Thursday, June 28, 2012

Montreal: La Salle À Manger

set my heart a-flutter

La Salle À Manger is a true gem. I loved everything about it. I loved the location. I loved the logo. I loved the interior. I loved our waiter. I loved the food.

It has been a while since I felt this much love.

I'll break it down, because amazingness like this deserves to be broken down.

The service was impeccable. Rumour has it that they are always setting the bar for fantastic service - attentive, responsive, and friendly, without being overbarring.

The restaurant itself is a delightful mix of raw and refined. Hanging lights, worn and industrial finishes, and beautiful wood tables. It's my favourite type of venue, chic but laid-back. No in your face frills or gimmicky garnishes. Noteworthy is the glass encased room at the back where meat hangs. That's badass, especially because La Salle will serve you the whole animal (suckling pig for 12 people at $500). The night I went they were offering a royal rabbit. No, there were no bunnies .

Now that you have sense of what it feels like to dine at La Salle, let me tell you what it will taste like. It will taste like intimacy on a plate. Simple presentation, but deep flavours.

Their menu changes so what I'm about to tell you may no longer matter. But read between the dishes.

The salmon tartar (small $15) comes on a wood slab with homemade chips and a salad/slaw. The tartar was fresh, light and creamy. The chips were fried to perfection and their greens were bonkers. It was a simple mix of vegetables that tasted so complex with its different textures and the flavourful vinaigrette.

The trio of brioche or foccacia (I no longer remember) was my favourite: gravlax, proscuitto, and lobster. Each was distinctly different, but worked together. I savoured every bite.

For the main I opted for the veal pappardelle, while my sister had the pork belly with lobster.

Mine - again with the dill and veal combo...
I stand corrected - apparently it's a thing - and said thing is starting to grow on me.

The sister's
D.e.c.a.d.e.n.t. and savoury with a side of twang - acidity from the salad.
Everything on our plates was amazing. La Salle does rich and relevant - only what needs to be there is there, and it all comes together in perfect harmony leaving you happily full.

What's more, my sources (and they are a vicious bunch who will tear a restaurant apart for one mistake) keep going back. Repeat visits are the greatest compliment to any establishment, and the great ones know to thank us for it by being consistent.

Skip the 'be seen be heard' restos like Au Pied and give your love to La Salle, he'll love you back.

La Salle À Manger on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Montreal: Bangokok

:Ste. Catherine and Guy:

Things are finally starting to settle down.  I couldn't really tell you what I've learned from this life-altering experience - and I do mean that, this isn't some lame ass FML moment - this is some real sh*t. Some people post this stuff on Facebook.  You know what I think when I see that?  I'd like to smack them.  But I'm not one to resort to violence.  So instead, I delete them off my friend list :).

Having experienced what I have, I can say that I appreciate my great friends.  It's easy to have friends when everyone's having a good time.  You just fake it until one of you breaks it.  Great friendships are the ones that aren't perfect; they will sometimes forget your birthday (that's for Aerie), and they likely won't post on your wall (I can't remember the last time the BFF or Cracker posted), and sometimes they annoy you (tricky, tricky - I won't say who), but they never falter.  It may sound like a whole lot of touchy-feely BS, so feel free to tune me out.  But one day, should the floor beneath you give way and you find yourself freefalling, you'll be singing my song.  Because when you fall for days, weeks, or in my case, a few months, great friends add a little cushion to your landing.

So here's to freakin' great friends.  Ting, ting.  And here's to me finally eating my way to normal...chomp chomp.

I rarely like to admit that my sister is right. But holy mother of dragons, she is.

Over the decade or so she's been in Montreal she's talked about "the best padthai ever". Now, mind you, I'm not a huge Thai food lover.  That said, this was likely my last visit to Montreal for the forseeable year or two, so I had to try it.

We walked to Faubourg, it's sad. It's like the shell of something that used to be. I suppose I would characterize it as ghettofabulous, in that a long time ago they lived in harmony as a busy food(court) mecca.  But then fabulous got fed up and left ghetto.  And well we all know what happens when ghetto's left to fend for itself.  It just gets ghetto-er.

I was surprised by how many people still visit ghetto - a lot more than I expected, and almost all of them were chowing down on some Bangkok.

My sister got us the made-to-order tofu padthai for an easy $8.  Then we took a seat in the clean-ish but likely filthy seats.
Immediately I knew I was in for something special. It doesn't look like your ordinary padthai, and it doesn't taste like it either. It was spicy, fresh, savoury, complex, and all around amazing:

Blew. my. mind.

It was the best pad thai I've ever had.

Bangkok Cuisine (Faubourg food court) on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Toronto: Wow! Sushi

Shut up...
:Yonge + Charles:

Things are still very up-in-the-air...I am on-edge...nothing is certain...except - great friends.  And trust me, if you think you have more than 5 - you are dumb. 

Yay to the food. Ewww to the font and design.

My gooder friend Minnie and I needed an edible pick-me-up...mostly because lately it just seems like she wants to cheer me up...I wanted to try Wow! since a friend posted pictures.  Of course after 14 or so years in Toronto I never expect anything from sushi and except paying way to much for substandard sh*t.

Now wait, before you angry Torontonians sling your insults, be damn sure you know what you're talking about more than I do.  Right, you don' let me continue:

The biggest problem with sushi in Toronto is the rice and the way the sushi is crafted, not necessarily the fish.  I get that it costs more due to geography.  But let's not get into a Toronto sushi debate - you'd lose.  Never mess with the girl on edge.

Wow! is charming.  Friendly and oh so Japanese.  We ordered one of my all-time favourite japanese dishes:
Agedashi Tofu
Delicious - the first time in Toronto I didn't want to spit it out.
Wasn't exactly like home, but reminiscent.
Then we shared the sushi boat:

Wow! Sushi was shut the *bleep* up surprising.  I loved it.  The makis were well-rolled, the perfect size (not a giant wad of bad sushi rice and tasteless fish).  The rice was good, proper versus offensive.  The maki/nigiri were well-adorned with other tasty tidbits.  I loved the Japango roll and the spicy tuna (a really amazing, spicy, slightly creamy sauce, not a dollop of sirrachia like they do down on Bloor).

Calapilla Roll
Don't know if they meant Caterpillar
Don't care.  It's funny.
The nigiri made this BC girl proud.  My favourite was the albacore tuna (with a little roasted garlic oil) and the sea bream from Greece (lightly torched to be smoky and sexy), and the butter fish, and so on and so forth...

It was more than decent and I truly hope it stays that way.  (After all, Toronto has a way of wearing down restaurants the way they do people.) 

The small sushi boat is 24 rolls + 16 sushi for $45.  Exactly - amazing and cheap.  WOW!  The ultimate test will be what my sister thinks.  She's the hardest-to-please audience when it comes to sushi. 

As for me, I swear I have never been more impressed (in Toronto).  Makes me want to eat my words about never being able to find decent sushi here. 

Words.  Eaten.

Wow! Sushi on Urbanspoon