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Beware Le Saint-Amour

First off, thanks to all the chowhounds whose posts helped me plan the dining for a recent trip to Montreal and Quebec City. Thought I'd share my thoughts for future visitors, and one warning in particular.

I've lived in New York and SF and this was my second visit to Montreal and first to Quebec City. Both are amazing food destinations.

If you are considering Le Saint-Amour in Quebec City, I would suggest avoiding it at all costs. We had a lunch there that was just the worst example of lazy cookery. Really embarrassing actually. Pork loin was overcooked, vegetables were wilted and brown, the asparagus looked like they'd been sitting under a heat lamp for fours, wrinkled beyond recognition. Red deer steak was tough. Sent the pork back and it returned slightly less overcooked. Also, this would have been forgivable if the food was first-rate, but the room, especially the back room, is exceedingly tacky, like an Olive Garden rendition of a supposedly romantic French restaurant. Seriously: pink tulip lights, plastic hanging plants, abominable paintings of ducks.

It's possible dinner is better, some chowhounds rave about the place, but it can't possibly be very good if this is their lunch, and such a meal at any time of day is simply inexcusable.

Much better was Panache, beautiful room, of course, and very good food and service. We went for their Thursday 4 course prix fixe, a good deal at $49. I believe it is a much simpler style dinner than the usual tasting menu, Truffle Arancini, Scallops, Quail stuffed with Boudin Blanc, Pot de Creme, but quite good.

Lapin Saute is a solid rendition of hearty French/Quebec country fare, rabbit focused, obviously.

Clocher Penche was really top-notch. We went for Sat brunch. One of the most creative brunch menus I've seen, and superbly executed.

In Montreal, Au Pied de Cochon was very good, though far from mind-blowing (gut-busting, yes).

Le Petit Alep was solid and interesting, thought can't say it convinced me that Montreal is a standard bearer for Middle Eastern food, as some have claimed.

As to the Bagel wars, we tried both St. Viateur and Fairmount (they are walkable to each other). Both excellent, warm, moist, smaller. St. Viateur has a slight edge I think, but they are quite similar. Better than New York bagels? I'd say just different. Never had fresher, and they certainly have a great setting (wood-fired oven, huge blocks of dough rising on the counter), but they are soft, and don't have the chewiness of a new york bagel. Can't see how well they'd work in a sandwich, but they are great on their own.

Lastly, Schwartz's smoked meat was a different style as well, lean, delicious, but sorry, in my book no contest to the fatty flavor of Katz's or Second Ave Deli. Nice to be able to sit at the counter and be served, rather than fight with the masses though. Definitely see for yourself.

BTW, if you're going to Montreal, didn't go this time, but as of a few years ago, I thought Toque was one of the better restaurants in North America.

Restaurant Jean etcetera

Thanks Souphie, was hoping to hear from you!


Apr 02, 2008
yurasia in France

Restaurant Jean etcetera

Hello Francophonic Hounds-

Heading to Alsace, Bugundy, and Paris shortly.

Has anyone been to Restaurant Jean on rue St. Lazare in the 9th?

Also I have reservations at Auberge de l'Ill in Alsace, which, the dollar being what it is, will probably take the place of a top-flight meal in Paris. A worthwhile trade-off? Anyone know the latest prices?

Lastly, not much on the boards about Taillevent's little sister, L'Angle du Faubourg, thoughts?

in Chow-

Apr 01, 2008
yurasia in France

Best Chowhound Cities

Fresno!?!? Please enlighten...

Feb 22, 2007
yurasia in General Topics

Best Chowhound Cities

I can't abide the thought of ranking them, the mental and culinary conundrums could take decades to resolve, but I will name my top 10 food cities:

New York
San Francisco
Hong Kong
Napa Valley

Although my exploration has been limited, I was generally not as impressed with Seattle, LA, Tokyo, Venice, and Boston.

Feb 22, 2007
yurasia in General Topics

Excellent Salads in Wayne Area

Have a big lunch event coming up.

Need suggestions for a place with an extensive salad selection or fresh salad bar in the Wayne area and also a comfortable seating arrangement for a party of 12.


Feb 21, 2007
yurasia in Pennsylvania

San Francisco vs. Manhattan--Overall Better Chowhound Locale

I agree. I think its an impossible comparison between those two amazing cities, having lived both places. As you say, pros and cons in both...oh OK, can;t resist:

Better in NYC:
Overall ethnic Diversity
Late night
steeped in tradition
middle eastern
street food!
consistency of high end dining
Hot dogs
A certain kind of asian fusion (momofuku, fatty crab)
Not being able to keep up with the dining scene...never a dull moment
old school specialty shops (butchers fish shops, etc.
homestyle japanese and izakaya
Jamaican, Cuban, etc
Soul Food
Peruvian and Dominican chicken

Better in SF:
fresh produce
California wine
California food
Dim Sum
affordable sushi

I guess in summary...try both!

Feb 13, 2007
yurasia in General Topics

San Francisco vs. Manhattan--Overall Better Chowhound Locale

Where can you get a good Burmese dinner? I was deeply underwehlmed by the place on 7th, especially as compared to Burma SuperStar in, you guessed it... San Fran.

Feb 13, 2007
yurasia in General Topics

The New Haymaker

we did end up going there and the food was quite good, athough not spectacular. Bennett was not behind the stoves that day BTW. A bit surprised by the location and decor, kind of feels more like a brewpub and its in a mall, which would be fine for an average night but not really perfect for a birthday. But its the food that counts most of all and it was solid.

French Laundry - Word to the Wise

Greetings Hounds-

As French Laundry seems to still be one of the ultimate destinations for serious eaters, I thought I'd share my experience there in order to possibly enhance yours, if you finally decide to cash out your IRA and go.

French Laundry was solidly one of the best meals I have ever had. Only problem was, I expected it to be. So it met, but did not exceed my expectations. So keep your hopes realistic, they're only human.

(BTW, Keller (who may or may not be only human) was not in the Kitchen that night, as is probably often the case.)

Beware of eating too much too soon. Keller has a Foie Gras philosophy that could be summed up as "don't skimp!" and they didn't but we were beyond full before the mains arrived.

If the Snake River farms beef is still on the menu when you go, watch out, becasue mine was oversalted (one of their few missteps).

Lastly, don't be intimidated by the circumstance. In a fit of compliance, we all four ended up with much the same tasting menu, which of course is foolish, as we didnt get to try various things.

So, now advised, go if you can afford it. I've never spent more on a meal, and may never again, but it's an amzing culinary experience.

The New Haymaker

Hey y'all,

Visiting Hudson Valley and thinking of Haymaker as a birthday dinner destination. Anyone been since Bennett Chinn took over? Is it all that?

Also, if, as other posters have said, he worked with Keller and French Laundry and Per Se, wonder why that isn't said in his bio on the restaurant website?


Sublime Cocktails?

Pegu club is defintinely up there, in both taste and price. Homemade bitters and so on...

Dec 09, 2006
yurasia in Manhattan

Your Top 5 "must visit" chow-related stores in Manhattan

Think you've hit a nerve...As if you needed more, I'll echo 5 mentioned and attempt 5 more:

DiPalo Italian specialties in Little Italy
Murray's Cheese in West Village
Il Laboratorio dei Gelato in the Lower East Side
Russ and Daughters

Dumpling House on Eldridge in Chinatown
Junior's Cheesecake in Brooklyn or Grand Central Station
Union Square Greenmarket, especially the Lamb farmers
Ottomanelli's Butchers shop in W. Village
Blue Ribbon bakery (the actual bakery) in W. Village

Dec 09, 2006
yurasia in Manhattan

Review - Chiyono - Japanese Food like Mama-San used to make - East Village

We live in the East Village and this is one of our favorite spots in a neighborhood with a mind-boggling wealth of culinary options.

I hesitated to post about this for fear of the secret getting out, but I figured Chowhounds needed to know. For those of us who love Japanese food but have come to realize, as one will in the first 5 minutes off the plane in Japan, that Sushi is really a minuscule part of the cuisine, Chiyono is the place. It's what I would describe as homestyle Japanese food, but very artfully prepared: Miso steamed Cod and Mackerel, Agedashi tofu, simmered pork belly in soy sauce, potato croquettes, japanese yam, oyster rice, in small to medium size portions, unfussy, simple, delicious, and satisfying.

It's a strightforward clean and pleasing environment, in that Zen kinda way, tucked in between various samey Indian joints on 6th Street's Curry Row. The place is mostly taken up by a long dark wood communal table. They have a short list of excellent sakes and beer and wine. It is run by owner / chef Chiyono, who imports and uses things like natural sea salt from Okinawa and special pickled plums from her mother's organic garden in Japan.

It is still somewhat undiscovered, been there about a year I think, so ripe for the Chowhound crowd. not sure about reservations and a bit hard to spot. It's at 328 6th Street between First and Second Avenues, 212.673.3984, but it took a few passes for us to find it.

Happy Hunting...

Dec 09, 2006
yurasia in Manhattan