Cover photo from the Southbrook site

Balsam Houblon

I wanted to be nowhere near a TV on American inauguration day, aka the beginning of the end, so I worked in a frenzy until I had to run to the airport. I was headed to Montreal for the weekend where it was cold and damp and gray.

After a really interesting talk we grabbed dinner at The Balsam Inn. We split the Quebec mozzarella and garlic bread and chorizo cake with fried egg and tomato jam (!), and then the salmon tartare and beef tartare, all with a bottle of Pinot. We sampled a peanut blondie and orange/almond cake for dessert, with scotch for me and bourbon for Lindsay.




The next day was kinda lazy, slightly worky, heavy on the pastry (there’s this amazing bakery near Lindsay’s place that makes me SO happy), and ended up with us at Saint Houblon for beers and lunch. Lindsay’s lamb burger looked prety good; my duck confit burger was fantastic. The beers were all pretty solid too…great selection (some brewed there, some from other Quebec microbreweries) and laid-back atmosphere.


We relaxed a little back at Lindsay’s before dinner, and drank a bottle I bought (and left behind) the last time I was here: Beau’s “One Ping Only” Baltic porter. I mean, I love porter anyway, but the reference to The Hunt For Red October guaranteed I’d buy it.


Dinner Saturday was at our usual spot: Maison Publique. Our first time there together was stellar; the second time was good, not great. This time, though, we found that first height again.

  • We started, at our server’s insistence, with the foie gras parfait. I’m not a foie gras fan, and Lindsay wasn’t sure, but she was a pretty big fan by the end.
  • Around the same time we had a grapefruit and fennel salad as a palate cleanser. We paired all this with glasses of Spark from Tawse. This one’s a 100% Riesling sparkling so it’s not my favourite, but it helped cut the richness of the foie gras.
  • Our mains were a collection of winter vegetables covered in something called bagna cauda, which was this rich, salty, garlicky sauce; the pappardelle with beef cheek; and the Charlevoix pork, a brined chop served with sweet potato. We wondered what wine would go with all these — flavour-wise cab franc seemed the best choice but we needed something which could keep up with all that richness, so we went for Pearl Morissette’s big one-off variant: the 2012 Le Spectateur. It worked pretty well actually.
  • For dessert we couldn’t decide between the caramel pot de creme and the pistachio doughnut, so…yeah. We got both. We hadn’t planned to get a dessert drink but our server brought over a serious treat: a 2006 (!) Vidal icewine from Southbrook. I’d not had this before, and it was lovely — not that sweet for an icewine. Strong finish, Maison Publique.


Sunday was a big old pile of relax: pancakes, merguez sausages, mimosas, work, and watching The Invitation. I was so relaxed I forgot I even owned a watch, and accidentally left it behind when I took off for the airport.

See you in two weeks, Maison Publique. You too, rest of Montreal.


Cover photo from the Southbrook site

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