This post is also available in: French
Sain Bol – A new favourite spot
Healthy, market fresh, vegetarian friendly, gluten free options, constantly changing… These are words you would never associate with brunch. In a world of bacon and eggs, healthy tasty options seem to be foreign. Often times, if you want something healthy and tasty, you will need to look really hard among a sea of options which tend to be one or the other : places that are healthy and good for you often do not come off as tasty, while places that come off as tasty tend to not focus on health. Sain Bol, on the other hand, is a gift; a rare gem where chef Frederic Houtin serves up some amazing dishes inspired by market fresh and in-season ingredients.
At 1st glance
Hidden on Fabre street just south of Laurier , Sain Bol seats around 15 people on the inside and 6 on the outside terrace picnic table. So, getting here early is important or else you may have to wait a while. The washroom is accessible by a staircase on the side of the building which is kind of hidden, but don’t worry, it’s there. The menu has some dishes you will find often although, some may appear and disappear. The ingredients on some of the classic dishes will change depending on what is in season and available from the market. For example, some dishes may have blueberries one week and then the next week use some other kind of berry that is available. This makes dining here fun and exciting, which is why I have already been here 6 times before writing this post.
The menu is short and written on a chalkboard inside. You can expect to find around 6 items and most of these items will run you 10-12 dollars, on average. The menu is vegetarian friendly by nature with usually one dish having fish and the rest being without. They also make dishes that use lactose-free cheeses. They will also use almond milk in their chai and some other dishes. Not to mention they also have dishes that are or can be made gluten free. If you advise them they will sub an item that has gluten with another item that is gluten free. One example was a dish with an olive bread that was subbed with a gluten free piece instead, it was not the same as the olive bread but if you are gluten intolerant then this is a nice treat and you can actually eat what is in front of you.
We will show you some menu items but odds are, when you go there most of these will have changed. As well, if you want, you can ask them for a sampling menu which is not listed and it will come with smaller portions of most of their dishes but a nice varied selection. The menu is as follows:
Each of these dishes come with chai tea done with almond milk instead of normal lactose rich milk which makes it ideal for those who are lactose intolerant and as a chai lover, this is a pretty good chai! Now, I must be honest, I prefer my chai with milk but I am extremely picky on chai tea and this one was nice to have in the morning. Plus, it comes with free refills. One time, we had so many refills, the chef left the carafe on out table which made me very happy. Now that I think about it, I don’t recall there being coffee as an option but having the free refills on the tea works out to a pretty good deal. At least you will still get your morning caffeine.
The sampling menu, which is an off-the-menu item, will give 3 items in smaller portions but offers a quick snapshot of their menu. They brought us a plate with 3 parts on it: a fruit drink/smoothie; an omelette; a smoked salmon dish with an olive bread side and a dessert at the end. The smoothie was topped with hemp seeds and was fruity and light with an odd consistency that was neither liquidy nor overly thick – I would say almost a touch gelatinous. The consistency was quite odd but the drink was refreshing. Overall, I would say it was more of a fruit drink than a smoothie since a smoothie usually has milk or yogurt in it and is thicker.
The omelette side was delightfully light with a nice pronounced goat cheese taste to it along with a melody of mushrooms and eggs swirling around in a marriage of deliciousness. The only negative part of this dish is that it was too small. That being said, it was a sampling menu so I knew exactly where to get more. The salmon and the olive bread was quite something. The salmon was prepared for 24 hours and was out of this world. The olive bread is a nice touch and a little different than a normal piece of bread but it worked so well with the smoked salmon. My friend was able to get this dish with a gluten free flat bread which was much appreciated since it paired nicely with the salmon allowing her to enjoy the meal with a minor substitution.
The dessert was a Clafoutti which is a chocolate dessert square with fruit mixed in. The Clafoutti was very light and each spoonful was followed by another spoonful until it was finished. Although dessert is not often associated with brunch, it is a nice way to round up the tasting menu and give you a sweet little something to go with two very impressive dishes.
Here are a couple of dishes we had over the last couple of visits. These dishes are, in some cases, different from what’s on the sampling menu and in some instances, are the larger portion of what we had on the sampling menu:
The omelette ($13.95)is of similar taste but is a larger portion with different presentation; it also comes with a salad on the side. In the past, I have had issues with salads being served at brunch but this is done well at Sain Bol. Not only is the salad tasty with an almost Dijon like hint to it but it is also topped with blueberries. The salad comes as a side and does not try to make the main dish larger but adding unnecessary plain slices of lettuce (which is my general feeling of why salads are useless on a plate). The omelette, much like the one in the sampling menu, was a true treat and every bite was enjoyable.
The French toast ($10.95) topped with blueberries was next on the menu. Their French toast is done using almond milk and not lactose milk which is a nice touch for those who are lactose intolerant and it changes up the taste quite a bit. The blueberries on this dish are very generous and transform this dish to make it stand out. The portion size is generous, the presentation is nice and the taste is out of this world. I was worried that the almond milk would be too weak for a proper French toast but I was proven wrong and the blueberries were absolutely brilliant.
The Gravlax foccacia ($11.95) was different from the sampling menu we had before in that, it was like a sandwich with the salmon in between two pieces of bread. The bread was an olive bread that had a little sponginess to it. The salmon was exceptional and the side salad was generous, well dressed and had blueberries in it as well.
Lastly the grilled cheese ($10.95) was chalked full of goat cheese (lactose free) between two natural grain breads. The salad on the side was similar to the other salads in that it had a hint of Dijon in the dressing, blueberries and hemp seeds on top but this time it had cucumbers in it which none of the other salads had. I know grilled cheese is not a traditional brunch dish and is more on the lunch side of things, but it did deliver in the taste department so I am willing to look the other way since it worked so well with this menu.
The service is good and there is usually one other person here along with the chef. Sometimes the chef serves clients depending on their staffing issue. I should also note that once we showed up on a Sunday having been there the day before and it was closed for catering. There was a note on the door but I would have loved to see this notice the day before, before going all the way here. (Another downside about not having a website/facebook site).
Almost all the dishes are vegetarian friendly with the exception of 2 dishes that have fish in them. The market fresh ingredients are amazing and the accommodation to culinary restrictions and food based allergies is what we need more of. Often choosing one ingredient over another can allow more people to eat at restaurants and not sacrifice a potentially good dining experience.
The chef is a genius. The dishes are creative, amazing, fresh, healthy and they take into considerations individual’s culinary requirements. The down side with having a chef owner who is also a kind of culinary artist is that certain administrative things get missed. There is no website, no facebook page and their voice mail is not setup. This makes it hard to get info but the food is worth it and honestly it reminds of a time before restaurants had websites and facebook pages – which is kind of nice, but I would still like one. I strongly suggest you check this place out. Keep in mind that it is tiny and therefore,has a maximum capacity but you will be in for a treat if you can find a seat. Lastly don’t forget that it’s cash only so make sure you have some on you.
| 5095 rue Fabre
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|Bottomless Cup Of Coffee||YES|
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