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After identifying an insatiable need for ‘authentic and traditional’ Japanese fare, we contemplated tripping out of town to Toronto to fill our bellies with the good stuff. Just as we started to make our preparations, the idea of New York City struck us. Toronto is somewhere we’d always be able to go – it’s less costly relative to the States and doesn’t require crossing an international border.
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.
Noting the popularity of chocolate bars in parts of Asia and Australia, Easy Ying – the owner and the concept creator of Cacao 70 – was particularly surprised that nothing remotely similar had yet surfaced in Montreal’s diverse restaurant and culinary scene. So, he endeavored to create a unique and novel experience for those who had never been while bringing something new to the table for those who have. What differentiates the place from their competitors (say, Juliette & Chocolat) is the fact that all the raw materials used both inside and outside the restaurant are recycled and their selection of chocolate and raw cocoa is seemingly limitless and variety driven (their cocoa comes from Venezuela to Costa Rica to Tanzania to Ghana). While conceding to the fact that the restaurant’s look and concept seems to be more fitting for trendier areas like Mile End or the Plateau, it is their hope that Cacao 70 can perhaps kickstart the revitalization of the West end of St. Catherine street much like Joe Beef, Jane’s and The Burgundy Lion have done for Griffintown. They’re off to a good start, that’s for sure.