Restaurants & Bars

Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Raves for Brunoise and Philinos

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Raves for Brunoise and Philinos

LeeByTheSea | Jun 2, 2005 03:24 AM

Thanks, Montreal hounds, for showing us the way to Brunoise and Philinos during our six-day visit! Hope I can return the favor when you visit Los Angeles.

- Brunoise: Just amazing. The amuse-geule was carrot and pea soup. Sounds almost ordinary, but the essence of the two vegetables had been extracted, not just pureed, so that you tasted each in equal amounts as pure flavors. Rather like the difference between a pure jelly and an ordinary jam (conceptually--not physically--because it was a soup.) Reminded me of my backyard-vegetable days when I would eat fresh raw peas right off the vine.

That was great but it only got better! I should have taken notes but we were enjoying it too much. I had the smoked fish appetizer and beef tenderloin main; wife remembers her five-spice fish. The vanilla pannacotta with passion fruit sauce was superb. We've been to plenty of high-end restaurants in Los Angeles which are totally outclassed by Brunoise.

To this delicious and inventive food they add excellent service, attentive and thoughtful but never overbearing or supercilious; non-miniaturized portions; very reasonable prices for this quality level; total nonsmoking. On a 10-point scale, Brunoise is 11 to 12.

Minor details: We walked less than ten minutes from the nearest Metro stop. Please don't tell newcomers that the restaurant is "where Rue Roy T's into St. André" because Rue Roy is continuous on our maps. Just go to that intersection and you cannot miss the restaurant.

- Philinos: After a longish, slightly uphill 20-minute walk from the nearest Metro, we opened the door into a rousing Sunday late-afternoon Greek party. The tables were set up lengthwise in the thin room so tightly that I had to move sideways to get to the Men's, and no, I am not that heavy. Baby strollers were parked next to tables and kids were running about and playing with toys under the tables. We sat at one of the few non-smoking tables near the door; allergic wife had no trouble.

Service was brisk but professional and not at all condescending to us non-locals. We both love Moussaka and both ordered it as our main, with Melitsano Salata (an eggplant spread) and Spanakopita as starters. The Spanakopita was delicious, with feather-light filo crust and lots of filling. It was fresh-made, unlike the warmed-up or (egad!!) microwaved Spanakopita we have been served in too many Greek restaurants. Lots of eggplant spread was still in the serving dish long after we had run out of bread. And I must certainly add that each Moussaka order included a nice large Greek salad with big chunks of good feta cheese.

The Moussaka was, simply put, the best that either of us has ever had. The bechamel topping was feather-light, the flavors of the filling were perfect. The plate was loaded with fresh steamed vegetables and more potatoes than either of us wanted. Wife finished with a cup of Greek coffee that she said was strong and tasty.

The price for this feast was a bargain C$53.49 after taxes, before tip. On our leisurely walk back to the Metro we counted parking spots that we could have used had we ransomed our car from the hotel. As in San Francisco, there were a few if you looked for them.

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