Had a very nice culinary week-end, with dinner at O Thym on friday and Le Bouchon de Liege on Saturday.
O Thym is a newish BYOB on De Maisonneuve, corner of Amherst. The place is not very big but feels airy, with its elegant understated decor and high ceilings. The menu is written bistro-style on a huge blackboard on the back wall, and is what you could call "creative" french bistro, with classic bistro dishes often prepared with new twists. The selection of entrees was surprisingly large for a small restaurant (over 10 different ones), and at 9:30PM every item was still available. A mise-en-bouche of a peppery mushroom soup was offered, and started things off nicely. For appetizers I had a salad of endive, artichoke, celeri remoulade and carrots, served with light touches of a mayo-vinaigrette; a fairly light starter, but nicely presented. My entree was a salt-encrusted magret de canard, which was excellent; prepared rare, with the just enough of a melt-in-your-mouth fat layer, and a thin salty crust giving it a very pleasant but not overbearing zip. The accompaniments were also very interesting in themselves; instead of the all too common lonely boiled carrot/turnip/whatever, there was sauteed fennel, a dreamily fluffy butternut squash puree, some stringy root vegetable that I couldn't identify, and a bit of that new pointy mutant broccoli-cauliflower thingy (Romanesco, I think it's called). For dessert I had a chocolate praline mousse cake that was simple and excellent. Service was friendly and efficient, if a little bit harried - but the place was packed full, so it was understandable. Overall an excellent dining experience, at a reasonable price. Appetizers around 10$, entrees from 18-25$.
Le Bouchon de Liege was also quite good. A smaller place than O Thym, with minimalist but tasteful decor. The small room size tended to make it a bit noisy, but nothing unbearable. The menu was a bit limited in scope, (just 5 or 6 choices of entrees, one of which was not available), but I guess that can be forgiven for a small neighborhood place. For appetizer I had a Tarte Flambee, actually more like a thin-crust pizza served with a fine layer of cream cheese and smoked salmon - light of the toppings but adequate. My entree was striped bass served with braised red cabbage and a light maple syrup sauce, which made for interesting contrasts. My companion had a dish of remoulade and crab meat, very tasty, and an entree of cajun spice-encrusted salmon, which was served almost medium-rare as she requested. The cajun spices were not overpowering like is so often offered, just enough to bring out the taste of the fish. We then tried their selection of Quebec cheeses, which were quite good. My dessert was a "soupe a l'orange", actually more of a cup of fresh oranges and strawberries with finely chopped herbs (basil, I think) and covered with mascarpone - a really happy concoction, somewhat reminiscent of Brunoise's panna cotta. My companion's dessert was also quite "creative", perhaps a little too much: an avocado puree served with mango sorbet, it was a little...interesting. Not quite sweet enough, and with a funky texture, it didn't suit her at all, but I didn't dislike it. Overall, again a fine meal; 3-course prix fixe was 28$ (with sizeable surcharges for certains items).