Step Into my Day

May 10th, 2013

Chez Lévêque

Living in Montreal, surely you might know that many greatest places offer an “After 10″ menu (Milos, Leméac or Ferreira Café to name a few). But when searching for an emplacement for this celebratory evening, I was pleased to learn that one Outremont specialty had a “21 after 21″ offering.

Restaurant Chez Lévêque, is one Laurier street institution. Monsieur tells me his godfather has been a regular for the past 30-something years. That is why, on a quiet Monday evening, after finishing my class at 9pm, I met Monsieur in front of the french bistro-style restaurant. Inside, tables were full with the nocturnal clientele. We sat by the window and got a glimpse of the kitchen in the back. A waiter brought a selection of breads (I chose baguette white), baked in house by Daphné, the baker/pastry chef. The 21$ night menu includes an entrée or dessert with a main dish, and given the price, the selection is fabulous! You get a choice of ten complex and fine dishes – sautéed beef bourguignon served with mashed potatoes or crab cake with horseradish sauce with french fries/salad are some on the list. The entrées and desserts are just as interesting.

I started with a gratinéed two-cheese French onion soup while Monsieur opted for poultry liver mousse with porto jelly and onion jam. As per usual, I didn’t try my better half’s liver but was comforted by my delicious soup. Not too cheesy, not too salty, a real treat on a cold evening (the dish is seasonally available, so consider me lucky). Next came our mains. I ate my heart out with a Herford 8 oz sirloin steak with choron sauce, served with French fries and sautéed vegetables. A velvety mayonnaise was served with my fries, which made it all the more gluttonous (and amazing). Monsieur chose duck fillets in madera sauce with linguine, served in a little Asian inspired bowl. He said he loved his dish… but frankly I was too transported enjoying mine that I can’t remember much from the conversation. The portions, I must note, were in accordance with the clock. A tad smaller (I assume) than those of the Main Courses menu, and just right so you don’t roll out of there when the clock hits midnight.

Given our 7 year anniversary, we went a little naughty… and ordered the Chocolate Royal Cake with crispy praline to end our feast. It hit a high note on an already marvellous supper. Served with strawberries, it made our hearts melt a little.

In the end, I loved our discovery (and urge you to try it out). How they make money with that impressive after 21h menu, I know not. Frankly, I’m more concerned with when’s the next time I’ll be there…

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March 20th, 2013

Alpenhaus

Just a few days ago, Monsieur and I got a taste of the Old Continent at the restaurant Alpenhaus.

Well hidden on rue St. Marc, the Helvetic-style restaurant is complete with a roaring fireplace, a live piano performance, and an Old worldly ski-lodge feel. The customers here are from an older-crowd, regulars, perhaps, who come for the impressive fare.

Chinese or Swiss fondue, sausages with sauerkraut, Hungarian goulash or Wienerschnitze grace the menu. We began our evening with a Swiss cheese fondue which spoke of white wine and Kirsch and came with baguette bits. Our host had a thick German accent, which made me smile. As mains, I opted for a Züri Gschnätzlets (veal in a creamy sauce and röstis) while Monsieur chose veal medallions in a mushroom sauce. Both plates were tender, comforting and done to perfection. The röstis had a crunch to the surface, and the plate went so well with red wine. As for dessert, our forêt noire cake was bland, definitely not up to par with the decadent main dishes.

Overall, it was difficult to imagine yourself in downtown Montreal, since every element transported you to the Alps, to a blissful supper after a long day on the slopes.

After supper we headed to see Oz, but let’s be honest, after a bottle of vino, it was OZzzzz…

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January 20th, 2013

Burger Bar Crescent

On Wednesday of last week, Monsieur and I, on a date night, discovered a Montreal burger must.

I first heard of the eatery when my friend Lian started working there. At first, I was skeptical. I figured a burger joint amidst the Crescent clubbing scene couldn’t offer anything of gastronomical interest. But by September, they won the People’s Choice award (top prize) in Montreal’s Burger Week.

As we left the house, I texted Lian for recommendations. “Baba burger for you and Bison burger for Monsieur”, she replied.

We walked into a modern décor: the space is long and narrow composed of a long brick wall on one side, and an impressive bar and kitchen on the other. I notice there’s a second floor. The menu doesn’t lack in creativity – nor in names nor in content. Mr.Personality is cheekily AAA beef patty with lettuce, tomato and red onion. There’s a “Hundred Dollar” burger filled with fancy pan seared foie gras and demi glace – for only 24.95! There’s other interesting options: the Bison recommended variety has my heart leaping: bison patty, butter sauteed leeks, wild mushrooms, melted Brie and truffle mayonnaise…

But Monsieur goes for the winner of Burger Week: the famous Hangover burger. It has AAA beef patty, a fried egg, bacon, and even poutine. It is the tallest burger of the restaurant and don’t even think you can eat it sans knife and fork. As if to be ironic, he orders salad on the side.

I’m loyal to recommendations, and sit with excitement when my Baba arrives. On top of the patty sits grilled red peppers, red onion, zucchini, roasted Portobello, babaghanoush, garlic mayonnaise and a hint of balsamic reduction. The meat is juicy, the vegetables delicious, I quickly text Lian: best.burger.of.my.life. Accompanied by a Harp Lager beer, the meal is close to perfection. Delighted by this discovery, I leave thinking… don’t judge a burger joint by… it’s street?

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