Lunch: DollarBouffe Restaurant (Brossard, Quebec)

Last weekend, my friend and I headed out to run some errands and decided to go grab some take-out for lunch to save on some time since I had to prepare for that evening’s events with friends.

DollarBouffe Restaurant

DollarBouffe Restaurant

Deep-fried  Pastry with Pork

Deep-Fried Pastry

This was pretty good. While it is deep-fried and should be oily, I found it a little too oily and had to kind of soak a bit of it away with paper towels. However, the pork inside is seasoned really tasty.

Plain Rice Roll (with soy sauce)

DollarBouffe Restaurant

Rice Roll is a pretty traditional dim sum plate. For those who frequent dim sum will notice that this doesn’t look like your typical one. But these are made pretty fresh on spot. It is a little wait but it does taste on point. I’m a fan of the plain rice roll variety, if not, then I’d usually go for shrimp. Next time, I’ll try out the other flavors, I’m sure.

Boat/Sampan Congee

Dollarbouffe Restaurant

Congee isn’t really my favorite meal. I usually associate it with something I’d eat when I’m not feeling well. However, probably because I’ve been plagued with all these infections and health issues that its been an additional motivation to try it out. Boat congee is a pretty common type but I’ve never actually eaten it much before however this one tastes so good. Especially when the ingredients are really plentiful with big chunks of fish.

Do you like dim sum or Chinese food in general?

Restaurant: Portus 360

It feels like a while since I’ve gone out to explore some new restaurants. After a lovely Christmas Eve meal with my foodie friends, they asked me out for a Friday night out for dinner. I could never say no especially when good company and food are the combination, along with their little one, who just steals everyone’s heart. Let’s just say, I needed a hug that day and the first thing I got was a hug. The restaurant we decided to go to was Portus 360, which is new and takes over the restaurant previously there when it was the Delta Hotel which is now EVO, a student housing building or something like that. Portus 360 is located on the top floor of a tall building. The floor rotates 360 so that as you eat, you can drink in the views of Montreal and on the windows, it also marks where you are looking out into. We’ve all never actually eaten at the previous restaurant but its something we’d like to try out, especially for the 360 view of Montreal.

Portus 360 is a portuguese restaurant and we shared a few tapas plates. Unfortunately, my pictures of the 360 were blurry so nothing to show here except for the food.

Portus 360 

Bread and Olives

Portus 360

Wine

Portus 360

Via Latina is the white wine that our waitress chose for us when we requested something sweet and fruity (I believe). It is a sparkling wine and while we weren’t too sure about it at first. My friend who is the harder one to please in terms of wine approved, we took it. It tasted pretty good. I’ve never had portuguese wine before and its a pleasant experience.

Soup & Portuguese Tapas

Portus 360

Sopa Alentejana (Salted Cod Soup with Poached Egg)

Portus 360

Pasteis de Bacalhau (Cod Croquettes)

Filetes de Sardinha Grelhados (grilled sardine fillets, bread croutons)

Filetes de Sardinha Grelhados (grilled sardine fillets, bread croutons)

Portus 360

Polva Grelhado (Grilled Octopus)

Portus 360

Lulas Recheadas (Stuffed Calamari)

Portus 360

Costela Curta Estufada (braised short rib)

The only thing out of this meal that I didn’t try was the soup. I’m no connoisseur of Portuguese cuisine and I rarely eat tapas but as pricey as Portus 360 might be or as gimmicky it may also be to have the 360 view of Montreal and probably the price tag is for that, the food here is really good. The cod croquettes were delicious. The grilled octopus was perfectly chewy and tender (unlike the last experience I had at another restaurant a few months ago). The stuff calamari was so awesome. The braised short rib was a little salty for my taste but the texture of the dish itself was great. Now, I think that when a restaurant can transform something that someone doesn’t particularly enjoy into a good experience is one of the best feelings ever to the person eating. I personally am not a fan of sardines. It has too many bones and I don’t like the texture but somehow as I took my piece of the sardine fillets and bread croutons, there was a really nice balance. I’m still not a fan of the tiny bones that sardines have but I couldn’t help wondering what they put on the bread croutons and the lovely cooked pepper or tomatoes or onion touch on the top. It was really tasty and a great Portuguese dining experience. I do want to go back one day and try out their actual main dishes. Some of the items look particularly interesting.

Portus 360

Some other things to mention is that the decor is very nice. At one point, we turn to this seafood market sort of thing and we can look at the fresh seafood they have. Its a very nice touch. On top of that, our waitress was great. She chose a good wine and she was polite and very helpful and patient. She made sure to remind me a second time about what had dairy products and that I should stay away from, which is always appreciated, when the dishes arrived on top of telling me when we ordered. It is these little things that make a dining experience feel complete. Sure, Portus 360 is a tad pricy, but sometimes I think its nice to have special occasions to celebrate where we have great food, good service and beautiful views, add on the awesome company and it makes it worth it.

With that said, I’ll probably post again when I go another time (when I do). I believe I might take my husband and my mom next time.

Have you had Portuguese food? What do you like?

Chesterfield’s Gastro Diner (Ottawa, Canada)

Lots of eating posts lately, eh? Expect a few more! Actually this one is rather timely!

While I normally would be sitting at home on the last weekend of NaNoWriMo doing word sprints and just in small, writing till my wrists hurt and ending this thing, I’ve been oddly relaxed about the whole thing. I’ll talk about it further in the recap post whether I finish it or not. However, I ended up having a little brunch date with a friend! It was a fantastic day where I drove two hours in the morning to get to her place, had a little time to hang out before heading out to breakfast at this little joint she took me to called Chesterfield’s Gastro Diner.

Chesterfield’s Gastro Diner

Chesterfield’s Gastro Diner is definitely a little cozy joint. There aren’t a whole lot of seating and it was bustling with line-ups at the front door. We ended up waiting for maybe about fifteen to twenty minutes before getting a seat, which is pretty good. The kitchen is open in the middle and you can see the chefs and staff walking around doing their stuff. The seating is pretty original with odd pieces of one thing or another to sit on. Some look like rather rustic yet elegant pieces but with some antique-ish feeling to them. The waitress we had was friendly and the service was pretty fast.

Tea

Chesterfield's Gastro Diner

They had a pretty nice selection of tea choices. I took the green tea. It isn’t any fancy brand but it was a good tasting one. What I’d like to show here is the cute little tea cups and the tea pot that they used. It has a pretty older style to it.

Breakfast/Brunch Meals

Chesterfield Gastro Diner

Traditional: Two Eggs (over easy) with bacon and a side of roasted beets

Chesterfield's Gastro Diner

Classic Benny’s with a side of roasted beets and pita chips

I took the traditional eggs since I wasn’t too hungry and can’t be too full to head back on the road later on. Mine actually also comes with toast and homemade jam. I have to say that the jam is pretty good. The flavor was raspberry. My friend took the classic benedict which came with two sides. She told me about how this was super delicious even before she ordered it. Unfortunately, hollandaise sauce, I believe, has milk so its a big nono for me. (I’ll have to research that later on.)

Overall, a pretty nice little breakfast joint. I’d recommend a visit. The menu is pretty extensive unexpectedly and I’d probably eventually come back to give something else a try. However, maybe earlier hours going would be better than when we went at busy breakfast/brunch time on the weekend. Still, we had a nice chat and it was a delicious meal and the portions were great.

MTL a Table: Restaurant de L’Institut-ITHQ

The weekend is here again! MTL a Table entered into the final few days of the event.

Next up on the list is a restaurant that comes recommended from my friends who was organizing this whole thing together. Restaurant de L’Institut – ITHQ is pretty much a student-based restaurant. Its a training ground for culinary students under the watchful eyes of their professors to create fine dining for their guests. It is located in the Hotel de L’Institut.

Let us look at the menu for MTL a Table ($31).

Restaurant de L’Institut

*A note for those looking for this restaurant on Google Maps, search Hotel de L’Institut instead. We searched for Restaurant de L’Institut and it was completely different location. Our fault that we didn’t look carefully but just a friendly note in case you decide to go.*

Restaurant de L'Institut

Starter tasting

This starter tasting thing was a salmon, spicy mayonnaise and olive oil thing (if I remember correctly) and I thought it was delicious!

First service: Appetizer

Restaurant de L'Institut

Crispy Arctic Char, apple gel, radishes, green apples, marinated onions

Restaurant de L'Institut

Variations on beet, roasted pine nuts, goat cheese, honey-maple vinaigrette

Restaurant de L'Institut

Parsnip velouté, caramelized onions, sherry vinegar, hazelnuts and smoked bacon

A recap of the appetizers: My husband took the Arctic char along with my friend. Funny enough, they had opposing views. While my husband didn’t like it, he didn’t exactly hate it either. It was more the texture of the fish he wasn’t too sure about. I took the Variations on beet as that was the only choice that worked with my lactose intolerance and yet they had to remove the cheese. While it didn’t feel like anything super special, the different types of beets made it rather unique and it was refreshing to eat to say the least. Only one person on our table took the parsnip velouté and he said that it was interesting and tasty.

Second service: Main course

Restaurant de L'Institut

Braised veal shank, butternut squash, roasted cipollini onions, Romanesco broccoli, Canotier de l’Isle shavings

Restaurant de L'Institut

Guinea fowl, fingerling potatoes, oyster mushroom, Jerusalem artichoke, Brussels sprouts

Restaurant de L'Institut

Catch of the Day (Halibut), barley pilaf, dulse, tomato confit, fennel, sweet and sour sauce, mullet roe

Recap of the main course: two of my friends took the veal shank and their significant others had a tasting of it. It seems that for one couple, it was bland and really nothing to call home about in terms of taste. However, it was braised very well. I took the guinea fowl along with someone else also. We talked about it and agreed that it was very good. Although, there was a comment about it tasting like turkey, which I can’t really disagree with. However, one point to note is that the sauce was really good, potatoes and Brussels sprouts were very good. It was the first time I tasted oyster mushrooms and that was super tasty as well. Only thing I’m not so sure about is the artichoke. Last, we have the catch of the day which was halibut. My husband took this choice and it seems fish shouldn’t be what he orders anymore because he felt like it wasn’t cooked enough. However, I did have a taste of it and it was done well although the onion or perhaps fennel taste was a tad strong.

Third service: Dessert

Restaurant de L'Institut

Cherry soup with kirsch and candied oranges, dark chocolate cremeux, gingerbread tuile

Restaurant de L'Institut

Apricot and buckwheat honey tart, lemon thyme ghost cheese cremeux, raspberry cube

And we got to the dessert. Cherry soup had the white pieces on top that seemed like it was meringue. I’m not exactly sure about the verdict of the cherry soup but the cherries tasted a little like maraschino cherries as one comment I remember but I can’t tell if that is a good or bad thing. However, the apricot and buckwheat honey tart was quite good. I got the version without the goat cheese on top and was compensated with more raspberry cubes. That part is awesome because the raspberry cubes were absolutely heavenly. The dash of sour fruity taste is just perfect. Its rare to find apricot desserts and this definitely had a nice taste to it. I can’t say it was the best tart (or more streudal) I’ve had but it was memorable because the thyme taste was also quite apparent adding an extra level of taste.

Overall…Restaurant de L’Institut is pretty decent. The service was very good especially seeing as we had myself with the allergies and while they kept forgetting to remove the goat cheese, they were always gracious enough to take care of it immediately. They offers a good wine service and nice explanation. We did have a glass of white wine that they recommended but I forgot to take a picture of it and the waitress described it very well also. The meal itself looked pretty and represented the fine dining aspect quite well. The food was pretty tasty.

MTL a Table: Café Griffintown (Montreal, Canada)

November is finally here and with that comes one of our favorite events in Montreal called MTL a Table. I’ve gone the last two years. If you don’t know what it is, MTL a Table is a gourmet event where selected restaurants offer a fixed menu for $21, $31 or $41 for dinner and some even offer brunch. It is the perfect opportunity to try out some new restaurants and not exactly destroy your wallet over it. This year, our group increased and we are doing a triple date. We have three scheduled over the next two weekends.

The first one this year is Griffintown Café. They had a $21 three course menu.

Griffontown Café

Drinks

Griffintown Cafe

Russian in July & Long Island Iced Tea

Griffintown Cafe

Ginger Beer Bourbon and Bourbon Sour

1st Service: Appetizers

Griffintown Cafe

Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup (lactose-free modification)

Griffintown Cafe

Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup

Griffintown Cafe

So Simple Salad with Mixed Greens and Roasted Vegetables

Appetizers was good. A lot of love to Griffintown Cafe for being able to modify the soup without the lactose. The roasted winter vegetable soup is very good. Only one person took the salad and I think it was pretty good. Everyone else had the normal unmodified version of the soup. Not sure how they felt. My husband enjoyed it and he isn’t exactly a soup person (or a vegetable person at that). The only difference we talked about was that it was heavily spiced with pepper and I mean like actual full pieces of peppercorn. That added a lot of kick to the soup. For the most part, it was delicious until I went screaming for water when I bit into a peppercorn. It was a funny experience and refreshing to say the least. However, the roasted winter vegetable soup is still a winner especially on a chilly day like when we went this weekend, some heat in the foods adds a little extra warmth and coziness to the meal.

2nd Service: Main Course

Griffintown Cafe

So British Fish ‘n Chips (Haddock filet, IPA Beer batter) served with fries and house tartare sauce

Griffintown Cafe

Espresso Burger (espresso and dark chocolate glazed Griffintown Burger, blue cheese dressing, tomato and maple braised bacon)

The menu has three choices. The third being a mushroom risotto which no one ended up taking. We were half and half with three taking the Fish n Chips and three with the Espresso Burger. I took the Fish ‘N Chips. The meal was a little salty to my taste however, the IPA beer batter was done really well because the crush kind of melted in my mouth as I ate it. Also, haddock is something I usually eat with fish ‘n chips but really would like to have more because I like the texture of the fish. The home fries are cooked pretty well. Yet again, a little too salty for my taste but I eat pretty bland food compared to most people that I know so perhaps its just my individual issue. I should start mentioning in my order to be a little lighter on salt as a personal preference.

As for the burger, the first hesitation most people had was how they’d make the taste of it all work out. It seems like there is a lot going on there. The burger was huge in height. However, the espresso and chocolate was not overpowering, nor was the cheese supposedly from what I gathered as my friends discussed it.

3rd service: Dessert

Griffintown Cafe

Oreo Tiramisu

Griffintown Cafe

Carrot Cake

The last course was one I was totally exempted from but I ordered the carrot cake for everyone to share and have a taste. The dessert was probably the underwhelming part of the meal according to my husband. He enjoyed the Oreo Tiramisu more than the carrot cake however, it wasn’t anything special.

Overall, Griffintown Cafe is pretty  nice. The restaurant itself is a little cozier in size. We also went on a night where they hosted the Paint Nite event and that minimized the amount of guests at the restaurant itself not a part of it. The service probably also was slower because of it. However, our waitress was very nice. She was a little short with the details but very accommodating in helping me with my allergy issues. It was a really nice place to hang out with friends. The food was pretty good. There are some small personal preference criticisms but its more a matter of individual tastes and habits than the shortcoming of how the food was cooked because it was done well.

If you are around town, perhaps it is a spot you’d like to check out! They even have brunch normally and that is something that has peaked my interest.

Park Restaurant (Montreal, Canada)

Running season is finally over for one of my friends and to celebrate all his hard work and my help and also our friend’s birthday, he took us out for a meal at a top restaurant here in Montreal called Park Restaurant. For one, the decor in Park Restaurant is fantastic. Parking was actually not too hard to find and it is free earlier in that area and that is great. Parking sometimes is one of the reasons we stay away from complicated areas when choosing restaurant.

Park Restaurant

Park Restaurant

Both of my friends took the tasting menu. It was a little more expensive the night we went because bluefin tuna was part of the menu. I don’t know too much about sushi but it seemed that it was really good. I chose from the menu and I’ll have that at the bottom. Here is what the tasting menu looks like. I’ve noted the variations under the bottom. One had the hot dish 5 course tasting menu and the other had the 6 course sushi tasting menu.

Tasting Menus (5 and 6 course)

Park Restaurant

Park Restaurant

Park Restaurant

Park Restaurant

6 course Sushi Tasting Menu

Park Restaurant

5 course hot meal Tasting Menu

Park Restaurant

Part of the 6 course tasting menu

Park Restaurant

Dessert

I can’t really comment on how they felt about it. I do believe they said the bluefin sushi was on point because they literally looked like they were in heaven when they took the bite. The presentation is fantastic though. Kudos to that. Plus the ambiance of the restaurant is very good as well.

My Meal

Park Restaurant

Organic Miso Soup

Park Restaurant

Braised Kalbi Short Ribs

I’m no Japanese food expert. However, I have had a good bit of miso soup before and this one actually tasted really good. Miso soup seems like that simple option that is a must when you go to a Japanese restaurant and that was what I wanted to try and plus, I wanted to see what makes it so “organic” and it did feel organic just from the ingredients inside tasting very loaded with flavors and texture.

Before I even got to the restaurant, I had my heart set on those Kalbi Short Ribs so it was no surprise that I would want it. First of all, they were super braised and done so well as in the texture and cook time and it was awesome. However, the taste is a little strong as the smell of it would suggest the moment the gigantic plate is placed in front of you. I felt like it was a tad too salty. It does make for the nice veggies on the side along with the sweet puree that was probably the highlight of the dish more than the ribs were. I love ribs but somehow, I feel like these were a little too much. But, I do want to point out that in the veggie department, they cooked some good brussel sprouts and even had lotus root in there and I love those so much.

Overall…

Park Restaurant is a good choice. I can’t say that everything is a winner and I believe even my friends would say so as well. They have great service and very beautiful food presentation and a lovely ambiance which is half of a dining experience in itself. While I say that the food is a little stronger and heavy-handed in the salt department, it could also just be my personal preference because I eat rather bland foods. I enjoy foods with less flavoring and more popping out the natural taste in most cases. There are a few exceptions of course. However, the balance in the dish was there especially because they had the puree and the vegetables that were much lighter and cooked really well also. It was a good experience. I have my eye on a few other items on the menu to maybe try if I work up some money to go to this place again. It is very pricey and I’m not too sure if I think what I ate was truly worth the price but then I didn’t pay so I probably was more lenient. Just being honest, right? 😉

Sherbrooke Met La Table: Bistro KapZak

The fall events have officially started here. I have some fall colors coming up next week which is a little delayed. The food events are trickling in and to be honest, it is quite exciting to have a reason to head out and find some cool restaurants. Sherbrooke Met La Table started last Thursday (October 20th) and runs till October 30th. Sherbrooke is about 1.5 to 2 hours away for us so this becomes a little day trip and a little tradition we started last year. This year’s choice is Bistro KapZak, a polish fusion experience.

For this event, Bistro Kapzak offered two different three course menus at $25 and $35. I ended up taking the $25 and my husband took the $35. You will see both choices in each section.

Bistro KapZak

Bistro Kapzak

Drinks

Bistro Kapzak

We started with drinks. My husband got a blond beer and I got a white sangria. The sangria mix is actually one of the better ones I’ve tasted with a good balance of soda and alcohol with fruity taste but never overpowering.

Appetizers

Bistro Kapzak

Beef brisket with fresh herb chutney

Bistro Kapzak

Grilled Pork Belly with Warm Vegetable Dressing

Both appetizers were quite good. The beef brisket had very nice spices to augment the flavor. Matched up with some crunchy dehydrated vegetables (I believe might be mushrooms or some root vegetable) and the chutney, it was delicious. My husband took the grilled pork belly. That would be the more rare choice to have available in restaurants however it is prepared incredibly well although I didn’t try the salad with warm vegetable dressing. It looked creamy and also one of the reasons why I didn’t take this meal even though they offered to make modifications. I believe a course should be eaten as it was meant to be as much as possible. With that said, the grilled pork was done really well. My husband is not a fan of the texture while I absolutely am and we both agreed that the flavors were all there.

Main

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Roasted cod loin with a crust of wild mushrooms and wine braised red cabbage

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Beef shoulder filet with Ratte potatoes and smoked almond sauce

My main course was the cod loin adorned with some pickled cucumbers and red cabbage. There is a weird mixture of tastes here but seeing as a lemon is usually paired with fish meals, it isn’t hard to imagine this more acidic vinaigrette and vegetables paired up. The cod was done good. It only had the pop of flavor from the spices/crust of wild mushrooms on the top. While the first bite felt a little odd, the taste builds with a few more bites and it actually has quite the unique flavor. My husband got the braised beef shank. This was his favorite of the evening. He isn’t quite used to medium rare meat but it didn’t stop him from loving it.

Desserts

Bistro Kapzak

Paczkis with apple sauce

Bistro Kapzak

Banana bread pudding

My meal came with Paczkis which as explained to us, is a Polish doughnut, or perhaps a doughnut hole. The apple sauce itself was a little too tart but balanced with the bits of doughnuts covered in powdered sugar, it was rather delicious. My husband’s meal came with the banana bread pudding with whipped cream. Somehow it said ice cream? But a minor detail. My husband in general isn’t much of a fruity dessert kind of guy so to him, this was a banana cake topped with whipped cream. I didn’t give this a taste since I wasn’t certain whether they used milk since from my memory, I think bread pudding does use a little bit.

Overall, Bistro Kapzak is a great place. With their cozy rustic decor and nice music playing in the background in the backdrop of a quiet city looking out into the street, it was quite the evening out for us. We enjoyed the environment as much as we enjoyed the food. Plus, the waiter we had was a pleasure to talk to and helped us understand the menu and was very accommodating. Definitely a place we’d recommend. A few items on their regular menu did also peak our interest so we will definitely be going again.

***Note: If you do want to try Bistro Kapzak while it is still in this Sherbrooke location, you need to go before Oct. 30th because they just announced this weekend that for rental negotiation reasons, they will have to move to a new location in Granby. I’m sure lots of Sherbrooke and Eastern Townships goers are less than enthused by this news but for us, it is a lot closer so we will try to head out and maybe bring some friends when this new location opens in 2017 (according to their announcement).