I got away this weekend, and attended a wedding in Brampton on Friday (congratulations, Kenzie and Pete!), and a bachelorette in Montreal on Saturday.
When I visit Montreal, I always feel a little jealous of the laid-back, euro lifestyle Montrealers seem to enjoy. Outdoor markets, where you can purchase fresh meat, oysters, fish, tonnes of cheese, beautiful produce and artisan charcuterie. Great wine for sale on every corner. An incredible food culture.
Saturday night in Montreal was spent dining at Deville Diner Bar. Their cocktail list is a lot of fun, and stars some interesting alcoholic milkshakes. The vibe is soda shop/diner for adults - loud music (you can request songs on the jukebox with your iPhone), vinyl booths and comfort food. I had a tasty Ahi Tuna salad (it was massive!) and a Roberts Fizz (Hendrick's, cucumber, cane syrup, Prosecco).
The next day was spent wandering around Marche Jean-Talon. At Les Cochons Tout Ronds I purchased a great deal of beautiful charcuterie made in Quebec. Get ready Peterborough... there's some nice looking saucisson sec, lonzino and chorizo coming your way.
Le Comptoir Charcuteries et Vins was dinner Sunday night. The place is great - very intimate, open kitchen situated right beside a long narrow bar, raw wood tables, industrial light fixtures, comfortable and stylishly modern at the same time. This place reminded me a lot of Black Hoof in Toronto. The menu is small and changes regularly.
We started with the large house-made charcuterie board, and followed it with roasted cauliflower over celeriac puree and lobster & onion tart. Both dishes were delicious, but the lobster was a real star. Tender meaty pieces served over onion confit in a crisp pastry crust (lard for sure) with a lightly anise-touched cream.
Next came a cured salmon dish - gently cured fillet, very delicate, sweet and lovely - and sweetbreads with sweet peas. I will almost always order sweetbreads if available. I love that crispy sear and tender meatiness - a result of perfect preparation. This is the second time I've enjoyed sweetbreads with peas (the first time was at Black Hoof, in fact), and I think this is a dynamite combination. Something about the bright, sweet flavour and almost squeeky texture of peas combined with crunchy-tender sweetbreads is very right.
Crispy pork belly with a zippy barbecue sauce and horseradish foam (foam is something I can do without) followed, with cheese as our last course.
This visit gave me a lot of fuel for the future of Le Petit Bar. I make an effort to seek out any opportunity to see and taste what others are doing, especially those who inspire me. I'm looking forward to the evolution of our menu, wine list and cocktail list.