We suppose that the end of summer was bound to happen. And while we hate to see it go, the autumn months do bring with it the start of Martin Picard’s Apple Sugar Shack season. Once again, The Divas snagged an early reservation and invited the usual gang of misfits.
The Divas and the lovely Sweet Pea arrived with music blaring from the car to meet with some of the cousins, JB’s twin and his lady, and more virgins to Picard’s sugar shack experience. The smoker outside was working at full-force and the jubilant atmosphere inside was infectious. Diva#1 is always in a better mood when Sweet Pea is around, couple that with a great meal and some cocktails, and her weekend is set!
We were seated at our table, distracted by the dishes going by. Our waitress greeted us as Martin Picard nonchalantly strolled amongst the tables, stopping for photos and chatting with patrons. After telling us about their custom made drinks, we made our selections. The gin and watermelon was the perfect ode to summer and very refreshing. Don’t expect the usual Bloody Caesar when you order the broccoli Caesar. The taste of broccoli was dominating and interesting. And finally we tried the pear daiquiri which reminded us of a tart slushie.
Our meal soon began and as veterans, we knew it was all about PDC pacing, especially after our waitress casually mentioned there would be more than 10 dishes! We started with the homemade tomato soup served in the Andy Warhol inspired red and white soup can along with a brioche stuffed with sausage. The soup was creamy and only Picard can make something like tomato soup taste so very different. The brioche was buttery and the sausage was tender. A delightful combination, although some melted cheese in the brioche entombing the sausage would have put this dish over the edge.
Oysters and foie gras are staples in the Divas’ diet. Only Martin Picard would consider placing these two delicacies together. Served on a bed of seaweed, baked oysters with foie gras arrived at the table; these are a few of our favourite things. And they were absolute heaven! The oyster was still plump, the foie gras silky, the top broiled and it all came together in a delicious bite. We could have eaten a dozen, but then there would not have been room for more delicacies.
An Asian inspiration soon hit our table when the beef carpaccio sushi with foie gras and peanut sauce arrived. Wrapped in a thicker rice paper, the carpaccio was sliced thinly, which was texturally perfect but the taste of the meat wasn’t too apparent. The foie gras was subtle, as was the peanut sauce, and the fresh carrots, cucumbers and lettuce added freshness to each bite.
Soon a very gorgeous plate of squid ink cannelloni with sturgeon mousse arrived. This is not the Sunday cannelloni that Nonna makes! We were a bit hesitant at what the mousse would taste like, but it turns out this was one of the best dishes of the night. The pasta dough was wrapped around the light sturgeon mousse that didn’t have the expected “fishy” taste. Rather, it was smooth and almost creamy. And the pesto really was a nice addition that complimented the combination of flavours.
We had a very interesting pasta dish with broccoli. It was a simple dish, the pasta was cooked al dente; the broccoli was prepared to taste more like rapini, and even the crunchy texture of broccoli was different. There was a little spice from the chilli flakes and some tofu was also tossed into the dish. It was tasty but it was not reminiscent of the PDC glory that we are used to from our many sugar shack visits.
Nothing goes to waste at Picard’s sugar shack, and brain on the menu is nothing new at PDC. Here, the brain was coated in a thin layer of breadcrumbs and deep fried. Crispy on the outside, the creamy texture of brain is an acquired taste. The cauliflower was roasted and cooked similarly to the brain which made for an interesting combination of flavours, but with similar textures. The cauliflower had an almost meaty taste.
Next up was a traditional Moroccan tagine filled with homemade merguez sausage and two whole mackerel. The merguez was wonderfully spicy and linked together in its traditional fashion. The fish was flaky, lemony and perfectly roasted whole. This dish was served on a bed of chickpeas and it was an interesting Moroccan-inspired dish.
Perhaps our least favourite dish of the night was the meatloaf simply because it was very busy and too salty. There were a lot of flavours going on all at once but finally, we found apple in a dish! It was made with cheddar, which was dominating, cubed apples, liver and more. Served simply with green beans on the side, the meat was tender but almost too salty to really enjoy all the flavours present.
A server came to our table with the next course, began slicing the pork, and Diva #2 was smitten. There is something about a man who knows how to carve meat! The pork was sliced and served with a sauce that was poured over the meat before being placed on our table. The sauce was made with the juices from the pork, mustard and apples, and the dish was served with potatoes, rutabagas and glazed carrots. We were also given small jars of a homemade mustard sauce to go along with it. The pork was bursting with flavour, the sauce delicious and the accompanying veggies were perfection.
The desserts this year were some of the best that we’ve had at PDC. There were five in total and we started our dessert courses with the vanilla and raspberry ice cream cake. The raspberry ice cream was so tart and the vanilla ice cream so creamy. It was covered in pieces of raspberry meringue and light whipped cream. The raspberry ice cream was tart and a deep blood red, and you could easily see the little flecks of vanilla bean in the vanilla ice cream. The pear flan was our second favourite of the desserts; it was still slightly warm when it arrived at the table. The custard was smooth and velvety and the pears were poached to perfection.
The trottoir was filled with warm apples, pears and plums. The pastry was flaky and the fruit inside melted together. It was a very rustic dessert that was the epitome of the fall harvest.
The strawberry pie was a nice balance of tart and sweet. The filling tasted like some of the best strawberry jam you’ve ever had, and the crust was flaky and held together well. Lastly, there was a thin chocolate and blueberry torte which had a very deep chocolate flavour and fudge-like texture.
We left feeling satisfied, sleepy and happy. Picard and company delivered yet another delicious overindulgence that must be experienced to be appreciated at a steal for only $55 plus the price of cocktails. And though there was not as much apple as we had expected at the sugar shack during apple season, the fall fruits and vegetables were definitely showcased. The apple season sugar shack runs until November, but never mind that because this season is already booked solid. But fret not, as of December 1st at midnight you can reserve online for the PDC Sugar Shack’s Maple Season. But hurry up, there is a reason that it is so hard to get a seat at Picard’s table.
Our Rating: Splendid
Tagged: 11382 Rang De La Fresniere, Always on Thursdays, Beef Carpaccio, Brain, Brioche, Cabane à Sucre, Cabane à Sucre Au Pied de Cochon, Cabane à Sucre PDC, Chocolate Torte, foie gras, Ice Cream, J7N 2S4, Mackerel, Martin Picard, Martin Picard PDC, Meatloaf, oysters, Pasta, PDC, Pear Flan, Picard, Rang De La Fresniere, Reservations Needed, Squid Ink Cannelloni, St-Benoît de Mirabel, St-Eustache, St. Benoit, Strawberry Pie, Sugar Shack, Tomato Soup, Trottoir