Tuesday, July 8, 2014

More Montreal: Brasserie T!, Vanhorne, Le Petit Alep, Hyatt

Walleye, a freshwater fish, served over crunchy daikon radish, fiddlehead ferns and other vegetables with a spicy chimichurri sauce at Brasserie T! in Montreal, above and below.


One of busiest and best restaurants operating during the 35th annual International Jazz Festival is Brasserie T! on the edge of the Place des Arts, a cultural complex that is Montreal's version of Lincoln Center.

Brasserie T! and the companion Taverne F are housed in long, sleek glass-and-metal boxes, with outdoor seating that allows customers to eat lunch or dinner and listen to one of the many free performances.

We made a reservation for lunch on July 1 at Taverne F, which serves Portuguese food, but found it closed in observance of Canada Day. 

We found a table at the nearby Brasserie T!, got a terrific waitress named Sophie and enjoyed a wonderful meal with wine.

At Brasserie T!, my wife ordered pork ribs with a simple salad, below, instead of french fries.

Walleye and ribs

I ordered a freshwater fish, walleye, that I never see on menus in the northeastern United States, and the skin was crisped beautifully.

The meaty fillet was served, skin-side up, over blanched but crunchy daikon radish, fiddlehead ferns, asparagus and other vegetables, all swimming in a spicy chimichurri sauce ($24). A great dish.

I started with a bowl of chilled gazpacho ($7), and sipped a glass of Spanish red wine (also $7).

My wife asked for salad instead of fries with her pork ribs, which were cooked together and served in a barbecue sauce ($21). The meat fell off the bones.

With my wife's soft drink ($4), the bill totaled $82.78 Canadian, including taxes, but not the tip.

Brasserie T!, 1425 Jeanne Mance St., Montreal, Quebec; 1-514-282-0808. Open year-round.

The vegetable of the day at Brasserie T! was baby zucchini, far tastier than their much bigger cousins. 

I started with a creamy, refreshing gazpacho.

A $7 glass of Spanish wine at Brasserie T!
An amuse-bouche was compliments of the chef at Vanhorne Restarant in Montreal -- seaweed chip, mussel and tomato puree.


A year after we enjoyed a five-course tasting menu of seafood and vegetables at Vanhorne Restaurant in Montreal, we returned on July 2 to find a new chef and a new, inflexible attitude.

Yes. A five-course tasting menu was available for $60, just $2 more than in 2013. But ...

Unlike our first visit, the chef, Jens Ruoff, would not waver from the tasting menu, which included horse meat with hay cooked in butter and beef carpaccio with caramelized onions and cherries.

Yes. Hay. We were incredulous.

Sylvie, our accommodating hostess in 2013, had the day off, and the waiter kept on using the word "perfect," even when we ordered a la carte and he turned down our request for a salad to share.

The salad denial was puzzling, given Vanhorne's focus on "cuisine du marche" or "cooking from the market."

Beautifully composed

OK. We loved the food.

The plates were beautifully composed and flavors, such as the green curry with my raw mackerel appetizer, were intense.

At Vanhorne, an entree of house-made cavatelli, sumac, sage and pistachio in a rich lobster bisque ($22).

Walleye, French green beans, xeres and chanterelles with potato mousse ($28).

My starter of raw mackerel atop couscous with mustard ice cream and green curry ($13). (The mustard ice cream, left, slid off of the fish before I could take a photo.) My wife had an appetizer of lobster, watermelon, frozen yogurt, roasted bread and squid ink, below ($16).

Vanhorne has 30 seats, but only three other customers were being served during our dinner on July 2. During our visit in 2013, the restaurant was nearly full and we chatted amiably with our neighbors. A new, inflexible chef might be the reason for the change in fortune.

You'll find Vanhorne's simple storefront in Montreal's Outremont neighborhood, about 3 miles from downtown hotels.


I drank a glass of French red wine ($9.50), the least expensive on the list, and an espresso ($4).

Our total, including taxes of nearly 15%, was $106.36 Canadian.

Vanhorne Cuisine du Marche, 1268 Van Horne Ave., Montreal, Quebec; 1-514-508-0828. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

The Vegetarian at Le Petit Alep, a Syrian-Armenian restaurant in Montreal, and small Armenian Salad, rear.

Le Petit Alep

Alep, the French word for the city of Aleppo, Syria, is a white-tablecloth restaurant that is open only for dinner.

But next to it is the casual Le Petit Alep, where we ate a big lunch on July 3, the day before we left Montreal for home.

My wife and I shared The Vegetarian ($22), a filling platter with such classics as hummus, muhammara, rice with lentils, stuffed grape leaves and a doughy spinach pie.

We also ordered a small Armenian Salad dressed with oil, lemon juice and dried mint ($5). The food is just wonderful.

Tart, house-made lemonade was $4.25 and a small, sweetened Arab coffee was $2.25.

Our total was $38.52 Canadian, more than you'd expect for a Syrian-Armenian lunch.

A big disappointment was the bread -- mini, unheated pocket breads that were served in plastic bags. I could feel how stiff they were through the plastic.

Soft, pillowy Syrian bread is one of the great pleasures of the table. You can stuff almost any food into them or scoop up dips. 

I see wonderful pocket breads from Montreal on the shelves at Fattal's, the Syrian bakery-grocery-butcher in Paterson, N.J., about 350 miles away from the French-speaking city. 

Why aren't they being served at Le Petit Alep? 

Le Petit Alep, 191 Jean Talon St., Montreal, Quebec; 1-514-270-9361. A Metro or subway stop is about two blocks away.

Le Petit Alep makes its own lemonade.

Sweetened Arabic coffee could have been thicker.

Alep and Le Petit Alep are near Montreal's Jean Talon Market.

Smoked salmon with capers was one of the dishes laid out for dinner in the Regency Club of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Montreal. The rate for a Regency Club room includes a light dinner buffet and a groaning-board breakfast with made-to-order omelets.

Hyatt's Regency Club

We didn't have to eat out all the time.

We booked a king-bedded Regency Club room at the Hyatt Regency Montreal, the headquarters hotel for the International Jazz Festival, and the rate included a light dinner buffet and an all-you-can-eat breakfast.

So, we could have a big breakfast, then lunch and in the evening, rely on having salad, cheese and fruit from the free dinner buffet before we went to a concert.

The Regency Club, a lounge and business center, also serves afternoon tea and desserts in the evening.

A Regency Club salad.

Cheese, fruit, bread, nuts and dessert also are included.

A bowl of shrimp. Only beer and wine are extra. A glass of wine is $4. Soft drinks, Perrier, coffee, espresso and tea are included.

Hyatt Regency Montreal, 1255 Jeanne Mance St., Montreal, Quebec; 1-514-982-1234.

Also see: 

Dining out in Montreal 2013

Two can dine out in Montreal for $18.50 to $106 and higher

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