Friday, March 2, 2012

Eat: Top 5 Restaurants that....I'm Dying to Try

It's probably not good to admit but one of my favourite hobbies is dining out. I make an effort to try new (and new to me) places but there are definitely some old favourites that would probably not make the cut if I was reintroduced to them today (but I digress...)

This will be the first in a series of posts I will write about my "Top 5 Restaurants...". I will start with the easiest list, my top 5 restaurants in Montreal that I want to try next. It's a lot of fun to think back on all the meals & restaurants that will form my list and I'm putting some serious thought into my Top 5 BYOW and Cheap Eats lists.

Top 5 Restaurants that I'm Dying to Try:
Ever since I saw some twitterpics of the food being prepared here, I've been itching to go. My interest has been piqued by the threads on Chowhound and the twitter updates from the local food scene; the only reason I'm hesitant to go is the repeated feedback that the restaurant can be overbearingly loud & cramped in terms of seating. But damn, does the menu look and sound good! I'm a sucker for Italian food, even more so for rustic country/family style Italian food. I am completely looking for an excuse to book a reservation here. Anyone want a dinner date?
My interest here lies entirely with their version of a Cubano sandwich. When I was in NYC last fall, my boyfriend and I ended up dining at Guantanamera where I ordered my first ever Cubano sandwich...and it changed my life. The flavours and textures are paired so beautifully. Sliced ham, warm slow cooked pork roast, cheese, pickles and mustard...pure heaven. When I got home I immediately went to chowhound to ask Montrealers where I could get something similar. A few suggestions were made but the most common one by far was Olive & Gourmando. I want to go but it's in Old Montreal, an area I don't normally go to during the week, and they are closed on Sundays. I've heard there can be quite a line up to get in on Saturday as a result; there is no way in hell I'm going to wait in line outside a restaurant in the middle of winter. No can do, not even for a Cubano. Just waiting till the thaw...
I know very little other than the fact that, in the last 3 weeks, Montreal foodies have been posting the most SICK photos of sandwiches from this place. The bread looks fantastic, the toppings delectable. Meatballs in marinara with cheese, layers of gorgeous capicolo. Daaamn..... Check out the website pictures, seriously. I need to stop having such massive breakfasts on the weekend so I can make room in my belly for some lunch at this place!
I'm already been here twice, so technically it shouldn't be included here. But it's my favourite restaurant right now, hands down, and they had unveiled a brand new menu. I would try anything they prepare, and I'm drooling with anticipation over their meatballs and homemade cured meats. If it wasn't for my recent attempts to lose a few pounds and gain a few dollars, I'd be back there tonight. Must go back soon.
Another restaurant I know very little about, but it showcases one of my all time favourites foods ...sandwiches! Well, piadina to be exact, a specialty of Emilia-Romagna. I have yet to try it, but the Montreal Gazette review posted pictures of the homemade flat bread, fresh arugula, prosciutto and stracchino cheese (awesome, who uses stracchino!!) used in their specialty and I was convinced that I had to try one for myself. ASAP.
  • Honorable Mentions:
Pied De Cochon Cabane A Sucre and Garde Manager. Two places that are incredibly popular and garnering a lot of buzz.

With Pied De Cochon Cabane A Sucre, I was lucky enough to hitch my wagon to a group dinner reservation requested in December, which was finally confirmed almost a full month later in January (not atypical, apparently). I am excited and it's still 2 months away but I have to admit that as a picky eater (don't dig foie gras, offal, etc. ) I'm likely going to pass on a number of their menu items. Which is probably better for me in the long run considering how ill people have claimed they feel after leaving the cabane a sucre. But I'm along for the experience, which should be memorable.

For Garde Manger, there is a strong local pride right now for both our food scene and our Chuck Hughes. I have heard enough to make me want to go, but I anticipate I will be back in the 'picky boat' considering some of his usual ingredients. No plans to go yet, my boyfriend has already been there and sometimes it's hard to justify a return trip to a restaurant when you consider cost, difficulty with reservation, noise level/comfort, etc. Truth be told, even though it's one of the most buzzed about restaurants in the city, I would be fine if I never went back to the Pied De Cochon restaurant, based on cost and the god-awful food hangover I had for 48 hours afterwards.

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