2013 is in the books. I ate a lot. I found this year’s cuisine to be less formal than usual. The casual eats shined while a couple big dishes left me wanting more. A balance of flavors, textures, and aromas left lasting impressions. I was surprised at how amazing some new places were, and how certain food trends influenced other dishes. In no particular order, here are the best bites I ate in 2013.
Cronetto – La Cornetteria
It’s no question the cronut was one of the biggest foods of 2013. A hybrid donut-croissant smacked the global food scene in face. The idea of combining two foods nobody would never think of putting together gave birth to many other mash-up foods such as the ramen burger. Is this the evolution of food? Maybe. What I know for sure is La Cornetteria made a serious version of the cronut, called a cronetto. The dough is taken from their famous cornetto, fried, and stuffed with a custard. How can that be bad? Anyways, it sure was on trend, and is certainly was delicious.
La Cornetteria: 6528 St Laurent Blvd, Montreal, QC H2S; (514) 277-8030
Sweet Potato Soup and Roma Sandwich – La Bistrote
La Bistrote is a quaint little lunch place in Notre Dame, just east of Guy. Their sandwiches and salads are fantastic, but I usually go for the soup. Head chef and owner, Dana Elsliger changes the soup every day and makes it fresh all the time. When sweet potato soup is on the menu, I’m there. It’s velvety, seasoned very well, and spiced just right. to accompany this, I usually go with the Roma Sandwich, made with Italian sausage, sauerkraut, roasted pepper, dijon mustard, and mozzarella on ciabatta. When the weather is cold like it is now, La Bistrote is one of the best places to be.
La Bistrote: 1510 Notre-Dame St W, Montreal, QC, H3C 1L1; (514) 903-3858
Polenta with Lobster Mushroom Ragu – Impasto
Impasto was one of my favorite restaurants of the year. I have never been disappointed with a meal when Michele Forgione is in charge and when Stefano Faita is working the room. Memorable dishes included rabbit mafalde, porchetta, and seafood paccheri to name a few. One visit, polenta with a fresh lobster mushroom ragu was offered as a special. I couldn’t resist. The polenta was creamy, light, and bursting with flavor. The mushroom ragu had a deep earthy and rich flavor. The dish was then showered with fresh Parmigiano Reggiano. This polenta warms my heart, and was definitely one of the best dishes of 2013.
Impasto: 48 rue Dante, Montreal, QC, H2S 1J6; (514) 508-6508
Porchetta Sandwich – Boucherie Lawrence
If you’ve eaten brunch in Montreal, then you definitely know restaurant Lawrence. But did you know they opened up a butcher shop a couple doors away from the restaurant? Well now you do. It’s a carnivore’s dream in there. When I walked in, they were butchering a pig head, I guess to make head cheese, or something else delicious. One of the reasons I went was to try a sandwich I’ve been hearing so much about. The house-made porchetta was what caught my eye. Thin, fatty and meaty slices of porchetta, crispy lettuce, gherkins, and a home made mayonaise on a great chewy bun. Such great balances of flavors; buttery and creamy flavors matched with crisp, fresh and briny ones. This sandwich has everything, and is one of my favorites in the city.
Boucherie Lawrence: 5237 St-Laurent, Montréal, QC, H2T 1S4; (514) 277-8880
Apple pie with Cheddar and Foie Gras – Cabane à Sucre Au Pied de Cochon
For the last few years, it’s become a ritual for my fellow eaters and myself to mentally and physically prepare for the gastronomic adventure that is the Au Pied de Cochon Cabane à Sucre. We experience both seasonal maple and apple menus, where both of which leave the most epic food hangover. The one dish I still talk about a few months after eating there is the the apple pie. Ya, it’s traditional apple pie…by APDC’s standards. Apples do make an appearance, and so do two ginormous lobes of foie gras, and a generous layer of aged cheddar all encased in flaky pastry. It’s everything you want in a pie and in life.
Cabane à Sucre Au Pied de Cochon: 11382, rang de la Fresnière, St Benoit de Mirabel, QC J7N 2R9; (450) 258-1732
Grilled Leeks – Le Vin Papillon
Spring, summer, fall or winter, a good bottle of wine is always necessary. That’s why Le Vin Papillon is one of my favorite new places to drink and eat. This third child brought to you by the people of Joe Beef and Liverpool House are not only right on trend with their interesting wine list with plenty of private imports, but also right on trend in terms of highlighting the lonely vegetable. Many dishes on the menu focus on a single vegetable, making it the focal point, such as cauliflower, peas, mushrooms, tomatoes, and in this case, leeks. These charcoal-grilled baby leeks were charred to perfection, mixed with cilantro, corn, and a bit of chili, and sort of acted like noodles. Great dish, and definitely a memorable one.
Le Vin Papillon: 2519 Notre Dame St W, Montreal, QC H3J 1N4
Beigne Cochon – Camion Au Pied de Cochon
Yes, another dish from the deliciously sadistic mind of Martin Picard, this time in the form of street food. His food truck, Camion Au Pied de Cochon, rolled onto the street food scene with an already established and very excited fan base. Many were wondering how much foie gras, pork, maple syrup, and other concoctions this food truck was going to offer. One such meal came in the form a sandwich. A donut sandwich with maple-syrup brined pork shoulder, pork tongue, and smoked meat. There’s also a home made yellow mustard acting as the lonely condiment and a slice of Quebec cheese on top. The donut itself was savory, not sweet, and actually held everything up nicely. From the first bite to the last I repeatedly said “wow”. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
Donuts – Léché Desserts
If cupcakes are at a party, I’ll probably still eat them, but much like the fashion industry, food trends tend to change all the time. Right now, donuts are a big deal, as you can tell from the previous favorite. I’m not talking about the Dunkin’ or Timmy’s variety, I mean the artisan, special styles you dream of. If you’re going to someone’s house for dinner, and you say “I’m bringing dessert”, not much compares to bringing fresh donuts. My favorites came from the St-Henri location, Léché Desserts. Lemon meringue, lime coconut, apple crumble, and pecan caramel, are some of the hot flavors, but my absolute hands down favorite is the double chocolate brownie. What I like the best about this one is that not only is the donut bursting with chocolatey goodness, but the brownie is to die for. It’s two desserts who became good friends just for you.
Léché Desserts: 640 Rue de Courcelle, Montreal, QC H4C 3C5; (514) 303-2200
Here’s to a delicious 2014!