Cafe Ellefsen MontrealPosted By Jennifer Ho Mar 11 2012 · 0 comments · Dining Out
Waking up to clear skies and sunshine is the best feeling. It just automatically puts you in a good mood – one that makes you feel like you can do anything. Heralding the start of spring and the end to a long, sporadic winter (fellow Montrealers know what I’m talking about), you can’t help but smile and noticeably feel your spirits being lifted as the warm rays of sunshine hit you, even if only a little. All that was missing was the birds chirping right outside my window. Okay so I guess you can’t have everything, even on a sunny day.
Meeting my parents for a late lunch, we made Cafe Ellefsen our target destination. None of us had ever been so this was a first time experience for us all. Using a thin and immediately recognizable font, “Ellefsen” is emblazoned in black across the rightmost half of the cream coloured awning in the front. Going for a vintage-meets-trendy-meets-homey cafe vibe, Ellefsen nails the cool, laid back atmosphere factor to a T. As soon as we walked in, we knew we were in good hands. Scanning the full seating area and the plates in front of the diners occupying them, everything just looked right. The old-style black and white photographs by the entrance, the strategically placed blackboards and the open kitchen concept; the industrial style coffee maker, the mint green tops of the white wooden chairs and the home-baked goodies in clear glass jars. Everything seemed to have a natural place and things seemed to move at their own pace. Glass windows stretch across the width of the restaurant, inviting lots of natural light in, brightening the place up considerably.
*Fun fact: as we sat down, Kylie Minogue (who I love – but who doesn’t?!) came on. This made me even happier than I already was, what with all the good weather etc., and put Ellefson in my good books even before we had anything to eat. Oh, Kylie.
As we sat around the bar, we had two glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice and a glass of mineral white wine (Nicolas Reau, Clos des Treilles from Anjou in 2010). After glancing over the menu – which didn’t mean too much to us, we consulted our Scandinavian server who was absolutely lovely. She gave us some great suggestions in regards to what we should order as we were all first-timers to Norwegian cuisine: the smorrebrod (choice of three), the blinis caviar and one of the plates of the day – a risotto-like barley and shrimp stew. The presentation, as you can probably tell, is gorgeous. I haven’t seen plating like this in a while, so that was a nice surprise. Also really fun to eat. Among the three of us, we shared everything, eating about a third of every dish and passing it on. This created a slight awkwardness in eating situation but it was nice overall because we each got a chance to try a bit of everything.
The smorrebrods we got were the ratatouille, the pintade and the mackerel (fish of the day). Coming atop pieces of rye bread, the mixture of toppings were carefully thought out and it showed. Each of the pairings were beautiful, melding well together. There were six choices of different toppings you could choose from. The barley stew with clams, shrimp and asparagus was the heaviest plate. Great flavours, perfect temperature and a nice selection of healthy ingredients made this dish a favourite among us, that’s for sure. The blinis caviar were the most visually exciting plates we got. Gravlax wrapped around three different kinds of caviar, topped with chives, sour cream and dill… Ooh, girl. You wouldn’t believe it but these are actually quite filling. Seemingly small in portion, you would do well to watch out. These babies will sate that growling stomach in no time.
Wanting to linger a little longer, we had a mocha cappuccino made with chocolate, a regular cappuccino and a piece of carrot cake, topped with some creme fraiche. Nutty in flavour thanks to the actual pieces inside, the dessert was consumed within minutes. Yum.
So yeah, Ellefsen is great. We liked it. We’ll be back.
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