The 411 Ham, as a single word can evoke so much passion among food lovers. Growing up I fell in love with prosciutto – its complex flavour, salty nature and ecstasy-invoking abilities. Nothing made me happier than being somewhere where I can indulge and go hog wild on it. Over the years, my preferences have changed, evolved even, but deep down inside I still yearn for taking a perfectly sliced piece and wrapping it around my finger and popping it in my mouth. When I passed by Hambar and saw cured meat hanging in the entrance, I felt like I was in heaven. Then when I found out they offered brunch, curiosity and excitement inspired me to see what was going on.
Le vieux Vélo, has been on my list of spots for a while and there has been talk about it on various sites and forums. The reviews have always seemed positive. It is situated in the meeting point of little Italy and Rosemont/Petite Patrie (well technically it’s in Petite Patrie), which are two spots with a need for more quality brunch places. To date, everything I had heard had mentioned good eggs Benedict. As you may know, that is my favourite dish. I will often try other dishes and try to get as many different ones as possible but I keep coming back to eggs Benedict so when people tell me I need to check out the eggs Benedict at a new brunch locale, I get curious and hungry.
Le Jurancon – A Marseille inspired brunch
Fine French dining meets brunch – often a pairing you don’t see on a regular basis. Interestingly, brunch is not native to France and although there are more and more spots that offer brunch nowadays you would not associate it with a small little French bistro. So, when I heard that Le Jurancon was offering brunch, I was quite curious. How would it pair French dining with brunch? What ingredients and what surprises would we be in store for, and how is it that a French restaurant finds itself in the eastern part of the city? This and many more we hope to answer as well give you some idea of what Le Jurancon has to offer.
Cabotins – A truly funky spot out east
A while ago I received and email from a reader asking me if I ever checked out Cabotins. Usually, I pride myself on having a pretty good list of most places that serve brunch in the city but this one wasn’t on it and what was more impressive was that it was in the East end where I live. I did not find much online but the person who wrote the email seemed really impressed by it, so naturally, I jumped at the next chance to go.
Restaurant Madre – Latin fusion at it’s finest
Fusion cuisine and brunch are two things that, when combined, can elevate a dish to new levels or crash and burn. Most people are quite comfortable with their eggs and bacon and making fancy brunch dishes inspired by different cooking styles does not always get the warmest reception. I’ve written before about “nouveau” brunch and in fact, I was inspired to check out some of these places by a Sarah Musgrave article that covered a couple places in the city; Madre was one of them. Now, my greatest concern with nouveau brunch is that meals tend to deviate from classic breakfast items and end up being more of a lunch dish. Don’t get me wrong! I don’t mind breaking the mold and trying something different; I may have my old school roots but I do like being surprised and seeing someone take a novel approach to brunch. With that said, Madre proved an interesting challenge: a nouveau brunch style place that combines various South American cooking styles (Nuevo Latin). This is not an easy challenge by any means, although I have had Latin themed brunches before and the options on the menu are limited. If we consider that we are looking at fusing different styles from South America we could end up with something more lunch than brunch. In the end, I called up my oldest brunch buddy who happens to be a foodie and we went on our fancy brunch adventure.
Le Baron Royal – Buckle your seat belts its gonna be a bumpy ride
Le Baron Royal has been a place that I have gone to a couple times for all-you-can-eat brunch and also for the special Mother’s Day brunches. It is one of a handful of all-you-can-eat brunch places in the East end and to that point, Montreal proper. I am always hesitant of all-you-can-eat places since I fear the quality always takes a back seat, but needless to say people are interested and hungry. Le Baron Royal is a reception hall in St. Leonard that does Sunday brunches for a fixed price of $37 a head. This gets you an all-you-can-eat buffet coffee, tea and soft drinks. You can also book a private room if you are a big enough group although reservations are strongly suggested since it can fill up quite easily and quickly. So, better book in advance for that group of 40, but if you are two you can likely walk up with no reservation and can get a seat with little or no wait. If you are a group of 10 you can pay an extra $3 a head and get a bottle of wine. I have come here for birthdays, anniversaries and Mother’s Day, and the food options are always the same so reviewing this is rather easy. The last time I went and took pictures was for Mother’s Day and we were in the main dinning hall. Normally, Sundays would be in the main dinning room to the right which has a rather large capacity.
Dejeuner Eggcetera – St Leonards’ Neighbourhood spot
For years I have passed by this local place called Dejeuner Eggcetera. For one reason or another I never ended up going in. It’s situated at a busy intersection in St Leonard and many locals have been to it at least once and some people dub it as their favourite place. I have to admit that I do have a bias when it comes to where I eat. I would rather go downtown for brunch or in an area I am unfamiliar with than to a place that is close by. Maybe it’s because I see it all the time and I know the area so well or maybe I prefer something with more adventure to it, but for whatever reason I never went there until now. Having gotten an email from a friend of mine the day before asking who was in for early morning breakfast in St Leonard I was like poker player with a good hand… all in. So early Saturday I drove around 5 minutes, cut off of some slow pokes, swore at the car in front of me and poof I entered St Leonard (as you can tell I hate driving in St Leo). So once again the breakfast bandits were reunited to wreak havoc on some poor unsuspecting breakfast place, our appetites were ready to go and we were all sort of awake.
Miami Deli – 24 hour breakfast here we come.
Since the closing of Picasso’s there has been a gap in the 24 hour breakfast department. Some places will offer an all-day breakfast option but few do a true 24/7 breakfast – you know the kind that is willing to serve up eggs at 3 A.M after you’ve had a long night of drinking because nothing helps sober you up like late night eggs and sausage. These places are usually inexpensive, quick, and convenient which is usually associated with being “OK” in the food department although at 3 AM you are usually not really that picky. So, when I heard that Miami Deli is one of those places that can fill that late night breakfast necessity, I felt that it needed to be checked out and see how it stacked up. This time, I was fortunate enough to go with a large group of people since we also used the location to have a meeting for a fundraiser my friend was organizing, it’s a fundraiser run to New York for Canadian Athletes in the 2010 Olympics, the event is called Running for Athletes (check it out it’s a good cause).
M sur Masson: A feast for your taste buds
The only thing I love more than discovering new places that I have never heard of before is finding one in my neighbourhood and that was M sur Masson. Situated in Rosemont, M sur Masson has been known as a really great place to have a good French Bistro meal. It is in a very interesting area in the east end where you will see big changes going on in the neighborhood – old neglected areas make way for newer younger restaurants stores and homes. The area is young, vibrant and changing before your eyes and I expect that even more places will open up and offer new and innovative food creations.
A Little East Side Love
Being someone who lives in the east end I am excited when I hear about a place that serves a good brunch located in the area, and Le Valois is no exception. Le Valois is a fancy Brasserie/Bistro on Ontario street (near Pie IX) – it seems to be part of a trend where places usually associated with more the bar/bistro scene begin offering weekend brunch menus.
At 1st glance
Le Valois is not an easy place to find, especially since there is no sign on the building and the address is missing the last digit. The only way you really know you are there is that there is this odd open space (kind of like a courtyard) with benches and surrounded by a bakery and various small shops (where they buy their food from). Now enough with the outside lets move on in and see what’s on our plate..