Continuation of my road report...
LE PANETIER BALUCHON (764 rue St-Jean) - wonderful croissants ($1) and okay chicken pie (the guy warming it up for me forgot it in the oven so I'm not sure how the crust was actually supposed to taste, although he kept insisting it was okay; however, he gave it to me for half price when I said it was dry). The girl throwing up in the corner put me off. 8 out of 10 (the croissants really were excellent).
LE PAINGRUEL (375 rue St-Jean) - they have a daily schedule of special breads, plus certain types available all week long. The Friday I was there, I got to enjoy the amazing mini kamut with dried cranberries and chocolate (excellent texture: crunchy on outside, chewy in the middle). I also tried the Ephemere with pear and white chocolate, and the Ephemere with chestnut - both are sort of like a danish but less flaky, more white-bread-ish. 8 out of 10. Closed Sunday and Monday, sadly.
RESTAURANT LIBAN (23 d'Auteuil) - Avoid this place! The worst Lebanese food I've ever tried. Absolutely no flavour. The shish taouk (chicken in pita with "marinated veggies" and "garlic mayo") was bland, dry and disappointing. My friend's "Lebanese pizza" was an equally bland pita stuffed with lamb and cheese; she felt the urge to put ketchup on it just so it would have some flavour. I had to ask for more "garlic mayo" because I was sure it was missing from mine, but after slathering it on, I still didn't taste anything. The so-called veggies in the shish taouk included two small cubes of a red-tinged substance resembling turnip or beet, and some lettuce.
1 out of 10. I didn't get food poisoning, which is the only good point. Sometimes, chowhounding just isn't the right approach - being adventurous and blazing new trails can backfire.
BRULERIE TATUM CAFE (1084 rue St-Jean) - I loved the "Hawai Kona Captain Cook No. 1" espresso-style (even though it was quite expensive). My friend had a neapolitan-style coffee - a fun way to enjoy the traditional stovetop Italian "mocha" method of making espresso! The mini maker heats up on a fondue burner, and the coffee, when ready, pours from a little spout into the espresso cup below. Very cute and photo-worthy. This neapolitan method risks burning the coffee slightly, so it wasn't recommended for my Kona beans. The staff were very knowledgeable and friendly. The food menu seemed quite expensive for a cafe, and I was reluctant to try their pastas or anything else for that reason. 8 out of 10.
LA SUCRERIE BLOUIN (in St-Jean, Ile d'Orleans) - the parking lot is hard to find, but once there, a 1937 snowmobile (resembling a small tank with portholes) takes guests to the large cabin across snowy fields. There was a large group of university students, plus our group of 3, so the sucrerie provided entertainment in the form of an accordionist who also taught the group traditional group dances and games. The food was mediocre; however, the maple baked beans, tourtiere, cretons (like a pork pate served with the white bread and butter) and pea soup were decent. Other items included oreilles de crisse (Christ) which are crispy fried strips of salt pork (even our Quebecois friend Jean thought they were substandard); sweet maple scrambled eggs, ham slices, breakfast sausages, plain boiled potatoes, coffee, and a sugar pie that had a soft crust as if it had been microwaved. No pancakes at all. Red wine by the glass was $4 and quite good. After supper, we were taken next door for an explanation of the making of maple syrup, followed by maple taffy poured on snow (a delicious treat, using popsicle sticks to pick up snow-hardened candy). $17.50 plus tip included everything (tour, taffy, snowmobile ride, entertainment, food). The only advantage to going to this sugar shack is that it is open year-round (we were there on Feb. 13, before maple season). 6 out of 10 for food, 9 out of 10 for experience. www.sucrerieblouin.com
HOTEL DE GLACE/ICE HOTEL (in Ste-Catherine de la Jacques Cartier) - no food, but I thoroughly enjoyed a very memorable Absolut Vanilia vodka in an ice glass, while seated on a fur-covered snow bench at an Absolut bottle-shaped ice table! 10 out of 10 (one of the coldest but best experiences of my life!)
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