Saturday Dinette

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On the first day of spring of 2016, although it was -4˚C, it as a beautiful sunny Sunday. So naturally, I wanted to take advantage of the natural light and go brunching. I had been eyeing this brunch spot for the past month, but never really found the time and right schedule to check it out.

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I wanted to order everything on the menu, but I opted to at least try two things. And this was the best decision I’d made in a long time. I ordered the mushroom on toast with a fried egg on top, as well as a kid’s serving of buckwheat pancakes. My friend got a coffee, the beans were from Jimmy’s coffee (Kensington). However, the French presses they used were probably all in poor shape because even after they remade the coffee when we pointed out the coffee grinds floating around, the grinds still persisted in the second batch. Definitely will opt for another beverage option the next time I come, or perhaps none at all.

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Oh, my. The pancakes were absolutely scrumptious. It was slightly crunchy on the outer edges, quite fluffy for being made of buckwheat, and the maple syrup was perfection. Even when the center of the pancake soaked up the maple syrup, the texture was maintained (again, thanks to the buckwheat). Furthermore, the syrup wasn’t revoltingly sweet (as it sometimes can get, at least to me), but instead, the perfect amount of sweetness with an extra kick from the icing sugar sprinkled on top.

The mushroom on toast was quite good as well, the mushrooms carried an earthy flavour and a slight rosemary aroma as well. The texture of the mushrooms was also done well, not too overdone, as can often happen with many dishes like this. Being the egg yolk lunatic I am, I let the whole wheat toast – the foundation of the whole dish – soak up all the yellow yolk. The yolk was underdone and spilled out of its casing when popped with a honey viscosity. It’s a little weird for some people, but this is one of the most mesmerizing things to watch for me. The egg was a little too salty, which was seasoned as it’s just about to be plated. So perhaps next time I will try to ask them to be a little lighter on the salt, but I doubt this will be easily adaptable based on the setting of the kitchen.

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My friend ordered the Little Reuben, with again a perfect fried egg, melted cheese and pork belly inside the toasted two pieces of whole wheat bread. Again, he also remarked that the egg was just a little over-seasoned, but did not ruin the dish in any way.

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Overall, I thought Saturday Dinette was a positively amazing brunch spot. They were quick with seating (perhaps we were lucky, and also we were only 2). The pricing was reasonably affordable for students, which is always a plus. The only thing I wish they could have improved is the coffee, but not everyone is obsessed with coffee like I am, and also there is Boxcar Social just a block south of where SD is, so it would be as easy as walking down to get a cup of good cortado. I definitely recommend this brunch spot and will easily become my #1 in Toronto!

Food: 9/10
Service:4.2/5
Atmosphere: diner, fast-paced, busy, hustle
Price: $15/person

Saturday Dinette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

~ kehwon

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je t’aime, Montréal

It’s so interesting coming back to MTL after several months of moving out of the apartment I’d grown to love after 4 years. I don’t even know where to begin sharing my experience over the last few years, the things I’ve learned, the feelings I’ve felt, the people I’ve met ❤

Of course, most of my close friends know how in love I am with this place. Though there are elements that are indescribable, I try to show them my experiences by taking them to the spots I have loved.

Coming back now, I’m visiting old spots and new, and the feeling is both so familiar but so different. Perhaps it’s because of my more care-free life now, no longer a student, but not fully employed.

Here are some spots I’ve visited on my most recent trip:

Dinner at Hoogan + Beaufort, a new restaurant

Cafe Kitsuné, an old favourite

Dinner at Le Mousso

Here’s a sneak peek, but check out the full blog post!

Squid ink pasta on charcoal, Macaron with Caviar, Maple syrup cotton candy with foie gras center
Squid ink pasta on charcoal, Macaron with Caviar, Maple syrup cotton candy with foie gras center

New cafe in McGill metro

It always seems to be my curse that amazing cafés open in places I frequent the most after I move. Having a quick chat with the owner, Bertrand, I learned that they were merely 5 weeks, and pull from all Canadian roasts (and all roasteries and cafés I frequent!): Dispatch from Montréal, Transcend from Edmonton, and De Mello Palheta from Toronto 🙂

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Lunch at La petite Maison

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Coffee at Dispatch

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Coffee at OSMO

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Breakfast at Panacée

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New Cafe – September Surf Cafe

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Buck15 – of course a must-go for me

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Obviously the whole trip was amazing because I got to experience mtl in the mentality of a graduate, without school work or internship looking down on me. I was able to really feel what it’s like to live inMontréal as an adult. I was also able to see my friends and had some really amazing bonding moments and conversations with them, which was also great.

If anyone wants a personalized itinerary for Montréal, please don’t hesitate to message me!

~ kehwon

 

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 3 – Day 2 – Bills Omotesando

 

Because I fell in love with brunching during my time in Montreal, we had to go and have a proper brunch somewhere whilst we were travelling. We found this very popular breakfast place, opened by Bill Granger, a chef in Australia who opened the “best breakfast in the world”. Needless to say we had to come and try.

The interior was very chic, bright, and tended to attract more feminine clientele. But its neutrality and simple design welcomed all types of people. We arrived at around 9am, and the restaurant was almost full. The terrace was packed, so we unfortunately were not able to enjoy the breeze and the outside air with our breakfast.

We ordered a chia pudding with coconut milk, and berries. The ricotta pancake with banana and honey, and the scrambled eggs with toast.

Everything was very fresh and plated very nicely, in keeping with the simple feel of interior of the restaurant. However, we didn’t feel that the dishes were exceptional tasting. The scrambled eggs were fluffy, but also felt a little plastic as well.

The pancake was fluffy, but only a little fluffier than what I had managed in my own kitchen. There wasn’t much ricotta taste, which is just as well since I am not a fan of ricotta. The honey and banana was quite good, but didn’t seem to blend with the flavour of the pancake very well.

As for the chia seed pudding, it was mediocre, and again nothing I couldn’t make out of my own kitchen easily.

Overall, the breakfast was good, but definitely not “best breakfast in the world”. It is the interiors that make up for it, as it seems it is what most of the patrons enjoy anyway.

Food: 7.6/10
Service: 3.5/5
Atmosphere: chic, simple, clean, bright, modern
Cost: 3000¥

Chef à l’érable – Scena Jacques Cartier

So I finally went to a Cabane à Sucre event, after 3 years of living in Montreal. Thanks to eva for coming up with the place and idea, we booked for three people for the Chef à l’érable event at Scena in Old Port. Since we’re all city-dwellers and don’t own cars, this was the perfect place to go!

Fittingly, it was extremely cold that day, so all the hearty and warm, cozy food was perfect for the weather.

The space is extremely bright and open, which was really nice to just relax and chat in.

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Continue reading “Chef à l’érable – Scena Jacques Cartier”

OEB (Over Easy Breakfast) – Renfrew

To start our second day in Calgary, we decided to go to OEB (Over Easy Breakfast), on tfung’s researched recommendations. We had looked at the menu before, and boy was it extensive! Since I live in Montreal, I wasn’t too excited about the brunch in Calgary. I’ve just had such good experiences in Montreal, and I didn’t want to be too disappointed at OEB.

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When we got there, the line seemed fairly tame. I estimated that there were about 3-4 groups ahead of us. Was I wrong! They actually take phone numbers, and will call the people on the list by order of when they arrive to put their name down. Both tfung and I thought this was an awful system for such a busy place. They waste 15-20 minutes calling people, and having them drive back over, or perhaps they don’t even show up at all. And that’s exactly what happened. We saw a table that was free and set up, thinking we were likely close to getting seated. We then saw that one of the waitresses who was previously serving get phone duty to call the people who had left their numbers. We were standing near her, so we were able to see that she dialed a total of 4 numbers, all who had said they will not be coming. This took roughly 20 minutes. Then another 10 minutes later, we were seated. It just feels a little unfair to the people who wanted to stay there to wait because we value the food there. Either way, we only waited an hour, which was significantly shorter than the subsequent couples that came just after us (1hour 45min wait).

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After taking many photos around the restaurant while waiting, we were finally seated. Obviously, I was starving at this point, and felt that I could take on a good amount of food. As a result, we ordered the Gold Digga, which is part of the box’d menu, and the 2 cracked hen breakfast with the maple banger.

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Gold Digga

Gold Digga is essentially a Eggs Benedict and poutine mix. It comes with a poached egg, herbed potatoes, cheese curds, pork belly, black truffle and brown butter hollandaise sauce. The egg was quite nice, although I thought that the way they did it left a rubbery texture on the egg whites. The yolk held an orange colour, clearly indicating the fresh feed that the chickens were fed. OEB advertises for their eggs coming from their own hens, which is wonderful and fits the farm-to-table category of restaurants. It was clear in the colour and the richness of the yolk that this was true, and that it certainly paid off. The pork belly was a little on the dry side, which might have been better anyway, as the dish itself was already very fatty. As such, it provided a nice meaty buffer to the oily goodness of everything else. The herbed potato wedges in place of fries in the “poutine” made it quite interesting, and less saucy. The black truffle obviously added a richness and classiness that only truffle can add (even when eaten out of a chinese takeout box!).

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2 Cracked Hen Eggs with maple banger and honey oat toast

The toast was a little thicker than what I’m normally used to, which may be because you get one piece of toast. I had the honey oat option, and also asked for some jam. I thought that the fried eggs with black pepper on them were absolutely delicious, exactly as I like them. They were not fried to the point where the thin crust is created, but instead, well-oiled so that the egg whites remain white. The yolk was perfectly runny, and again of golden orange colour. The maple bangers were very delicious according to tfung. I’m not a big fan of sausages, so I won’t comment on that. As a whole, this dish is very traditional, which is sometimes exactly what you want.

The fact that we had to wait an hour really made the brunch less enjoyable. There was barely any waiting space, so I was constantly smelling someone else’s hair, which was very disgusting. Furthermore, any time you want to speak to any of the waiters/waitresses while waiting, they make you feel like the most annoying person ever. Though I understand it must be stressful to deal with so many people waiting, They really need to calm down and realize that everyone there is quite civilized. No one is trying to weasel their way into jumping the line, and we all just want to be informed. The food overall was quite good and very fresh. The price was a little on the pricey side, because honestly, I can make this if I was given the same ingredients. But either way, it was a fairly enjoyable brunch  and I enjoyed the fresh foods, but thought it didn’t quite hit the spot. Perhaps it was the unsatisfactory service.

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 8.3/10
Atmosphere: busy, bright, fresh
Price: $10-16

OEB Breakfast Co. on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

Lawrence – Plateau Mont-Royal

So on this beautiful Saturday morning, WangFood brought me to her favourite brunch place in Montreal. Obviously I had high expectations for this restaurant due to her constant raving about it. With the high expectations, I’m pleased to say, it did not disappoint! We arrived at around 10:20am, and there was no line. We were able to get a table right away; the service was prompt.

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We are both scone-lovers, and she highly recommended me to try it here at Lawrence. That I may even want to take one home after eating. The freshly baked raisin scone was served on an incredibly cute plate, with clotted cream, butter, and strawberry jam. We split the scone between the two of us. The first bite was one of those that make my eyes widen because the flavour is absolutely perfect. The scone was incredibly fragrant and the dough has enough butter taste and flour without making it incredibly greasy. When I break off a piece, the inside is soft yet crumbly (none of that mushiness that one often encounters with scones). The outside was slightly crunchy, and the golden brown colour was absolutely beautiful. The raisins added a tartness and sweetness to combat the heavy butter flavour. It was obviously done to perfection. Paired with the clotted cream and jam mix, it was like heaven. Perhaps it’s because I love scones, but you need to try this before judging!

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I then got the baked egg with celery root and oyster mushrooms. Topped with grated parmesan and parsley, which added colour to the otherwise plain-looking dish. The celery root was cooked until tender, and slightly resembled the softness of cooked potatoes, without the powdery taste. There were two egg yolks that were baked to perfection (in my opinion), and burst into the golden goodness I love. For those of you who prefer not to eat a raw yolk, this may not be the dish for you. The oyster mushroom was crunchy and added the much needed firmer texture to the dish. Everything was smothered in a cream-based thick sauce, and had a more earthy taste to it. I also loved that when it came, it was piping hot. The baked egg was served with two pieces of buttered toasted bread, which I was unable to finish, but are great for getting that last bit of yolk.

Overall, everything I tasted was absolutely amazing (I had a bite of WangFood’s Pig Trotter). I will definitely be coming back to try their other dishes (perhaps with tfung). Service was good, I didn’t ever have to wait to get what I wanted, they seemed to know and came over fairly promptly. The restaurant seats about 30, which may be the reason that service is more manageable. If you haven’t tried this amazing brunch place, please do! It’s also situated near lots of other amazing food joints (Voro, Kem Coba, Fairmount Bagels) as it’s on Fairmount and St Laurent.

Service: 4/5
Food: 9.1/10
Atmosphere: relaxed
Price: $15-25

Lawrence on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

Lili Co. – Plateau-Mont Royal

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So this weekend me and Wang went to this brunch place called Lili Co. She had intro’d it to me, saying that it had just opened this October! Obviously I was pretty excited, and excited that all midterms are finished.

The decor was definitely my style. I love the masculinity of it, with the black walls, and the wooden tables. It just was much better for brunch than a cutesy getup, in my opinion.

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Scone with creme fraiche, strawberry jam

We started off with a scone, since I LOVE scones. We dug in, took the first bite. I looked at her and said “Damn”. Although it didn’t look it, the scone was very buttery and full of warm flavour. It was so delicious, melting in my mouth. It’s not the texture of a regular scone, but more the texture of a fluffy muffin. It was topped off with some strawberry jam, and was placed on a small pool of creme fraiche. With each bite, I made sure I had all three parts on the spoon. It was damn delicious.

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Doughnut sprinkled with cocoa shavings and sugar, served with butter caramel

After a while of chatting, the waitress informed us that they had messed up on the dishes, so they’re remaking it, but treated us to the doughnuts to apologize for the wait. I am not a huge doughnut fan, but I absolutely love the ones with sugar on them. The doughnut was topped off with some cocoa sprinkle (that looked like it was shaved fresh from a piece of dark chocolate), and served with a buttery caramel. I am not a fan of caramel, but everything in this dish was amazing. If anyone knows Shanghainese cuisine, the doughnut part of it tastes exactly like “Gao li dou sha”, the dessert that is deep fried, filled with red bean paste and covered in sugar. For those of you who don’t know, the inside is a little gooey, and definitely not crumbly and textured like a typical Tim Hortons doughnut. It doesn’t have any spaces/holes inside, and is dense to the fact that everything is stuck together, but is still airy because it’s not cooked fully. The buttery caramel added just enough flavour to it and I much prefer this version over the Shanghai version.

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BAked egg, with ragout of pork, gesiers of duck (gland in neck area) and chorizo.

Finally, we got our main dishes. Wang got this amazing baked egg dish. Feel free to wander over to her page to hear more about it!

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Omelette with rabbit sausage, mushroom, and caramelized onions

As for me, I got an omelette with rabbit sausage and mushrooms on top. The mushrooms are more like fungi, similar to the black ear mushrooms. The omelette was extremely thin and smooth, and was filled with the rabbit sausages and caramelized onions. It was served with bread from the bakery Guillaume which the waitress informed me was just down the street. The rabbit sausage added the perfect amount of flavour to the dish. There was also a good amount of sausage in the omelette, avoiding the overloading-with-caramelized-onions that people may lean towards doing. The mushroom added the texture (slightly crunchy) that the dish needed. Of course the bread was fragrant and well-buttered.

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Overall, I’d definitely give this brunch place a try. All of their dishes have an interesting and unusual ingredient in it. The dishes also had a more masculine touch, perfect for a large group. I love that they put a small twist to very traditional brunch dishes. It’s great!

It should be noted that they only serve brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and are open for dinner during the weekdays 🙂

Service: 4.5/5
Food: 8.8/10
Atmosphere: Masculine, easy
Price: $15-25

Lili Co. on Urbanspoon

(San Fran Trip) Zuni Cafe – Hayes Valley

On the second full day that we were in Montreal after a good night’s sleep, we set out for Zuni Cafe. Tfung had made a reservation for the two of us for 12pm, but we arrived earlier than 12 and they weren’t letting us in. So we wandered over to the store across from Zuni Cafe.

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Apparently a lot of people do this, as the owner correctly guessed that we were waiting for Zuni Cafe to open. This store happened to be a very interesting one. It showcased some beautiful antique musical instruments. Not only that, but they hold monthly concerts with certain themes or composers. We saw a poster for Brahms <3.

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The most interesting piece was actually a piano that was recovered from the building next to the 911 incident site. I thought it was very special and it’s chance encounters like these on trips that make them that much more special.

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After a quick chat with the owner and admiring the pieces and the space, we started seeing patrons who were lined up outside Zuni Cafe heading in. So we decided to do so as well.

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We were seated on the top balcony at the front of the restaurant. The actual shape of this restaurant is very interesting, and is long and very geometrical. As a result, we got an incredible view of the kitchen being on the top floor. We ordered quickly as we were starving, and were told that the Roasted Chicken for 2 will be ready in about 50 minutes. So we took this time to take a good look at the kitchen and observing what each person was doing. It was very reminiscent of a tv show I watched about a boy who aspired to be the first chef of a brilliant Italian restaurant.

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Other than ordering the Roasted Chicken for 2, we also ordered some beloved oysters. They have a fairly longer list of oysters to choose from but we decided to get a Japanese and a West coast oyster (since we were on the West coast afterall). We ordered the Marin Miyagi and the Hog Island Kumamotos. We had Kumamotos before at Rodney’s Oyster House and remembered we had a good experience with it. The miyagi was no where as good as the Royal Miyagi we had at Ferry Building Market which was a little disappointing to us. It had some very fishy taste. But, the texture was very crunchy and creamy.

The Kumamoto was pretty good but I didn’t think there was anything spectacular to report. It had a little bit of the fishy taste, but the texture was good. The sauce was just a typical mignonette sauce with vinegar and some shallots.

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Roasted Chicken For 2

There was a very long lag time between our oysters and the roasted chicken. But as this picture may suggest to you, it was well worth it. We were able to observe the cook taking the roasted chicken out of the big stone ovens. She had set it down on the cutting board for a while to cool off and let the inside of the chicken cook, I suppose. During that time, she made the stuffing part of the dish. She had bread crumbs, some vinaigrette, pine nuts, dried craneberries thrown into the mix. It was also plated with some greens.

When the chicken came, we were so excited as we had heard lots of good things about it. You can see how excited he was:

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The chicken was so delicious. We usually don’t like to order chicken at restaurants because we believe it to be something we can make quite well, just like steaks. But here this dish is a must have! Really is worth the wait. The chicken was so tender and juicy, yet crispy on the outside, all the while taking in all the flavour of the glaze, yet still retaining the fresh flavour of chicken. It seemed so simple yet elegant, for the lack of better phrase. The stuffing was also very delicious. We both love pine nuts and I especially love dried cranberries as well. With the greens and the vinaigrette, it was the perfect accompaniment to the chicken.

I did think the service could have improved, but I suppose they have to keep a lot of other customers happy as it was a really big restaurant. The waitress was attentive at first but of left us alone after. When the chicken came, she never really tended to us until we had to flag her down to get the bill. The bar was very extensive and I thought it looked very nice with all the different colours. The one fault in the restaurant is that there are only two washrooms in the restaurant. It’s one of those one person per room ones, so it took a long time to wait for it. Especially when there are families that enter the one washroom and spend 15 minutes in there.

Overall we had a really good time here. We were seated in a nice spot and loved the chicken. We didn’t think that the oysters were all that great, but as we had been led to believe, the chicken really was the star of the restaurant. If I come back again, I will definitely order the chicken again because it was so delicious. Although we did not get to try their other dishes, we had a glance at them as they arrived at another table and by appearance, they looked good. I may explore other options on the menu next time.

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 8.8/10
Atmosphere: cafe/bistro, open kitchen, casual
Price: $30-40

~ kehwon

Régine Café – Étienne-Desmarteau

My lovely friend with whom I went to with Voro told me about this place while I was here over the summer. She had suggested I go with tfung but we never had the chance to. She had recommended this place on the fact that we both love brunch.

But this past weekend, we and two of our other girlfriends decided to hit up Régine. She had told me there’s usually a wait, which I don’t really mind. But boy, when we got there it was pretty crazy. The line was around the corner, at least 20 people in line. We waited about 45 minutes before we were seated.

Luckily, after the long wait, we were seated at the cutest looking chairs in the restaurant. The decor is pretty and chic, with dark walls and pops of colour in furniture.

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Before we ordered anything, the waiter with the insane beard came over and brought us these “health shots”. Today’s shots were beet juice with cinnamon. Obviously when I heard cinnamon, I made a face. But the fact that it was beet juice made me try it anyway.

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Beet juice with Cinnamon Shot
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Menu

The shot was good, and I think if I liked cinnamon, I would have thought it was the best thing I’d ever tasted. But even with the fact that I hate the taste of cinnamon, I thought the shot was very tasty.

Their menu was on the paper placemat, which I thought was soiled at first look. But obviously it was just the design. The four of us became incredibly indecisive. I had wanted to try everything, but decided to go with the Champi, as I wanted eggs (even though everything looked so damn good). The other girls got the Waffles. All of them.

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Gaufre – Waffle with Smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomatoes and salad greens

They gave me a piece to try. I thought the waffle was done to a nice consistency, not too crunchy and not too mushy. Together with the salad, the perfectly cooked cherry tomatoes and the smoked salmon, there was this fresh feeling, without going full out raw vegetables. There was cream cheese between the smoked salmon and the waffle which is what I think toned down the freshness of the dish. The smoked salmon was pretty ordinary, prepackaged ones. For some reason I thought the tomatoes were the star of the dish. They had the nicest consistency I’ve ever had, as they were cooked to this seemingly unattainable level. I always either overcook or undercook tomatoes, but they seemed to have found the perfect optimal texture. Overall I thought it was nicely done, with a good, colourful presentation.

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Champi – Salad greens, reduced mushrooms, two poached eggs on rustic bread sided with fruits, mashed potatoes and red pepper compote

My champi was a toasted piece of rustic bread serving as the base to incredibly reduced mushroom, salad greens in a very light vinaigrette and two poached eggs. It also came with home made mashed potatoes and red pepper compote. The mashed potatoes were done nicely, still having chunks of potato in it. It wasn’t seasoned excessively, just to the point where it had enough saltiness to satisfy the palette. The red pepper compote was sweet, with an added spiciness to it. The mushrooms were amazing (as they almost always are), the eggs were done just right so that when I cut through it, the golden yolk poured out slowly. Usually the star of a dish like this are the eggs, but oddly enough it was the mushrooms. They were so incredibly rich-flavoured with just enough of the reduced sauce to keep you wanting more. The colouring of the whole dish was amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed the dish, and as an added bonus, they served grapefruit with it! (along with other fruits)

The service was good and easy, the food came in good time and were well-proportioned. Everything seemed to work together to a T, with no awkward pauses or rushing. It was the perfect environment to a Sunday Brunch. Montreal really is the place of brunches, and I look forward to trying even more brunch places!

Service: 4/5
Food: 8.2/10
Atmosphere: easy, brunch
Price: $15-25

Régine Café on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon