After sneaking out of work early and then back into work late the next day… the Divas made it to the media tasting for the 7th Annual Happening Gourmand at Suite 701 in Old Montreal. For those of you who have been living under a rock and don’t know what Happening Gourmand is all about, a group of Old Port restaurants have created fixed menus with additional cost options, and runs from January 9th to February 2nd. We were lucky to get one dish from each participating restaurant and though we received what they called “smaller portions,” we were stuffed by the time the main meal arrived. Our night started with a cocktail with vodka, Lillet and lemonade from Suite 701, after that it was wine all night long…
Lucky for us we have been to almost all of the Happening Gourmand participating restaurants and have enjoyed ourselves at all of them, so we knew that we were in for a delicious dinner. All Happening Gourmand restaurants offer a dinner menu between 21$ – 29$, plus tax and gratuity. Some of them even offer additions for an extra cost, but there are no menu substitutions (not that you’d want any). Other special offers include Happening Gourmand’s association with Igloofest, with the purchase of a Happening Gourmand menu clients receive $5 off tickets to the year’s biggest snow-draped party. Igloofest tickets are available for 15$ at all Happening Gourmand restaurants.
Our tasting started with an Italian antipasti platter from Bevo Bar + Pizzeria. Their dinner menu for Happenning Gourmand is set at 21$, and like all the restaurants, is composed of an appetizer, main meal and dessert. Bevo’s antipasti platter consisted of marinated sundried tomatoes that were very tasty, especially because the marinated tomatoes were cherry tomatoes that are sweeter than the usual variety. This starter also came with some delicious roasted peppers, artichokes, marinated eggplant, some mixed olives and a Diva favourite – mixed mushrooms. Under all of these vegetables was a generous piece of mozzarella fior di latte that tied in all of the vegetables, and a few quarters of fresh tomato. It was a delicious antipasti platter that we have never tried at Bevo and would surely go there for.
Besides their antipasti platter, Bevo offers the choice of 3 fried shrimp in cocktail sauce as an appetizer. Their mains include the Pizza Caprese, which we have enjoyed at one of our many visits at Bevo, or fresh pasta stuffed with veal and topped with creamy fontina which sounds absolutely heavenly. Other Happening Gourmand mains at Bevo are the fresh tilapia served with blood orange sauce, or for an additional cost of 10$ a beef bavette with mushrooms sauce. The tilapia sounds really interesting and we love the addition of the blood orange. Their desserts include a stuffed brioche with vanilla custard and their famous nutella pizza for an additional 5$ charge, we recommend this pizza-dessert for any chocolate lover.
Our second appetizer at our tasting was from Taverne Gaspar, whose dinner menu for Happening Gourmand is set at 25$. It was their salmon tartare with green apples and fresh herbs. The green apples, which we presume were added for sourness, did not stand out. But we were impressed by the freshness of the fish and the herbs that were used. Fresh coriander was the perfect herb to toss in with the raw salmon and though we would have liked a lemon wedge to add to the fish, we really enjoyed the tartare which was well coupled with a small side of mesclun salad.
Other appetizers on their Happening Gourmand dinner menu include a beet carpaccio with fresh goat cheese and baby spinach, a parsnip velouté and Jerusalem artichoke with chorizo, or their two lobster rolls for an additional 6$. Diva #2 loves a good Jerusalem artichoke and we have had the lobster rolls in the past and loved them! Their main meal options include an artisanal smoked sausage with mashed potatoes, ribs that have been slow cooked for 5 hours in their Jim Beam BBQ sauce, or a roasted organic salmon steak with a sauce vièrge.
Gaspar also offers their famous BBQ bacon burger with cheese and their Jim Beam sauce that we love, and their very tasty macaroni and cheese with corn noodles, smoked bacon, peas and aged cheddar. We have tried both of these mains and find them divine! For an additional 10$ you can also enjoy their 10 oz AAA NY strip with maître d’hotel butter. Their dessert options include a brownie with crème anglaise or a vanilla panna cotta with passion fruit. Gaspar’s menu offers a lot of options for Happening Gourmand, but we wish they had their amazing pudding chômeur on their menu!
Méchant Boeuf, a Diva-favourite because it is the home of Jason the oyster shucker #shuckme, has a 25$ Happening Gourmand dinner menu. Their appetizers include an iceberg lettuce salad with blue cheese dressing and croutons, or three oysters with varied condiments.
At our media event for Happening Gourmand we received their third appetizer option which was a bison bresaola with a celery root remoulade. The bison bresaola was delicious, the meat sliced paper-thin and raw, just the way we like it, and the celery remoulade tasty and light on the mayo. This delicious bison bresaola was lightly seasoned on its edges and perfectly salted when eaten with the parmesan croutons that it was served with.
The mains at Méchant Boeuf for Happening Gourmand include braised short ribs served with a sweet potato purée and seasonal vegetables, fish and chips, or a cordon bleu chicken burger with fresh sautéed spinach and chips. Their braised ribs sound absolutely heavenly! Their dessert options include a blueberry and cheese mousse parfait, or a spicy chocolate cake with an exotic fruit mousse.
At this point we were getting full but yet trekking on! Modavie is the only restaurant in this group that we have never reviewed. Known for their live jazz every night, we were curious to try one of their dishes. Their Happening Gourmand menu is also at 25$, their appetizer options include a calamari plate or the duck rillettes. We were lucky enough to try the duck rillettes, again served with croutons. The duck rillettes was a little dry and salty but flavourful but the mains on their menu are what truly intrigued us to try out this restaurant.
Their mains include the choice between lamb chops with oregano, a Sicilian penne or a trout amandine with risotto and vegetables. For the meat lovers in all of us, including you Vegan Vixen, for an additional 7$ cost, their perfectly aged Angus AAA Albertan grilled NY striploin with a pepper sauce. Another meaty option includes a rack of lamb with goat cheese, dijon mustard and sesame for an additional 10$, this certainly piqued the Divas’ interest. Their Happening Gourmand menu comes with a tiramisu for dessert.
We were really excited to see what Kyo Bar Japonais had to offer, we had been there for dinner, and their opening event, and we have never been disappointed. Their menu is also at 25$ for dinner and we were glad to see that we were going to be trying their maki. When an amuse bouche version of their Chef’s selection of maki arrived we were wowed by the presentation. We were served two maki, one was the traditional kamikaze roll which was perfection, as we have learnt to expect from Kyo. The second one is what truly wowed us; our waiter told us that it was simply called Kyo, a house specialty. It had crab, avocado, oshinko, tobiko, spicy mayo, lychee, red tuna and strawberry in it. It was sweet because of the fruit but the saltiness of the fish really tied the dish together, we were giddy with joy…. Oh and because we had drank a lot of wine.
Kyo’s Happening Gourmand starters include a sunomo salad which is made up of harusame noodles, cucumber coriander, wakame and kanikama, a beef sashimi made with ponzu sauce, or agedashi tofu with a soy-dashi sauce. We have not tried any of these appetizers but the beef sashimi sounds delightful! Their mains include a tempura shrimp for an additional 5$ which we have tried and love, or 15 pieces of maki which can never be a bad idea at Kyo. Another main includes the tonkatsy which is fried pork, panko, Japanese coleslaw and steamed rice, or their chirashizushi which is seafood, assorted raw fish, asparagus, and omelet, all on sushi rice.
Their dessert options include their mouth watering yuzu donuts with condensed milk and black sesame, which we would kill for, or their homemade green tea flakie pastry, which we have never tasted. But trust us; you will not regret those donuts! What is additionally wonderful about Kyo is that they offer a secondary menu of extras that is composed of nigiri, sashimi, and other additional maki and Japanese delights, the Divas love variety!
Verses restaurant has a more expensive 29$ menu, but we had been to Verses for Taste MTL 2012, so we know that you will enjoy your dinner there. Their appetizers include either a carrot consommé infused with lemongrass and yogurt, trout gravlax with rye bread, sorrel purée and spruce buttermilk, or a beet salad with goat cheese and white chocolate, poppies, green rice tuile, and salmon caviar. Verses is all about upscale fine dining!
At the tasting, we received a smaller version of one of their mains which was Moroccan eggplant caviar with focaccia crostini, mayonnaise style rouille, and a chermoula vegetable salad. This was an interesting dish but we found the addition of the raw asparagus a bit bitter for our palate. It was tasty but not as impressive as what we ate at Verses the year before.
Other Happening Gourmand mains at Verses include a salmon tataki with a spiced crispy skin, orange and carrot foam, quinoa and fine herb edamame coulis, or a hay ash chicken suprême, stuffed with blue cheese and crispy skin. You know what’s the best part about Verses during Happening Gourmand? To any of these dishes you can add a side of 50g of foie gras for an additional 18$. Their dessert includes either the choice of 3 macarons, or a honey and cheese mousse coated in salted caramel, hazelnut cake, milk chocolate Chantilly and praline ganache. We tried one of their macaron last year and it was worthy of any macaron aficionado.
This year Verses Bar, also in the Nelligan Hotel, added a Jack Daniel’s 3 service tasting to Happening Gourmand. This includes a soft shell crab roll with ½ oz Jack Daniels Sour Mash Whiskey, a foie gras macaron with 1.2 oz Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey, and fudge whiskey with ½ oz Jack Daniels Single Barrel Select. Although Diva #1 avoids Jack Daniels due to an unfortunate incident with the liquid involving partial nudity and a bath tub in 2003, she nonetheless loves the sound of a foie gras macaron paired with alcohol!
At this point we were stuffed and out came our main meal from Vieux-Port Steakhouse. Their Happening Gourmand menu is at 25$, their starters include either the soup of the day, escargots gratiné or a mesclun salad with a Dijon and honey vinaigrette. The Divas got to try their Nagano pork chop with Dijon and maple that was served with mashed potatoes and green beans. The Divas are not huge fans of pork chops, they are not how we like to eat pork, but Vieux-Port Steakhouse impressed us. The charred lines were well done and the marinade of the pork chop made the tender meat slightly sweet. Though we couldn’t finish the large portion, especially after all of our appetizers, we really appreciated the taste.
Vieux-Port Steakhouse offers many main dishes for Happening Gourmand, such as a 9 oz baseball cut steak with bacon butter, garlic mashed potatoes and green beans, or a filet mignon medallion wrapped in bacon with 3 grilled shrimp served with garlic mashed potatoes and rice. For those who are not craving meat, other options include their grilled salmon filet with sautéed spinach and rice, or their grilled shrimp accompanied with sautéed spinach, rice pilaf and garlic butter. For an additional 10$ you can order their 16 oz rib eye on the bone, or their 8 oz center cut filet mignon; both served with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans.
Desserts include a chocolate mousse cake duo or biscuit joconde with blueberry mousseline. We have had the filet mignon at Vieux-Port Steakhouse, but served with a baked potato, and it is worth indulging in. But please do not order your meat overcooked, it has to be medium-rare… Diva rules!
Since we were at Suite 701, we were interested to see what they had to offer for Happening Gourmand. We have reviewed this restaurant the most recently and knew that we would be pleased with their selection. They too had a 25$ menu, their appetizers include a roasted buttercup squash salad with cauliflower, quinoa and pearl barley, their angus beef tartare, or an organic Irish salmon with crispy rice, jalapeno and sweet pea jelly. Sadly we did not try any of these appetizers. Their mains included more organic Irish salmon with fine Kenya beans, spinach and corn emulsion, a soybean risotto with wild mushrooms, spinach and parmesan, or a delicious-sounding Italian meatball burger with buffalo mozzarella and basil in a parmesan roll with fries. For an additional cost of 7$, their 6 oz pan seared Angus filet mignon with Yukon gold mashed potatoes with foie gras and roasted vegetables sounded well worth the price.
At the Happening Gourmand media event we ended our tasting with one of Suite 701’s desserts, a perfectly flaky puff pastry stuffed with a vanilla cream and strawberries. Light yet bursting with flavour this dessert was wonderful and refreshing. On their menu Suite 701 also offers a key lime tartlet for dessert but we are glad that we got to try the homemade pastry with strawberries and cream. Suite 701 started to run out of desserts for all of the media attending the tasting but fret not! They brought out a chocolate nougat caramel mousse with coconut. Thankfully one of our neighbouring bloggers offered us a bite, since we had received the intended dessert. We were glad that he did because the chocolate was rich and it was creamy and wonderful for chocolate lovers such as ourselves.
We finished eating at the Happening Gourmand tasting feeling very stuffed and interested in what other dishes the participating restaurants had to offer. Besides their dinner menus, there are also lunch menus, featured wines and Happening Gourmand cocktails available at the restaurants mentioned above. Paired with the event are four boutique hotels that are also offering a one night stay and a three course dinner for two at a participating restaurant. The hotels are Le Place d’Armes Hôtel & Suites, Hôtel Nelligan, Le Petit Hôtel and l’Auberge du Vieux-Port.
But did our night end here? Did we simply go home and go to bed? Do the Divas ever let things simply end there? While we were at the event, the Divas were enjoying delicious wine and we got onto the topic of who is Les Live Five, an account on Twitter with a photo of 5 delicious looking young gentlemen on a beach… in speedos.
Well the Divas are single and curious ladies so we decided to tweet them. One of them offered to meet us for drinks at Suite 701’s bar after our event, he is LF1, so we ordered cocktails and waited… and waited. He kept tweeting but never showed up! Lucky for us two very nice gentlemen from the media event had joined us at the bar; we told them what we were up to and continued tweeting, laughing and enjoying our night. In one of our tweets we had said that we loved cocktails and oysters, so the two guys from the event ordered us oysters… but they then felt bad for what they christened as the “Fool Divas” and told us that one of them was in fact LF1. By coincidence we had tweeted them while sitting at the same event… not our brightest moment. We had seen those guys all night at the event, so we never thought that any of them could be from Les Live Five because those guys should have come from outside of the restaurant. LF1 was right… Fool Divas. So we met LF1, and his friend from another blog that we follow, Day Jobs Nightlife, and we were impressed! Without divulging too much, they were super awesome guys and we hope to see them again… not with LF4 (he is the one with kids).
Enjoy Happening Gourmand, you have until February 2nd, the prices are great for a lot of good quality food and all in fabulous Old Montreal. Oh and follow Les Live Five and Day Jobs Nightlife on Twitter, who knows, they may fool you too.
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: 7th Annual Happening Gourmand, AAA+, Always on Thursdays, Antipasti, Antonopoulos, Bar, Beef Tartare, Bevo, Bevo Bar & Pizzeria, Bison, Bison Bresaola, Burger, Calamari, Caviar, Cocktails, Days Jobs and the Nightlife, Duck Rilettes, Event, foie gras, Fool Divas, Gaspar Tavern, Happening Gourmand, Happening Gourmand Old Montreal, HG Montreal, Hotel Nelligan, Igloofest, Italian Meatball Burger, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam BBQ, Kyo, Kyo Bar Japonais, Lamb, Le Petit Hôtel, Le Place d’Armes Hôtel & Suites, Les Live Five, Lunch Menu, l’Auberge du Vieux-Port, Maki, Méchant Boeuf, Modavie, Montreal, Montreal Restaurant, Moroccan Eggplant Caviar, Mozzarella, Mozzarella fior di latte, Nagano Pork Chop, Nigiri, Nutella Pizza, Old Montreal, Old Port, oysters, Pizza, Pork Chop, Reservations Needed, Restaurant, Rilettes, Salmon, Salmon Tartare, Salmon Tataki, Sashimi, Shrimp, ShuckMe, Soft Shell Crab Roll, Steak, Suite 701, Suite 701 Montreal, Tasting, Taverne Gaspar, Trout Gravlax, Verses, Vieux-Port Steakhouse, VP Steakhouse, Whiskey, wine, Yuzu Donuts