***Sadly this Restaurant is Closed***
Diva #1 loves meeting new people, and foodies are the best type of people. So when Diva #1 and Sweet Pea found out that two players on Diva #1’s soccer team were foodies… well, we were impressed, especially since men in their twenties rarely appreciate good food. Some may like it but then they don’t want to spend money on the indulgence. We made plans to go to dinner at Hotel Herman, which is popular amongst chefs as the restaurant they eat at after theirs closes. What a selling point, who doesn’t want to eat where their favourite chefs choose to indulge? During our last soccer game Vegan Vixen surprised us by coming to watch, she is allergic to sports but she came to support us, and then came out for the post season drinks. The Foodie Guys helped her out with her #TinderLove problems, so she naturally was the perfect addition to our night out.
Hotel Herman has a large bar in the center of the room; seats encircle the bar where you can look into the open kitchen. Vegan Vixen and Diva #1 arrived first and awaited the Foodie Guys who were late, and they were known for being late to most of our games all season long. But we busied ourselves by enhancing our pre-existing buzz that began at Diva #1’s apartment where we indulged in copious amounts of wine. Actually we were running late so we poured the wine in a to-go cup and she finished it off on the way to the restaurant, Vegan Vixen is such a slow drinker, we had no choice! Our Bloody Caesars arrived, perfectly flavoured, as expected, and we waited contently until the guys arrived.
We were explained the menu and how it was meant to be fun and about sharing small plates. This is our ideal restaurant for a small group because then you can taste most of the menu. We aren’t picky eaters and Hotel Herman had a few dishes that immediately intrigued us. Our first appetizer was the delightful deer tartare tapas. The clams did not particularly stand out when eaten with the deer meat, but they added a certain fishy-saltiness to the meat. The deer tartare was very fresh, the meat a beautiful deep red colour and the flavour gamey. Curls of thinly sliced black radishes adorned the dish with a few greens. It was a delicious tapas and unique in its combination of flavours. Dollops of horseradish added a kick without overpowering the meat. This is not your typical tartare, and in Montreal, you can get plenty of tartare.
The waitress recommended the potato dish; a perfectly creamy layer of mashed potatoes was at the base of this dish. A filet of smoked sturgeon sat on top of the creamy potatoes and tons of black caviar decorated the whipped potatoes. The caviar was from mullet and it wasn’t too fishy but still a plentiful amount that added a whole lot of flavour. This dish was completed by a few roasted potatoes sinking into the fringes of the mashed potatoes. It was quite a remarkable dish; the whipped mashed potatoes had some sort of secret ingredient that made each bite so absolutely irresistible. We were quite glad that we listened to our waitress.
The marinated trout was prepared gravlax style and was presented beautifully in a snake-like fashion. Dollops of a smoky crème fraiche surrounded the fish and buckwheat and greens were sprinkled on top. Even more delicious were the trout eggs strewn around the dish. Taken with a bite of marinated trout, each egg was big enough that when bitten a taste of the sea was released from the egg. Fish eggs are an acquired taste but one that everyone should acquire for it certainly added to the intensity of this dish.
Doré de lac is Walleye in English; it is a type of pike fish from North America that is often found in lakes and can be fished in the St-Lawrence. Unfortunately this is not a fish that is often seen on menus, it is a flaky fish that is quite meaty. We received a large filet, tender, tossed with mussels and slices of white radishes. A miso sauce was caramelized into the skin of the fish. Hotel Herman truly had an imaginative and quite delectable manner of preparing fish. It was quite lovely that we had Vegan Vixen there or we may not have experimented and tried all of these varied fish dishes.
When boudin is seen on a menu, it must be ordered! Many squirm at the thought of blood sausage but lucky for us, it seems that the Foodie Guys are not easily frightened. Even when Vegan Vixen and Diva #1 got into an intense conversation and almost a fight, but everyone at the table seems to take crazy really well. The boudin arrived in its usual fashion, crispier on the outside and tender within. The celeriac purée was distributed in dollops in between pieces of boudin. The morels added more meatiness, to this already meaty dish and they also added another textural element to each bite. The boudin was quite spectacular.
We then moved on to the veal sweetbreads, delicious offal cooked until tender yet still crispy was placed in front of us. Jerusalem artichokes with thyme created a delicious base to the veal sweetbreads that rested on them. Mushrooms also topped the sweetbreads and the au jus sauce was simply divine. It was a dish that offered a complex combination of flavours that brought out the foodie in all of us. It was quite interesting and a favourite of the night. We just cannot seem to get enough of sweetbreads!
The deer tongue was unfortunately somewhat of a let-down. It sounded so promising but it required more seasoning or perhaps even salt. It arrived bloody and ready to be devoured with sweet gale and red radish slices. The deer tongue had such potential but it was lacking something to truly make it stand out. The meat was tender and we were in awe that deer tongue had appeared on a menu but perhaps we had expected too much. This dish is a rarity and Hotel Herman deserves an applause for originality, but the meat required some additional seasoning to make it stand apart.
Dessert was due and we couldn’t choose between two desserts and the cheese plate, so we ordered them all. The cream of the crème prise au lait de chèvre was made with goat’s milk and was rich and heavenly. There were solidified pieces that were similar to a crispy meringue topping this dessert; this added a sweetness that was bolder than expected. The sweetness of the goat’s milk cream was meant to balance the rye grain that was mixed with maple. Although you tasted sweetness, you couldn’t detect the maple flavour. The interesting addition to this dessert was the sea buckthorns which were stewed or at least so ripe that they seemed somewhat cooked. This was not your typical dessert!
The chocolate terrine was simply fabulous with bacon caramel… need we say more? The salty and sweet combination of the bacon and caramel was simply lovely, we wanted to eat it with a spoon. Jerusalem artichokes were part of this dessert that was rich, savoury and sweet, making for a fabulous combination of flavours. Diva #2 loves Jerusalem artichokes and we got to eat them in two separate dishes in one night! She will be so jealous. The chocolate was magnificent, clearly not of your usual variety, it was so rich; this dessert truly deserves to be called decadent.
We were so full but we wanted to polish off our full bodied red wine with some cheese, truly the perfect end to any meal. Ciel de Charlevoix was a lovely addition to this plate, it is a Canadian blue cheese made of cow’s milk. It is not a strong blue cheese nor is it creamy, but sharp, it was quite enjoyable. The Pizy had an earthy mushroom like taste to it; this too is a cow’s milk cheese that is very creamy and even buttery. Our last cheese was a Louis D’Or, another Quebec cheese; it was great to see an emphasis on local cheeses at Hotel Herman because the emphasis is usually on French cheeses. The Louis D’ Or can be compared to a gruyère cheese in texture and flavour, it has a nutty taste and was a superb addition to this plate. The cheese plate came with a natural honey that was thinned out, perhaps in the style of a compôte, which added a delightful sweetness to every bite of the strong flavourful cheeses.
We were impressed with Hotel Herman, and we came in knowing that their reputation was that this was the place that chefs come to eat. It is rare that we eat somewhere with high expectations but yet don’t get disappointed. The atmosphere is casual but the food impeccable, another perfect Montreal example proving that you do not need stark white tablecloths and a stuffy waiter to have an amazing foodie experience. As for the Foodie Guys, we have a feeling that we will be seeing more of them, both on the soccer field and at late night foodie dinners with the Divas and friends.
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: 5171 Saint-Laurent, Ariane Lacombe, bistro, Blood Sausage, Cheese Plate, Chocolate Terrine, Deer Tartare, Deer tongue, Dominic Goyet, foie gras, H2T 1R9, Hotel Herman, Hotel Herman Montreal, Hotel Herman Plateau, Hotel Herman St-Laurent, Late Night, Marc-Alexandre Mercier, Marinated Trout, Montreal Bistro, Montreal Food, Montreal Restaurant, Plateau Restaurant, Reservations Needed, Sturgeon, Sweetbreads, tapas