As I walked into Tiramisu, I was floored by how gorgeous the space is. With its lush greenery (the bar is decked out in cascading vines) and gold detailing, the ambiance screams laid-back sophistication.
We sat down at a super cozy yet cool-looking booth and began tasting a range of dishes. On the appetizer menu for the evening: burrata, sushi arancini, endive with stracciatella, and tuna tataki. Some dishes leaned more Japanese and others more Italian, but the combination of flavours worked beautifully together.
Moving onto mains, we obviously had to dig into some pizza. We tried a classic Margherita, which is always my baseline test for whether or not a place makes good pizza and this one definitely passed! Then we tried the Mamma Mortadella, which is made with béchamel, mascarpone, pistachios, honey and mortadella.
Of course, the perfect pairing with pizza is pasta. We tried seafood spaghetti with fresh squid ink, scallops, clams, shrimps, salmon and ikura as well as Tonkotsu Lasagna made with béchamel, fior di latte, miso, white wine and pork.
Next, it was time for dessert and I know what you're thinking: "How was the tiramisu?!" A place named after this iconic dessert has a lot to live up to. Tiramisu's version of tiramisu did not dissapoint. It's made with Japanese whiskey as opposed to the traditional Marsala wine and rum, which gives it a really unique flavour. It's also served with burnt marshmallow on top — a tasty touch.
We capped off the night with espresso martini cocktails. After all, Italian culture dictates that one should enjoy an espresso after a night of eating delicious food, drinking delicious drinks and laughing with friends — and that was our experience in a nutshell.
Why You Need To Go: Located in the new Hampton Inn Hotel where Chinatown meets Old Montreal, Tiramisu is the perfect example of cultures colliding to create something totally unique extraordinary — and delicious — in the city.
As I set out on a chilly Thursday evening to Montreal's new Hiverside ice bar, my mind was filled with scenes from the James Bond movie Die Another Day. In this classic early aughts spy romp, our hero, Mr. Bond, is invited to the villain's ice palace (which is somehow also a diamond mine) and hijinks ensue. And though I lack the martini-fueled charm of Pierce Brosnan, I was about to feel like Bond himself at this quirky Montreal ice bar.
What the movie didn't show you was that under that tuxedo, James Bond was wearing several layers of thermal underwear. Me, on the other hand? One measly layer of pants. I was shaken. But despite my lack of longjohns, Hiverside definitely stirred me up.
Now, many of you might be thinking, "c'mon, just how different can this be from any other themed bar?" Believe me, this is like nothing you've ever seen before in Montreal.
As you walk into the massive inflatable igloo, the first thing you'll notice is how remarkable the sculpted ice really is. From the tables and benches to a literal piano, the ice has been carved to absolute perfection.
It should come as no surprise since the ice was sculpted by the renowned Julien Doré, the artist behind Quebec's Hôtel de glace.
Flanking both sides of the bar are two sets of tables with enough room for about six people per table. The benches are covered in recycled furs that after a prolonged sit-down, don't do much to keep your butt from going numb. Luckily, at the back of the bar is an open area with heating lamps that got packed really fast.
With the music pumping and people spilling in, my friends and I were lucky enough to nab one of the last remaining tables. First up on the drink menu was a sort of vodka spritz made with cotton candy. While I'm not big on sweet drinks, the cocktail managed to strike a good balance and wasn't overpowering.
Next up was the hot chocolate cocktail. Now, I'm no mixologist, but mixing alcohol with hot chocolate is kind of a strange idea. At first, the drink was tasty but quite heavy on the alcohol. Unfortunately, hot drinks don't do too well surrounded by ice and what started out as a tasty drink became an abhorrent swirl of alcohol and cold hot chocolate. But maybe that's your thing?
I was so glad the next drink, the hot toddy cocktail, redeemed the hot chocolate. On the first sip, I forgot all about my numb bum and was whisked away to a planet made of warm duvets. It was classic, delicious, strong but not destructive, and the perfect thing to drink while sitting on an ice bench.
If you're looking for a fun night out to get drinks with friends in a mesmerizing environment, this is the place for you. My only advice is to layer up!
Is Hiverside worth it? Most definitely.
Hiverside Ice Bar
Price: $60/person for a reservation; Hiverside also accepts walk-ins
Where: Riverside bar, 5020, rue St-Ambroise, Montreal, QC
It's been two days since news broke that Joe Beef founder and acclaimed Chef David McMillan was quitting the restaurant business after 32 years, rocking Montreal foodies to their core. Now, his partner and co-founder Chef Fred Morin has taken to Instagram to respond.
McMillan announced that he had sold his shares of his restaurants in an exclusive interview with the Montreal Gazette, which quoted him as saying "I never want to shave white truffles on to asparagus for someone from Toronto ever again in my life." In the article, McMillan describes himself as "burned out." The article notes that he plans to spend more time on his farm and with his family.
"We all have pandemic stories. After this amazing career, I was racking my head against the wall trying to figure out what I could sell online to pack in an aluminum box to deliver or to have picked up [...] I was trying to figure out a way to make crispy potatoes ride in an Uber. The whole experience was demoralizing," McMillan told the Montreal Gazette's Bill Brownstein.
"I just became angry. Angry at the door, angry at the refrigeration technician, angry at the dishwasher machine, angry at the price of meat, angry at the young chefs, angry at the older chefs."
Morin, who, according to the Montreal Gazette, bought McMillan's shares along with fellow co-founder and co-partner Allison Cunningham, took to Instagram on Saturday morning to respond to McMillan's decision.
"David has decided to retire for reasons that are his own. We chose to continue, to keep shaving those truffles, to move forward one oyster at a time. [...] Our restaurant's success is owed mostly to our staff's personalities, kindness and professionalism, and of course to our customers, from every area code!" he wrote.
"When I look at these wall[s], the only thing I see is a great place for floral wallpaper and a few more hanging copper pot[s]."
Joe Beef is iconic to the Montreal dining scene and was named one of the world's best restaurants in 2015. It's credited with playing a large role in the resurgence — or gentrification, depending on how you see it — of Little Burgundy, the neighbourhood where it opened in 2005.
In addition to Joe Beef, McMillan formerly co-owned Le Vin Papillon, Liverpool House, McKiernan, and Vinette.
Okay, so you just tried your first — or four-millionth — goat curry dish, and the thought of eating anything other than Caribbean cuisine for the rest of the week simply won't fly. Thanks to Montreal's thriving Caribbean community, this city is full of top-notch Caribbean food spots to try... but where to start?
We enlisted the help of one of Montreal's favourite chefs, Chef Paul Toussaint. Toussaint, formerly the executive chef at Haitian eaterie Agrikol, is now the owner and executive chef of Kamúy, a hot Caribbean restaurant with rave reviews. If anyone knows where to get good Caribbean food and ingredients in this town, it's Chef Paul Toussaint.
You'll also find him at the Eaton Centre's Time Out Market where he "serves up his home country's savory and comforting cuisine, from crackling griot with piquant pikliz and fall-off-the-bone pineapple-and-rum ribs to sides of accra fritters and fried plantains," the website says.
Here are his picks for the best places to get Caribbean food essentials in the Montreal area.
Address: 2287, rue Guenette, Saint-Laurent, QC (but products are available throughout the province)
Why You Need To Go: "There are a few must-haves when prepping a Haitian dish: one of them being djondjon! The edible black mushroom is often found in northern Haiti and used as a delicacy in some Haitian dishes. One of my top djondjon can be found at Red & Blue Distribution Inc., one of our city's most renowned Haitian distributors," Toussaint told MTL Blog.
Address: Five locations in Montreal, including Lasalle, Laval, Saint-Laurent, Saint-Léonard and Dollard-des-Ormeaux
Why You Need To Go: "When cooking with fruits and vegetables, a pro-tip is to always cook with fresh produce for optimal flavours. My favourite place for fruits and veg is Sami Fruit, who always have fresh produce and make sure to deliver them at great prices. My go-to selects — plantains, malangas, yucca, sugar cane, passion fruit and their many varieties of sweet potato," said Toussaint.
Why You Need To Go: "I get many of my meats at Champfleury Butcher Shop, offering local artisanal production, optimal tenderness, and classic French butchery. If you're looking for great meats, every day the Champfleury team prepares fresh, simple and comforting products for you. My meat pick-ups usually include their Quebec farm-raised chicken and eggs, beef from Gaspésie, lamb from the Eastern Townships and all their homemade sausage prepared by Dominic, Alberto and the rest of their amazing team," Toussaint said.
Why You Need To Go: "Seafood is an essential part of Haitian cuisine, often incorporating fish and shellfish in meals. My favourite seafood shop is Casablanca Fish Shop, offering flavourful and fresh produce — perfect for cooking with! I especially like their Lambi, Haitian Conch and spicy Haitian lobster!" said Toussaint.
Why You Need To Go: "Haitian restaurants in Montreal are known for their authentic meals that will make you feel right at home! One of my favourite restaurants is Steve Anna Restaurant, where I can always count on a good authentic Haitian meal to recharge my batteries. I especially love their legumes or griot dishes. Also their fried beef. Everything is amazing there, it's hard to pick a favourite dish!" Toussaint told MTL Blog.
Why You Need To Go: "My go-to spot for the tastiest Guyanese cuisine. The food is fantastic. I would suggest ordering any of their dhal puris or their goat curry. Their mango hot sauce is also to die for," Toussaint said.