Archives for posts with tag: review

Welcome to the world of De Farine et D’Eau Fraîche!

DF+EF is a dreamy new pâtisserie on Amherst that has the perfect combination of creativity and expertise. They have just opened and they are sure to be a huge success.  DF+EF is near Robin, right across the street from the community centre Ste-Catherine d’Alexandre which is also boasting a beautiful new mosaic trim and a new green roof.

Here is a baker’s dozen of the finest features that set DF+EF apart from Montreal’s pâtisseries.

  • A cordial proprietor and convivial staff.  The owner, Marilu, along with Cathy and the other staff always smile and ask how we are doing.  It’s so nice to chat a bit, and suddenly feel at home.
  • Sweet imagination. No need to head to Paris for a treat. It is all right here ranging from a small guilt-free bite to a larger indulgence; boule au chocolat et crème pâtisserie, tea cakes (à la rose is my favourite so far!), cookies in a multitude of shapes and flavours, homemade Pocky, caramels, muffins wrapped in charming brown paper, scrumptious cakes and pastries.

crème brûlée... Earl Grey flavouring

The earl grey crème brûlée was everything you want in a crème brûlée.  A nice crunch of caramelized sugar on top and incredibly creamy, nicely chilled down below.  I love the creative flavour combinations; earl grey, milk chocolate with earl grey and lavender, or vanilla.

works of art

Miniature wedding cakes are a specialty. Each one is a work of art; modern, sophisticated and unique.  I can see them being featured at many types of special occasions like graduations, showers, anniversaries and milestone birthdays.  I recently ordered a chocolate tart with caramelized bananas and Irish creme and it was perfect for my chocolate-loving friend.

  • Composting coffee cups for take out coffee.  Marilu rightly states that most people will not recycle a paper coffee cup, this is why she has made special efforts to import composting coffee cups all the way from Australia.
  • Fun. Over the last several weeks, we have done our homework in researching the place.   We have developed a rapport with the staff and they have occasionally brought a small taste of something to try.  While we have been in, we have tried to do our part in taste testing new caramel flavours, such as one with coriander and apricots (yum!), a little carrot cake, a new type of cookie, and bite of caramel popcorn.  We love it here!

    creamy caramels


  • sweet and savoury

    Something savoury.  If sweet treats do not suit you, then there is always a little something savoury.  I have a friend from New Zealand who has lamented for years that there are no savoury muffins in all of Montreal.  She is in for a treat when she returns to the city in April!

  • An enticing breakfast sandwich made with their own english muffin, 1 year old cheddar from l’Ile-aux-Grues, farm fresh bacon, an organic egg, little bits of green sprouts, red pepper and Kewpie japanese mayonnaise.  It is the best breakfast sandwich I have ever tasted.

  • Filling, healthy lunch features. The lunch specials are perfect for the type of weather we are experiencing at the moment.  They are hearty, real food, with home-made flavour, made by someone who loves to cook.  The lunch special pictured above is a curried chicken in a cashew sauce, served with jasmine rice.  This is my kind of lunch!  The paninis are unique, deluxe and satisfying.  The tuna panini is nicely accented with feta, artichokes and black olive tapenade. And if you like, it can be served with a small portion of potato chips and a soup or salad.
  • fine cappucinos

    Many people come just for the fantastic speciality coffees, teas and hot chocolates served all day long.

  • It speaks volumes that DF+EF uses organic sugar and eggs in all of the baking.  They also use organic milk, cocoa, tea, fair trade organic coffee and some organic spices.  Flavour is key, so they also use local meats from Nordest and local cheeses.

    boule au chocolat et crème pâtisserie

  • Fair-trade, organic Coco Camino sugar served with coffee and tea.
  • Beautiful tea service.


  • You can take it with you, too. Everything can be made to go and there is a plethora of little treats lining the counter, ready for quick pick-up.
  • comfort

    And I have not even mentioned the décor! Large elegant windows, fascinating wall treatments that remind us of icing as well as beautiful and comfortable furnishings with the adorable DF+ EF logo stamped on the tables.

So, take a little time and spend it in De Farine et D’Eau Fraîche.  You are in for a treat!

1701 rue Amherst

Open Monday to Friday from 7:30 am until 6:00 pm; Saturdays between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm; and Sundays from 11:00 am ’til 5:00 pm.

Find out more on facebook!

bisou!

Tammy Schmidt and Natasha Henderson, Montreal.

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Postcard of Dominion Square in Montreal, Quebe...

Dominion Square

The Dominion Square Tavern is a wonderful Montreal restaurant that is steeped in history. The Dominion’s recent incarnation as a restaurant has only been open for just over a year, however the place has been around since the late 1920’s.

Situated in the heart of the Golden Square Mile (once Canada’s richest neighbourhood), the Tavern was originally adjoined to the Dominion Hotel. The hotel burned down in the 1930’s, but thankfully the Tavern survived the blaze. The Dominion had been Montreal’s first Gay Bar during the 1970’s. Only in 1988 were women allowed past its doors due to a new law.

Thankfully, throughout the years the owners and managers of the space have maintained the charming décor in true Roaring Twenties style. Much of the décor seems to be either original or actual period work. The terrazzo floors are bordered by porcelain-tile wainscoting, and some of the ornate brass lamps hanging from the ceiling still have pull-chains hanging from their bases. The walls testify to the  ‘Dominion’; the coat-of-arms for each province hang there. Somehow the soft leather winged chairs are curved to perfectly coddle your kidneys. This comes in useful after sampling the cocktails. There is so much more to sit back and take in. The Dominion is perfect for pondering.

Tuesday's lunch plate: seared trout

Besides the decor, history, the charming clientele and the pleasantness of the wait staff, there is the food. A winning idea in the Dominion is the daily lunch special: The Dish of The Day. One main dish, with a side salad or soup is $20. A glass of wine or pint of beer is an additional $6. The lunch special of seared trout is light and satisfying.  Perfect for a Tuesday! On Thursday, the Duck Confit is simply amazing. In this one leg of duck, there are about five distinct attributes. It is rich, succulent and meaty. There is an indescribable divine tenderness in the meat, fat and skin that is just all-out flavour. A few little thinly crisped potato pieces add a crunchy treat, and the hollandaise sauce that surrounds the duck could not be any more appropriate.

pulled pork sandwich; delicately flavoured yet hearty. Very hot fries.

Starter salad and side salads are fresh, made from watercress, with bits of herbs such as dill and fennel added. The dressing is light and tasty, smoothing the path for the healthy greens to be digested.

I happily ordered the Pulled Pork sandwich on two separate occasions. This sandwich is lightly flavoured with a tangy mustard and fennel sauce. The bread is a house-baked bun, large but not overwhelming. A very generous pile of steaming hot fries accompanies the sandwich, and an overflowing, marvellous bowl of house mayonnaise accompanies the fries. The fries stay hot for a good long time, as fries in good restaurants tend to; I am quite certain that they are cooked in duckfat. A starter salad is a good idea if you order this, to try to fill up on greens before diving into the huge pile of delicious fries and sauce.

ploughman's plate: a chance to try headcheese

Except for the micro-brewery beers, the drinks at the Dominion are all made in-house. This goes for the syrups as well as the filtered water. The house even makes its own tonic water. In the case of the latter, the gin and tonics are quite simply the best in town. Not only is there a good choice of gins for the mix, no other G&T tastes quite like theirs. There is absolutely no harm in establishing a cocktails budget to make the round of the Dominion cocktail menu.

All of the above are served in excellent glassware. Beer pints are, simply, adorable in their roundness. Beer just tastes better when it is served in a large, rounded glass! Perhaps this aids in the appreciation of the beer’s bouquet.

celebrating a birthday with sticky toffee pudding and homemade coffee ice cream



If you still have room, finish off your meal with a sticky toffee pudding, a nutmeg donut, or anything that suits your fancy from the dessert menu. You will not be disappointed.

Dominion Square Tavern, 1243 Metcalfe Street Montreal. Monday-Friday 11:30 to midnight, Saturday 5pm to midnight. 514-564-5056 Reservations welcome.

Experience Deux: La Bistro Sur La Rivière.

by Natasha Henderson, Montreal

Le Bistro Sur La Rivière… it is a small bistro. It is a bistro that takes pride in its meats, in its generously overflowing presentations of food. It is a bistro that is on Larivière, the street that is behind my massive studio building.

The Quebec Flag

My first experience eating here was on the eve of the first La Virree des Ateliers event. I was new to the Grover Building, I was one of the rare anglophone artists who rented there. I felt a little foreign, and that these open-studios could be an opportunity to break into the new culture in which I felt myself surrounded. I’d have a chance to make new friends, new connections, and learn new things very soon. I was right, in certain respects, on all accounts.

Anyhow, on that eve in May, I went in for a delicious sandwich and frites with accompanying salad and beer to celebrate the future. Since that date, I’ve been back twice, once because I’d recently sold three paintings, another time just because I was hungry. As a semi-vegetarian, I received upon my first visit a sandwich with a bit of ham in it, when I’d thought I’d ordered a simple tomato and cheese sandwich. I didn’t kick up a fuss. I am “semi”-vegetarian, and I knew that my Francais was pretty rusty… so I was willing to bend. Since going back two more times, though, I’ve found the wait staff to be supremely giving and forgiving. It is a predominantly Francophone neighbourhood, complete with the de rigueur fleur-de-lis on the front door of the place. It’s one of those places that, as I enter, I couldn’t help but put up my guard, just a little. They might all stare at me if I try to talk! However, upon further experience, I’ve had some very nice chats in a blend of Franglais with the people who work there.

Sandwich of My Dreams

Oh, and the sandwich that I order… it’s good. It is very, very good. I don’t know how certain restaurants are able to make a sandwich into such a special experience. For me, at home, when I make a sandwich it is a utilitarian expression. I have bread, and I have something to put in between two slices of that bread. A good restaurant’s sandwich, that becomes something of a capital “E” Experience.

So, the sandwich to order at Le Bistro Sur La Rivière is the tomato and brie and pesto on Baguette. Please order that, when you go there. It is divine, a perfect blend of tastes and textures. The house salad and frites with mayonnaise that come with it are just the icing on the cake. Cake? Who needs cake after such an incredible, fresh, fantastic meal? No, no cake. This will do. Perhaps an Oatmeal Stout beer to go along with… or a coffee after. The wait staff is always keen to refill your water-glass, and they always check in to see how you are enjoying your meal.

This Bistro has an extensive menu, and, upon discussion with the workers there, they do have a vegetarian plate for Supper-time, too. The stuffed pasta… does look pretty good! Some day, perhaps, I will order it. But the tomato/brie/pesto sandwich… oo la-la!!!

Find Le Bistro Sur La Rivière at 2263, rue Larivière, Montreal, QC. Find Natasha eating there soon.

The Author of this post hides behind a rose

by Natasha Henderson, Montreal

A fellow painter, Rick Leong’s work is something that I can appreciate. Nature is the major inspiration for his large-scale oil on canvas works, but he delves into a fairy-tale, mystic and imagined place. The wonder of seeing is ever-present. The shapes and forms that magically appear amongst the trees, moss, sky, and vegetal forms are like a brief reverie within the midst of contemplation. I recall seeing his solo exhibit at the Parisian Laundry just over three years ago… they were intriguing paintings, and they performed that delicate dance between memory, observation, expression, and representation. Good painting, I would call it. So when I realised he was exhibiting at the Parisian Laundry again, I decided to stop in.

I went into the ‘Laundry not knowing what to expect, but my hopes were high. The work of Michael A. Robinson greeted me on the main floor. His work is a grand-scale for a commercial gallery space, and it was effective. The content was perhaps simple (for the serious nature of the work) and highly accessible. I liked it. Visually compelling, visceral, the work made links between stark materials (wood, plaster, simple construction-objects) and bomb imagery, warfare, and the techniques of it. Three large sculptures dominated the voluminous space, accompanied by a few drawings.

A big wall-hanging that was comprised of chiselled plaster-covered wood was covered in scratches and worked-upon images of “falling” bombs. This piece must have been about 12 or 15 feet tall, and massively wide. There seemed to be three juncture-points of the lines, three places where the tension of the composition was highest. It formed a pleasing composition, quite classic in form. Perhaps as “dropping bombs” they would be most effective in this formation, too.

The second large sculptural piece in this show was a selection of thin, flat, jagged edged plaster pieces, carefully arranged in a circle on the floor. There was a sense of “putting the pieces together”, a feeling of trying to figure something out… The individual plaster pieces looked like they were lifted from the large wall hanging, mentioned above.

Also included in Robinson’s exhibit was a series of drawings that appeared to be studies on bombing, attacks, and warfare. They were clearly drawn with an ink pen, using a ruler. There was a graphic, clear, and somewhat spare formality to them, and they seemed like technical drawings that bordered on illustration. Certainly minimalist, cut back to the basics of the forms that inspired them works… again warfare. There were about five or six of these drawings.

The most captivating piece in the show was, hands down, a huge construct of wooden objects. This seemingly exploding form must have been about 20 feet in diameter. I walked well around it, checking to see if there were any eyes poked out by all the projecting pieces of wood. It was comprised of crutches, easels, ski poles, a distinct absence of hockey sticks, and many simple pieces of wood… the type found leftover on construction sites. It was almost a cartoon drawing of an explosion; the drawing made of wood pieces in a 3-D format. The overall effect seemed to be a disassociation from the grit and grime of war.

Overall, the work in Even When Bombs Are Gone spoke more about construction and drafting, layers of building and re-building, and a closeness to materiality than “war“. War was a reference point, with pieces of the visual graphics and planning for war utilised in this work. “War” is isolated as a concept, as a source for dislocated, objective subject matter in and of itself.

After seeing the Main Space exhibit, I went down into The Bunker (yes, it is called that) to see Rick Leong’s show, The Roaming Gloam. This is a space accessible through a staircase underground, and many attendees would need to duck while traversing a certain passage (I did). Once you arrive in The Bunker, however, the ceiling opens up to about 20 feet or so. It’s a great space. Dramatic, no windows, no light but the spotlights on the one large painting on display. It was… a pretty good painting. This painting displayed a magical-seeming forest-scene. The tree-forms were impeccably painted, the bark seemed to glow from within, an ethereal light. Little cute polka-dotted mushrooms added a sense of scale in the bottom. For some reason, though, it all left me feeling a little empty. I think that more context, another couple of pieces perhaps upstairs would have… oh wait… there were two pieces of Leong’s upstairs. In the Upstairs (above the Main Space) Leong showed two pencil drawings, of an accessible scale, approximately 3’ x 2’ . These were exquisite renderings of tree-like shapes, with tendrils and doodads dancing about the treetops and trunks. Very lovely. There was a lot of empty space upstairs…. It was elegant and open, and delightful for some odd reason. I felt that Leong’s exhibit really could have used a couple more pieces. One large painting and two exquisite drawings separated two floors apart just wasn’t enough for me. It should be noted that the gallery suggested in a little text handed out that this large painting would converse with some smaller paintings that Leong was showing (in theory concurrently) up the hill at the McClure Gallery. Not complaining about Leong’s works, rather, I wanted MORE of it.

Having seen the two exhibits at the Parisian Laundry, I was inspired to go up the hill (heeding the instructions of the ’Laundry) to see the additional works of Leong at the McClure Gallery. Alas, that that show was actually set for a later date. Upon re-reading the text provided by The ‘Laundry, perhaps Leong’s exhibit at the McClure gallery is concurrent with one in New York later this fall… well, either way, good job Rick Leong! Three major exhibits in one autumn.

Instead of Leong’s work at the McClure, there was an exhibit of large-scale, beautiful paintings by Russell T. Gordon. It was something of a retrospective/celebration of a fine, fine artist. I loved his paintings. However, I would have cut a couple of the smaller pieces from the show, and one or two of the larger ones as well. Two big pieces were competing with one another on a wall that couldn’t accommodate them. The lesser one I’d have bumped. Just a note, not reviewing that show. But Over Easy – Metaphores en series ran ‘til October 2 and was good painting.

I am glad to have wandered into the gallery today, it’s been too too long. Next gallery I hit up will be the Musee des Beaux Arts. I hear there are some pretty darned stunning pieces down in the contemporary temporary exhibits rooms right NOW…

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