MTL a Table: Rose Ross

The Battle of Ingredients is taking a break in November as normal to check out the MTL a Table. We’re definitely back on track as this time, we kick off the eating earlier in this restaurant event. The first we’re hitting up is Rose Ross.

Rose Ross is a cozy little restaurant. Its actually just one strip of restaurant that was easily missed when we were first looking for it until we crossed the street and saw the sign. Its rather nicely ambient and while its fairly close quarters, the decor is very comfortable. Right off the bat, the service here was fantastic. They made an effort to make sure that allergies and intolerances were addressed and confirmed before ordering and was patiently answering all our questions and then when the meal came, they made sure to assure that anything that might look like it could trigger food allergies were confirmed to not be the case.

MTL a Table menu was rather good with a good few choices for each course and they also offered the Exclusive Aeroplan privileges for Aeroplan members.

Exclusive Aeroplan Privilege: Glass of Suriol Cava

Suriol Cava

They offered everyone with the Aeroplan card on hand a complimentary glass of sparkling wine, Suriol Cava as a starter. I’ll talk more about it in the wine recap for November. I can say that I’m not usually a huge fan of sparkling wine but this one was pretty good and matched well with the meal.

STARTERS

Rose Ross

Honeynut squash, pumpkin seeds and herbs, pesto, mozzarella di bufala Maciocia

Rose Ross

Mushroom cream, fried shallots, chive, curry oil and crispy chicken skin

Rose Ross

Brussel sprouts a la vietsesame oil and coriander

A big group is always nice as we get to at least see everything on the menu. With the starters, we got the 3 out of 4 choices. My husband having the first one with the honeynut squash where his general comment about his meals throughout the evening was that they had a lot of depth in the food with the different textures combined and the flavors and such.

I had the last one (which was the one that I had my eyes on) with the brussel sprouts. I’m always on the lookout for new ways to cook and eat brussel sprouts. While this one was a tad powerful in the vinaigrette, it was really delicious for the majority of it and we all had a debate on how to fry or roast the brussel sprouts to be like that. Very lovely dish and it says a lot about it as I’m not a huge fan of coriander to begin with but the vietssesame oil and coriander was great with the brussel sprouts.

MAIN COURSES

Rose Ross

Gnocchis, pecorino romano, chanterelles, fried cauliflower, chard, tarragon and cream

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Blood pudding from Cochonnailles, squash puree, embeurre of cabbage with lovage and bacon, glace de viande moutardee

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Coregone, carrot mousseline, beluga lentilles, fennel and basil

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Onglet de boeuf IPE, cognac sauce, fries and mayonnaise (+$10)

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Kid’s meal: Penne with tomato sauce

The husband’s choice was the Gnocchi, Phoebe’s choice was the Onglet de boeuf and mine was the Coregone fish option with the carrot mousseline. Everyone liked their main course. Mine was very unique as I’m not sure that I’ve ever had this type of fish before. The fish was cooked nicely and then the carrot mousseline was heavenly then it was paired with the sides that gave it a lot of depth and the flavors blended really well together.

Worth noting here is that they gave the option for kids menu where they had various types of pasta and two types of sauce to choose from which is always nice to see it having a certain level of accommodation on that level.

DESSERTS

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Hazelnut cream puff with vanilla ice cream, salted caramel and goglu cookie crumble

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Carrot cake and miel d’Anicet

In terms of dessert, they also landed quite well. The group enjoyed the hazelnut cream puff while I had the carrot cake which was a change in the original MTL a table menu which was some almond milk rice pudding. This one was also lactose-free option and tasted really  nice. It was very aromatic and not too sweet and the cake texture was moist as well.

Overall, Rose Ross is definitely a restaurant that we’d go back to. For MTL a Table, it was in the 2nd tier pricing at $33 a meal with a lot of options in each course to choose from. The service was impressive and very friendly. The restaurant atmosphere was really efficient and very comfortable. The food also delivered really well especially since it has a mix of French and North American food which sometimes is rather sensitive on the possible allergies but they were all very knowledgeable about their menu so had options for the basic allergies. It was an awesome first impression and first experience that we’d gladly go back a second time, even during a non-MTL a Table event for their regular menu if the opportunity presents itself. If you’re in Montreal, this one is a definitely one to consider.

FNC 2019: J’ai Perdu Mon Corps (I Lost My Body, 2019)

J’ai Perdu Mon Corps (I Lost My Body, 2019)

J'ai Perdu Mon corps

Director (and co-screenplay): Jeremy Clapin

Voice Cast: Hakim Faris, Victoire Du Bois, Patrick D’Assumcao

A story of Naoufel, a young man who is in love with Gabrielle. In another part of town, a severed hand escapes from a dissection lab, determined to find its body again. – IMDB

French animated features always seem to have a darkness to its overall premise. In this case, this upcoming Netflix France Original film (according to this poster is set to release in the end of November) follows two sides of a story. The first is the story of Nafouel, a pizza delivery boy having a bad day that ends up having a random conversation with a girl through a building intercom during a rain storm outside and is intrigued by this stranger and finds a way to approach her while on the other side, it follows a severed hand trying to go through the city to reunite with the body it belongs to. Its easy to see that these two stories are linked together and who this severed hand belongs to and yet, alternating between the two and having it converge at the end gives this film so much charm. Perhaps of the timeline jumping back and forth between the two that the story sometimes does have moments of disjointedness.

Somehow French animated films have such good grasp hitting those bizarre themes and finding just the right balance of humor to make it work. J’ai Perdu Mon Corps is a fine example of this. While Naoufel’s side of the story feels a bit awkward and maybe a tad sketchy if you think about the almost stalker-ish way he chooses to approach this girl. At the same time, he is somewhat of a rather unpleasant character or simply flawed and fairly shallow which is where this film falls short slightly. It all depends on how his character is viewed although there are some believable moments of clumsiness and his trying to work hard to get her attention and some missteps that he does which makes some funny moments. As I always like to mention, flawed characters to begin with makes for the better development characters as they have so much more room to grow and that definitely applies in this story.

Where it does shine right from the beginning is starting with how the severed hand is introduced and the moments of how it goes from location to location. There’s a lot of dark humor to be had, especially as it meets all kinds of things and dangers along the way and is essentially defenceless. Some come out with mostly unexpected outcomes and that just makes each step of its way back to the body that it belongs to even more rewarding in the end.

Overall, J’ai Perdu Mon Corps is exactly as its title hints at. The winning factor here is how it uses the whole concept of a severed hand and can create a rather charming and humorous story out of it. It fits into the whole charm of French animation that is a tad odd but still works out overall to have those dramatic moments as well. As a feature-length directorial debut for Jeremy Clapin, its definitely one that lands very well and has a unique premise.

J’ai Perdu Mon Corps will be hitting theatres for a limited release in US (November 15) and UK (November 22) and also hitting Netflix (for most countries) on November 29th (all based on research on the Internet, so please check or correct me in the comments if you have other more accurate info).

FNC 2019: Adoration (2019)

Adoration (2019)

Adoration

Director (and co-writer): Fabrice du Welz

Cast: Thomas Gioria, Fantine Harduin, Benoit Poelvoorde, Emmanuelle Beart, Beatrice Dalle, Laurent Lucas

Paul is a 12 year old boy who lives with his mother, a nurse working at a mental institution in the middle of a forest. While visiting his mother at the clinic, Paul crosses paths with Gloria, a schizophrenic teenager, and falls in love with her to the point that he decides to help her escape at all costs after she commits a crime. The pair embarks on a trip across the Ardennes woods which will reveal the extent of Gloria’s dangerous madness and Paul’s devotion to her. – Letterboxd

Some people say that our first loves are the deepest and most memorable. It certainly would apply to Adoration who sees a 12 year old boy, Paul’s fascination and infatuation with the latest resident, Gloria at the psychiatric clinic where his mother works. This story is mostly through the eyes of the main character Paul, played by young actor Thomas Gioria. Independent stories usually like to use the view of one character and it works very well as it keeps the story fairly straightforward while leaving it space for the unknown to happen. The audience learns with the leading character and is able to connect with their situation. In this case, Adoration does a rather good job.

Thomas Gioria does a fairly good job at bringing Paul to life the most subtle and quiet way. Paul is a shy boy who lives secluded from everyone and keeps to himself mostly so when a beautiful teenager Gloria (Fantine Harduin) literally bumps into him, its no surprise that he will be fascinated at not only someone around his age but also the questions of why she keeps trying to run away from the clinic which in his mind should be for her own good. However, Gloria is a convincing girl whether its because Paul chooses to believe her situation or maybe his attraction to her makes him feel the need to protect her but he follows through after she makes a huge “mistake” to run away. Its the journey to Gloria’s grandfather’s home and the time spent with these two characters and their increasingly toxic relationship. To be honest, Paul’s character is rather dialed down that while the movie is mostly seen through his point of view, its Gloria’s slow reveal of her psychological problems that become the shocking elements and simply how much she is able to keep Paul in her control while also having him also be somewhat of her anchor because of their reliance on each other.

Toxic relationships between these two teenagers are the heart of the film. Against some impressive musical pairing as well being able to start off the story in a fairly light-heart escape and the innocence of the characters (especially Paul) gives them room to grow on this journey of running away. The story ends rather abruptly but at the same time, leaves the audience room to ponder on  this relationship and where it can take them especially as they are just teenagers and dealing with some rather extreme situations especially as Gloria seemingly does fluctuate between the good and bad days simply with triggers. The ending is a bit of the headscratcher but its easy to see how its deliberately meant to be that way because it doesn’t quite matter where these two go but rather what Paul chooses despite now understanding the situation that he’s in.

Adoration is a teenage runaway story essentially. Is it completely expected what they go through? Probably not. Is it hard to imagine that Gloria was “lying” to Paul about her situation? She technically wasn’t because in her mind, this is all real. Despite its predictable elements, the setting on the forest and wilderness and having the different strangers that they meet on the path as well as the way Gloria’s character peels away in all its layers of mental illness is done with a lot of detail and care. For a young actress like Fantine Harduin, it is one outstanding performance that is well worth a watch.

Adoration has one more screening during Festival du Nouveau Cinema on October 20th at 4pm at Cineplex Odeon Quartier – Salle 10. You can find more info HERE.

Fast Convoy (2016)

Fast Convoy (2016)
original title: Le Convoi

Fast Convoy

Director: Frederic Schoendoerffer

Cast: Benoit Magimel, Reem Kherici, Tewfik Jallab, Mahdi Belemlih, Amir El Kacem, Leon Garel, Sofian Khammes, Foed Amara

A “go fast” convoy shipping a ton of cannabis Malaga in southern Spain is disrupted following a shoot out that results in the kidnapping of a tourist. – IMDB

Fast Convoy is a French action thriller that takes us on a road trip along side a 4 car convoy containing 7 men as they traverse from Spain to France in hopes of delivering the drugs to the Mahmoudis. With an array of different characters and a situation that quickly takes a turn for the worse after a well executed setup, this thriller keeps its intensity for the majority of the ride however its ending does leave a little to be desired alongside a somewhat convoluted plot.

Fast Convoy

Fast Convoy excels in several aspects. Its score is incredibly suitable for the thriller. Used in various parts, it gives a combined feeling of a James Bond film  and Speed film. It creates a sense of adventure simply with the score itself. Paired up with the hues used for their cinematography and the winding roads and locations, it is beautifully mesmerizing to be on this dangerous road trip even if it focuses more on the convoy. The cars focused here are also very nice which gives the chase scenes a lot of presence as the characters speed down the highway to their destination. This thriller is best looked at in three parts. Its first gives the audience an idea of the men involved in this business over the three cars cleverly switched over with their phone calls with each other highlighting not only their conflict but their personality as it often resulted into petty conversation which is often the comedic relief needed to cut the intensity that slowly builds not only between its characters but the situation. This leads to the second part where the bulk of the thriller is felt with the action and thrills truly take place between the cars as they aim to resolve the problem and get everyone and of course their expensive cargo to their destination and the team starts having their split views and worries about what is going to happen. Finally, the third part unfolds and pieces together the plot the whole time with the intensified final escape. The structure here works very well, in fact building the intrigue is what Fast Convoy does very well. The plot progresses at a decent pace however where it falls flat is how it chooses to wrap it up rendering the film slightly convoluted.

Fast Convoy

The strength of the film lies heavily on the characters of the seven men in the convoy. The cast here does an outstanding job in portraying the colors of the characters as each of their personalities vary and the pairings in these cars work to not only add some humor but through their conversations endear the audience to them. Some may appeal more than others but that is how it should be so that when the finale rolls in, there is someone that the audience is rooting for. While only playing the mysterious backup man Alex, Benoit Magimel is absolutely the standout role here with possibly the most experience in this cast as well. He brings the style and the action despite not having a lot of dialogue but still showing how clever he is. In the other cars, the leader Imad  (Tewfik Jallab) is paired up with a clueless driver Reda (Sofian Khammes) who dives into the somewhat sillier questions, for example engaging in a discussion about why there are grenades in their trunk and not in the front to help surprise attack anyone if needed which turns into a memorable hilarious moment. On the other hand, the other car  carries two men who clearly have the banter dialogue set for them. Yacine (Amir El Kacem) and Remi (Leon Garel) both are charming to watch as they seem in the most casual situation but also the most opposite in personality as their petty chat makes it feel unnecessary. While the film focuses on these seven men, they also add in an extra piece of the equation with seems a little unnecessary as the film progresses which has the right intention but not the perfect execution as they focus on talking about kidnapping a woman, Nadia (Reem Kherici) who does next to nothing in the film making her role rather pointless with the exception of a few parts.

Fast Convoy

Overall, Fast Convoy does a great job at executing an intense and gripping story that starts off with a great set-up and ramps up the pace as it goes along complimented by a great score to build the mood. The cast does an outstanding job of portraying its characters which each have their unique personality to make this convoy feel complete especially Benoit Magimel who delivers through and through. It uses casual conversation to build these characters cleverly but also not waiting too long to keep the action and thrills rolling in fast. Its main downfall is its lacklustre ending. However, Fast Convoy does offer up a great time with style and fast-paced action and for that, its well worth a watch.

Opening on VOD in US & CANADA Nationwide on Tuesday, December 5 on all major platforms including iTunes, Sony, Google Play, Amazon, Microsoft, Vudu, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Vimeo, and various other cable operators.

April and the Extraordinary World (2015)

Netflix A-Z reviews will be taking a break as I review the movies that I saw on my flights to and from Vancouver. The selection was pretty decent.

The first that caught my eye was an animated film I wanted to see earlier this year called April and the Extraordinary World, which is originally a French-Belgian-Canadian animated movie and the main character is voiced by Marion Cotillard in its orginal French version. That is definitely a highlight. Plus, French animated films tend to have this dark tone but adds a hint of dark humor that works for me. Perfect example would be one of my faves, Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart (review) or The Suicide Shop (review). Still, they hold a unique touch that many animated films don’t often have nowadays.

April and the Extraordinary World (2015)

April and the Extraordinary World

Director: Christian Desmares & Franck Ekinci

Original French  Voice Cast: Marion Cotillard, Philippe Katerine, Jean Rochefort, Olivier Gourmet, Marc-André Grondin, Bouli Lanners,

English Voice Cast: Angela Galuppo, Tony Hale, Tony Robinow, Mark Camacho, Tod Fennell, Paul Giamatti

1941. France asleep in the nineteenth century, governed by steam and Napoleon V, where scientists vanish mysteriously. Avril, a teenage girl, goes in search of her missing scientist parents. – IMDB

April and the Extraordinary World is hard to explain. I don’t mean the plot because they did a great job telling the story and injecting some humor into it. However, despite some silly characters that make them enjoyable and break the serious tone, this animated film is set in a dystopian steampunk world. April has lost her parents and lives by herself with her talking cat. She continues her parents’ and grandfather’s chemistry work to make a serum that will cure illnesses. There somehow holds a strong message about playing God and its consequences.

April and the Extraordinary World

The characters themselves are well done. However, they are as expected. April amd her talking cat, her parents who hold diverging perspectives on their dedication towards the science they are making and their family’s safety. There is the eccentric grandfather who is actually not as crazy and lost as it seems. However this character’s silliness, while at times a little expected and predictable is a joy to watch. And of course, there is a police officer obsessed with chasing them down because the world has banned scientists and its one of the reasons April and her parents got separated. However, this detective is also quite comedic. On top of that, there is a boy that enters the picture as a kind of mole but then becomes tangled into the mess that April discovers. However, the best character is April’s companion, her cat. He is overly dramatic at times, but also thoughtful and intelligent and the dialogue he is given is done well to make him a simple and genuine character to love.

April and the Extraordinary World

Another aspect about April and the Extraordinary World is the world creation. The gadgets in this steampunk future gives it a unique touch. From the flying devices to the tone of the France they have created, it is like a depressing yet enchanting experience. The music itself is pretty good. The animation itself and art style of the entire film is unique especially when most animated films have computer graphics influences. This one looks hand drawn and brings us back to a comic book sort of feeling. Its simple but still very nice in the choices in the artistic touches.

April and the Extraordinary World

Here’s where I’m a little hesitant in saying that April and the Extraordinary World is an outstanding movie. Rotten Tomatoes rates this at 98% fresh. I agree that a lot of the film is done right however, there was a hint of familiarity in this film that seems to pay tribute to a lot of Studio Ghibli films. After some thought, that isn’t a bad thing because they do it great justice especially choosing the steampunk world they did. It helps to create a  more unique experience and as always the dialogue is what creates the difference between this perhaps only being influenced by Studio Ghibli but still keeping it its own piece.

All in all, April and the Extraordinary World is a fine animated film. It has many elements that are done right. While it gives off hints of inspiration by a few Studio Ghibli films, it still manages to stay unique with its world and tone. The characters are enchanting and the story engaging enough. It does drag in various parts but the film is a decent length which works in its favor to keep the plot moving forward.

Have you seen April and the Extraordinary World?

Dinner: Restaurant Le Fagotin

We’re back to Groupon season! Its been a while since we’ve had a fun little friends gathering with my good friend Starry Traveler and her family.  Luckily, Groupon had a neat little offer for a place we’ve never heard of called Restaurant Le Fagotin, so we both decided to buy, reserve and give it a go this past weekend.  Le Fagotin is a bring your own wine French fusion restaurant.

Restaurant Le Fagotin

Decor

Le Fagotin

Right when you look at Le Fagotin to the outside to walking into the main dining room, its extremely homey. Its comfortable and ambient with some light-hearted jazzy music playing softly in the background. Its tidy and has a decent amount of natural light from the outside.  My favorite was looking across onto the fireplace in the wall with a mantel with a sign saying “Bon Appetit”. Part of eating is the atmosphere and Le Fagotin does a great job at setting it right.

Appetizers

Le Fagotin

Bread

Le Fagotin

Spring Salad (with the Table d’Hote menu)

Le Fagotin

Soup of the day: Potage au Broccoli (with Table d’Hote)

To start our meals, we got a delicious baguette.  It was warm and soft.  We loved it.  Everyone took the Table d’Hote Menu at our table except me.  The main reason being my health restrictions.  Potage au Broccoli usually isn’t a problem but at Le Fagotin, they told me that they add a bit of cream in there so it was off the table for me. Another issue I have is with eating raw vegetables so I couldn’t eat the salad also. With that said, I ended up getting a main dish in the menu.  However, without knowing my inability to eat raw vegetables, they were really generous and gave me a spring salad.  I think its a nice gesture which my husband benefited from. The general liking was towards the spring salad which I could agree with since I dipped my baguette in some of the vinaigrette and it was tasty.

Main Course

Le Fagotin

The Chef’s Platter: Pork Chops with Homemade BBQ sauce ($28)

My dish was the Chef’s Platter.  This evening, it was pork chops with homemade BBQ sauce. It had some (what I presume is) scalloped potatoes because it was made with some cream.  The waitress forgot about my lactose-intolerance along with a few veggies. This plate smells delicious.  I don’t know what they used in the sauce or cooking it but it smelled wonderful. It was a little on the salty side and maybe the pork chop had some dry bits but it was overall acceptable.

Le Fagotin

Table d’Hote: Pork Fillet with Apple and Brandy Sauce

Next up was my husband’s plate, the pork fillet with Apple and Brandy Sauce. I had a little taste of it also. So, my main issue with this dish is that the sauce is like eating applesauce and the brandy is not really apparent so doesn’t elevate the taste buds. The pork itself was done well. I just wish the sauce could’ve been done a little bit more flavorful.

Le Fagotin

Grilled Chicken with Apricot Glaze

My friend’s husband took this Grilled Chicken and Apricot Glaze which would have been my choice if the appetizers worked out. I didn’t get a taste of this one but he didn’t say much other than the glaze didn’t really taste of apricot much. However, the presentation does look nice.

Le Fagotin

Rainbow Trout Fillet with Tarragon Aioli

Last dish is my friend’s.  Hers is the Rainbow Trout Fillet with Tarragon Aioli. So, she’s not a fan of aioli so she had asked for it to be put on the side which probably forgotten. I’m not opposed to aioli but since it seemed that Le Fagotin added cream to a lot of dishes that doesn’t normally have, I just tasted the fish.  It had a rather fishy taste.  I can imagine that the tarragon aioli would have masked it and elevated the whole dish but, just the fish was a little lacking.  My friend didn’t like the aioli much so she put it aside and just ate the fish.

Dessert

Le Fagotin

Lime & Coconut Sorbet

My only choice is their sorbet which had various flavors. The choices given was a citrus and pomegrenate or blueberry & basil.  I love sorbets with blueberry and basil however it was sold out right when I ordered so they offered me this choice here: lime and coconut sorbet. Let me tell you, I had doubts about this working but they were able to balance the sour/tart flavor of the lime and combine it with the coconut except they also included coconut shreds which is a pretty nice touch since it added texture to it.

Le Fagotin

Chocolate Pot with Homemade Crumble

My friend had originally the panna cotta (that is coming up) but proceeded to swap with her husband who had the chocolate pot with homemade crumble. This looks delicious and I think for the most part, they enjoyed this one quite a bit. I think the crumble is made out of shortbread but I think the men were arguing that it was graham crackers.  I still disagree with it even if I didn’t taste it.

Le Fagotin

Creme Brulee

My husband had the Creme Brulee, which probably is the show stopper here.  The nice crack of the sugar glaze and the texture looked good. He thought it was the best part of the entire meal.

Le Fagotin

Lemon Panna Cotta

Last up is the lemon panna cotta that I mentioned before. It seems that this might be the lackluster choice of the four. There wasn’t much talk or discussion and it was bounced around. Not a lot of comments on it.

Overall…

While it seems like I was picky about Le Fagotin, it has its pros, plus my meal was pretty good.  I really love the atmosphere they set and the plating looks great. The desserts are for the most part outstanding and there’s still a lot on the menu to explore that peaks my interest. If I were to go back a second time, it’d be for the Honey and Five Spices Duck Breast and Flank Steak with french shallots and cognac sauce. The concept of Le Fagotin for putting together different flavors is a good one, it just needs to be executed a little better. Obviously, tastes are subjective and you can’t please everyone but there lacks a bit of complexity that I would’ve hoped for.

Putting that point aside, if anyone at Le Fagotin was to read this: an even bigger point would be to find a way to make sure that there are always alternatives for sides or appetizers that can accommodate a rather decent amount of people like myself with food intolerance/allergies. I always feel that service is elevated at any restaurant when I know some restaurants have put that extra thought in making sure their food can appeal to a wide variety of public, something I’ve learned even more after I’ve had to deal with all these allergies and can rarely find restaurants that have selections I can eat. That isn’t to say that the service at Le Fagotin in bad because our waitress was very pleasant, maybe a little forgetful in our little details like food allergies or putting our requests of sauces aside, but she was still very nice to talk to.

Point is, I want to go back to Le Fagotin.  There are aspects of it that truly appealed to me.  Just you know, little tweaks, right? Or else I wouldn’t have bothered to write all of this.