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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Garde Manger

I am a Food Network geek. I admit that. I love almost all the shows on there, save for the silly decorating shows...I watch the Food Network to learn about food, not about how a restaurant should decorate. Please stick to Home and Garden for that. Anyway, one of my favourite shows is Chuck`s Day Off, where Chuck Hughes cooks for various guests on his day off from his restaurant, Garde Manger. Once I knew I was going to Montreal, I had googled the address and wandered around Old Montreal till I found it!! And it wasn`t easy...

Narrow, unassuming street leads to doorway, with nothing to indicate that it`s a restaurant. In fact, I walked past it several times, before I realized that this was Nirvana!

Once you pass through the door, you are greeted by the sign, letting you know you`ve found the right place.

Push past the black velvet curtain, and you enter a sweet little restaurant that is packed. They were taking reservations into May and June when I was there. I was seated at the bar, after all, I was dining alone. I did announce that I was a Foodie Geek, and that I was taking pictures! They were awesome about it.

This is James and Zoe...James was the oyster shucker slash DJ and was also on Chuck`s team when he travelled to New York to battle on Iron Chef, beating the infamous Bobby Flay! Yay Team Canada!!!! James was fabulous and spent the rest of my evening there answering my bazillion questions about the biz, food, fame, Iron Chef, Montreal. Zoe was the bartender and recommended a lovely wine to go with my meal. Unpretentious and very friendly...that described everyone I met there.

During a quiet period - it was short - James took me back to meet the boys, and showed me how they reconfigure the kitchen for the show, where the cameras go and who else went to New York - dude in the red with his back to us. Sadly for me, Chuck was away in LA but James made up for that by being so darn nice.

The evening started with my wine (a lovely Riesling) and toasted breads with a sweet, caramelized onion cream cheese.

When in Rome, you have to have the infamous Lobster Poutine - I personally think that`s what won the judges over in New York - which was in a word DECADENT! It was rich, it was gooey, it was delicious.

Then, on Zoe`s recommendation, I had the duck breast with fois gras, mushrooms and rapini. There were also fingerling potatoes hidden underneath. The duck was perfectly cooked, the fois gras melted and the vegetables were just what was needed to cut through the richness of the duck. Again, my Riesling was delightful with the whole meal.

Somehow, I still had room...where I don`t know, but room anyway. After going down the list, I settled on the traditional Quebec dessert, which I cannot remember how it was spelled, but it boiled down to white cake baked in maple syrup till the cake was done and the syrup was caramelly goodness! Served with a gob of vanilla ice was HEAVEN.

I left the restaurant several hours later, pleasantly full and happy to have had such a wonderful evening. Again, I recommend this place to everyone and anyone, and when I return to Montreal, I will eat here again. And hopefully get to meet Chuck himself this time.

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