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We first discovered Brasero Hardi during a winter Dishcrawl and the six hour marinated spare ribs on top of pork lardon mashed potatoes and house smoked salmon on top of horseradish panna cotta was definitely a highlight of the evening.
So, when you think of Liberty Village, what comes to mind? For me, the words “yuppie” and “bougie” take the forefront. You’ve got pricy home decor shops (fun to browse, I won’t lie), fitness gyms, smoothie bars and brunch restaurants all within a stone’s throw from one another. New residential condo projects surround the insular village and as a visitor, there isn’t much of a draw to the gentrified neighbourhood. One place that does make this place worth coming to is Mildred’s Temple Kitchen.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure everyone loves a good bowl of pho. It’s got this warm, comforting flavour that makes you feel right again, or at least helps you along the way to getting there (esp key in winter). The broth is usually made from simmered beef bones, oxtails and onions but unsurprisingly, every pho establishment ends up with a different final product, some preferring to use more onion for flavour, while others rely more heavily on spices like ginger and cinnamon. In terms of toppings and add-ins, the offerings are typically bean sprouts, Thai basil leaves, red chili and a selection of various sauces. I like mine with extra lime, extra bean sprouts and a touch of sriracha.
Since Alex and I now live in different cities, we decided to meet up in New York for a little weekend getaway. Where better than New York City to sightsee, eat good food and drink even better cocktails?
Electric Mud BBQ in Toronto is the BBQ counterpart to the legendary Grand Electric taco restaurant located around the corner. Holding the crown for the best taco spot in a city with no shortage of superb competition (see La Carnita) is no small feat. We have to admit that we walked into in Electric Mud BBQ with great expectations inherited from it’s elder sibling.
Don’t get it wrong – Chez Chegrouni is not just another restaurant coasting on the laurels of the popular UNESCO ordained cultural heritage site, Jemaa El Fna. In fact, it is one of the most visited restaurants in the square, and for good reason too. Serving simple Moroccan fare for very reasonable prices, the restaurant boasts sprawling panoramic views from a terrasse upstairs as well as ground level views on a smaller patio at the front of the restaurant. There is a no reservation policy in effect so as a result, you will most likely see a line outside the restaurant and believe me, people wait. According to Conde Nast Traveller, even Michelin star chefs wait their turn, which says something.
From the outside, the doors to this 17th century palace look worn and nondescript, easy to miss to the unsuspecting eye. Located amongst specialty herb stores, leather makers and fresh orange juice vendors, Dar Essalam is marked only by a small placard that means almost nothing to outsiders. During the day, shadows cast by the makeshift straw roofing across the path through to Jemaa El Fna or “the big square” as the locals tell us, keep its presence relatively low key. Tipped off by the internet and a few friends, we paid a visit to the historic restaurant and were very literally led into another world.
After doing a little research on restaurant Santa Barbara’s namesake Saint Barbara, I learned that she was a total badass. Not only can she teleport, put out fires with her mind, turn sheep to locusts and strike people with lightening, she can turn people to stone. Definitely cool. Throughout history, she has been strongly associated with artillerymen, engineers, miners, mathematicians and those who work with explosives because of her ability to control and work with lightening. Thinking about our recent visit to Santa Barbara in Montreal, this all suddenly seemed to make sense. Walking into the restaurant, the back wall is covered in various mini busts of religious figures in a way that lends an interesting vibe to the place. Plus the fact that they’re all coated in a layer of pastel green paint. Then, you have brunch items all named after different professions Saint Barbara herself was thought to provide protection for. The plot thickens…
If you’re looking for a sophisticated lunch or dinner in Madrid, look no further than Cilantro Gastrobar. We stopped by for lunch one day after reading a little bit about the place on Conde Nast and of course, they were spot on. This place serves some really nice food that makes for pretty pictures and a satisfied belly.
Can Paixano Barcelona (Xampanyeria) is not for the weak-kneed or faint of heart. It’s the real deal. It’s a loud, crowded, rowdy, messy, salty, drunken experience not to be missed. Located on a narrow side street in the Barceloneta neighborhood of Barcelona, Can Paixano is safely hidden from the unwashed masses of tourists plaguing nearby La Rambla.
Do you like surprises? Do you like to be delighted? Do you enjoy the feeling of happiness? If you answered “Yes” to any or all of these questions, you’ve come to the right place. And, let’s be honest, if you didn’t answer “Yes”, you have got to be pretty twisted. Espaisucre is one of the first of its kind in Barcelona – a tapas bar completely dedicated to making desserts and satisfying the sugar craving in all of us in the most interesting and unique kind of way.
One of our first stops in New York was The Butcher’s Daughter. Known for its ability to serve simple, delicious and wholesome food, the restaurant has a wonderful way of changing the way the people think about the way vegan food looks and tastes. We stepped into the shop and fell immediately in love with the entire look of the place.
If you’re looking for the ultimate people watching spot in New York, Cafe Gitane is it. It’s known for its unique Moroccan inspired ambiance and laid back cool but the truth is, most of the attention the restaurant gets is from its trendy clientele of celebrities, fashionistas and models. People stop by to chat and gossip, linger over coffee and spend a casual afternoon. Getting in can be difficult – depending on location, wait times can be pretty common.
Tucked away and hidden behind a nonchalant doorway and a flight of exceptionally steep steps is one of Montreal’s best terraces. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, let alone give the impression that it has one of the city’s largest open terraces. Le Club Social Espagnol’s main function is to serve as a meeting spot for Spanish ex-patriots to gather, hang out, eat, drink and talk. Most of the clientele are middle-aged and elderly Spanish men watching soccer games and cheering for their favorite players and teams or at other times, casually playing Bingo. Then you have people like us, who aren’t frequenting the place for either of those things but come instead to enjoy the sunshine on the deck and a pitcher of fantastic red sangria.
If you’re Asian and grew up in the 90s, GaNaDaRa’s decor might bring back some memories. Remember those hilarious journals we used to get? The ones where there would be cute cartoon animals on every page and assorted “life lesson” quotes about love, relationships and happiness to help inspire whatever thoughts you were writing down? Morning Glory anyone? GaNaDaRa Montreal has a similar theme running – the walls are painted with at least two quotes that run in the same vein and feature some art that might trigger some childhood memories. I know they made me smile.
Before we even sat down, I had my doubts. The restaurants was hot and didn’t seem particularly clean. The food sitting behind the counter didn’t look freshly cooked, nor did it look hot. The server at the front had trouble explaining the dishes to me when asked – never a good sign.
Omnivore is a cute Mediterranean restaurant serving a mix of themed platters and delicious, fusion-type sandwiches. The place has a bit of a hippie sort of vibe that’s all at once calming and forwardly friendly, accentuated by the long wooden communal table and the close quarters that encourage diners to sit and eat together. Leafy plants decorate the windowsills and eclectic animal and abstract art decorate the colourfully tiled walls. You walk in, give the chalkboard menu a good look and step up to the counter to order. If you’re staying to eat, take a seat and wait for the servers to bring you your meal.
Not sure exactly what the deal is with cute Asian, specifically Korean, restaurants in Montreal lately. Something about the colorful, playful aspect of the decor and signage seems to reel customers in by the dozens. Omma sort of has the cutesy Korean vibe down to a T, but as you can probably guess, there’s a new contender for the title. Kantapia is a new Korean restaurant located at the busy corners of Parc and Sherbrooke that has been open for about a month now. We headed there for lunch one day last week to give it a try.
The West Island has been steadily becoming known for it’s vibrant South East Asian community and the gloriously heavy, fragrant food its natives produce. It makes total sense. The immigrant population here is thriving – just take a look at the perpetually busy Adonis, Akhavan, Mourelatos grocery stores and the packed ethnic restaurants down the Sources strip (Tandoor & Grille, Aryana, Shahi Palace, Pushap etc.). Rumor has it that another Indian restaurant is quickly taking over the scene, attracting customers away from the more popular places previously mentioned and into another, more discreet counterpart: Bombay Choupati. Our curiosity was piqued – what could seriously rival Tandoor & Grille in the West Island? We went in to find out.
Summer is here. Can you feel it? Of course you can. This isn’t just about the physical element of heat. I’m talking about the mental transformation that seems to take hold of every Montrealer as soon as the snow melts and the weather starts to turn around (think eager, shorts-wearing individuals in March where it’s totally inappropriate weather-wise, but points for bravado). It’s the uncontrollable urge to want to sit outside, have a picnic, ride a bike, drink sangria, eat on a terrasse and lick ice cream constantly. It’s the desire to undertake any one of these activities or all of them, at all times. This post is about enabling you.