for November, 2011
When it comes to Greek street food in the downtown area, you’re either a follower of Kojax or a disciple of Arahova. As an office experiment, we decided to compare the two and we began with Kojax on St Catherine (between bishop and crescent). We ordered three types of Gyros platters – Classic, Pork and Chicken. Generous toppings of Tzatziki and spicy sauce accompanied with garlic potatoes and salad make this a very filling lunch. Everyone who leaves with food also leaves with a suite of coupons enticing you to come back for more. Had we known we may have resorted to accosting people for unwanted coupons as they leave the store… not that I’m suggesting anything.
XOCO is run by Rick Bayless – you may have heard of him before. Guest judge of Top Chef on Season Four, winner of Top Chef Masters, James Beard Award winner for best American chef in 1991, national chef of year in 1995, humanitarian of the year in 1998, cookbook of the year in 2001, best chef in the midwest in 2002… The list goes on. In Chicago for the weekend, we eagerly made this our first lunch destination. Not too far from the downtown core, the place is on North Clark street, next to the Frontera Grill and Topolobampo.
Quaint and cozy, this joint is a typical Québecois diner. Its authenticity is further highlighted by the fact that it is located relatively deep in the countryside of Québec, where the population is dominated by francophones – also the ones who invented the irreplaceable, unlike any other, international recognized and provincially representative dish of poutine. Just off the main graveled road is a little house that is one of the oldest mainstays in town. Behold, the Casse-Crôute Chez Claudette! The food served here is basic – hot dogs, hamburgers and… poutine ! And boy, do they do it well. The cheese curds are freshly made, squeaky and firm and the fries hold their form even in the onslaught of thick, delicious gravy. Poutine doesn’t get realer than this.
Armenian cuisine is hard to come by in the city. Going into Laval, the dearth seems to suddenly disappear, replaced by a wealth of Armenian bakeries, schools, restaurants and grocery stores. We headed to Karoun, a restaurant that is relatively easy to access from the highway. While it is true that Laval is out of the way for most people living in the city, rest assured this restaurant is well worth making the trip out for. It had been years since I last visited the place but I remembered very clearly the raw meat dish, the kebbe naye that had been one of my favorites back in the day. That was first on my list to order.
Frankfurters, frank, weenie/wienie, wiener, dog, wienerdog (think Welcome to the Dollhouse), danger dogs, and red hots are all colloquial terms for the pervasive social and cultural phenomenon of the hot dog. Costco sells the best of them. The juicy jumbos (literally) are exactly what they are advertised to be: mouthwateringly thick and moist and large enough to be called jumbo in size. To sweeten the deal even further, these dogs are cheap – a large refillable drink cup and the dog itself come to $1.50 and no one can come close to beating that. Once in a while, I will make the effort to go here just to eat the hot dogs. I’m not joking.
I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been on a streak of rotisserie type meals for the past week. Just can’t get enough. At work last Friday, we decided to order in from the Montreal famous Chalet BBQ on Decarie. It’s an old classic and a great one at that. People already know this – the place has been voted as the #1 rotisserie in the city by the Le Choix des Connaisseurs and is one of oldest in town, having been open since 1944.
Braised and Confused hosted its first official blog event this past Saturday night. Bloggers – Sabrina from the Sassy Foodophile, Emilie from La Bouche Pleine, Boris from The Gluttoners, Monty from the Montreal Restaurant Club , Liz from Bubble Tea for Dinner, Andy from aaandy, Jack from Daily XY and deep house DJ Lemy Leopard – and a host of friends alike joined forces to share a gastronomical experience unlike any other with the help of the miracle berry.
Rotisserie Italienne is a classic Italian restaurant with a historical neighborhood feeling. The decor tells the story via photographs, illustrations and lines of hockey sticks. Our party came here for takeout during lunch time and ordered a Sicilian Pizza and a few Calzones. The full menu is available online and prices range from $6 to $13 – very affordable for lunch or dinner.
Best. Chicken. Ever. Get ready to go wild for this one. Crispy on the outside, firm but tender on the inside, the chicken at Romados lives up to all that street talk. Yep, it is arguably serving the best chicken in the city. None of that dry, bland tasting meat that you choke down with big gulps of water. Nope, not here. With some seasoning, a bit of spice brushed onto the meat and a little extra gravy for the fries, the taste is incomparable to anything else. Mmm, mmm, mmm. We got a half chicken and two thighs to go. Smothered with fries and coming with a bite of salad, the three of us wolfed down our meals like there was no tomorrow. Yes, we were hungry. But the main accelerator for the speed at which we ate was the tastiness of the food itself.
Leméac is similar to the Montreal classic L’Expresse in that they are both French bistro type restaurants serving excellent fare for reasonable prices. Leméac is a little less stuffy in terms of atmosphere and just as classy. It also has a great terrasse that is open air in the summertime and equipped with heated lamps for the colder days of winter. We went for the after ten menu where you get an entrée and a main for $25 (such an amazing steal) and you would be surprised at how generous the offerings are and how much variety there is to choose from!
This is an okay spot for some quick, cheap and easy Korean food downtown. If you don’t care much for quality and place more emphasis on price, this may be the place for you. Because of the cold weather I was more in the mood for something warmer so I got a hot noodle soup with vegetables and beef to warm me up. My friends both got the stir fried noodles, one with beef and the other with chicken. To be honest, this time going to La Maison Bulgogi wasn’t anything to write home about. All dishes we had were on the blander side, and were fairly standard if not slightly below average expectations. The only dish I would go out of my way to recommend here is cold buckwheat noodle soup, ideal in the summertime. Bathed in ice cubes on the hotter days (I’m serious), it is quite the vinegar-y dish. It comes with a bottle of vinegar so that you can add as you like. That one is great. Otherwise though, you can choose to pass by here. Or not.
L’Orignal means “moose” in French. Based solely on the name, you would expect the food served here to be big, hearty and gamey. Actually, after spending over three hours eating here and sampling a good portion of the menu (we were a party of eight ordering a variety of dishes), we came to the conclusion that the portions here were just perfect (what I mean is not overwhelmingly large) and that the food was even better than any of us had anticipated. We first took notice of the restaurant at Oysterfest earlier this September. When we tried L’Orignal’s wild boar-lobster roll, we were hooked. We finally had the chance to come by and it did not disappoint.
Les Filles Du Roy is the restaurant of the Pierre du Calvet hotel. Located just steps away from Le Bremner and a few steps more from the Old Port beach (under construction in anticipation for next summer), the place can be easily missed. The novelty of the experience is probably one of the best parts of eating here – the building itself has been standing since 1725, so right off the bat you know that the architecture and the aesthetic of the place is going to be older, or shall we say vintage. Scattered throughout are remnants of life in the 18th and 19th centuries, from Victorian style paintings to mounted game to antique furniture, rugs and draperies. Towards the end of the reception area are several talking birds – if you’re lucky, you might be greeted with a squawk of a hello as you pass by the washrooms.
One of the best fresh seafood eateries in town, hands down. With no menu, the food offerings vary depending on what’s in stock. Diners walk to the back of the Poissonnerie et Restaurant Rayan, pick out the fish they want and order it done the way they’d like – grilled, baked or fried. We started with a big plate of salad and a few dozen grilled shrimp with a tasty garlic sauce. Butterflied down the back with half the shell still on, we used our fingers and dug right in. We had a large plate of smelts and calamari, rubbed in garlic, salt and pepper. These were absolutely divine. I think the freshness of the product was key to the deliciousness of every plate. We also had some octopus doused in garlic sauce (same as in the shrimp dish). We loved it so much, we dipped our bread in the sauce to mop up the remaining juices. Mm, mm, mm.
Laurier BBQ has been a historic restaurant site for as long as anyone can remember. With the changing of hands, Gordan Ramsay has brought the place to a whole new level of fame and further reputability, changing up the decor and the menu just little enough to placate the hardcore locals, remaining true to its roots of perfectly cooked rotisserie chicken while bringing some new dishes into the mix.