soup, with a foie gras covered "cracker". It was meant to be cracked, like you would break a creme brûlée's crust, to get both the top and soup at once - but it was way too hard to work, and made the soup splash out. Both items were good, even if the "pressé " de foie gras tasted more like "pâté de foie" to us.
The second course is maple syrup marinated foie gras with a nice aragula salad. The foie gras was very cold, seemingly just coming out of the fridge. The taste increased as it warmed up. The wait staff mentioned that it should have been torched, which it wasn't. That course was a half success.
Things got better at the 3rd course; the seared foie gras was very good, silky inside and nicely crusted outside. A great chutney made up of apples and almonds, and a few pieces of boudin made for a great dish. And the special "gaillac doux" served with it was simply excellent. It reminded us of a special Pedro Jimenez we brought back from Spain, with aromas of dried prunes and raisins. The sommelier was very proud of that wine (made from moût and not technically a wine, it seems), imported especially for the festival.
The main dish also shined : maple syrup braised pork shoulder (so tender) with a perigourdine sauce, a delicate white carrot mash, salsifis and "trompette de la mort" mushrooms. WOW. That was perfect.
The cheese course was delicate: a milk foam and a thin, slightly melted Qc cheese slice over a nutty base . Clearly not your typical cheese and bread concept! It was mostly milk to me, and the tiny bit of cheese wasn't satisfying, even if the taste was good.
Dessert was very tasty and rich, a moist cake mixing hazelnuts and chocolate layers, with maple syrup of course.
The service was also efficient and friendly, and both waiters welcomed our comments and took them back to the kitchen.
Overall a very tasty experience, nicely bringing foie gras and maple syrup in most courses without being overwhelming. But not decadent - this is as far as can be from the APDC cabane à sucre experience, showcasing the same ingredients!
Just wondering for the lunch specials that are taking place this week, does anyone recommend the nine possible restaurants? They include:
Stromboli, Kashmir, Mogador, Prato Pizzerie et Cafe, Rumi, Byblos le petit Cafe, La Khaima, Ong Ca Xan and Restaurant Douro.
It looks like a really good deal - only $12.95 (before taxes and tip) for a three course meal. If you recommend one of them or if you've tried them, please let me know.
Here's the link:
I second Byblos and Prato (mostly Byblos, but went ot Prato once and liked it). Rumi is also good, try that out as well.
I went to Stromboli once, it's ok, mostly good but nothing special, a little expensive for the quality, you pay for the location (on Mt-Royal) and the crowd, young urbain (Misto crowd, to me Stromboli is a Misto clone). Nice decor and good service, interesting for a night out. But at $12.95 for three course, you shouldn't be disapointed.
Ong Ca Xan? Maybe you are referring Ong Ca Can. I haven't been in over 2 years, but in the past, i used to love this restaurant with their "thit bo bay mon" (7 beef course meal). I don't know if the quality went down in the past 2 years though but i've been told their lunch is pretty good though
4 events down and 4 events to go.
Here is a review of the events I went to so far this year :
Paulo Pinto at Decca 77 : Very good but international cuisine. I could've eaten this in Montreal at any good restaurant and would'nt have known it was a portuguese chef, apart from the salt cod and the dessert. There weren't anough portuguese traditional elements to my taste. Wines from the CARM winery were good but not great. Service was excellent though.
Chef Sobral at ITHQ : The appetizers, warm entrée and portuguese cheese were delicious. The dessert was also a standout, a portuguese Abade de Priscos pouding with sweet carrot purée and a honey ginger, lemon and black olives salad. Sounds weird but it was fantastic and very original. The wine served though were a little lacklustre and they decided to put 2 Quebec wines on the menu (which were fine and good matches) but since this is a portuguese event, I would have prefered to have portuguese wines with the food.
Brian Landry at Julien : Well known (and very young !) chef of Galatoire, New Orleans' oldest restaurant (been open for 104 years). No frills and just plain delicious food, expencially the crab first course, the duck and the bread pudding (which was out of this world). Fun atmosphere and cheap on top of that (50 $ for 4 courses). No wine pairing menu that night.
Henrique Sa Pessoa at La Chronique : 7 courses of heaven on a plate. Every plate had portuguese influences and was perfectly executed. I've been to over 60 Festival meals over the last 7 years and this was definitely in the top 3. The friends I was with told me it was the best meal they've ever had and they're not easily impressed having dined in many Michelin starred restaurants in Europe. The wine pairings were simply amazing and were chosen expertly by Pier-Alexis, the sommelier. I'm a sommelier myself and am not easily impressed but the all portuguese wines chosen were very original, matched the food perfectly and and showcased the best Portugal has to offer. Also an amazing value for the quality (150 $ for 7 courses and 7 glasses of wine). The chef is still there for two more nights so call for a reservation just in case there's a cancellation !
So it's a great start to the Festival so far. I was at Portus Calle last night (review to come) and will be at Europea tonight, Newtown tomorrow and Osco on Thursday. I'll try to give you the details of these meals at the end of the week.
Bon appétit, Surfinberry