Monday, November 25, 2013

Pizzeria Casa Nova

I've been looking for a place to celebrate my departure. Well, celebrate is not exactly the word. Get together with friends before I leave. So far I haven't found what I was looking for because I have too many criteria : bring your own wine, made for groups, price range 15-25$, interesting choices, no group menu, not far from a metro station for easy access. I spotted Pizzeria Casa Nova, an Italian restaurant, and decided to give it a try with my sister.

The place would have been fine except for one thing. You'll know why soon enough.

So my sister and I got in. The place looked quite nice and cute (there was an awesome giant fork on one of the walls) and there weren't many customers (we went on a rainy Sunday evening). Since it's a BYOW they don't serve alcohol.

So we sat down where we wanted : on some comfortable white cushioned bench. The lady who served us seemed lovely, and I believe the man sitting in the back was an employee or a friend.

My sister was going out that night to see our brother's show, so she ordered entrées instead of a meal. She asked for fried calamari and onion soup when I ordered Casa Nova snails and seafood linguine.

Hey guys, a candle!

The waitress came back with a basket of warm garlic bread, the soup and the snails.

Garlic bread

Onion soup

Casa Nova snails

The garlic bread was rather good, crispy outside and soft inside. We found the onion soup broth too salty to our liking. Honestly I think onion soup is better with Gruyere or Parmesan cheese, but they used what I believe was mozzarella. Oh well, it does melt well under the broiler. The Casa Nova snails are basically garlic snails with mushrooms and cheese gratiné. It would have been good ... if it were less salty.

Then the waitress brought the fried calamari and my seafood linguine.

Fried calamari

Seafood linguini

The texture of the fried calamari was right and the seasoning was fine. However the marinara sauce and the salad ruined it. They were both too salty and the lettuce they used was iceberg ... come on. Some arugula would have been better to go with the seafood. As for my seafood linguine, I found the texture of the pasta was right, the plate was pretty to look at, but the sauce was a bit too thick and ... yes, too salty.

As you might have guessed, the amount of salt in the food was my biggest disappointment. Other than that, the location is fine, the restaurant is fine, the service is fine, the prices are fine ... but damnit please tell your cook to go easy on the salt. My sister is a smoker and even she found the food too salty.

Honestly I don't think I would come back. The customers that were there that night seemed to enjoy their time and food. Maybe it was fine to them and we're just too sensitive to salt. That makes me kind of sad because it seems like one of those restaurants help make a neighborhood more lively.

As you can see, I still have trouble shooting pictures in low lighting. But don't you worry, someday I will make awesome pictures even in the crappiest lighting.

For more information on Pizzeria Casa Nova and to order :

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kashmir Restaurant + Getting used to my new camera

It's been a while now that my friend Phil and I were supposed to have Indian food. I bought a Groupon a while ago : 19$ for 40$ worth of food at Restaurant Kashmir, in the Old Port. We've been both busy or sick but finally we were able to go. We went on a cold and rainy Sunday evening.

The restaurant is located right above a souvenir shop and according to the sign outside it's also a lounge. When you get in you can see the kitchen (I have a feeling this is typical of ethnic restaurants) and there doesn't seem to be many tables. Lucky us there weren't many customers at the moment.

So we sat down. It wasn't exactly what I had expected, most probably because the photos on the website don't show much of the restaurant itself. It was a lot smaller than I expected (thus the reason why it's recommanded to make a reservation). The brick walls, paintings and small statues were lovely tho. Small tables so don't go eat there as a big group. Maybe the restaurant would have seemed bigger if the other "larger" part was open.

Phil was on meds so he didn't order any drinks but I asked for a beer. I wanted to try a Taj Mahal (blond) but they didn't have any left so I ordered a Cobra (red). We obviously ordered food too : butter chicken and lamb kashmiri with basmati rice and garlic naan bread.

Beer Cobra

I try not to drink beer often for not only I have trouble digesting it but it's also much better for my wallet. This one was quite good, with a creamy texture and a slightly bitter aftertaste.

The rice, bread and main dishes came all at once.

The food came in two different metal serving dishes for us to spoon it over our plates.

Basmati rice and garlic naan bread

The basmati rice was very fragrant and the bread was simply delicious. I like garlic. I would put garlic in everything. They used fresh sliced garlic but the way they toasted it removed the stinging raw taste and left only a delicious garlic flavored bread. Hmm. Garlic. Did I mention garlic? Garlic!

Butter chicken

I think butter chicken is a classic. It's delicious, a safe value, and who the hell doesn't like butter chicken? When Phil spooned some over his plate and tried it he just went mad. It was written all over his face "I'm in heaven".

Kashmiri lamb

I asked for Kashmiri lamb because, well, I freaking love lamb. Also, I found the mix of ingredients very appealing : curry prepared with litchis, almonds, coconut and sultana raisins. The lamb was tender and delicious and the sweetness was perfect, not overpowering at all. There were actual pieces of litchi, which I happily nibbled on.

Overall I liked it. The service would have been much better if the waiter came back more often to fill our water glasses. It was quite filling for two persons and the ambiance was quite lovely and relaxing (especially with the music playing in the background).

We didn't want to go home right away so we went to Starbucks to get some tea and talk a bit. I'm a huge fan of London fog and so far the one they make at Starbucks is my favorite.

London fog

Now I'm not going to rate Starbucks' London fog, but it's just a way for me to show that I'm still trying to get used to my camera. I have acquired two lenses for now : 18-55 and 55-250. I know I should be reading the manual. I should go back to the notes I took 6 years ago in my photography class but I'm way too lazy for that. Instead I'll just keep on trying both automatic and manual features and compare the resulting shots.

So that's it for today! For more information on Restaurant Kashmir and to make a reservation :

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Modavie + Taking foodporn to the next level

An awesome food happening was being held from November 1st to the 11th : Mtl à Table (Taste Mtl). Basically, a bunch restaurants were offering a three course dinner for 19$, 29$ or 39$ (really worth it considering the fact that the main course alone is usually at least 20$). Too bad for me it had to happen during my mid-terms but my friend Daniel asked me if I wanted to try at least one evening with a few other friends. So last Friday we went to Modavie in the Old Port.

When booking up Daniel asked for seats on the second floor. While the first floor looked more like a friendly, chatty, let's hang out after work kind of place, the second floor had a more romantic feel to it ... and live jazz music. It was very funny since we were two singles and three in a relationship ... who came without their respective SO. It was awkward in a funny way.

Live jazz music 

Cute candle on our table

The table d'hôte was 29$.
Entrée : Goat cheese flake pastry with apple compote or fried calamari.
Main course : Oregano lamb chops or Sicilian penne.
Dessert : Maple tiramisu or chocolate fudge cake.

We started off with drinks. Martine and I had wine, Daniel an Americano (Campari, Red Vermouth, soda), Mengyang ordered a blue sangria (for Movember) while Diane drank only water. Mengyang's sangria was very sweet (Blue Curaçao and white wine) but all profits go to the prostate cancer foundation. It's a nice initiative but it's far from being a manly drink.

Movember blue sangria

Then we ordered the food. Obviously we all went "fuck it, let's have meat" so we all asked for the lamb chops. The girls ordered the goat cheese flake pastry while the guys had fried calamari for the entrée.

But first we had bread.

The bread was slightly warm but the butter cold (damnit, when will I get a warm bread and a room temperature butter?). The flax seeds in the bread gave it some crunch. The outside was crispy while the inside was soft and elastic. I usually try not to eat too much bread but I wouldn't have been mad being full on that one.

Goat cheese flake pastry with apple compote

If you have had goat cheese before you know it has a strong and naturally salty taste. The apple compote and berry sauce complimented very well the natural flavors of goat cheese. The ratio of goat cheese for puff pastry was alright (1:1) which is great because I'm used to having way too much puff pastry for not so much filling.

Fried calamari

I'm very difficult when it comes to fried calamari. This one was alright. Seasoning was good, the calamari was tender, even the texture of the batter had the right crisp and held onto the calamari ... but it was a little too oily to my liking. I would have liked it a little bit drier but that's my very own personal taste.

After our plates were cleaned out and taken away we got our lamb chops.

Oregano lamb chops

Each plate had four lamb chops and steamed vegetables (a baby bok choy, a piece of carrot, green zucchini, yellow zucchini, and a few small potatoes). I asked for rare and they got it right. The meat was flavorful, juicy and tender. There was a lot of oregano but lamb has such a strong taste it was actually alright (put this much oregano on beef and you'll ruin it).

Dessert time! We all ordered the maple tiramisu except for Diane who asked for the chocolate fudge cake.

Maple tiramisu 

Chocolate fudge cake

The tiramisu was really sweet and didn't taste too much like maple. Honestly I haven't had enough tiramisu in my life but I could tell that one was good. The texture of every layer was right but I had the feeling only the bottom layer tasted like maple (perhaps because it soaked through the cake). Diane's fudge cake looked good but I didn't dare asking her to try it because she had a cold.

After we were done we stayed to chat a little bit while listening to the band playing that night. Unlike the first floor, the second floor wasn't full so we didn't feel bad staying a little bit. Very honestly we didn't want to leave right away because we didn't want to go back out into the cold.

Overall I was very satisfied. The three courses were filling enough, not to the point where you feel you have to stuff yourself and then start hating yourself (like in Italian restaurants). I would recommend the second floor for a date (if your date likes jazz music) and the first floor for a night out between friends. According to Daniel's aunt, their 5@7 are quite good for both the ambiance and drinks. The service was also satisfying (not fast nor slow) and the waitress and busboy were really nice to us.

Now time to show off some new toy I just got recently. I think my blogging experience will only get more interesting from now on. Yes, I just got a new camera.

Though I bought this camera because I was tired of crappy pictures taken with a compact one (I love compact cameras in broad daylight but other than that it's more frustrating than anything else) I mostly did it because I am going to study abroad in less than two months. I really want to take awesome pictures I can proudly show to my friends and family while I'll be in France for six months.

So that's it for today! Go give Bistro Modavie a try, I think it's really worth it.

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