Just got back from a long weekend in Montreal.
My friend was staying at the Place D'Arms - a newly opened, not-too painfully hip, hotel near Notre Dame. We arrived friday morning and decided to have lunch at Aix du Cuisine Terrior. I started with foie gras and salad - my friend had a smoked salmon wrapped in a pancake. For mains - I had veal on israeli couscous and my friend had the salmon. The lunch was well balanced - dishes were beautifully presented - service was welcoming and professional. The hotel has a complimentry wine and cheese tasting in the afternoon for hotel guests and their friends. Also the lobby is a great place to have a drink next to the fireplace.
For Friday night's dinner, we had reservations at Brunoise. The amuse was a warm potato leek soup. I started with a mussel saffron + celery soup done half and half in a bowl - plump juicy mussels flavored lightly with saffron broth next to a creamy celery soup with various vegetables - great starter. My friend had an aspargus, mushroom terrine like salad. For mains - my friend had skate with calamari and olives - all the various flavors were distinct and wonderfully layered - the dish's flavors coming together, playing off each other - no one flavor over powering another. I had sweetbreads on spatezl - rich, deep,a perfect fall dish. My friend and I went through two baskets of bread - it was so good. For dessert we shared a vanilla panna cotta with passion fruit and basil syrup - a wonderful combinatiopn iof flavors - just the right amount of sweetness and lightness. Reservations are a must - the room has a neighborhood relaxed feeling - no white on taupe colors and mobile-like light fixtures if you know what I mean.
On Saturday, after going to the Contemporary Art Museum we went to L'Express for lunch. I started with bone marrow with coarse salt - letting the the marrow soak down into the toasted bauguette slices - delicious. My friend ordered steak frites, the steak well seasoned, and I had boudin blanc, light but dense and flavourful, with sauteed vegatables and chestnuts. We sat at the bar humoring (or terrorizing) the waitress with our horrible french. For dessert we had armanacs and calvados. I can see why this place is so poplular - it doesn't try to be anything more than what it is - a classic bistro.
For dinner we went to Au Pied diu Cochon - we had reservations. Started with the fries - cheeses curds - gravy and foie gras appetizer. What hasn't been said about this dish - decadent, luscious, rich. For the main we order the special of the night - a whole roated, deboned rabbit stuffed with vegetables and foie gras served on a bed of noodles - could easily serve 3 people. Succulent - juicy - perfect presentation and execution made this a delightful dish to eat. The wine list is a bit on the pricey side. I tried to convince my friend to try a canadian red but to no avail (I believe in trying local). Reservations are a must.
I stayed at the Aubege Bonaparte where breakfast, included with the room, was a made to order meal - I had wonderful french toast every morning with sausage, fresh orange juice, fruit salad and croissants. The room felt a bit bare - the room seem to dwarf the furniture but i had a nice view of the gardens behind Notre-Dame. There is a restaurant in the hotel that seemed pretty popular - the lobby though is the only place to have a drink.
For our last dinner in Montreal we ate at LesRamparts - located near the river in the old section. We started with cocktails - this was the best Manhattan I had during this trip, Served chilled, stright up, stirred not shaken - so good, I had another. We did the tatsing menu - $65 (foie grass - suppl. $10) I started with bison with roasted pears - my friend had foie gras. We both reluctently shared with each other. The room is wonderfully cozy - exactly what I envisioned Montreal to be like - stone walls, thick beamed roof, golden light. Next dish - my friend had grilled quail, I had smoked salmon, lobster goat cheese terrine with salmon roe. A mint sorbet to clean the palate followed. For mains - my friend had one of the evening specials - red snapper. I had the butter venison. Every dish was satisfying - great flavors - and showed an assured hand in the kitchen. For dessert - a warm chocolate souffel with vanilla ice cream and complimentry ports.
LesRamparts tasting menu for 11/07:
Marinated Octopus with ginger and fine herbs, grelot potato with olive oil and onions, pesto coulis and fried lardons
Spiced bison carpaccio, roasted pear and fennel salad, garnish of the day
House smoked salmon terrine with lobster, goat cheese, baby spinach, salmon roe and basil oil
Grilled quail enameled with honey, French beans and garnish of the day , seared quail egg Sweet sour vinaigrette
Seared striped bass filet , sweet potato gratin , eggplant purée , tomato confit , sautéed Vegetables and pesto coulis
Confit guinea hen leg and roasted breast, fig compote with port, seasonal vegetables, roasted finger ling potatoes, thyme infused sauce
Butter roasted deer, Jerusalem artichoke gratin, wild mushrooms and gooseberry jelly sauce, sautéed vegetables
The Chefs treat, Coffee, tea
Thanks for the recommendations - they were all winners