What can we say, we’re lucky girls! When a Middle Eastern seafood restaurant with adjoining fish & seafood shop offers you their menu… well you’re definitely feeling rather lucky. Sweet Pea, Diva #1, P’tit Soeur and the gang from Webistry and Montreall.com had one hell of a meal at La Sirène de la Mer. We had been there before, but we fell in love at this particular dinner, which included a tasting of almost the entire menu. The way to our hearts is definitely by feeding us…
Most of the plates at La Sirène de la Mer come in two sizes, moderate or regular, which are perfect for sharing. Some of these dishes we had tried on a previous visit, but most of them were new experiences. Like their cheese rolls… even P’tit Soeur who is lactose intolerant couldn’t resist these cheese rolls. We asked the manager what they were stuffed with and he explained that they were a blend of three cheeses but he wouldn’t divulge La Sirène de la Mer’s secret recipe. Wrapped in phyllo and dipped in black and white sesame seeds, we just couldn’t get enough.
We have said it time and time again, fried squid or calamari is out of date. We’re just bored of it, it’s everywhere! La Sirène de la Mer cooks their calamari to perfection, the rings are big and meaty, and the batter isn’t too thick. Nonetheless, sometimes we just get really tired of calamari but other times it’s delicious and we miss it… a little 😉
Forget the calamari that gained popularity in the 1990s in Montreal, it’s all about grilled squid. We aren’t even opting for this method of cooking squid because it’s healthier but because it’s fresher and tastier. With an adjoining fish shop, save your fried calamari appetizer for another restaurant and choose the grilled squid at La Sirène de la Mer. Generous pieces of perfectly cooked squid were lightly topped with extra virgin olive oil, parsley, lemon and capers for that Middle Eastern feel.
The perfect fresh side dish to grilled seafood is a flavourful salad like their tabbouleh that would make any tetah (Arabic grandmother) proud. In a traditional fashion the tabbouleh had finely diced tomato, cracked wheat, plenty of fresh parsley, mint and onion. A simple dressing of olive oil and lemon juice enhanced the freshness of the tabbouleh salad.
We had tried the grilled octopus on our previous visit and had fallen into a torrid love affair with the dish. Similar to the grilled squid, it was cooked to perfection with a lemon juice and olive oil dressing. This time a hint of garlic was apparent in every bite. And though Diva #1 isn’t a fan of vine leaves, she tried the vegetarian and meat vine leaves, hand rolled at La Sirène de la Mer. The vegetarian vine leaves were stuffed with rice, chickpeas, lemon juice, parsley, tomato, onion and plenty of Middle Eastern spices. Sweet Pea’s tetah would be proud of the perfectly hand rolled vine leaves.
The fattouche at La Sirène de la Mer is simply the best in the city, we dare you to find better! Plenty of fresh vegetables and crispy pita chips are tossed together with mint, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and sumac. And when in Rome… or the Middle East… you order the hummus! The presentation was gorgeous and the table was full of both fresh pita and baked pita chips, perfect for dipping into the hummus. It was traditional and simple, yet absolutely divine!
And then Diva #1 fell in love… the Divas have a love of raw beef that knows no bounds. And though we love the usual French and Italian style beef tartares, raw minced beef with a Middle Eastern flair brought our love of raw meat to the next level. We had tried the kébbé nayeh on our first visit; raw minced beef with onion, cracked wheat and spices changed the traditional taste of raw meat with the addition of the cracked wheat. We loved it then and we loved it now!
But it was on our second visit to La Sirène de la Mer that we fell in love with the other two raw meat dishes that came alongside the kébbé nayeh and created a trifecta of raw meat perfection. Are we gushing too much? We were a carnivorous bunch! The habra nayeh was made with veal and the kafta nayeh was made with lamb, perfection when placed on a pocket of pita with white onion and fresh mint. Topped with pine nuts, the platter was divine, light and though many would cringe at the idea, we salivated in anticipation!
The first time Sweet Pea met Diva #1’s dad he had cooked a bunch of smelts. Sweet Pea was young and squeamish at the time, a little uncomfortable with the idea of eating the whole little fishies, head and all. Never a man to understand the concept of boundaries, Diva #1’s dad grabbed a little fried fish and fed them by hand to Sweet Pea who is too adorable and sweet to say no. Oh Daddy! She’s been eating them ever since and she now laughs at anyone who is squeamish around them. With plenty of fresh lemon, and not overly breaded, the smelts were fried to perfection and sat on top of a crispy pita bread. La Sirène de la Mer has truly perfected this dish, and Diva #1 has grown up on it, so she’s a snob!
And then we had the shrimp! You have the option of having your shrimp grilled sautéed or fried, prepared in the La Sirène de la Mer fashion or with sumac. Gluttons that we are we tried them in two different ways. We had tried the Shrimps La Sirène on our previous visit and we couldn’t resist, so we indulged yet again. This time we also tried the shrimp in the sumac style with perfect char marks and plenty of tangy seasoning for a kick.
It was nice ordering both shrimp dishes and being able to compare them with each other. They were different enough that you could order both without feeling like they were the same dish. This is not your usual frozen grocery store shrimp, and if you ever doubt their freshness, take a gander at the fish shop next door.
We were intrigued with the fresh salmon tartare, and as always, with a Middle Eastern flair. Hand cut into thick cubes, the salmon was so fresh it was practically melting. Tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, capers, green onions, chives and varied spices the seasoning was very light so that the taste of the fresh fish was apparent. With a dollop of avocado purée and a crispy pita chip and chives, the salmon tartare sat on a creamy mayo based sauce that had a spicy kick. The mayo based sauce was unnecessary, the salmon tartare was perfect without dipping it into anything.
The meat on the meat platter can be ordered individually or as a larger platter for a defined number of people. Definitely talk to your waiter at La Sirène de la Mer for what you would like in your meat platter and the price. They are very accommodating! Shich kebab which is beef, and shich taouk which is chicken marinated in yogurt came grilled and ready with plenty of fresh vegetables like peppers, mushrooms and onions. Red onions and parsley topped the beef and crispy pita chips topped the entire platter. It was packed full of protein, healthy and absolutely delicious!
La Sirène de la Mer also offers the option of their patrons going into their adjoining fish shop and simply choosing any fish that they have in stock and having it cooked for them on the spot. We enjoyed the striped bass, a whole fish that was cut in half, cooked and topped with lemon for that perfect Mediterranean feel. We were too full to properly enjoy it at this visit but it was a large fish, perfect for sharing. And if fish isn’t your thing, but oysters make you tingle, on Wednesdays they have an oyster special for a dozen oysters for 18$.
And it simply couldn’t end there, fried merlan soon arrived on the table. Similar to the smelts but larger, it was covered with a crispier coating of batter. Merlan is a meatier fish than smelts, and it’s larger so the head is not always eaten, although it’s fried whole like smelts, and you can eat it whole. Sitting on a pita bed, it was a tasty dish but we prefer more fresh methods of eating fish, either raw or grilled. Frying fish often leads to you tasting more batter than actual fish.
Soon we were loosening our belt buckles, breathing heavily and wondering how we would ever have room for dessert. The guys from Webistry and Montreall.com were hard at work taking photos of each dish at numerous angles. Well wait let’s be fair… one of them was hard at work, the other was eating, drinking and having a merry time!
A plate of Middle Eastern pastries like baklava, or creamier ones in a mini crepe with plenty of ground pistachios arrived for us to share. We devoured them, we loved them and we slowly slipped into a food coma from which we never recovered. Just kidding! We even had a midnight snack a few hours later, hee hee! Our second visit to La Sirène de la Mer was actually even better than the first, we tried many more dishes, in-house specialties, and we caught ourselves still so very full but incapable of stopping our gluttony.
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: . La Sirène de la Mer Fish, 114 Avenue Dresden, Baklava, Calamari, Fattouche, Fish Shop, Grilled Octopus, H3P 2B6, Humus, Kébbé Nayeh, La Sirène de la Mer Montreal, La Sirène de la Mer Poisonnerie, La Sirène de la Mer Seafood, La Sirène Montreal, Lunch Table D’hôte, Meat Platter, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern Food, Montreal Food, Montreal Seafood Restaurant, Octopus, Oyster special, oysters, Poisonnerie, Raw Beef, Salmon Tartare, Seafood, Shrimp, Smelts, Squid, Sumac Shrimp, Tabbouleh, Vine Leaves