An old childhood friend of Diva #1 contacted her to catch up over drinks. St. Henri’s Ludger seemed like the perfect spot for a low key dinner with drinks, but as you well know, nothing is ever simple with the Divas. Soon, our dinner of 4 turned into dinner for 10, and more friends came by for drinks later in the night. Diva #1 loves a night out with all of her friends… which is probably why she never has casual nights.
Ludger, named after Ludger Lemieux, a Québécois architect who designed the Atwater Market, is located on Notre-Dame Ouest and is considered a gourmet refreshment establishment. Diva #2 thinks that this description also applies to Diva #1’s apartment as she was fed a snack of pickled octopus, pickled herring, Greek village olives and foie gras to tide her over till our late reservation. Oh and wine… our nights always start at Diva #1’s with cocktails, wine and 4 girls in one bathroom, straightening their hair, curling their hair, putting on makeup and beautifying themselves. Her next apartment will have a much larger bathroom with multiple mirrors and sinks, as well as a reclining sofa for lounging.
As we were getting ready with Vegan Vixen and Sweet Pea, one of the Cousins offered to drive so that we could drink even more. Family comes in handy, but in small doses! Alas we were too many people for his car but Mr. Sheffield called asking for a lift…. we told him never mind, you come by and pick up some of us, and thankfully Mr. Sheffield complied! Soon we were at the restaurant with the Artist and Bellatrix. The restaurant kept the charming, old-school storefront display window which is where we were seated.
Known for their cocktails, we didn’t waste any time. Intrigued by the egg white, we ordered the Smoked Pisco Sour, with Bowmore, served with a slice of dried apple. The drink was strong, smooth and refreshing. The Pimm’s et Pommes was a classic Pimm’s cup with a twist; it had puréed apple. Three bottles of wine were also ordered throughout the night, you know, to keep us warm and lubricated!
Ludger has the now common chalkboard menu that changes often and is announced on Ludger’s Facebook Page. Everything looked good so we tried a few things but not before ordering oysters. Served simply with wedges of lemon and a traditional mignonette, they were as expected – plump, salty and delicious. But anyone who knows or follows the Divas knows that we absolutely love oysters, but more importantly, on this particular night Bellatrix FINALLY threw away her virginity and enjoyed one of these slimy little creatures. She has been coming out with us for years and though we always order oysters she never had any interest in trying them. Drunk, hungry and courageous, she gave up and ate one… and though she said she liked it, Diva #1 didn’t truly believe her until we went out a week later… and she ordered a dozen! You’re next Whitey…
We started with the salmon tartare, which was served on a black slate. It came with very thin crackers studded with black and white sesame seeds for extra crunch. It was very fresh and the yuzu sauce did not interfere with the taste of the fish. The large salmon eggs added a certain richness to the dish, and the coriander added freshness. Along with our tartare we ordered the focaccia which was really good, the grill marks added lots of flavour and the focaccia came in handy when we needed to clean the sauce off of our plates.
Keeping with the raw theme, we also had the beef tataki. A deep sear on the outside to create a bit of a crust, the inside was raw, tender and flavourful. It was served with plenty of spicy kimchi and mushrooms. Our only complaint was that there was a bit too much of kimchi which overpowered the taste of the meat.
We had heard the gnocchi appetizer was a dish that had to be ordered. The gnocchi were light, the sauce wasn’t heavy, even though it was cream based, and the mussels were plump, although not very flavourful. The addition of the olives and lardons added just the right amount salt to round out the dish. Unfortunately the sauce was a bit too runny; it should have been thicker to coat the gnocchi and not pool in the plate.
Since we were a big group, we tried almost all the mains on their chalkboard menu. The first was the striped bass in a dashi broth. The broth itself was almost like a salty brine and the bass was cooked well, very flaky. The dumplings were also good and filled with a generous amount of meat. The dish was topped with paper-thin shavings of bok choy and leek.
The bavette was tender and juicy and served with a Brussels sprout salad, and creamy mashed potatoes. The most intriguing aspect of the dish was the scotch egg. A hard boiled egg coated in panko bread crumbs and deep fried, the yolk of the egg still runny when you cut it open.
It’s not often The Divas choose a restaurant that has tofu on the menu so Vegan Vixen was happy to see the fried tofu in curry on the menu. It was a very colourful dish and Diva #2 had a taste, after all, the grill marks on the spongy-looking tofu made it look appealing. But while the vegetables and curry were good, the tofu just didn’t do it. The texture was crumbly and it reminded her of the erasers from high school art class. Sorry Vegetables, tofu isn’t our thing but at least we tried it!
We also had the two pasta dishes on the menu. The ricotta agnolotti were filled with creamy ricotta and there were plenty of mixed mushrooms which added richness to the dish and the slightly thickened sauce. The dish didn’t need the pork, and unfortunately the pork was a little tough.
By this time, our majestic Sensei had arrived and a friend from Haiti, they sat between Diva #1 and Sweet Pea. And though Sensei complained across the table to Diva #2, she made no effort to rescue him, knowing that he enjoyed his spot. He’s a glutton for food, midgets and punishment, and we love him dearly for it!
The pappardelle with rabbit was delicious. Served in a mustard sauce with mushrooms, the sauce had the slightest hint of tangy mustard but nothing to overpower the meat. The mushrooms were plentiful and paired well with the earthy black truffle shavings on top of the dish.
At this point we had had too much wine and what we call our drunk personalities came out, you know, your true self that comes out when inebriated. Bellatrix grew unstable and furious, Sweet Pea and Diva #1 shared a moment and began crying and hugging, professing our sisterly love, Sensei became down and dirty, Diva #2 became quiet but that may have been because we all seemed insane to her, and Vegan Vixen threw up quietly from excessive drinking and general over indulgence. And the night went on…
More drinks were ordered just in time for Diva #1’s old friend to arrive. In between catching up, our waitress tried to understand our dessert order. In the end, she suggested a little something of everything to make everyone’s lives simpler, especially hers.
The coffee cake had a hint of cinnamon, was moist and paired well with the espresso ice cream, though we could have done without the banana. The butterscotch dessert was very good and overflowing out of its mason. But it tasted like lemon…although we were told that there was no lemon in it. We were confused but didn’t ask too many questions. Maybe they didn’t update the chalkboard menu but it’s hard to confuse the taste of butterscotch with lemon, no matter how many drinks you’ve had! The white chocolate bites were sprinkled with maple crumbs, but this dessert didn’t particularly stand out.
Our night continued with more drinks and wine and it seemed like a revolving door of friends that dropped in for drinks, including JB. Thankfully he drove most of us home because we walked out a little worse for wear! Sensei sexually abused Sweet Pea who was doe-eyed and frightened for the rest of the weekend, and the night wore on. Bellatrix ordered the polenta fries since we didn’t seem to be going anywhere and they were a nice deep fried treat to end a night of drinking. More people came and went and soon our table was too packed and we were reminiscing about old times.
Overall, it’s hard to beat a night out with friends, both old and new, eating, drinking and catching up. Ludger is a great place for drinks, especially if you’re sitting at the bar, watching them masterfully create them. The food is good, although it does require some fine tuning, and with a constantly changing menu, you’ll never be bored.
Our Rating: As Expected
Tagged: 4001 Notre Dame, Agnolotti, Bavette, Beef Tataki, Butterscotch Verrine, Chalkboard Menu, Coffee Cake, Dessert, Espresso Ice Cream, Focaccia, Gnocchi, H4C 1R2, Little Burgundy, Ludger, Ludger Cocktails, Ludger Lemieux, Ludger Montreal, Ludger St-Henri, Montreal Food, Montreal Restaurant, Mussels, Notre-Dame West, oysters, Pappardelle, Pasta, Polenta Fries, Rabbit, Reservations Needed, Salmon Tartare, St-Henri, Striped Bass, Sud-Ouest, Tartare, Tofu, Vegetarian