Cafe Ellefsen in Montreal

When I last visited Montreal, I visited Cafe Ellefsen, a Scandinavian restaurant. I had lunch there with V., a frequent commenter and one of the very first readers of this blog. They serve really great, beautiful smorrebrod, and the prices are very modest.

Here are some photos of their great smorrebrod:

Sausage and fresh cucumber smorrebrod

The saltiness of the sausage is offset beautifully with fresh cucumbers, which makes the smorrebrod absolutely delicious.

And here is a different kind:

Grilled cheese smorrebrod

This one was my favorite:

Egg and caviar smorrebrod

They also serve fresh-pressed orange juice and really cool, huge lattes. And the environment is very good. I highly recommend this place to all lovers of Scandinavian cultures.

The menu also contains something called “Norwegian poutine.” I didn’t get to try it this time but if anybody has and can tell me what it is like, I will be very grateful.

Domus Cafe in Ottawa, Canada: A Review

Today in Ottawa, I decided to take my sister to lunch to show my gratitude to her for driving me to Ottawa for my conference and back. We chose to visit Domus Cafe whose talented young chef uses ideas borrowed from Canadian country food by takes them in the direction of haute cuisine (I still can’t get out of my French-speaking mode, so please bear with me until I go back to the US).

Here is how Domus Cafe looks inside:

It is located in Ottawa’s vibrant Byward Market, so it’s very easy for any tourist to find. Here is how Domus Cafe looks on the inside:

We came right after the restaurant opened at 11 am, so it was still empty. It really filled up for lunch, however, even though this is not a cheap place. Of course, the food is so good and the service is so spectacular that there is no mystery to Domus cafe’s popularity. Here are the lattes we ordered with our lunch:

I’m trying to learn to take better photos. How does this one look? I think it’s better than the ones I usually take. W

We had a long way back to Montreal ahead of us, so we decided to order a big lunch. For appetizers, we got mushroom bisque. I loved it because it was not oversalted, like mushroom bisques often are. One huge differences between US restaurants (even very expensive ones) and Canadian restaurants is that food is always grievously oversalted in the US. Here is this beautiful bisque that smelled and tasted of mushrooms:

As an entree, my sister had a mushroom barley risotto. I’d never tried a barley risotto before and I’m glad I did because it’s a very interesting dish that I now plan to recreate at home. The risotto was very delicately seasoned and perfectly done. Here it is:

And I had smoked trout with rosti, apple and endive salad and caramelized pearl onions. This dish was divine. The rosti were very crisp and fresh and the salad was very refreshing, offering a great counterpoint to the saltiness of the roasted trout:

Of course, after this kind of lunch, neither of us was interested in the dessert. In order to fulfill my role of a blogger who faithfully records all aspects of reality, I even took a photo of the bill:

This was an expensive lunch but we were enjoying a special occasion, so it was absolutely worth it.

Shodan Restaurant in Montreal: A Review

Since I’m posting pictures of food today, I wanted to share these photos of the best sushi restaurant I have ever visited. I’m a passionate sushi lover (for the dirty-minded among us: in the gastronomic sense), so I’ve been to many Japanese restaurants in my life. Here in Edwardsville we have two fairly good ones. But Montreal’s Shodan on Metcalfe Street is on an entirely different level.

Their sushi look like little works of art and taste heavenly. They are also very light because the heavy globs of rice aren’t used like they are in many Japanese restaurants on this continent.

Here is an appetizer called pizza-sushi:

It looks beautiful but, to be honest, there are places in Montreal that serve a much better version of pizza sushi. For some reason, Japanese restaurants in the US seem to have no idea what a pizza sushi even is. Whenever I ask, people look at me with pity and say, “This isn’t a pizza place. Pizza is Italian. We don’t cook Italian here.” It isn’t a real pizza of course. It’s made entirely out of seafood, covered with fish roe and has spicy mayonnaise added. Yum! Shodan’s version was stingy on the spicy mayonnaise, so the appetizer tasted bland.

Of course, as you must have guessed, the restaurant is very expensive. I’m a simple American professor, so I couldn’t really afford it on my own. This is why my sister, a Canadian businesswoman, had to invite me. 🙂

As you can see, we ordered enough food for a platoon of hungry soldiers. Whenever my sister and I start ordering food at a Japanese restaurant, the waiters always ask how many more people will be joining us.

“Oh, this is just for us,” we say. “And please don’t take away the menu. We are just getting started here.”

Coco Louco Restaurant in St. Louis: A Review

Now that I have discovered N. Euclid Ave in St. Louis, I can’t stop going there. It even reminds me of Montreal a little in spite of being as empty as the rest of the city. And that’s the highest compliment I can pay to a city. So yesterday we went to a Brazilian restaurant called Coco Louco. In the reviews I read before going there, people almost unanimously agreed that the food there was fantastic while the service was abysmal. In my experience, however, the food at Coco Louco could be a lot better while service was impeccable. (It’s not like I’m doing this on purpose, people, but I never manage to agree with the popular opinion on anything.)

As you can see, the restaurant was pretty empty.
It was a Sunday, of course, but I
find it impossible to believe that there are
people in this city any day of the week
Our waiter’s name was Benya and he turned out to be a Russian-speaker. That’s one of the things I love about this country. You go to a Brazilian restaurant in the Midwest and get served by a Russian-speaking waiter. How cool is that?
As for the food, one thing that I can recommend highly is the appetizer plate for $14. Here it is:
The appetizer plate contains these great meat and cheese filled pastries that are called “pastel.” The best kind is the beef pastel. It as so good that we ordered several extra ones to take home with us. As for the main courses, I wouldn’t say that the ones we tried are really worth the price. I had the red snapper that you can see on the picture here:
It is quite good but it really didn’t feel like it was worth the $27 the restaurant charges for it.
Then, there was espeto mixto wihich is different kinds of meat grilled on a skewer. Brazilian cuisine is almost as famous for its meat as the Argentinean, but this meat was quite a disappointment. It was simply mediocre and unworthy of the famed name of Brazilian meat. You can see the skewer with some remnants of the espeto mixto on the picture here:
The dessert was really good. It’s a mango mousse and we got it on the house. Here it is:
Overall, we had a splendid time because we always enjoy discovering new restaurants. The food, however, didn’t really do justice to the great Brazilian cuisine. If the weather is nice next weekend, we will probably go back to St. Louis, and I will share with you a review of an Indian restaurant they have on N. Euclid.