November 29th, 2013
A while back, we dismissed anything on Crescent as a tourist trap.
So when Wienstein & Gavino’s, one of the street’s landmark restaurants (it’s been around for 17 years!) invited us to sample their new menu, we accepted with some trepidation.
Upon arrival, we were greeted with a charcuterie platter, antipasti, and bubbles. So far, so good. Next, Executive Chef Giuseppe Sacchetti enthusiastically welcomed us and explained his vision for the new menu. In a nutshell? Italian classics with a modern twist.
And then came more food: Succulent meatballs, homemade pasta, gorgeous pizza… Everything fresh, homemade and, needless to say, delicious.
We left pleasantly surprised, completely stuffed and happy as can be. —Christine Laroche
1434 Crescent St., Montreal, 514-288-2231, Montreal, www.wgmtl.com
November 15th, 2013
As the adage goes, out with the old and in with the new. On McGill Street, that means good-bye Louigi’s and hello Racines.
Truth be told, it’s tough to be nostalgic when the new restaurant’s dive-y pizza joint past is 100 per cent unrecognizable in the cozy and sleek decor.
And then, of course, there’s the food. Chef Simon Mathys, formerly of Bar & Boeuf, has concocted a menu of small plates that aren’t meant for sharing: Just mix and match any three to create your custom meal.
For us, highlights included the carrot tart with raw shavings and milk ($6) and albacore tuna with red kuri squash and pumpkin seeds ($10) while our date was all about his blood pudding with turnip ($11) and veal sweetbreads ($15) – a far (and delicious) cry from greasy diner staples.
The best thing about being too stuffed for dessert? We have a great excuse to go back. —Christine Laroche
444 McGill, Montreal, 514-544-0444, www.racines.ca
November 6th, 2013
Terrasse season is long gone but that doesn’t mean we’re in hibernation mode just yet.
Especially not since we’re smack in the middle of Montreal à Table (until November 11th). The idea? One hundred and twenty five (!) of the city’s top restaurants have concocted special three-course menus available at very special prix fixe prices: Just $19, $29 or $39 for dinner.
And to sweeten the deal, this year’s edition celebrates maple syrup: Many chefs have incorporated the yummy stuff in their menus.
Bon appétit! —Christine Laroche
Photo: Jean-François Hétu (at Les 400 Coups)
November 1st, 2013
Casual. Unfussy. Fresh. Simple.
When it comes to restaurants, these are a few of our favourite things. Ceviches hits every mark.
Just choose a size (from small for $10 to extra-large for $50) and a flavor (think passionfruit, lime, coconut, avocado and more) and let the pros shake up a taste of the tropics. Whether you grab a seat at one of three banquettes or take your order to go, expect an ultra-warm welcome and ultra-delicious meal.
Just keep in mind that the spicy, tangy flavor + crunchy chips combination is highly addictive. —Christine Laroche
152 de Napoléon, Montreal, 514-419-6391, www.ceviches.ca
October 23rd, 2013
For mid-shopping spree fuel downtown, we’re grabbing a seat at La Société.
The Montreal outpost of this Toronto-based restaurant is tucked next to the newly renovated Loews Hotel – not to mention across the street from Ogilvy and a stone’s throw from Holt Renfrew.
The inviting space has the look of a quintessential Parisian bistro (banquettes, dark wood bar, stained glass) and the French-inspired menu to match. But what really wows is the extensive wine list and some smaller plates, including a decadently rich onion soup ($12) and a lovely charcuterie plate ($28).
Translation? The perfect spot to sip and savour while plotting a shopping strategy. —Christine Laroche
1415 de la Montagne, Montreal, 514-507-9223, www.lasociete.ca/montreal
October 4th, 2013
Take a former chef from the Romados, add some funky branding and a brand-new location and you’ve got Ma Poule Mouillée.
The recently opened eatery, on Rachel near Lafontaine Park, serves up a mean chicken plate (from $8) but for something a little bit different, try the grilled chorizo ($10) or the daily fish special.
Word to the wise: Grab a homemade nata pastry or two – you won’t regret it. —Christine Laroche
969 Rachel E., Montreal, 514-522-5175, www.mapoulemouillee.com
September 6th, 2013
A day at Balnea – complete with a gourmet meal by an Été des Chefs participant – is one of our favourite summer indulgences.
Now, it’s also our on fall to-do list, too.
Every weekend in September, the Nordic spa will be serving up all-new dishes by the amateur chefs who have garnered the most votes from the public during the summer-long contest.
Fall’s forecast? Equal parts relaxing and delicious. —Christine Laroche
319 Ch. du Lac Gale, Bromont, 450-534-0604, www.balnea.ca
September 3rd, 2013
What’s a girl to do with bikini season behind her?
Why, take part in Burger Week festivities, of course.
Until September 7, 30 restaurants are serving up an exclusive burger for $10 as a bid to be crowned Best Burger in Canada. Highlights include Blackstrap BBQ’s first-ever burger (available this week only!), Newtown’s take on the Big Mac and Fabergé’s mini-burgers, complete with dipping sauces.
Grab some napkins: Things are gonna get juicy. – Christine Laroche
August 29th, 2013
Locals like to call it the capital of Scandinavia, and they are probably right. Here’s what to do and see in Stockholm.
There’s a reason why royalty and politicians all stay in the Grand Hôtel when visiting Stockholm, and that’s because it is old-school, European grand. Boasting three of the city’s eight Michelin stars (a two star and a one star), the hotel’s food and beverage is unbeatable. Did we mention a great bar, too? The Cadier Bar is known for its high tea as well as being a great place for cocktails. Plus we lucked out and spotted a hot Swede: retired footballer Freddie Ljungberg was in the bar, and we are pretty sure he was winking at us. Grand Hôtel Stockholm, rooms start at 1700SEK a night. Södra Blasieholmshamnen 8, 111 48 Stockholm, +46 8 679 35 00, www.grandhotel.se
Another reason not to leave the Grand Hôtel, its Nordic Spa (also known as Best. Spa. Ever.). Featuring a series of pools, steam rooms, and saunas made from Nordic wood and stone, the spa focuses on the Scandinavian traditions of hot and cold. Sit in an 80 degree sauna and then take a dip into a freezing cold pool. If you’re feeling flush, we recommend the Arctic Detox massage (2390SEK) but even without a treatment, this place will make sure you leave relaxed but stressing about when you’ll be able to come back. Nordic Spa, Grand Hôtel Stockholm, Södra Blasieholmshamnen 8, 111 48 Stockholm, +46 8 679 35 75, www.grandhotel.se/en/explore/spa
Åhléns is Sweden’s major department store, and even the small town locations are enviably cool. Its central Stockholm location, Åhléns City, is their flagship where you can expect to find some of the best Scandinavian fashion and homewares. And yes, we know you can’t take glassware or sofas back in your suitcase, but you can browse and dream of what your apartment might look like if you lived closer by. Åhléns City, Klarabergsgatan 50, 101 29 Stockholm, +46 8 676 60 00, www.ahlens.se
eat and drink
We love the Soder neighbourhood (it means South) for its cool bars, restaurants, and shops, and one of our favourite hang outs was Morfar Ginko. Featuring a trendy bar area, a European restaurant (eat steak frites or classic Swedish hash browns) and an outdoor patio where you can actually smoke (there are some people who still do it in Europe), this is a great start to the evening, or a place to spend the whole night. Morfar Ginko, Swedenborgsgatan 13 11848 Stockholm, +46 8 641 13 40, www.morfarginko.se
While everyone has been raving about the new Abba Museum, we tried an alternative and opted for Fotografiska, Stockholm’s photography museum. While the Helmut Newton exhibition we saw might be over by the time you get there (it ends September 29th) the David LaChapelle show from November to March should be really good. After the exhibition, have a fika (a Swedish coffee break) on their outdoor patio with a view of Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town island. Fotografiska, Stadsgårdshamnen 22, 116 45 Stockholm, +46 8 50 900 500, http://fotografiska.eu
—Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
August 16th, 2013
With just eight indoor seats (there is an outdoor terrace, too), La Famille just may be the city’s smallest restaurant.
But what it lacks in square footage it makes up for in bold flavor. Open only during the day (until 6 p.m.), this so-called “micro-restaurant” stunned us with a bold cauliflower taboulé ($10) and spinach and goat cheese quiche ($10) – a far cry from usual lunchtime suspects like leftovers and sandwiches.
And for the ultimate afternoon delight, grab a brownie-to-go. It may very well be the best $4 we ever spent.
A little goes a long way. —Christine Laroche
418 Gilford St. Montreal, 514-508-8700.