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Looking to catch up with a friend in Toronto, we were drawn to Fire on the East Side after hearing about some amazing fried chicken on waffles. Upon getting there and scanning the menu with no sign of the dish, it proved to be totally elusive. According to our server, the dish had never existed at the place. I won’t lie, we were pretty disappointed, as we had chosen the place based solely on the possibility of eating that specific dish. We contemplated leaving for a few seconds, but the thought quickly vanished as we took the first few bites out of the house made banana bread. Moist and soft, the little square of sweetness bolstered our appetites and we sat on.
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!
The Thompson Diner is the restaurant counterpart to the swanky Thompson hotel, located in the trendy King West Village district. Home to the offices of One Method, Cossette and other creative agencies, the area is teeming with artistic and eclectic shops, restaurants and clubs (I’m talking about Spin Galactic, the ping pong club founded by Susan Sarandon – how amazing is that?!). While some elements of the traditional diner remain – vinyl booths, servers dressed in gingham and unbeatable milkshakes – it is clear that they have revamped the concept with an eye for a more modern look suitable for the times.
We’ve all had those nights. You know, the ones where you crave greasy fast food (cue the thought bubbles filled with cheesy, gravy-soaked poutine, thick burgers and steamy hot dogs) so bad that almost nothing can come between you eating it (think Harold & Kumar and their epic search for that perfect White Castle burger). This hunger is often magnified after having a few drinks at a place like the Distillerie, one of the city’s most popular bars. Guess where La Paryse is located? Right next door – which couldn’t be more perfect. At the ready to feed the inebriated masses coming in from nearby St. Denis or just next door, La Paryse is as busy at 5 pm as it is at 11 pm.
Meat Market is one of those places you always pass by and take note of but never actually venture inside for one reason or another. The name itself may cause a little controversy as some know the term “meat market” as slang for a place where men and women go to hook up (check this definition if you’ve never heard of it), but then again it could also just mean a place where meat is sold. In any case, yesterday was the big day – stopping by for dinner, we were surprised to find that we were one of the few clients there but maybe it was because it was a Wednesday night. There is a lovely terrace outside, a perfect conduit for enjoying the summer weather while eating some delicious food in Montreal.
Almost every time I have gone to Chez Nick’s there has been a line up backing the place up from the inside out. This time, perhaps because it was a Monday, there was less foot traffic and we were able to get a spot immediately. One of the most popular diners in the Westmount area, Chez Nick’s is busy chiefly because of its historical past (founded in 1920) as well as its Kosher friendly menu options – the restaurant serves traditional food for a higher than traditional price. But that’s a given, considering the location in which it is.
Mundo Trattoria is probably the ‘hottest’ restaurant in the West Island – the place to see and be seen, if you’re into that. The outdoor seating area is limited (fits less than ten) but is quite pleasant to look at, what with an immaculately manicured patch of grass and perfectly trimmed bushes. The windows stretch up to the ceilings – at least twenty feet high, giving the restaurant the illusion of being bigger than it really is (not a bad thing).
Exhausted after sunning ourselves all day and swimming in the lake (I know, hard life right), we had to have something that was going to fill our empty stomachs and wake us back up. While enjoying the beautiful view of our backyard, we started with a tomato and watermelon salad with feta, dill and mint. The first time this dish was made was for my parents – for their joint birthdays back in April. Since then, it has become a house favorite for the summer, despite the seemingly uncommonly put together ingredients. The watermelon brings sweetness to the dish, the tomatoes weight, the walnuts a crunchy texture and the mint and dill a surprising twist. The recipe can be found here.
For the grilled vegetables, all you need is fresh produce. Cut up a few eggplants, asparagus, red peppers, artichoke and whatever else you fancy and throw them on the grill. Easy!
The challah bread is store bought, so just head to your closest Kosher bakery and pick up a loaf.
The ribs are perfect for a summer BBQ. Juicy, tender and oh-so-delicious. The ribs have to be pre-cooked for three hours until the meat is falling off the bone. It must then be marinated with Diana Sauce and grilled for five to seven minutes.
Check out this link to get the details on how to make the rhubarb strawberry oat crumble. This is also a relatively easy recipe to get through. Throw all the ingredients together in a baking dish and put it in the oven. Good to go![flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157626900447500″]