Cover photo from the Gabardine site

Gabardine

With a friend/colleague in town and wanting to meet up for a drink, I scouted possible options near his hotel. Having never tried it, despite a long-standing intention to do so, I settled on The Gabardine. We met before it got too busy, after a Christmas-strewn shortcut through The Bay.

I had a lovely little bourbon + ginger ale cocktail, and (at the bartender’s insistence) a plate of “crispy fried grits, pickled jalapenos, nacho cheese, bacon, and maple” that was decadent and completely delicious.

I am seriously pissed at myself for not trying that place sooner.

.:.

Cover photo from the Gabardine site

 

The bitter drink

Another weekend. Another epic weekend.

Friday

Christ, it was impossible to get out of Toronto. I’ve never seen Billy Bishop airport like that. A lot of commuter fliers + a few canceled flights = chaos on the island. My flight was an hour late leaving, and sat on the Montreal tarmac for fifteen minutes while we waited for an open slot. I didn’t have much in me but to get in a cab, drop my bags, listen to music, play some poker, and drink some beer.

Saturday

I had a plan. A plan for beer. After driving in a delicious breakfast sandwich it was off to Le Saint Bock — tremendous beer, and tasty frites, but a weird vibe…I’m not used to craft beer places also being sports bars. Anyway, after pints of Hefeweizen and Saison, this was the sample lineup:

  • Malédiction Milk Stout
  • King Kunta Shiraz Saison Noire Impériale Vieillit en Fût de Shiraz
  • Pénitente Blanche Épicée
  • Harvest Ghosts American Brown Ale au Piment Bhut Jolokia
  • Jésus Chéri Ale Brune Impériale Aux Cerises
  • Black IPA (Brasserie Dunham)
  • L’ambiguë Rousse Bitter (La Voie Maltée)
  • Cidre à la Cerise (Vergers de la Colline)

Next up was L’Amère a Boire, just up the street. While the beer here was less impressive (the stout and red were fine, but…just fine) the food was very tasty. Rabbit dumplings? Lamb spring rolls? Yes please. Also: hot butch servers. Anyway.

A delicious, colourful stop at G&G Patisserie and a much-needed americano at Café Sfouf later and then it was time for Station Ho.st, the home bar for Hopfenstark.

It was fricking rammed with beer nerds and stressed servers, so it started off rocky, but got a little better — especially when the flammekueche w/ crème fraiche, oignon, lardon, and emmental cheese showed up. The beer was almost too nerdy, if you know what I mean.

  • 7 Sisters: Mérope Belgian Pale Ale
  • Baltic Porter de L’Ancrier Baltic Porter
  • Saison Station 55 Saison amère
  • Berlin AlexanderPlatz Berliner Weisse

Clearly that wasn’t quite enough booze and food, so after a brief respite it was off to Pullman wine bar for some late-night charcuterie and fromage, and glasses of pinot noir and cab franc and more cab franc and barolo.

I barely remember getting home.

Sunday

Sfouf indeed. Pastries and coffee please. Honestly, not much happened on Sunday apart from some delicious relaxation, until it was time for dinner at Maison Publique…and mon dieu. What a dinner.

First of all, the wine list: it’s entirely Canadian, and it’s easily the best Canadian wine lineup I’ve ever seen. Not the biggest, but certainly the best-curated. When I first walked in I saw bottles on the bar from TH Wines, Tawse, Pearl-Morissette, and so on. I ordered that TH Wines Cab-Merlot by the glass to start.

And then there was the food. Gawd. It was…well:

  • octopus & lentil salad
  • beets in marjoram, aioli
  • ricotta gnocchi in duck + pork ragu
  • magret de canard
  • olive oil cake

For the main meal the sommelier suggested a bottle of 2007 Southbrook Poetica Cab Merlot, which was amazing. After dessert he recommended glasses of Closson Chase chardonnay and Southbrook Triomphe Cab Franc.

The wine, the ambience, the service…it might be my new favourite place in Montreal.

Monday

Time to head up to my work conference in Mont Tremblant. A ginormous yummy breakfast, mimosas, and a péché mortel filled me up until I made the long drive up. Mercy.

Montreal, je t’aime.