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OUT IN MONTREAL by John Mariani
YORK CORNER: UNCLE JACK'S
STEAKHOUSE by John Mariani
Montreal and Toronto have a
more-or-less friendly rivalry going on, though neither can claim to be
a "typical" Canadian city, just as neither New York nor Los Angeles can
claim to be a typical U.S. city. Toronto
can easily claim to be Canada's most modern city—architecturally
advanced and the economic engine of Canada. Its dining scene
with strikingly new global and ethnic restaurants, and I shall be
reporting on Toronto's in the next few weeks.
gastro-scene in Montreal is conservatively rooted in
French tradition, mostly bistro-style food, and I’ve found it to be the
equal of those bistros and brasseries in Paris. The restaurants
in Montreal are always busy, always bustling, and stay open far later
than in Toronto. One night, as I eased out the door of Leméac,
in the Outremont area, near midnight, people were still lined up to get
in and the long bar was jammed. The restaurant even has an after
10 PM special menu.
Beaver Hall is open for lunch Mon.-Fri.,
for dinner nightly. Menus are both a la carte of table d'hote, the
latter from $14.50-$23.50.
the most dazzling new restaurant in Montreal,
with a very chic, hip crowd that arrives on the late side of the
evening, is Koko in the equally stylish Opus Montreal Hotel, which is
where I stayed quite happily during my visit. Modern, cool, and
very comfortable, I'd highly recommend this as the epitome of Montreal
moderne and a well-situated hotel in a quiet part of the city.
And if you really want a sense of the way
Montreal likes to eat right now, head for the tiny slip of a corner
eatery named Marché 27, a drop-in, deli-like, white-tiled room
where you’ll sit next to locals speaking Canadian French mixed with
Canadian English--often at the same table--and choose from a blackboard
menu that is a canny mix
of comfort foods, both humble and sublime, like smoked salmon and Brie
sandwiches, a hefty, succulent grilled pork chop with asparagus, and an
array of ten different tartares prepared on the spot and sauced with
Italian, Japanese, French, and Thai seasonings. Marché 27
also makes some of the best pommes
frites, with a chili-spiked mayo, in
on what you read of Schwartz's brochures and websites, this
80-year-old eatery is either a "Hebrew Delicatessen" (like
there's another kind?), "Charcuterie Hebraique," or a
"Steakhouse." Once you see the menu, though, you'll side with the
latter, for there's not much here that would remind any New Yorker of
the offerings at even the average deli. Nevertheless, Schwartz's is an institution in
Montreal, and I was anxious to get back after many years. In
one sense, it was good to see that nothing has really changed; for the
same reason, it was a little disconcerting
to see slabs of meat lying
chock-a-block in the window, and the place looked plenty scruffy,
including sections of duct tape that seems to be holding parts of it
together. The place looks like it could use a good scrub down, without
ruining the old-fashioned, timeless atmosphere of a place to come for
simple good eats.
For many years now Normand Laprise has been one of
Montreal's most treasured chef/restaurateurs, with wife Christine
Lamarche, owners of the stylish Toqué on the very pretty, leafy
Place Jean-Paul-Ripolle. It also stocks a very fine wine cellar and has
long been the place to come for romance, celebration, or business
(though it's only open for lunch a few weeks in December). Not as
formal as it once was, the décor, which reminds me of first
airline lounges of the 1970s, is done in fine, burnished wood
and salmon-colored gauzy curtains over tall windows overlooking the
plaza. Amenities, tablesettings, and service are all first
rate. Now 16 years old, Toqué's commitment to the best
artisanal producers, many listed on the menu, has never been stronger,
you dine on food that is always seasonal, best appreciated with the
menu of seven courses, at $92 (with wines $151).
courses run $19-$23, main courses $39-$46.
Will you just look at that ribeye?
Uncle Jack's is open
Mon.-Fri., for dinner nightly. Appetizers run $9-$16, main courses
YOU'RE GOING TO GO TO JAIL YOU MIGHT AS WELL STEAL GREY GOOSE!
Anthony Sessions of Vero Beach, FL, walked into at Great Spirits Liquors
told staffers to call police because he was about to steal a bottle of
vodka, then grabbed a bottle of $16 bottle of Gilbey’s Vodka and said
that he wasn’t going to pay for it: “I’m stealing this and going around
back to drink it. Call the cops.” An Indian River County Sheriff’s
deputy found Sessions in the woods behind the store drinking.
VERY GOOD, JUST KEEP ON TRYING
TO THINK LIKE A NORMAL PERSON
reason I write these reviews the way I do—why, for the past seven
years, have taken them so personally and written (almost) as much
about myself as I have about the food. It’s because every time I
walk through the doors of a restaurant, I try to imagine myself in the
situation I actually found myself in last week: as a customer who, for
whatever reason, doesn’t just want dinner, but needs it. First dates.
Last Dates. Marriage proposals, Grief. Restaurants are, in so many
cases, stages for all of mankind’s small dreams. . . . Every week
I try to think like a normal person—not a critic, not a writer—and
imagine how I would feel had I been given. . . this.”—Jason Sheehan,
“Mourning: a review of Mark & Isabella,” Westword (Oct. 28, 2009).
✉ Guidelines for submissions: QUICK BYTES publishes only events, special dinners, etc, open to the public, not restaurant openings or personnel changes. When submitting please send the most pertinent info, incl. tel # and site, in one short paragraph as simple e-mail text, WITH DATE LISTED FIRST, as below. Thanks. John Mariani
IMPORTANT NOTE: Owing to the number of Christmas holiday announcements received, QUICK BYTES cannot publish any but a handful of the most unusual.
* From Nov. 30 through Dec 3 in Oakland, CA, Ozumo Oakland will celebrate its 1st
anniversary by offering a 5-course dinner showcasing signature dishes
at $36 pp. Call 510-286-9866. www.Ozumo.com/oakland.
* On Nov. 22 in Phoenix, AZ, the Arizona wine industry presents its 1st annual Arizona Wine Growers Festival at The Farm. The state's top wine growers will showcase the best of AZ's juice at an interactive event where guests will learn about Arizona wine production, explore exhibits of the state's grape growing regions, taste hundreds of wines and ultimately vote for their favorite wines. $65 pp; Awards dinner $125 at Quiessence Restaurant.) Call 480-306-5623. ArizonaWine.org.
Dec. 1 thru Feb. 28, Yountville,
CA, heats things up with a
town-wide "Moveable Feast" promotion. Sporting six Michelin
stars and a chef line-up worthy of a world tour, the town's top
toques and hotel properties offer 3-course dinners for $70 per
couple, 50% off VIP winetasting and up to 25% off
hotel/dining packages, starting at $165. Download passport at
On Dec. 3 in Miami Beach China Grill presents BYW Wine or Champagne dinner. Pommery Champagne Reception at followed by a 6-Course Dim Sum & Sushi Dinner by Chef Tim Nickey. $55 pp. Call 305- 534 -2211.
* In NYC, every Thursday of the month, Esperanto will host Flamenco nights, with musicians Alfonso Cid from the band Gazpacho Andalu and dancer Isabel Del Dia. Esperanto’s regular Latin inspired menu and cocktails will be available. Call 212-505-6559; www.esperantony.com
* On Dec.
2, in NYC, Brasserie Ruhlmann will offer a
primeview and prix-fixe special for the Rockefeller Center Tree
Lighting Ceremony: a 3-course meal of Executive Chef Laurent
Tourondel’s signature dishes, and a champagne toast at 8:55 pm when the
ceremony begins. Dinner for two will be given away to the person who
posts the best reason for wanting to attend the event on Brasserie
Ruhlmann’s Facebook. Call 212-974-2020.
Dec. 6-8, One&Only Le Sant
celebrated the 10 year anniversary of Alain Ducasse’s Spoon des Iles at
One&Only Le Sant Géran with a “10 Years, 10 Dishers, 10
Wines” pairing menu and 3-day hosted weekend with Chef Alain
Ducasse. The property has created a food-themed travel package to
enjoy a private cooking lesson with Spoon’s head chef Romain Meder and
dinner at Spoon des Iles and a Spoon cookbook signed by Alain
Ducasse. Valid Nov. 20 – Dec. 20. Go to
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-556-0001.
On Dec. 8, in NYC, Japan Society hosts chef Tadashi Ono
of Matsuri restaurant and food journalist Harris Salat, authors of Japanese Hot Pots: Comforting One-Pot Meals,
to explain everything American cooks need to know to prepare these
deliciously simple and healthy meals. Followed by a tasting. $18/$15
members, seniors & students. Call 212-715-1258 or visit
Everett Potter's Travel Report:
I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler, ForbesTraveler.com and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star places as five-star experiences." THIS WEEK: Do You Believe These 15 Myths of Travel?
Eating Las Vegas is the new on-line site for Virtual Gourmet contributor John A. Curtas., who since 1995 has been commenting on the Las Vegas food scene and reviewing restaurants for Nevada Public Radio. He is also the restaurant critic for KLAS TV, Channel 8 in Las Vegas, and his past reviews can be accessed at KNPR.org. Click on the logo below to go directly to his site.
Tennis Resorts Online: A Critical Guide to the World's Best Tennis Resorts and Tennis Camps, published by ROGER COX, who has spent more than two decades writing about tennis travel, including a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine. He has also written for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, New York Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Money, USTA Magazine, Men's Journal, and The Robb Report. He has authored two books-The World's Best Tennis Vacations (Stephen Greene Press/Viking Penguin, 1990) and The Best Places to Stay in the Rockies (Houghton Mifflin, 1992 & 1994), and the Melbourne (Australia) chapter to the Wall Street Journal Business Guide to Cities of the Pacific Rim (Fodor's Travel Guides, 1991). THIS WEEK:
Family Travel Forum (FTF), whose motto is "Have Kids, Still Travel!",
is dedicated to the ideals, promotion and support of travel with
children. Founded by business professionals John Manton and Kyle
McCarthy with first class travel industry credentials and global family
travel experience, the independent, family-supported FTF will provide
its members with honest, unbiased information, informed advice and
practical tips; all designed to make traveling a rewarding, healthy,
safe, better value and hassle-free experience for adults and children
who journey together. Membership in FTF will lead you to new worlds of
adventure, fun and learning. Join the movement.
nickonwine: An engaging, interactive wine column by Nick Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine Columnist, BusinessWeek.com; email@example.com; www.nickonwine.com.
MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly. Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Robert Mariani, John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Suzanne Wright, and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery, Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.
Any of John Mariani's books below
may be ordered from amazon.com by clicking on the cover image.