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With decor that can be only be described as eclectic and entirely whimsical, Chez José is a favourite local lunch spot with smoothies to die for, bangin’ sandwiches and awesome homemade pastries. Looking around the small shop, brightly contrasting animal prints (red and yellow leopard print, purple and black zebra stripes), funny bits and pieces of memorabilia (“sex scene – do not cross” tape, Ken barbie doll, disco ball) and high res photographs of nameless individuals catch your eye and make you smile.
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.
Le Bremner is one of Montreal’s newest and most popular restaurants – not only has it been all over the Urbanspoon talk of the town, but it has been quite successful in getting a fair amount of attention just through word of mouth. This buzz may mostly be because of its celebrity chef owner, Chuck Hughes. With a sweet spot on St. Paul street in the Old Port and one of the most beautiful terraces I’ve seen in a while, the back part of the restaurant is an absolute gem. Weather permitting (fall and colder weather fast approaching), make sure to request for a spot out there. Surrounded by rustic chic decor and leafy greens, paneled/embossed ceilings and great big wooden tables, Le Bremner has its look nailed. The lack of signage makes it very possible for people to miss Le Bremner – the word “Restaurant” is written in simple red lettering above steps leading to a basement level giving it a more underground, exclusive feel.