Sunday, November 14, 2010

Brunch at Chien Fumant

Brunch is THE thing now. Every foodie sites talks about it.  Marshall and Lily from HIMYM do it every weekend. For sure, we had to follow the trend, don't we?

Brunching usually occurs on weekends, especially sunday, from 9AM to 3PM.  It it the perfect occasion for a girly get-together or a fun and relaxing date or even a family activity.  Consisting of mostly breakfast on the menu, some restaurants go beyond and offers creative dishes that mixes sweet and savoury while keeping in mind the concept of brunching.

Thus, I've found a new partner in crime to investigate further.  Also a passionate foodie, my friend had traveled to numerous places and tried the weirdest things! He suggested this restaurant to me since one of his friends work there. Le Chien Fumant, just by the name, I can only imagine the food they serve.... mmmmmmmmm!

The restaurant is located on the Plateau Mont-Royal carefully hidden on De Lanaudière street.  The place is super cozy and the kitchen is opened to everyone.  I love the concept that the customer can see, smell and hear what happens behind the scene. 

It turns out that every last sunday of the month, there is a theme to the Brunch. On the day that we went, spooky Halloween, it was Dim Sum.  Dim Sum is the Chinese kind of Brunch.  Every weekend, Chinese will gather around a big round table and order small plates from the carts that the waitresses push around the restaurant.  Everyone share and eat from the same dishes and it is great to try different things at the same time!  Going from dumplings, to vegetarian dishes to buns, the choice can easily satisfy anyone.

To tell you the truth, I was a bit disappointed that it was Dim Sum day since I was really expecting typical Quebecer dishes.  I am fairly critical when it comes to Asian food, especially when it is not made by Asians.  My mom makes the best asian food there is! (I know, moms are always the best cooks!) But I remain objective here, who knows? I can be pleasantly surprised.

The menu is written on a blackboard.  We decided to chose a variety of items to test everything out. While waiting for our plates to come in, I ordered a soft drink and it came with a stainless steel straw.  I really found it interesting, it kept my drink cold during the entire meal.

We started off with Pekin Roast Duck, priced at 12$, which is very reasonable given restaurants usually charge 30$.  In traditional restaurants, Pekin Duck is a delicacy as it takes numerous exhaustive hours to achieve perfection.  We mostly crave for the thin and crispy skin and it's served with a little bit of meat, pancakes, green onions and hoisin sauce.  The version of Chien Fumant  featured a duck leg with two pancakes, coriander, bean sprouts, green onions, hoisin sauce and chili.  The duck unfortunately lacked the crispiness of the authentic thing and the meat was somehow dry. I appreciated the effort of the homemade pancakes which is quite a challenge as it requires it to be light, thin and fluffy.  Their pancakes' formula surprisingly tasted very good but were too thick.

We also ordered some pot stickers as well as steamed dumplings.  Pot stickers are basically dumplings that are cooked on a skillet to provide the desired sticky and crisp texture of the dough.   The mixture in the pot stickers missed flavors and were bland.  The steamed dumplings however had more punch. My friend even described the aroma as that of black licorice.  The shrimp dumplings had very strong 'fishy' notes though.

The Lap Cheong 'en croute' really intrigued me.  Lap Cheong is a chinese dried sausage that has some sweet notes to it. Usually cut in slices and fried on a skillet until the skin is brown and delivers a sweet and meaty aroma, Lap Cheong are often added to fried rice.  Here, they've wrapped the sausage with a caramelized bun.  The bun by itself was fluffy and had the right amount of yeasty flavor to it.  It was a also visually appealing.  However, paired with the sausage, the combination created a heavy result.  It would have needed a fresh maybe picked vegetables to balance it out.

We also chose the pig ears salad.  Personally, I did like it a lot.  The pig ears were perfectly cooked and crunchy.  The zucchinis, green onions and coriander with the drizzle of an acidic dressing complemented well the flavor of the pork.  We would have liked a little bit more dressing to enhance the overall dish though.

Finally, the house had the courtesy to offer us BBQ pork buns.  They were wrapped in the same pancakes as the Roasted Pekin Duck dish.  The pork tasted exactly the like the BBQ pork I would buy in Chinatown and had the crispy roasted bits I love on the sides :)  But their choice of garnishing was not ideal as the sourness of the pickled vegetable overpowered the sweet and delicate BBQ sauce.

Again, I might sound harsh in this review but I am Chinese after all, what do you expect? The customers around us seemed very much satisfied with their meal.  I must say I will return to Chien Fumant without a doubt as their regular menu offers more than interesting choices! They even have a mug made out of bacon and filled with gravy! I mean come on! Who wouldn't be curious about it? And their take on meat is the dream to every carnivore out there! And I am positive that their regular brunch must be tasty enough to figure on the Montreal Brunch and Breakfast Reviews website.  

Click here for a review on their regular menu :)

Le Chien Fumant
4710, rue de Lanaudière
H2J 3P7

Le Chien Fumant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Laloux - Oh la la French Cuisine

My circle of foodies grew significantly larger since i've been working in the field. I am fortunate to have hungry epicurians around me to try different restaurants to satisfy our taste buds :) This week, i went with fellow colleagues to a French restaurant opened since the 1980's: Restaurant Laloux. There have been many changes in the staff since the last years. Despite the departure of Marc-André Jetté, Danny St-Pierre and Patrice Demers, Le Laloux still kept the quality and authenticity of his dishes. Demers did, however, leave his trace with his infamous chocolate pot de crème :)
My friends are fine connaisseurs of restaurants. One of them is from Chicago, the greatest city there is for a foodie. He knows his stuff; he seeks out the best of the best and is not afraid to try funky food! Love that spirit! His palate is very refined as he did his graduate studies in sensory. My other friend is a jet-setter! She lived in amazing parts of Montreal and knows every high-end restaurant there is! She really tried everything! Her curriculum of restaurants is impressive :) Thus, i am in good company!

The menu changes daily, which I appreciate a lot since they use fresh local produce. They also use Ocean Wise Sustainable seafood product which means that the species served are not in danger of extinction. We decided to select the tasting menu which was priced very reasonably: 55$ or 85$ with wine pairing. Wine pairing is usually a rip-off and we thought choosing a bottle will be wiser. We chose a light red wine: Petit Taureau from Padié, Côtes du Roussillon.
We started with an amuse bouche consisting of fried veal sweetbreads, duck jerky and cranberry jelly. Although the combination of texture from the three items were interesting, we found the duck jerky too salty and didn't complement well with the sweetbreads. There were also a bit too much jelly thus making the overall dish too acidic.

First appetizer: Smoked black cod with apple julienne, caviar and aioli sauce. That dish was breathtaking! Wow!!!!!! The black cod (my fav!) was cooked perfectly, detached easily and had its distinct sweet buttery tasted with a hint of smoke, just enough. The apple added the right amount of crisp and acidity whereas the caviar pleasantly burst in the mouth. It was a party in the mouth! Love love love love!

Second appetizer: we had the choice of blood sausage or Foie gras terrine. We took one of each. The presentation of Foie gras was astounding and they did an awesome job playing with colors, texture and taste. The foie gras by itself was au torchon and melted in the mouth releasing its nutty flavor with a hint of cider. It was paired with candied figs, croutons and skinless hazelnuts. The portion was huge! The blood sausage on the other hand was more sober. The spices were perfectly balanced and the clementine, parsley and puree (unknown sweet substance) lightened up perfectly the dish. Highly satisfied!

Entree: Veal cooked in olive oil on a bed of acorn squash puree, everything topped with tender pieces of beef in a meaty sauce. The veal was incredibly tender, i suspect that it was cooked under vacuum. The taste of this lean meat was clean and delicate. I must say i found the addition of another meat weird in this already very meaty dish. The beef overpowers a little the veal. But overall, it wasn't bad but not our favorite.

Dessert: The dessert in the tasting menu was Peach Tatin with a square of homemade nougat. However, I HAD to taste the chocolate Pot de Crème and they didnt charged me additional fees :) It is featured as Montreal's 10 best desserts! This dish came in a cute marinade glass jar with a lid. In layers, dark and rich chocolate, crunch clusters, caramel with Maldon salt. The creaminess of the chocolate and caramel creams contrasting with the crunchiness of the clusters was a perfect harmony! The dish of my friends was also very good! Their peach tatin was made of a poached peach over layers of buttery crispy base along with a good piece of creamy nougat. The peach was just warm out of the oven and had just the right balance of sweetness. According to my friend: '' [The nougat] was smooth and silky, not too firm or soft. Very delicate flavor that let the roasted hazelnuts (more of them!) shine.'' How professional is that, heh?

Mignardises: We each had four bite-sized desserts, or petits fours, to end our meal beautifully. We had sesame cookies which had a very flavorful and nutty aroma. Then, there were some wannabe oreos which were very a better version of the real thing. Its icing was suprisingly similar to our beloved licking good one. Then, the favorite of our jet-setter was the fruit jelly which had subtle aroma of green tea, apricot and ginger. It was also incredibly soft. Finally, there were some homemade taffy which had a strong caramelized flavor and perfectly sticky :)

Overall, we were very pleased with the meal and will definitely come back. Thumbs up to chef Seth Gabrielse and pastry chef Michelle Marek!!! The decor was simple and classic. The music and lighting were appropriate for an optimal dining experience. I highly recommends this restaurant :)

250, avenue des Pins Est
Montréal Québec
H2W 1P3
T: 514 287-9127

Laloux on Urbanspoon