j

jbbank's Profile

Title Last Reply

Laurier Gordon Ramsay

I visited LGR this weekend and without expecting too much, I had a decent meal. It's hard to comment on service since the hype over GR buying a restaurant in Montreal seems to attract a lot of people wanting a piece of the action and I feel it is unfair to judge service during such this "trial" period.

I ordered the 1/4 chicken breast. It came with seasoned fries, a light brown gravy, slaw and a toasted bun. Unfortunately the chicken was bland for my taste. My favorite, Chalet BBQ was a much more flavorsome bird, but to its credit, it was not rotisserie'd to death. Very few places reliably serve up a breast without the wings being the texture of aged chicken jerky. While not as flavorful as I felt it could be, it was not bad either. A very average 1/4 breast.

The gravy was a chicken-based gravy. Not a classic Montreal rotisserie chicken "sauce". I didn't love it and I didn't hate it but I can understand why some people feel it is not in the right place. Again, a bit bland but more care seemed to be put into it than your average St-Hubert powdered mix.

Contrary to some, I quite enjoyed the fries/chips. I would have preferred them unseasoned or just lightly salted but it was not offensive in the least bit like how some others have put it. Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside is the way I like my fries and to me, is an indication of a properly blanched fry using the right potato. As usual, there are people who like the greasy and limp fries and those who prefer the crispy ones. I like both and I think LGR presented a pretty decent version of the latter imho.

Overall, I didn't have a bad experience and didn't dislike the food. It's a decent place with room for improvement and the slightly upscale surroundings is a welcomed option. Once they have worked out the kinks, I think it can be a reasonable alternative to the other choices we have in the city. Personally, I think good rotisserie chicken doesn't have to be traditional but it does have to be tasty. LGR isn't quite there yet but I see no reason it can't be close to the top of the food chain. For the time being, my money will still go to Chalet BBQ or Romados for some charcoaly goodness.

Aug 23, 2011
jbbank in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Looking for squab

Anybody have any idea where I would be able to find squab as an ingredient in Montreal? I've been looking around and have not had any luck so far.

Jul 27, 2010
jbbank in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Monin syrups in MTL

Does anybody know where I could get Monin syrups in Montreal? I'm looking for various flavors. If somebody knows a distributor and able to point me in the right direction, I would appreciate it very much.

Jan 19, 2010
jbbank in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Finding good espresso in Montreal

I've talked to the people at Mali and have tried their beans... While discussing espresso grinders (I was looking for one), he kept trying to convince me that the only difference in grinders is speed. That grind quality is all the same for every model. And I remember the lecture on how beans peak around 4-6 months or something ridiculous. He offered me a shot, and I remember it being just slightly above average and a bit too hot. Premium espresso, it wasn't to me.

Their beans were really not that good. You NEED to try some 49th parallel or some Intelligentsia. The one local espresso roast I like with milk is Terra's Goccia D'oro.

I do like Olympico and Milano's, but I seriously recommend anyone serious about their coffee to give Caffe in Gamba and Veritas a shot. IMO, really in a league of their own.

Feb 06, 2008
jbbank in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Finding good espresso in Montreal

Gamba and Veritas are definately worth a visit. I don't think Italia is in the same league, but they make decent espresso too. I feel that Art Java has been on a decline ever since they opened a few years ago, but they will still make a better cup than most places in the city. Whether or not you'll get a great cup will depend on whether who's working as barista.

Dec 18, 2007
jbbank in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

ISO Soup Dumplings [Split from Quebec board]

Asian Legend is a chain. It's not bad, not great imo. The quantity of soup is important, but I think the taste, the skin texture and the thin skin is what really does it for me. That said, I never remembered DTF not having enough broth, at least for me. If anything, the original XLB never had that much soup to begin with. It wasn't until the Taiwanese who embraced northern chinese treats, that they started using aspic to add more broth into the buns that made it "soup dumplings". XLB just really means little basket of buns. At least that is what I heard...

Now, I'm craving XLB's hehe... Can't wait to return to Toronto and get me some. Or maybe I should try to make my own, probably with limited success.

Dec 05, 2007
jbbank in Manhattan

ISO Soup Dumplings [Split from Quebec board]

Yes, that IS rather amusing :P I doubt DTF is better than when they started out, but there was a time where their quality dropped. I've been to Joe's twice only and that was within the last 4 months. I found Joe's dumplings to be a tad big and the skin too thick. My experiences with DTF in toronto had always been good, but never great. Stricly speaking of XLB's, I haven't found a place in North America that makes XLB's with the delicacy and finess that DTF in toronto has been able to do.

If you'll be in Toronto soon, it'll still be worth a visit for a XLB lover, if not just to satisfy curiosity. I would love for someone to chime in and post their own comparisons.

Asian Legend is ok, and I was a fan at one point, but revisited DTF and thought it was better. Nothing, however, beats the DTF in Taiwan for their XLB or their beef noodle soup. Not even in Shanghai. IMHO :)

Dec 04, 2007
jbbank in Manhattan

ISO Soup Dumplings [Split from Quebec board]

I'm afraid there are no decent soup dumplings in Montreal that I'm aware of. Hopefully, someone can correct me if I'm wrong. I seriously wish someone would step up and start a decent place to enjoy soup dumplings and shanghai food.

The closest bet would be in Toronto. Toronto has better soup dumplings than NYC imo. Joe Shanghai's soup dumplings are seriously overrated. The best in Canada and maybe even in North American is definitely Ding Tai Fung in Richmond Hill. Even those are not as good as the original in Taiwan.

Dec 03, 2007
jbbank in Manhattan

Best pizza in MTL

I like Ye Olde Orchard... I haven't been to that many pubs, but as far as pub food goes, I haven't really been to any place better. Granted, it doesn't break ground or amaze culinary-speaking, but it's decent pub food. And as pub food, I think it does rather well... Correct me if I'm wrong and there are better places out there. I would love to try some new places.

Bottega, however, is in a league of its own in Montreal. It may not be the thick north american pizza or the thin crispy cracker some associate with gourmet pizza, but it's true Neapolitan pizza. If this style of pizza interest you, it's probably the best Neapolitan style pizza you'll find in Canada.

Nov 21, 2007
jbbank in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

In search of Perfection

His personality and show is definately anal, but for me, there's a charm to it. It's a bit like Alton Brown taken to the next level... I don't consider it a cooking show, but rather an informative show on food. Like it or not, his analysis on food and how to achieve better food has its merits. I never saw pizza as something that I would make at home, but after watching his show, at least I know what you might have to do to achieve better pizza.

A lot of people like him because he cooks great food and has a great restaurant. Fat Duck is one of the highest praised restaurants not only in the UK, but the world. And just maybe, that reputation has something to do with his scientific approach. Makes you wonder and maybe even appreciate him, just a little.

Nov 05, 2007
jbbank in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Best High End Gourmet Restaurant in Montreal?

I've been to both, and I think it's hard to compare the two. Susur does asian/french fusion, while Toque leans more towards nouveau french using fresh market products. Being asian, Susur's flavors are not that innovative to me. Those combinations are either a hit or miss. Sometimes, it almost seems like he's trying too hard to meld French and Asian together. Toque may not be better than Susur, but I don't think the quality Normand's cuisine is lower than Susur's. It comes down to preference and what we like in a meal. I don't think Toque is about the most interesting food available, rather, just fresh ingredients, very well done.

Or maybe I've just been away from Toque for too long... and things have seriously declined.

The atmosphere, I agree... Too clinical. It was so much better at St-Denis. It has lost so much of its character.

Oct 31, 2007
jbbank in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Best High End Gourmet Restaurant in Montreal?

After having eaten quite a bit of Montreal, I would say that Toque probably offers best for what you are looking for. There are other places with maybe more innovative or more interesting food, but I think Toque still does rank up there in preparation, quality of ingredients and care it puts into its food. Maybe things have changed in the last year or so that I haven't been there, but the last time I checked, it was still very good. I still like Toque at its old St-Denis location when it seemed more serious about providing innovation and good food, than it does now, seemingly catering to a business crowd. Some may say it's not worth the price, but I don't think Montreal has any other restaurant in that category. A Pied de Cochon stuffed with foie gras is not a replacement for a Schwartz smoked meat sandwich. I love both equally. And nobody can ever say any dish must be 10x better than a smoked meat sandwich just because it is 10x more expensive. It will never be. IMHO, Toque is still the best of its kind.

If you're looking for gastronomy without necessarily looking for a NYC luxurious-type setting, Club Chasse et Peche, Joe Beer, La Chronique and Au pied de cochon all have a lot to offer and to show off Quebec's food culture.

I have been to Lumiere, Daniel, Per Se, Susur, Fat Duck and Arpege. Toque doesn't rank that high among the best of NYC and Europe, but personally, I don't think it loses very much if any at all to Lumiere and Susur. It comes down to personal preference. If anything, I have found Lumiere to be over-salted on many occasions.

On the subject of the Q... For all those that consider Q to be gastronomy, it's not. It may be an interesting dining experience, and maybe the best meat and potato place in Montreal, but it's definately more of a place to spend your money to be served, to see and be seen kind of place. I am not a fan of that place at all, however, their food isn't bad either. It is certainly not a place I would bring visitors hoping to show them what Quebec gastronomy is all about. Cost isn't the issue. Their steaks are priced about right for any high end steakhouse, but their wine prices are another matter. I love a good red wine with my steak, but everytime I'm there, I can't bear to spend it on their 4x markup. It's gouging at its finest. I don't mind paying $300 for a good Cote Rotie at home, but spending $150 for a mediocre cru bourgeois is just wrong. I'm just ranting... Fact is, we just have to agree to disagree on controversies like the Q.

Oct 28, 2007
jbbank in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Espresso Beans

There are 3 places that sell great espresso blends. Caffe Art Java (Gimme coffee), Veritas (49th Parallel roasters) and Caffe in Gamba (Intelligentsia). I have yet to find a local roaster remotely approaching the quality of these 3 roasters.

I suggest you try out: Leftist (Gimme), Epic (49th Parallel), Black Cat (Intelligentsia) and Kid-O (Intelligentsia). They each have their own character, so you'll just have to try them out.

Ask for roast dates because espresso beans deteriorate very quickly. They usually peak around 4-10 days, then it's all downhill. I don't keep any beans older than about a month.

Sep 24, 2007
jbbank in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Best hotdogs in MTL

I don't think I'll make a trip just for that :) No matter how good they are, they're still just hot dogs. Maybe I'll pick some up next time I'm in the US and bring it cross-border. I'm not clear on the laws, but I think I read somewhere that importing 10lbs (or less) of meat from the US is legal for personal consumption. Does anyone have any info on this?

On another note, I found Snowdon Deli to carry National Hebrew hot dogs. They're crazy expensive, $9 for a 3/4 lb package. They come in regular, large and jumbo sizes. Sinai's are good. Really good even, but I think National Hebrew, Sabrett and Nathan's are better. The latter 2 being better than NH because I like the natural casing. Sheep casings are apparently not kosher.

Sep 17, 2007
jbbank in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Best hotdogs in MTL

It's unfortunate, but Costco no longer serve Sinai. I think they're using Olympic brand franks and they're nowhere near as good as the Sinai Kosher. I've tried the Moishe Angus, and unfortunately, they're just ok. Really nothing special...

Dinner franks are good, but I'm looking for natural sheep casing hotdogs. Probably in the 7-8 dogs to a pound range. They have a snap that is so addictive!

Sep 17, 2007
jbbank in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Best hotdogs in MTL

It seems that Montreal is not known for their hot dogs although some may disagree... I've been in search for a good dog around town, but have found nothing so far. Having visited NYC with the likes of Gray's, Papaya King and Nathan's, there doesn't seem to be anything comparable in Montreal.

I'm sure there are a few devotees of the Montreal steamé or toasté, but in my personal opinion, they're tasteless franks that offer nothing more than a particular soggy texture that one can enjoy only if we were brainwashed from being in Montreal for too long.

Is there something better in Montreal?

Sep 16, 2007
jbbank in Quebec (inc. Montreal)