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Critic: La Cabane d’à Côté is Rustic Bliss

Including a nod to Heirloom and a round-up for pho

Frédéric Laroche

Less than a month has passed since Martin Picard opened La Cabane d’à Côté co-owners Marc Beaudin and chef Vincent Dion Lavallée. While exciting for many, the latest in Au Pied de Cochon’s woodsy adventures, it may seem somewhat premature for it to receive a visit from critics. That slim window of time hadn’t deterred the Gazette’s Lesley Chesterman to pay a visit this past week however, and it appears that the restaurant had been ready since the day it flung open its doors. While this cabane is by no means aiming for similar climes of excess, the food’s more reminiscent of classic Quebecois fare and is no less excellent for the critic. Following a DIY tray of cocktails, the critic tucked into the restaurant’s set menu, beginning with small plates of finger hors d’oeuvres like cheese, pickles, and freshly-baked bread with a classic pea soup sporting bacon, telltale foie gras, and aged cheddar. These are followed by plogues, small buckwheat pancakes, as well as “a dreamy souffléd omelette” with beans that Chesterman dreamed about “for a full week after”; a fanciful take on tourtière that would’ve won over a French-Canadian grandmother; a hearty ragoût with meatballs; rutabaga and cabbage served in pork broth; and finally topped off with desserts like traditional maple taffy and grand-père maple dumplings. While the visit is consistently peppered with laudations and requests for seconds, sometimes thirds, the critic holds back on giving her visit a rousing four stars—perhaps the review’s missing half-star is due to the confusing parking and march down an icy road at the beginning? Three and a half stars. [Montreal Gazette]

In lieu of a lengthier review of one restaurant, Le Devoir critic Jean-Philippe Tastet has released a list of the five best spots for pho in Montreal to assuage these last weeks of winter. Among those listed—including , Little Italy’s Cafeden, the institutional Restaurant Au 14, and the city’s latest arrival Tran Cantine—the critic gives primary attention to Pho Tây Hô. Often deemed one of the more sure bets for steaming bowls of noodles and broth, with Eater not excluded from those claims, Tastet can’t help but agree. His only hang-ups include how the restaurant “could make more effort on the service side” with a possible smile here or there, let alone how the décor is “not the most exciting.” Despite these side notes, the critic notes that their quality can’t be ignored.

Pho Tây Hô

Within the last week, La Presse’s Marie-Claude Lortie has paid a visit to Hochelaga’s latest arrival Heirloom, a pizzeria styled after Neapolitan fare. Coming from the principals behind Le Quartier Général and État-Major, the restaurant receives even-handed praise from the critic. While the appetizers of fried calamari, mozzarella di bufala, and arancini all satisfy, Lortie notes some missteps when it comes to the mains: The carbonara pasta is well-presented with a fresh egg yolk balanced on top, but its “bacon is bland and prevents the dish from having depth.” On the other hand, Heirloom main attraction of pizza doesn’t disappoint. Whether it’s the meat-laden King of Ontario pie or a white pizza sporting varities of mushrooms alongside bacon and pecorino, they have “good, crispy dough, but sweet too.” Good to know that Heirloom’s focus is on point, as the desserts are last on the table and the last to get a ho-hum reception. Choosing a sweet take on pizza with a chocolate cream option, it’s far from genre-bending and could use a little more retooling, according to the critic. On the other hand, churro with milkshake are great, no matter how mismatched they seem. [La Presse]



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