All too often I rely on all of you to give detailed reviews of restaurants in town, so I thought I'd post a few short reports of my own. I'm listing a few places that don't get much discussion here but are operated by people who genuinely seem to care about their food and customers, not just the bottom line.
Patisserie Rhubarbe: I had brunch here on Sunday in the extreme heat. Even with no air conditioning in the building it was one of the most pleasant meals I've had this year. In a moment of panic when my initial order was sold out, I pointed to a "continental breakfast" that turned out to contain elements that I don't often order or just plain dislike. What I received changed my opinions entirely. For $18 we were each given homemade pink lemonade (or several other drink options), the very best scone I've ever eaten (truly the best - I do not usually like them), and a small tiramisu to finish. As the main course I received a perfectly soft-boiled egg with buttered 'soldiers' that just fit the the pre-cut hole in the shell, rhubarbe jam, whipped yogourt with granola and dried fruits (usually a hated dish), and a large kouign amann. My partners in crime ordered very runny scrambled eggs (in the best of ways) with truffle oil. This was my favourite brunch in recent memory. Both servers were overwhelmingly lovely people.
Pain d'Epi: Given that this is one of the few decent, independently-owned bakeries in the South-west, I find it surprising that it isn't busier. Add to that the delicious sandwiches, wifi, and tree-shaded terrasse, and it's a miracle one can get a seat at all. I won't say their breads are the best I've ever eaten, but I absolutely love the fig & walnut loaf and their chocolatines. Very low prices as well: standard baguettes for $2, and a few fancier varieties for a quarter or two more. Check them out if you've not already. The entire staff is always very kind.
Tripes & Caviar: This is a restaurant I was very excited to try. I visited on a quiet Sunday during their opening week. It was also during a Habs playoff game so the place was nearly empty. Right off the bat I'll say that T&C was not at all what I was expecting. Clearly the proprietors have chosen to embrace the run-down room they've taken over. Although parts have been completely redone, others have been left essentially how they found the place. The presentation of each dish also seemed to be playing off this theme. It was perhaps an intentional decision to serve food in such an extremely casual manner (i.e. fried calf brain nuggets haphazardly sprayed with tiziki all spilling out of a toppled plastic popcorn bag, or a tongue sandwich perched atop a greasy brown-paper takeaway bag) that it mimicked the pretentious food towers of 1990s fine-dining. These dishes were much less innovative and exploratory than I'd expected, but each was delicious. The prices were so low that I misunderstood the serving sizes and ended up ordering what amounted to two main dishes and an appetizer. Needless to say, I stuffed myself in a way I never have before, and literally damaged my stomach severely enough that it hurt for a week. The chef/owner came to talk to us a few times during the meal to tell us about the preparations and what he hoped to offer on the menu soon. I'd love to return to see what's changed here, as I've got a great feeling about this place.
EVOO: The stupid name of this restaurant kept me away for far too long. I finally visited for lunch last week, and was VERY impressed by the entire meal. A 3-course lunch for $21 is already a steal, but even more so when taking into account the complexity of the dishes. We started with great cappuccinos, which is always a good sign. For her appetizer, my girlfriend ordered a hand-picked (by the staff) strawberry and green bean salad that was simple but delicious. I ordered pork rillettes served with a variety of colourful, freshly pickled vegetables and sauces. A spectacular dish that reminded me of a classic from the Noma menu. Next my accomplice received a very impressive sous-vide/seared chicken leg with tomatoes, leeks, and some type of tequila-based Purée. The chicken was uniformly moist throughout, and well finished on the exterior. The sauce was an excellent pairing, though I thought the leeks could have received a bit more attention. I ordered a perfectly cooked veal+foie ravioli with what I remember to be a summer squash sauce with crispy-fried sage leaves. Each of the many ravioli was large and almost too generously filled with meat: foie is a flavour I sometimes find overwhelming, though I expect others might have been carried to heaven on these puffy pasta clouds. We both finished with a dessert of strawberries, rhubarbe, whipped cream, etc., served in a dish made of meringue. All three members of the staff seemed to be working the floor, and each was more charming than the last. This is the best lunch I've had in 2013 (and that includes multiple Michelin-starred restaurants). Based on the complexity of the dishes this is also the best lunch deal in the city, hands-down. During July they also apparently have 3-course dinners at $35. I'm not a huge fan of the decor, but with the windows open on a mild afternoon it was truly beautiful.
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