Sunday, April 21, 2013

Benny's Bistro - my favorite Ottawa brunch spot!

Benny's Bistro has been a hidden gem in Ottawa's Byward Market for years. It's a restaurant I recommend to visitors (and many unknowing locals) that want to have REAL food - not the mainly disappointing fare to be found in the Market these days.

Benny is the name of the original owners' daschund, who was known to show up in the bakery from time to time.  Tucked inside The French Baker (119 Murray Street), you follow a long corridor into a cozy room with a black and white checkerboard floor, filled with colourful walls and photos - a perfect spot for an overcast or chilly day. 

Besides the wonderful pastries that you can order from the bakery up front, Benny's has a consistently strong seasonal brunch/lunch menu that always leaves me reading and rereading the list of options (never mind the specials!), agonizing on having to select one lovely meal over another.  Chef Scott Adams is a master at complex combinations of flavours that burst onto your taste buds - it's difficult not to savour each mouthful as you sadly get nearer to that last bite... thank goodness for the never ending bread to soak up every last drop!
 Winter menu 2013

On my most recent visit, I had the roasted quail with parsnip puree, beet and apple salad with crispy brussel sprout leaves and arugula in a duck reduction.  A lovely slow food creation!
My friend had the roasted organic mushrooms served with spinach and ricotta tortellini, baby peas with wild garlic pesto, and lemon creme fraiche... she loved every bite. 

I also love the gravlax and pickerel dishes on this winter's menu - something for everyone!  Great wine list, no nonsense service, fantastic food - what more could you ask for?!?!

Benny's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Les 400 Coups - April 2012

Okay, this is a year late, but wanted to post this review of Les 400 Coups, a fabulous resto in Old Montreal that was one of En Route's top ten in 2011.  A hot ticket in spring 2012 - booked solid - but I scored a cancellation for lunch (it never hurts to inquire!).   
The resto is at 400 Notre-Dame Est.
Gorgeous interior, great full wall photo of St-Germain-des-Pres

Lovely 2 or 3 course menu, fine wines, discreet service.

My appetizer - the cauliflour soup with shrimp & sea asparagus was mind blowing.  So simple, yet absolutely delicious.  Would have licked the bowl if I could have!

Donald's appie - tomato and kohlrabi salad with goat cheese.  Also delicious.

Seared walleye with fennel, mushrooms, cippolini onions in a ramp sauce 
Arctic char with jerusalem artichokes, brussel sprouts, mushrooms in a red beet sauce
The dessert was magnificent - chocolate pot de creme topped with tasty chocolate bits, and a caramel/maldon salt topping... served in this cute mason jar! 
This is me, feeling happier than I had in months - in the midst of my treatment, I had forgotten how important it was to treat myself and be pampered, especially with fine food and service.  Looking forward to our next visit!

Kazu Izakaya - April 2012

Oh my, how time does fly.  These are photos from about a year ago from our first visit to Kazu, hot then, still hot now.   
Restaurant Kazu Montreal
 An izakaya is a traditional Japanese restaurant that serves small plates and alcohol, and often has communal seating so get ready to get cozy!  Kind of a Japanese tapas restaurant.  
I think this was the sashimi salad
Grilled salmon belly.... mmmmm....
48-hour pork!
Long wait to get in, but worth it.  Had the noisy, crowded atmosphere down, yummy food, cold beer...  We were twice (and for some of us 3 times!) the age of most of the clientele, but that didn't dampen our enjoyment.  Highly recommended and dying to try their ramen.