February 9th, 2012
Princess isn’t hiding in the tower anymore. In the modern era, the fair lady prefers something a little more down to earth (literally).
Follow the dark wooded road, past the white birch stumps, down the enchanted stairs, and enter into Hotel St-Sulpice’s hidden gem: Restaurant Sinclair. This Baroque-styled quasi dungeon, accented by sleek red banquettes and Paris landscape sepia wallpaper, is instantly charming.
But the pièce de resistance—an imaginative menu of “earth meets sea” pairings—is a feast for the palate, not the eyes.
We started with the raw Albacore tuna with button mushrooms and “La Quercia” ham ($13), which was a lovely mix of spicy, sweet and (surprise!) crunchy. Not to be outdone, the oven broiled Gooseberry cod with eggplant paste, grilled scallions and crosnes ($27), also proved delish.
With all meals covered and a post-10 p.m. $22 menu, there’s always a good time to escape to Far, Far Away. – Nina Mourin
Restaurant Sinclair, 125 St-Paul St. W., Montreal, 514-284-3332, www.restaurantsinclair.com
November 25th, 2007
Sometimes a neighborhood restaurant is so precious, we prefer to keep it our little secret.
But thanks to a Best New Restaurant award by enRoute magazine, the word is out about Bistro Bienville. This tiny corner-spot only seats 25 people ensuring maximum coziness. Using fresh ingredients found at local markets, its seasonal menu is made up of dishes we would make at home, if only we could.
We got started with the pot-au-feu ($14), following it up with tender venison bavette with steamed turnips and roasted parsnips ($15) and a lovely lemon cream meringue ($4) for dessert.
Bistro Bienville, 4650 de Mentana, Montreal, 514-509-1269, www.bistrobienville.com
November 8th, 2007
Amsterdam isn’t just red lights and smoking, it’s a gorgeous little city full of style, sass and comely canals.
Eat & Drink
Order a koffie verkeerd (café au lait) among the locals at the Café de Jaren. This big, bright space has a full menu, free newspapers and overlooks the Amstel River.
Café de Jaren, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20-22, Amsterdam, +31 (0)20-62 55 771, www.diningcity.nl//cafedejaren/en/index.html
The city is a European design capital. Hop on a speedy tram to visit the shops, restos, clubs and hotels featured in the Amsterdam Design 2007 guide. www.amsterdamdesign.info
Head to fashion-forward De Negen Straatjes (aka the 9 Streets). LockStock & Barrel carries original finds by Scandinavian designers like FilippaK and Baum und Pferdgarten. Or pick up some vintage silk blouses at Zipper.
LockStock & Barrel, Hartenstraat 26, Amsterdam, +31 (0)20-4123348
Zipper, Huidenstraat 7, Amsterdam, +31(0)20-6237302
Give peace a chance in the John & Yoko Suite at the Hilton Amsterdam. The couple held a bed-in here in 1969 and the lady herself designed the room (in peaceful white, of course). Order the perfect head rest from the hotel’s pillow menu (we like the Warm & Soft filled with kapok) or borrow a bike to explore the chic shops in the Zud neighborhood.
Rooms start at 215 Euros. Hilton Amsterdam, Apollolaan 138, Amsterdam, +31 (0)20-710 60 00, www.hilton.com
KLM offers 6 direct flights per week from Montréal. Prices start at $650 return, www.klm.com
November 4th, 2007
We love a bit of pub grub once in while and the Hotel Nelligan’s new restaurant is all that, with a touch of class.
Méchant Boeuf takes traditional pub fare and adds a French cuisine twist. Settle into your leather banquette for the Beer Battered Cod and Chips ($14), Roasted Boris Beer Can Chicken ($24) or tuck into their famous Méchant Burger ($16) (rumored to be the best in the city).
Wash down your nosh with a pint of Tetley’s English Ale ($8) or a Mad Cow cocktail ($10) and you’ll find yourself giggling all the way home along the cobbled streets of la vieux-ville.
Méchant Boeuf, 124 St. Paul W., Montreal, 514-788-2040, www.mechantboeuf.com
October 28th, 2007
The next time you’re having friends over for a meal, impress them with some fabulous fowl.
Brome Lake Ducks has just opened its first Montreal boutique and it’s a feast of gourmet treats. Among its pre-cooked Peking products are: honey and garlic duck wing drumettes, boneless breast confit, and country-style pot pie.
Can’t wait to get home for a nibble? Head to the bistro at the back for ready-to-eat duck salad, duck breast and yes, even duck soup.
Le Canard Libéré, 4396 St. Laurent Blvd., Montreal, 514-286-1286, www.bromelakeducks.com
October 14th, 2007
What do you do when your restaurant is always full to capacity? If you’re the owners of Joe Beef on Notre Dame Street West, you open a new place two doors away.
Named after an Old Montreal tavern that was popular in the 19th century, Liverpool House is slightly bigger than Joe’s but no less cozy. You’ll feel the warmth of being in someone's home with the service of a four-star restaurant.
Chef/co-owner Fred Morin describes his food as Italian-ish, but we just call it delish. Menu items include succulent pork braciole ($22), red snapper with fennel and orange ($26) both accompanied by tasty sides of baked squash and black cabbage ($5 each).
It’s the kind of food our mamma used to make.
Liverpool House, 2501 Notre Dame St. W., Montréal, 514-313-6049.
October 7th, 2007
New kid on the Parc Avenue block Ēm Café is a piece of paradise on the bustling boulevard.
This affordable breakfast and lunch spot serves home-cooked meals with an international flare. You'll feel right at home sipping macchiatos and munching on montaditos (Spanish tapas) at the giant communal table. We couldn't decide between the spicy tuna and stuffed mushroom served on crispy baguette ($2 each or 3 for $5), so we ordered them both.
They also do yummy take-out dishes like grilled chorizo ($6.95), paella wrap ($8.95) and Mexican salad ($9.95).
The cozy décor is “modern nostalgia”: black and white hand-painted murals, exposed brick walls and picture frames made from the original wooden floor boards
We think we’ve found our new neighborhood hang out!
Ēm Café, open 7 days a week, 7 a.m.-8 p.m., 5718 Parc Ave., Montréal, 514-303-5735, www.emcafe.ca
October 4th, 2007
Whether you’re snapping up spices at the souk or sipping mint tea in the medina, Marrakech is a sensory delight.
Perched on the edge of a Berber village, Caravan Serai is the perfect place to escape medina madness. Rooms are Moorish in decor and most have their own terrace. Watch the sunrise in the magical gardens followed by a hammam and hearty breakfast by the pool. www.hotel-caravanserai.com
In a city where you can easily spend an hour bartering over a bag of baubles, we suggest hiring a personal shopper to do it for you. A fashion insider with plenty of contacts and savoir fair, Laetitia Trouillet will beeline you to the best babouche, caftans, and tea glasses Marrakech has to offer. Apprx. $330 for the day (includes transportation and lunch). www.lalla.fr
Rise early for petite dejeuner at the Marjorelle Gardens. Named after its creator artist Jacques Majorelle and later bought by Yves Saint Laurent, this bourgainvillia-scented Eden features more than 350 varieties of exotic plants. www.jardinmajorelle.com
drink, dine, boogie
Sip sunset cocktails on the roof terrace of Yacout before sampling the Franco-Arabic menu at Le Foundouk. Carry on with more cocktails and bellydancing at hip nightspot Le Comptoir.
September 7th, 2007
No time for a vacation? A weekend mini-break to Lake Placid , New York can be just as divine.
The charming Mirror Lake Inn has picturesque views across the lake. Every afternoon, guests at this Dirty Dancing-style resort are treated to tea and fresh chocolate chip cookies. Get a maple sugar body scrub at the spa or take a peddle-boat ride off their private beach. Rooms start at $300/night. 77 Mirror Lake Drive Lake Placid, New York, www.mirrorlakeinn.com
It’s been a hectic day of relaxing and you’re parched. Enjoy a refreshing Ubu Ale at the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery . If you ask very nicely, the brewer himself will take you on a private tour. 14 Mirror Lake Drive Lake Placid, New York, 518-523-3813, www.ubuale.com
If you’re in need of excitement, call up Gary Marchuk of Bear Cub Adventure tours. His personalized fishing trips will have you convening with nature in no time. He’ll even bait your hook. 518-523-4339, www.mountain-air.com/canoeing
Indulge in a gourmet meal at Kanu Restaurant in the White Face Lodge Resort & Spa. Organic dishes such as Caramelized Diver Sea Scallops ($32) are prepared in an open-kitchen and served under 28-foot ceilings. 7 Whiteface Inn Lane, Lake Placid, New York, 800-903-4045, www.thewhitefacelodge.com
August 23rd, 2007
London Bridge is falling down? We think not! Here's a guide to the real Times of London.
You'll love the Babylonian palace–inspired Gilgamesh with carved walls and bar, retractable glass roof and model–perfect male servers. Sharing plates are de rigueur–must–haves include the Duck Spring Roll (£7.50) and Prawn Har Gau (£5.50). Stables Market, Chalk Farm Rd., Camden, London, 020 7482 5757, www.gilgameshbar.com
Despite a name that's fit for la plage, Beach Blanket Babylon is just the place to live out your romantic Notting Hill fantasies. Sidle up to the action–packed bar and try the Boo Manchoo (£9.50), a tasty blend of organic strawberries, crème de fraise and vanilla vodka that will help you forget your drink cost more than your dinner. 45 Ledbury Rd., London, 020 7229 2907, www.beachblanket.co.uk
From affordable to pure luxury, scale the fashion ranks at Selfridges & Co., owned by Canada's Holt Renfrew clan, stocking everything from TopShop (including the much–hyped Kate Moss line) to Temperley. Don't miss the homegrown Ted Baker range, featuring sleek silk dresses, proper peacoats and textured fabrics for fall. 400 Oxford St., London, 44 113 369 8040, www.selfridges.com