Sunday, January 30, 2011

Restaurant L'Un des Sens

L'Un Des Sens
108 Laurier Ouest
Montreal (QC) H2T 2N7
(514) 439 4330

Hello guys!

Recently I went out for a relaxed and well needed dinner with my Mom and Sister. Just the girls!
It was well needed because my Grandmother passed away and all of us have been dealing with this great loss.  I have to say, she was so great! She always had a positive outlook on life, always had a smile on her face and was passionate about food, love, friends - everything!  She always said, "Bisogna avere la passione" (You need to have passion!) or "non vi dovete mai abbandonare" (Never abandon yourself! - not sure about the spelling in Italian..but anyways) We used to giggle and kinda' poke fun at her for saying that but they are words to live by and she definitely did. She is my inspiration.

So, we needed to decompress… our Family Doctor and friend, who also happens to be a fellow foodie  recommended this restaurant a while ago. Its local, market cuisine. Meaning they serve traditional Quebecois inspired dishes, local produce (as much as possible), lots of comfort foods such as a personal sized meat pie, pea soup with quail egg as well as daintier local fare like fois gras. So, anyway, he absolutely loves this place! So much so, that after he discovered it he went back the during the same week. Of course,  we had to try.

An interesting concept...It reminds me of Tapas. For 33$ you can order any 3 items on the menu, 4 items for 44$ and 5 for 55$. For example, if you take the 5 item choice, you can order 3 mains, 1 appetizer and 1 dessert. Now, don't be alarmed. The mains are quite small.

Its great if you're a small group, you can order a bunch of different things and share.  Its perfect for me because I can never decide what to order...With this place, I can have it all and YES, I was full afterwards.

To start:
The traditional green pea soup was served with a poached quail egg on top. It was flavourful and delicious! Then we had a breaded and fried "galette" or patty of chick pea puree - It was served hot and was so tasty! Next, we tried the eggplant caviar (which I learned, just means cooked an kinda' pureed and seasoned eggplant, which was great on bread - very tasty.

The main:
I wanted to try a fish and a meat dish so I ordered the trout, served on a sea urchin mousse and bisque. I was nervous about sea urchin mousse but it ended up being my favourite thing on the dish. Next I tried the stuffed rabbit. This one was just OK. The meat was dry and the stuffing of horse chestnut, lentil and mushrooms was lacking something...

My mother had the cod and she loved it! It was served with ratatouille of autumn vegetables. My sister had the Meat pie which was personal sized, served in a ramekin with a crispy pie crust over top. This was one of my favorite things! So warm and comforting.

Dessert came and we were already stuffed. I ordered the grilled cheese, served with breaded and fried squeaky cheese. Its the kind of cheese you'd find in a poutine. It was breaded with what I believe to be brown sugar.   It was served piping hot and the cheese was beautifully , gooey and stretchy. Loved it!

In the end, I decided I would definitely return because the food was very good, they use high quality produce, its local cuisine (which I love and want to encourage) and finally just because it was fun to discuss what each of us would choose. However, even though I understood the concept, when I got my mains, I suppose I had an illogical feeling of disappointment. The portions were small and I guess I'm used to a full sized main...on the other hand, had they been full sized, I wouldn't have been able to try more than one!

The service was great in the sense that the waitress was friendly and charming but they were a little "relaxed" when we first got there. We stood at the door a little too long before someone came to greet us and the wait was also a tad too long before someone came to see us at our table.

The decor is modern and kind of zen but the size of the restaurant makes it feel cozy. Its small but feels airy. (there's a nice space between tables) The reddish colouring of the restaurant and candlelight makes it feel warm and inviting. The black chalk board that lines the length of one wall gives it a little dressed down feel. On this chalk board they feature their mission statement about how they are environmentally concious and use local ingredients. It also features their late night menu.

I would dress neatly and "put together" for an outing here but I feel like even if you don't, nobody will Its unpretentious.

The music was great, it was subtle and jazzy earlier in the evening and then around 11PM , they upped the volume just a bit with some slightly upbeat dance tunes. It wasn't too loud so you could still talk but you got the feeling that you were somewhere cool and mellow. I could have stayed there all night.

Needless to say this restaurant was just what the doctor ordered!

I definitely recommend this pleasant restaurant & I give it a 4 out of 5. You must be opened to the concept or you may be disappointed with the portions!

Let me know if you try it!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

(2/2) Opa! Its Greek night! Fresh Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb


I had to decide on a main to go with my Spanakorizo (previous post). My choice was this Fresh HerbCrusted Rack of Lamb from my fantastic cookbook, Around the Greek Table.

All of my guests loved this recipe and one of them actually described it as EPIC. Yes, EPIC - they used that word! You must try this.

I prefer Quebec lamb myself but alas, they only had New Zealand lamb at the Metro store on this day.
However, to my surprise it was really great and didn't have that strong flavour that New Zealand lamb usually has.  Forgive me, I wish I could provide a better description of what I mean. New Zealand lamb is more "lamby" lol. Quebec lamb is more delicate in flavor. We're famous for it! I heard that the more pungent flavor of New Zealand lamb is due to the way they raise them. They raise the lamb to shave its wool a couple of times before slaughtering it, so its a little older than Quebec lamb...

Uhhh, I suddenly feel sorry for those little lambs...but not enough to become a vegetarian! I'll get over it.

As in my last post - here is the Greek name and pronunciation for this recipe.

Arni me Fresca Votana (Ahr-nee Meh Frehs-ka Voh-tah-na)

Fresh Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb


2 Racks of lamb, 1 + 1/2 lb (750g) - 7 or 8 ribs each
2 Garlic cloves , thinly sliced
1/4 cup each of the following: Fresh parsley, mint and basil - all minced
Olive oil for coating
1/4 tsp each salt/pepper

Tsatziki dip (optional)

Tip: MAKE AHEAD: Lamb racks can be prepared in the morning of the serving day and refrigerated until they are ready for searing.

Preheat oven to 450F (230C)

Trim away the any excess fat from the lab racks.
Cut each rack in half so that there are 3-4 ribs in each piece

Cut slits 1/2 inch deep into the the meaty side of each chop and insert a garlic slice

Combine the herbs in a bowl and set aside

Brush the lamb with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
Heat a heavy ovenproof frying pan over high heat.
(The size of the pan should  be large enough to hold the lamb racks comfortably.)

Sear both sides of the lamb , about 2 min per side.
Remove the pan from the heat and transfer lamb to a cutting board

Once cool enough to handle, generously cover the meaty side of the lamb with the fresh herbs.

As you can see, I chose a pan, in which they didn't fit that comfortably, but it still worked!

Place the lamb back into the ovenproof pan and place in the middle of your preheated oven.
Cook for 15 minutes for medium or 18 minutes for well-done.

Remove the lamb from the pan and tent with foil.
Let it rest for 15 minutes. Keep in mind that the lamb will continue to cook during this time.

Carve the lamb racks into single chops and arrange on a serving platter

Serve with Tsatziki if desired for dipping. I also like to drizzle with lemon.

I served this with Greek Salad & my Spinach & Dill rice (previous post)


(1/2) Opa! Its Greek night! Spinach & Dill Rice (Spanakorizo)

Hello everyone!

In the mood for Greek food, I hope


I went to Chapters the other day - BIG MISTAKE! Once again, I spent way too much time there pouring over a multitude of cookbooks. I bought uhhh...several. I couldn't decide which one to leave behind. Finally, I decided to put the Michael Chiarello cookbook down - the recipes looked too complicated or rather, impractical for a home kitchen. I just wanted it because the book was so darn beautiful!  Anyway, upon my return home, I reluctantly showed my husband what I had purchased. He was exasperated! "More cookbooks? Couldn't you just buy one, then go back another day?" I  reminded him that I actually use them...Not like some close family members I know, who buy cookbooks but read them in place of novels before

"Ahh, I don't know what to make...its always the same thing." 

"Why don't you try a recipe from one of your cookbooks? Hey, where are they!!?", I ask , searching the kitchen.

"Oh, on my bedroom nightstand" they reply brightly.

"Oh, wonderful... great place" lol

I can't totally fault them for that. Food can be riveting...I know,  I love reading about food too.
However, you should always try a couple of recipes from each cookbook you buy.

Around the Greek Table 

One of the cookbooks I bought is "Around the Greek Table", written by 3 sisters, Betty , Eleni and Samantha Bakopoulos. This cookbook was voted "Best in the World" by Gourmand, the World Cookbook Awards. I thought "Wow, best in the world, hu?" I also happen to LOVE Greek food so I bought it.

I had my family over for supper so I decided on this rice recipe. I chose it because when I read the ingredients, it reminded me of Spanakopita (Greek spinach pie) - the spinach, the dill, the feta...SOLD!!!!

The dill is what makes all the difference. Who knew it married so well with Spinach and Feta?? (Besides the Greeks, that is.) It was a recent discovery for me anyway.

When I served this, everyone wanted seconds and even thirds...some wanted to save some for their lunch the next day! Needless to say this tasty dish will make several come-backs in my kitchen and hopefully in yours as well.

Oh yeah! Another reason I love this cookbook is because they give you the Greek name and the pronunciation for each recipe. This one is Spanakorizo (Spah-nah-koh-ree-zoh).

Spinach & Dill Rice 


1 Bunch (500g) of fresh spinach leaves, washed, larger stalks removed - I found my 500g bag at Costco.
2 Tbsp of Olive oil
1 Yellow onion
Pinch of salt
1Tbsp of chopped fresh dill
1 cup of Arborio rice
2 cups of water
1tsp of salt
Juice of 1 lemon
Olive oil for drizzling
Crumbled Feta cheese (Optional) - I thought, "what?? Optional?? Why???"
4 lemon wedges

Cut the spinach in half and set aside
Heat the olive oil in a heavy suacepan over medium heat. Add the onions and the pinch of salt
Saute onions until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add all of the spinach to the pan, a handful at a time and saute.
Add the dill , rice, 2 cups of water and the 1 tsp of salt.
Bring to a boil

Reduce the heat and simmer, covered until the water is absorbed, about 20 min. If the rice is not tender and fluffy at this point, add more hot water and continue simmering.

Remove the pan from the heat.
Add the lemon juice and drizzle with some olive oil
Serve warm or even at room temperature (I prefer warm).
Top with some Feta cheese and garnish with a lemon wedge just before serving.

Voila! That's it and you've got a hit!

By the way, now that I posted this - I will pull out my bag 2nd pack of spinach to make another batch! Who's coming over?

Note: They list the Feta as "optional", which I understand, if you don't like feta or are cutting calories.   However, if you buy Greek Feta, it adds a wonderful creamy texture and another dimension of flavour.   You can always add the Feta for the guests who want it. Try not to omit - It goes so well with warm rice. Comfort food at its best. 

Greek Feta is more expensive than Canadian, but the quality really shows in its texture - you wont need much. Canadian Feta (purchased by weight) is fine.  Go to any "ethnic" friendly grocery store. I like to frequent Morilatos or Cavalaro Fine Foods for my Feta.  If you must go the pre-packaged route, there are some Greek brands that you can try.  Yes, Go Greek - DO NOT buy Saputo - its too salty and dry.