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Taverne Square Dominion Anyone?

Visited the most recent incarnation of the Dominion Square Tavern looking for my fix of pig's knuckles and was highly disappointed. Nice new decor in the place, very much upscale, and washrooms a huge step up. But now the up-priced(!!) menu only features the "demi" knuckle and roasted at that!! No more whole knuckle, with whole boiled potato and plain sauerkraut. Rather a scoop of mini-potatoes, spiked sauerkraut and a much larger side dish of hot mustard. Quite disappointed and, oh, $17 for this, $5 for side of fries. At least they still have the Boreale Lite on tap.

Any other visitors?

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  1. As I was buying fish at Poissonnerie Antoine yesterday, I noticed business cards for Taverne Dominion Square lying around next to the register. I had never heard of the place, but something clicked inside me and less than 24 hours later, I was sitting down for my first meal. I must say that following a quick perusal of the internet, the OP’s apparent disappointment almost steered me away from this place – and that would have been a mistake. (Then again I did not look at the place through the lens of nostalgia, as I never frequented the place under its previous incarnation.)

    First of all, the place is absolutely lovely. High ceilings, brass, wood and mirrors everywhere, a long bar - this is much more Parisian brasserie than tavern. The staff is attentive to detail and looks genuinely interested in what it does.

    I sampled the gravlax with blinis, sour cream and blueberry preserves (each component is separate) – everything tasted fresh and wonderful.

    I then had the pork sandwich with coleslaw. The pork was braised, fatty and delicious with a sweet mustard that provided just enough zip to keep things interesting. The purple coleslaw was the non creamy kind, dressed with probably either malt or cider vinegar.

    I sampled a friend’s mashed potatoes with cheddar and bacon – not far from heavenly.

    On the other hand, the sticky toffee pudding with coffee ice cream was kind of a letdown – this dessert is supposed to be decadent but instead, it was a bit dense and not particularly sinful. I like mine sweet to the brink of cloying. But in this case with each bite you can’t help but think it’s not worth the calories.

    Regardless, this was overall a particularly pleasant lunch experience, especially for downtown. I’m definitely adding it to my rotation.

    Cheers,

    Alex

    1. I didn't know they re-opened, I'll have to check it out.
      I don't think the OP's view was necessarily tainted through the lens of nostalgia, but maybe feels like I do: The pigknuckle seems to be a dying breed.

      There used to be quite a few places offering it, mostly taverns then brasseries.
      All too common to see it scaled back to certain nights of the week, or removed from the menu, or the place closes...

      1. Voir's Gildas Meneu liked it (for what that is worth to some):

        http://www.voir.ca/publishing/article...

        1. Tried this place for a slightly late lunch. I wasn't familiar with the "original" Dominion, but used to frequent taverns of that ilk; no doubt anyone who likes a classic Montreal tavern vibe will be let down. But taking it for what it is -- a modern upscale pub with a somewhat ambitious kitchen -- I think it's a welcome addition to the downtown.

          As for the food... while it wasn't outstanding (bearing in mind my sample size of one meal), I'd definitely go back. A perfect place for a pre- or post-movie nosh and/or cocktail, or to duck away from the crowds during a shopping trip.

          I ordered the fish version of the Ploughman's Lunch.

          From the good to the not so good: a fairly generous portion of good though not great smoked salmon; a large slice of rather pleasant fish terrine; a deviled egg (also available à la carte for a princely $4 a pop); blueberry preserves; a few pieces of good quality cheddar; some apple slices; decent but unremarkable tzatziki; and good bread.

          Then there were the mostly uninspired vegetables: a cold boiled fingerling potato (good with the tzatziki), some halved cherry tomatoes, a couple of radishes, and some carrot and celery sticks. All this might be just fine for some people, but I tend not to enjoy cold, raw veggies so too much of it went to waste.

          A decent, filling meal (it would have made a pretty substantial snack for 2), priced about right at $20 + tax/tip.

          Didn't study the wine list too closely, but it seemed thoughtfully chosen albeit a bit on the pricey side. There's also a wide selection of spirits.

          1. My friend really liked her blinis and pork sandwich (she is wanting take out in the future, if they do it, since her office is around the corner).
            My chicken stew was not the thick, gloppy kind but rather more like a soup, and a tasty one at that, with tender hunks of roast chicken.
            We both had the sticky toffee and we just licked the plates clean, sweet tooths that we are, though it was kinda like warm sticky dense muffins but oooooh, couldn't stop eating it.....!
            Love the old timey surroundings, high ceilings and bar.
            Waiter was pleasant and efficient.
            It's an ok fancy pub (with prices to match) that'll have to do since Brasserie Brunoise went away. *sigh*

            -----
            Brasserie Brunoise
            1012 Rue De la Montagne, Montreal, QC H3G, CA

            1. Same here loved the interior oozing with charm. Ordered the Canadian Old Fashioned cocktail (been addicted to these since Mad Men started) and SO the Pimm's Cup. Both were good. The Old Fashioned had a big chunk of ice instead of ice cubes, which was sort of weird but fun at the same time. We ordered the fried clams, pork sandwich and shrimp rolls. Fried clams were fried too long and were brown and rubbery, nice curry mayo though. Later I saw them turn up at the table next to us and they were golden and softer. The pork sandwich came in a soft poppy seed bun with sweet sauerkraut and ice berg lettuce, and an enormous mountain of fries. The pork sandwich was really good, loved the coriander in the sauerkraut and ice berg provided some fresh crunch. Fries were good, so was the mayo but I doubt it was homemade (seemed they mixed some Hellmann's with some Dijon mustard). But I could've gone without the fries, maybe roasted potatoes and some veggies instead? My SO had the shrimp roll, good amount of fresh dill. The plate was also heaping with fries. We shared the sticky toffee pudding that was good, but small in size.

              Service was lacking a bit, had to flag down the waiter twice to get another drink and to get the bill (although we made him aware before that we were in a hurry and only had 30 minutes for dessert left). Also he was clueless when I asked about the types of rye they had (CC or Crown Royal). And they put too much ice with the rye although I specified to go easy on the ice.

              Prices are definitely upscale and sometimes undeservedly so. While the cocktails are in the $8-$10 range, a pint of stout (was it really a pint?) came to $7 (it was St Ambroise, not Guinness) and so do all of their local beers. SO had a tea that came to a whopping $4. OK it was Kusimi tea, but nevertheless exaggerated IMO. Also the CC on the rocks came to $8, for a dollar more I could've had a dram of real single malt. So the more expensive items (single malt, cocktails) are priced correctly, but they make up for it by overcharging for the standard fare.

              Food came to $50, booze to $40 (2 cocktails, pint of stout and rye). Factor in tax + tip and it's a round $120.

              But it's a nice addition to the downtown core, lot's of character and original cocktails and food.

              3 Replies
              1. re: estilker

                I've been there a few times recently, it's my new favorite casual place downtown. I usually have the chopped salad with a chicken breast, and the toffee pudding. We've shared appetizers beforehand, the shrimp in a glass stein, to scoop over bread, savoury beignets, I forget what else. They make their own tonic water. Other main dishes I've seen people gobble up looked good.

                1. re: superbossmom

                  Went back for a 5 a 7 yesterday. Was seated at the bar (since tables were reserved for dining guests and most were reserved). I didn't mind so I could see the bartender work his magic. Had another Old Fashioned (a habit lately), a Gin & Tonic and Gibson Martini. Ordered a scotch egg and fries. Thoroughly enjoyed the Old Fashioned (no fresh orange though but triple sec and lemon peel with housemade cherries). G & T was with homemade maroon coloured tonic syrup (made with cinchona bark, lemon grass and different varieties of citrus peels, close to most of the recipes you find online) their homemade carbonated water (they have a huge carbon filter in the cellar) and Hendrick's Gin. Gibson Martini was with Bulldog Gin (never had this Gin before) , the slightest hint of vermouth and homemade pickled onions that had a soft anisy flavour (there was star anise in the bowl). There was also a bowl with lemon and orange peel in syrup with cinnamon and star anise that was used for making cocktails. The scotch egg was great, yolk still runny with lots of "Swedish sauce" (horseradish and goose fat according to the mixologist behind the bar) and some lightly dressed watercress. A good amount of fries with dijonnaise. I seemed to like the fries better this time. My companion thoroughly enjoyed the Pimm's Cup as she is a light drinker and could have more than one without feeling too tipsy.

                  Starting to like this place more and more. It's classy but not pretentious and there's obviously a lot of thought and effort behxpind it. It's not cheap, but not overly eensive either.

                  1. re: estilker

                    Yeah, I hear you on the cocktails.

                    It's become a fave of mine for a downtown drink. I had to try their G&T to see how it stacked up against my own home-made tonic and I agree with you that they are following the regular tonic recipes online. I've tried to convince them to bring in other gins. The Royal Gin Fizz is also a delight, and I believe they make their own ginger ale too.

                    The barman told me this summer that the SAQ is testing Pimms in a few bars and restaurants around the province: I hope the response is enough for them to consider stocking SAQ shelves because it's a great drink.

                    Note to those who wonder about a big chunk of ice in a cocktail: it dilutes a drink more slowly than ice cubes: it shows they are serious about their drinks.

              2. Beautiful decor! I visited dominion on a saturday night and I only tried some of the appetizers: the deviled eggs, bocked shrimp, scotch egg and salmon gravlax. Didn't love the gravlax dish, the fish was good but it came with a weird blueberry jam I didn't enjoy. The baby shrimp were very spicy but good, the deviled eggs awesome as well and the scotch egg was deep fried deliciousness!! It's a really nice place especially for downtown since there is such a lack of decent dining establishments in that area. A bit pricey though.
                I'd like to go back and try out the mains for lunch. Oh and I really liked that the blinis and toast were whole wheat, it was a nice added touch.
                And yes the drinks are good.

                Salon Gourmand

                1 Reply
                1. re: salon gourmand

                  Went for dinner on Thursday night. The place was packed, both people having drinks and dinner. Very eclectic crowd and great vibe. The service left much to be desired though, extremely hard to flag down a waiter and polite but indifferent service.

                  My friend and I shared the fried clams. Exactly as a pp described: tasted a little stale as though fried in old oil and just not very fresh as though fried earlier in the day and sitting there. The accompanying curry mayo was ok although lacking in flavor and didn't add much to the dish. The fried clams tasted better with just a squirt of lemon.

                  For mains, I had the braised short ribs. The dish was delectable and absolutely perfect in every way. The rib was tender, moist, and very flavorful. Perfectly cooked. I've often found that this type of dish is overbooked, bland, and dry and was very pleasantly surprised. The accompanying mashed potatoes were silky and creamy and super yummy. Carrots were crunchy and seasoned and watercress added a nice contrast to the dish.

                  My friend had the pulled pork sandwich and fries. The sandwich is very interesting with Asian flavors. The pork was moist and perfectly cooked but I just couldn't decide whether I liked the
                  combination of flavors... Especially with the accompaniment of fries (decent but nothing to write home about)... There was just something that didn't quite work. This is probably just a personal preference.

                  We also shared a green salad which was very small and simply dressed but it worked as a great accompaniment and was great despite its simplicity. Nice addition of watercress in the green salad.

                  I'd likely come back to see if the service might be better on a quieter evening. Reservations are probably a must.

                2. Too little food for too much money. The pork sandwich was excellent,, but the overall dining experience was negative--this is a "no" restaurant--no substitutes of veggies, no whip cream for the chocolate mouse, not accommodating at all. Also, the kitchen staff was eating food throughout meal preparation-yuk.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: afjv9

                    afjv9, that's unfortunate to hear. Eating while prepping is gross, no further comment on that. The part about it being a "no" restaurant however: I'm a waitress at a restaurant with a similar policy, and have seen management allow more accomodations to be made because of demand from clients. Try shooting them an e-mail. Especially for a place with Taverne Square's atmosphere and quality, I'm surprised they don't do more substitutes.

                    1. re: afjv9

                      "Also, the kitchen staff was eating food throughout meal preparation-yuk." That's incredibly unprofessional and unhygienic. Are you sure? Is it open kitchen and you saw it yourself?

                      I just have trouble picturing that. I've worked on lines where a guy would sneak a quick bite, and the other cooks would say something immediately, nevermind if a manager caught them.

                      But "throughout", during the service? I'm sorry if this sounds like I don't believe you, but wow, that's unheard of in my experience.
                      How do you know?

                    2. Went with a friend after last night's Rheingold rebroadcast at the Scotia cineplex. Liked the decor. The '70s and '80s muzak was not too intrusive. The amber-toned, low-level lighting cast a warm glow but made the menus (brown ink on ochre paper) hard to read; we thought we'd picked a Muscadet only to be informed it was a Montavel.

                      We order: a Beefeater gin and tonic ($7); a Canadian old-fashioned ($10); a green salad ($6), which we asked to be served after the main course; and two servings of mussels steamed with lardons and cider, which came fries with mayo ($16). Denied a Muscadet option, we choose a bottle of Bourgogne-Vézelay ($51, retails for $19.75).

                      The cocktails are idiosyncratic but enjoyable. Strongly flavoured yet harmonious and complex, the tonic tastes like nothing else I've tried.

                      A minute or two after our cocktails are served, the mussels, fries and salad are unceremoniously plopped before us by a junior waiter. The mussels come in a bowl covered with another bowl for the shells. When the waiter goes to uncover the bowls, we ask him not to, which exasperates him. He turns sniffingly on his heels and splits. One of the senior waiters rushes over to semi-apologize, noting that the kitchen is turning out the dishes fast this evening. Duh.

                      Several minutes later, the wine shows up. The mussels and fries cooling fast, we're forced to truncate our conversation, gulp down the remaining two-thirds of the cocktails and try to taste the delicate wine between sips of powerful drinks.

                      Plump and tender, the mussels are properly cooked if a little bland (cultivation's fault, not the kitchen's) and overwhelmed by the copious lardons. The cider is undetectable as such. Whether due to the surfeit of bacon or a heavy hand, the dish is very salty. Even less than ideally warm, the skin-on fries are serviceable.

                      One of joys of eating steamed mussels is sopping up the sauce with good bread. We ask for some and are brought a plate of machine-sliced sandwich rye. Could we have a baguette instead? No, this is the only bread they serve.

                      The premature salad is a small plate of watercress leaves and fresh dill in an oily vinaigrette. It, too, is oversalted.

                      As our mussel dishes are being cleared away, we're asked for the first time if we'd like some water.

                      Total bill? Around $120 before tip.

                      The junior waiter excepted, the staff is friendly and engaging enough that the gaffes (other than the mistiming) didn't matter much. The location (a half block from the theatre), hours (open till midnight, even on Mondays), ambiance, menu and cocktails make this an appealing post-movie option. The service, food execution and wine markup (2.5 times retail) keep it from being detour-worthy.

                      www.tavernedominion.com

                      1. I've been following this thread as I had a soft spot for the tavern's older version. It wasn't until yesterday, while shopping, the wife overhears someone gushing about the place, that we tried it out.
                        Arrived 7:00pmish without reservations and snagged one of the last two available tables. Many people were turned back soon after. The place does get busy.
                        First thing that strikes you is the decor. Someone had vision to take the old place's delights (terrazo floor, tiled wainscotting, etc) in context and transform the room into a delight (miss the old ceiling, though) and added a killer bar.
                        Being packed, I was prepared for uneven service, but it was almost spot-on.
                        As people have mentioned, the cocktail list jumps out at you with old-school items. $8-$10 each seems high, but the quality is certainly there, and the carefully chosen glassware is a very nice touch (we tried the gin mint julep and a royal gin fizz).
                        carswell mentions the lighting - I'd flat out say its on the dim side. The hum of the packed house made talking difficult and deciphering the waitress' words almost impossible. Otherwise, a very appealiong room.

                        For apps, we chose the fried clams and corn fritters. Theres been a couple of complaints of the clams upthread. I used to work a line in a different life - deep frying clams requires 100% attention for a very short period of time (doesn't sound tough, but when juggling...). Theres maybe a 45 second window when they're done, 15 seconds more, they're borderline over-done, 20 seconds more, they're burnt and the dog won't even eat them.
                        Ours were done just right, but required salting (the salt-mill provided grinds the salt too coarse for clams or fries - the grains just roll off), the curry mayo on the side was, for me, too strong for the delicate clamstrips. The cornfritters were light balls of free-form batter with whole kernal corn. The homemade ketchup here was a good accompaniment.

                        For mains, she chose the pulled pork sandwich, me the lamb shank.
                        When someone mentions pulled pork, BBQ first comes to mind, and thats what we assumed (there is no description of it). Quirky to be on the menu, but hey...it arrived with onion, lettuce, and whole-grain mustard. The wife simply does not eat mustard. When explained, the waitress 'half-apologized' (I like that one) and only after some coaxing did she agree to bring another one.
                        By the time it arrived, my lamb shank plate could have been eaten twice...
                        The pulled pork was delicious, maybe oversalted, but done very well, served with skin-on fries. The lamb shank was fork tender, generous, and quite tasty. Served with a barley/pea/mint medley. The mint worked well with the side, but the barley and peas lacked flavor, maybe cooked in stock would've helped?

                        Other than eating our mains at practically different times, we had a good time here.
                        2 cocktails, 2 apps, 2 mains, 1 bottle wine, 2 glasses wine, $149 before tip.
                        They also have regular weeknight specials for $20. Wednesday is Pork Backbone (probably more elegant sounding in French), Thursday is duck leg confit, Friday fish&chips, don't remember Mon/Tue.
                        OK, I have to say goodbye to the old, pig-knuckle, time honored tavern. I will admit that the new version has heart and soul and I can enjoy it for different reasons.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: porker

                          I went last week and had the 20$ lunch special which was a good size grilled veal skirt steak with a delicious sweet potato/parsnip soup to begin, alternative was salad-everything was wonderful, value and taste, ambience/decor and attentive service. Serve lunch til 3pm and location is so handy when in ste catherine street /peel area. Will certainly go back!