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Currenly on the list:   Restaurants:     Au Pied De Cochon (been to before and had the best raw platter we've had in North America)   La Chronique (good reviews on other sites)   possibly Br

another thing - most coffee shops (and there are many of them) either use Illy or roast their own (it seems like the horrible environmental effects that seem to make this impossible in Manhattan do no

A very good meal at Les Chevres.   Not a very large restaurant, seating maybe 50 at capacity (a lot less when we were there), with a seemingly low investment in decor, but a full realization of a c

I'm alive again. I've confirmed my initial suspicion that spending a week at a machine learning conference right before a big software demo is not a good idea.

 

It's an even worse idea when you go out eating and drinking every night because you're so, so over with the NYC food scene. (Next year will be "worse" yet - it's going to be in Barcelona!)

 

CCeP, then. Last year, on Adrian's advice, I went to CCeP for a solo dinner on my last night in Montreal, after the co-worker I was attending the conference with had already flown out. It was the best meal I'd had in the second half of the year, and going to CCeP again was high on my list for this trip. On Monday night, we ran into a couple of alums of the same undergrad as me. I overlapped briefly with one of the two, but had never interacted with them at all. I figured I'd drag them with me anyway, along with my co-worker, because, well, the more the merrier, right? Mostly, I wanted to have enough people to do more than one bottle of wine with dinner.

 

We got a pretty nice table in the restaurant - I think it was a 6-top that they were using as a 4-top for us, probably because 9 PM seemed like it was pretty late to be eating out on Montreal on a Tuesday night. After a bit of discussion, asked our server to put together a menu for us - sadly, we weren't super hungry, so we asked for not too many courses.

 

We started with a scallop apiece, served with lemon confit. This was simply one of the best scallops I'd had in some time - really, really nicely seared with the perfect bit of crisp, and the scallop itself was rich and scallop-tasting (adjectives are hard). The sweet-tart saucing complemented the flavor of the scallop very, very nicely. This was a good way to start.

 

Next up, the lobster ravioli. A nice big ravioli with a richly lobster-y filling. And some other stuff, but who cares. (Or remembers, actually. I should really start taking notes. Or writing these up while they're fresher in my memory.) This is probably not a surprise to any of you, but in addition to generically liking French-y places more than Italian-y places, I specifically like pasta more at French-y places, because I think they're just better executed. This was, of course, no exception - the lobster filling was so damn good, intensely flavorful, perfect rich texture, not a hint of undue heaviness. SO DAMN GOOD that I forgot everything else that was in this course. Oops.

 

The chasse et pêche this time around was wagyu (what cut? aah I forget) and a lobster claw. I'm sounding like a broken record here, but this was another really good dish, better than the one I had last year. The beef was inherently full of flavor in a way that the veal I had last time was not. The lobster claw was perfectly cooked and perfectly shaped. I personally don't love lobster meat, but it's also just generally not executed this well - by my recollection, an entire level above e.g. what I'd had at Per Se all those years ago.

 

I'd asked for the piglet risotto specifically when we ordered, and they served that as the last savory (I found that a bit confusing... shouldn't it have gone before the chasse et pêche?) Seemed much the same as last year, in the sense that it was still really damn good. Multiple different kinds of rich. An interesting comparison to last year is that I feel this didn't work quite as well in the smaller tasting portion as it did when I got a full portion to myself last year - it's a dish where the interplay between the foie and the pork is enough to hold my interest in a full portion, and doesn't develop as fully in a tasting portion.

 

I didn't have any dessert, just a glass of wine; the others in my group seemed to like their desserts though.

 

Had, uhh, some relatively inexpensive Savennières that I don't really remember and a bottle of the Gilles Bonnefoy "Gamay sur volcan", and both went quite nicely with the food.

 

Wednesday and Thursday nights were spent at Dieu du Ciel! and Le Vin Papillon respectively, but with no real food beyond snacks because we'd already eaten at various receptions/social events beforehand, so nothing really to write up. Got my Puffeney fix at Le Vin Papillon, though - I'm an evil sadistic bastard so I stuck the table with a bottle. Who's got two thumbs and zero cares about the wine tastes of anyone else he's out with (attractive women excluded)? *points at self with thumbs*

 

Ran off on my own Friday to go to Hôtel Herman (I had split off earlier to catch the opening night of the Nutcracker, while there were some mutterings of a distinctly different kind of "ballet" that seemed less interesting to me), and I guess I'll write that up when I get a chance.

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Very similar to my meal last month minus a few courses. The scallop dish is a classic - probably had it a half dozen times by now and not tired of it in the least (the best time it was done in shell with the coral still attached). The lobster wagyu is just killer.

 

Very interested in hearing your hotel Herman thoughts.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Had a nice bite to eat at Landry & filles, the brick and mortar restaurant of the food truck. Had some nice smoked mussels in escabeche, with aioli and shoestring fries. Had a fried chicken plate with mash, coleslaw and gravy. Nice quality chicken well fried, but there seemed to be some sweetness in the breading that I wasn' t as fond of. Had a taste of the rotisserie chicken, better bet. Nice rice pudding with seabuckthorn jam. Nominally french new brunswick food, but they do whatever they want with the menu. More cheffy sides and apps, mains all roast or fried chicken + some daily specials. Staff very friendly, good hipster wine list. Maybe not a place to go out of your way for, but I would be there often if I lived in the area.

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Whooo I'm an awful procrastinator.

 

Last night in Montreal, went to Hotel Herman because why not? Sounded like a good place for a solo dinner.

 

Saw that they had the Puffeney vin jaune by the glass. Might have been their last glass. Server recommended a dish of pickled carrots and uni with this. Interesting pairing – the carrots were delicious but the uni didn't make the flavor contribution I expected, so the dish as a whole didn't work out as nicely as it could have.

 

Followed up with an absolutely fantastic venison tartare with a mushroom mousse or something, and then a really damn good sweetbread in textbook Mornay sauce with chanterelle mushrooms. Both were right in my sweet spot – just that perfect mix of French and contemporary, solid cooking, and inexpensive to boot.

 

Had an order of their foie with cranberries for dessert; my choice of this as a dessert aside, I do recall that the cranberries were a little too tart for the foie, but that the foie itself was pretty darn tasty regardless.

 

I really liked it – wasn't perfect, but I sure wish Ssam Bar or whatever were more like Hotel Herman.

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I feel the same way.

 

I really wish these restaurants were available to me on a more regular basis.

 

The discount is nice, but I actually just liked CCeP and Hotel Herman more than – gosh, what are their NYC equivalents, even? Rebelle? I like Rebelle, but I feel like if there were an HH-style restaurant available, I would go there more often than I go to Rebelle.

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I agree, it's just the value makes it absurd. It's my favourite city to dine in in North America.

 

It's hard to think of an analogue to CCeP. It strikes me as an NYT 3/Michelin 1, but it's really kind of a unique thing. It's hard to imagine it existing anywhere else Hotel Herman is kind of a French Ssam Bar (I haven't been to Rebelle). This kind of comes back to a comment I made earlier about NYC having "no French restaurants" especially outside of the highest end (where everything is kind of haute French, even if it tells you it's "market American"). Rebelle and Racines look kind of different, but the restaurants are generally so hidebound as genre pieces - duck a l'orange! steak frites! - that they can't actually cook French food as a living thing (or even a traditional thing - a version of L'Express in NYC must have coq au vin). Or, if they do, they're cooking something that looks much more like a New American post-Gramercy Tavern plate. I don't know if it's possible - or if it even makes sense culturally - but it's not something many in NYC do. In Montreal, French cooking is baseline.

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I think the only real difference in montreal, if there is a minimalist menu description, you can almost always assume there is going to be a sauce even if none is mentioned.

 

Cooking in the idiom of french food, rather than cooking "French Food".

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My only problem with racines is that it's not good. Rebelle is. (and it's funny how easy it is for a good bistronowhatever place to stand out)

 

And there's no doubt Montreal represents great value when their shale-backed currency is where it should be, but independently of value (which is probably not very real when you add in the travel expenses, if you're going for a weekend), just some great eating.

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