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This year’s Oysterfest was another smashing success. The weather fully cooperated: it turned out to be an overall perfect September afternoon – smiles all around. With all the delicious foods being made and served on the premises, I don’t know what in the world anyone could have been upset about. Upbeat music blasted through the speakers and people milled happily about within the thick mish mash of aromatic scents in the air. Regardless of where you looked, people lined up left, right and center for a taste. And you can’t blame them either.
Damas is the other major contender for the top spot in Syrian cuisine in Montreal’s Mile End. Going quite literally head to head with Kaza Maza (the two restaurants are within a couple blocks of each other), I have to say both places are very good – but there are slight differences that may sway one diner towards one or the other. For example, Kaza Maza has more of a casual dining atmosphere and prices to match. It is smaller and has a more homey feel with a little couch in the front, some throw pillows and a beautiful Syrian printed cover to match as well as a house-like interior with alcoves and a variety of different rooms partitioned by stucco-like walls. Damas has more of a fancy “night out” feel as the place is more ornately decorated, has dimmer lighting and a more open space concept. Prices here are significantly higher but the size of the main meals are more than enough to fill one hungry person whereas at Kaza, you might order a few mains to share to get full. Both places though, as mentioned before, are phenomenal. You’d be in good hands no matter which of the two you choose!
After having one of the greatest meals in 2011 at Icehouse, we got a chance to try its sister restaurant Kitchenette earlier this month. A little off the beaten path, the place is located on the outer edges of the Village on the corner of Rene Levesque and Panet. There is a distinct vibe that lends itself to the space – an open kitchen is prominently featured, being visible from almost all angles of the restaurant. The mix of antique decor – leather banquettes, old wooden floors and weathered barstools – with the modern facilities of the kitchen meshes incredibly well to create an intimate yet contemporary atmosphere that is unlike any other.
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.