Parma Cafe at Rue de la Gauchetière O. (Montréal, Canada)

Parmacafe is a cute Italian snack bar and Pret-A-Manger named after the quaint town of Parma that serves authentic Italian food that will knock your socks off. It is the original home of Parmigiano cheese, prosciutto, cured meats and balsamic vinegar. Now, Parmacafe has a branch in the Montreal’s downtown core.

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Open from 7AM until 10PM during the week and 9AM until 10PM on weekends, Parmacafe is always there for you. This cafe is open seven days a week, perfect for satisfying your Italian cravings. It is the ultimate comfort food place and the decor is neat.

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Amongst all the baked goods here, my favourite is the Nutella Horn Pastries. The Cannolis are great too.

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The coffee is delicious too!

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The food? The portions are huge so come hungry. The arancini is my favourite in town and that stood out the most to me. The sandwiches are also up there.

All in all, Parmacafe is rad for snacks and coffee. It is a great place for quick office lunches and for a slow cup of coffee when it’s not busy. It isn’t one where you would go to impress someone but somewhere you would take someone you are already comfortable with. I would certainly return for the coffee. Food wise, it is the place for you if you’re super hungry or love carbs.

Cheers,

N

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Expected Wallet Damage: $$

Contact: +1 514 543 6002

Opening Hours: Mon to Fri 7:30 – 21:30, Sat & Sun 9:00 – 21:30

Perfect For: Office Lunches, Coffee Dates

Where: 505 Rue de la Gauchetière O. Montreal, QC, H2Z 1Z5

HÀ Vieux-Montréal (Montréal, Canada)

Hà currently has three branches of restaurants and a bar in Montreal. Hà is a tribute to Mr. Hà, the Vietnamese chef who inspired it all but passed away in 2015.

I personally am not the biggest fan of pho – it’s everywhere, and it’s kind of boring. You can find beef noodles in a lot of other cuisines – Malaysian, Taiwanese… so I am glad that Hà has more to their menu than just pho.

Hà’s menu in fact, is a mesh of Mr. Ha’s Vietnamese classics and Chef Ross’s Laotian culture. Food is also inspired by seasonal produce, other South East Asian flavours (hoping to see more Malaysian/Singaporean twists!), and of course, Montreal.

Hà strives to create an authentic atmosphere for their guests with the traditional Vietnamese concept of the BIA HOI. What is BIA HOI? They are casual street-side restaurants where you eat and share a kitchen.

Here were our drinks. From the left to right, we had the Saigon Sour #2, Pandan Mojito and the Watermelon Cooler (all $13) as recommended by the staff. They were all perfect for the summer and refreshing. My favourite was the Pandan Mojito, it reminded me of home. Back in Malaysia, my mum would lay out pandan leaves in our cars as air freshener. I absolutely love pandan.

As for our small plates, we had the Red Tuna Steak ($28) and Tom Yum Salmon ($23). The Red Tuna Steak was served with wakame salad, fresh vegetables, marinated shimeji mushrooms and spicy tamarind sauce. It was our favourite out of the two because of Tuna was well-seared whilst the Salmon lacked the Tom Yum taste – Tom Yum should be super rich in flavour in my books, it’s how I’ve always ate it.

As for the main meal, I had the Lemongrass Grilled Chicken ($21) with vermicelli. Although I am not a huge fan of pho, I am a huge fan of bun cha so naturally this would have been my order. The chicken was tender and the vermicelli wasn’t soggy but it wasn’t outstanding in flavour.

You could taste the lemongrass and the fish sauce, but yet there was nothing special about these basic ingredients when they were combined. It was an averagely good bun cha. Nothing to complain about, but nothing to rave about either.

We also ordered the Coco Curcuma Rice ($4) because we thought it would be similar to our coconut rice in Malaysian nasi lemak to go with our Hanger steak (below) but it was a let down – the rice weren’t strongly flavoured at all and was dry.

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1855 Grilled Hanger Steak ($24)

The 1855 Grilled Hanger Steak ($24) is served with satay sauce, crispy broccoli and spiced peanuts. It was the best dish of the night. The steak was tender but the satay sauce didn’t go as well as I hoped it would with the steak. It may be because I am simply too used to having satay sauce with satay!

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Coconut Tapioca ($7)

To round off our meal, we had the Coconut Tapioca ($7) for dessert. It is served with fresh fruits, matcha ice cream and caramelised peanuts. It reminded of the street-style desserts you would find in South East Asia so dessert lived up to our expectations.

Overall, we had a pleasant experience at Hà but it wasn’t an extraordinary one. The food was not totally authentic. Sure they used authentic ingredients, but the bowl of bun cha did not remind me of anything I ate in Hanoi or Hoi An. Hà – great to try but hard to return to.

With love,

N

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Expected Wallet Damage: $$-$$$

Contact: +1 514 379-4111 (Old Montreal) or reserve online through their website

Opening Hours: Closed on Sundays, Mon to Wed 11:30 – 15:00 & 17:00 – 22:00, Thur and Fri 11:30 – 15:00 & 17:00 – 22:30, Sat 5:30 pm – 10:30 pm

Perfect For: Girls’ Night Out, Office Lunches and Dinners, Dates, Anniversaries, Casual Wine Nights, Birthdays

Where: 600 William Street, Montreal, QC H2Y 2E5

Signor Vino (Montréal, Canada: Not a Pour Decision to Make

If you are even thinking about giving up carbs for your 2019 summer body already – stop. I don’t believe in the no/low-carbs diet and I find it very hard to follow. I love carbs. If I didn’t convince you, Signor Vino will!

Signor Vino is a classy Italian restaurant in the heart of Little Italy that has been making a name for itself in this lovely neighbourhood and beyond. It is one of my top 5 places in Montreal to go for Italian now. It is a wine bar that serves food that goes hand in hand with everything they have sourced straight from Italy!

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Aperol O’Clock
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bread for starters – excellent olive flavour to start the meal 
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fresh and well-marinated salmon tartare
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platter of cold cuts and cheeses – they serve excellent cheeses that go hand in hand with the wine!
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slightly smoked veal with thinly sliced potatoes and vegetables – the veal was cooked perfectly!
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some good ole’ pasta made from scratch – mmm mamma mia!
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amazing lamb skewers – meat was beyond tender
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dessert for days – chocolate lava cake oozed amazing hot chocolate
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the classic tiramisu – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it right?

 

Overall, the menu doesn’t boast creativity. It has definitely stuck to a lot of Italian classics but that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s good to just go back to basics because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

The service was excellent and they had so many wine recommendations.  Their passion really shone through. They also had a deep knowledge of all their wines which was nice to learn about. Decor wise -they’ve kept it minimal and classy. The music isn’t too loud. Perfect for an evening date or a birthday. I 100% recommend Signor Vino for your next wine night. Make sure to check if it’s open (listed below) – the opening hours vary.

Cheers,

N

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Expected Wallet Damage: $$-$$$

Contact: +1 514 279 5522 or reserve online through OpenTable

Opening Hours: Closed on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, Wed 4PM – 11PM, Thurs & Fri 11.30AM – 12AM, Sat 5PM – 12AM

Perfect For: Girls’ Night Out, Dates, Anniversaries, Casual Wine Nights, Birthdays, Happy Hour

Where: 6961 St Laurent Blvd, Montreal, QC H2S 3E1

 

 

 

Mayfair (Montréal, Canada): Not Just Another Cocktail Affair

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Mayfair (Montréal, Canada)

The first time I went to Mayfair was in my second year of university here in Montréal. My initial thought was that it was a speakeasy but people were dancing so I thought it was just a club because I only went there to dance. However, I have come to learn that it is also a cocktail bar, an alcoholic tea lounge and a restaurant.

Ask anyone who loves cocktails and nightlife in Montréal and they will tell you to go to Mayfair. It is just something that you have to strike off your Montréal bucket list. It has a cool Victorian-era vibe that would be perfect for the modern-day Cinderella.  It even has great music, which most bars lack.

The venue looks completely different in the daylight. It looked less of a speakeasy and more of a place where you could have dinner and light conversations with a significant other or a best friend. We started off the evening with cocktails.

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Nuit D’Eden ($14)

The Nuit D’Eden was something the manager recommended. I loved the fizzyness of the Aperol. This cocktail was refreshing and had hints of nuts and fruits because of the almond syrup and grapefruit flavour.

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Black Dahlia ($14)

The Black Dahlia was light and fruity too. It had hints of fresh apple juice and maple syrup. It looked really pretty as well and it is definitely a cocktail you want to take a picture of and with!

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Saffron Sour ($14)

And last but not least we had the Saffron Sour which had hints of passionfruit. It isn’t like any whiskey sour you’ve ever tasted before.

Then we got cracking on our dinner. We were greeted by a platter of delicious-looking salads. The presentation was amazing.

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Salad Platter

This was a salad platter to try. Not all of them made it to the new menu. Our favourite was unanimous. It was the cauliflower.

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Cauliflower Salad

We loved every bite we had of it – the cauliflower was crunchy and the sweetness of the pomegranate seeds was a perfect combination.

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Salade de Bruxelles / Brussel Salad ($9)

This is our second favourite and it did make it to the menu. This brussel salad had oyster mushrooms and was showered in a generous amount of Parmesan, vinaigrette and topped with a quail egg which we loved.

It had a slight sour taste which really woke your taste buds in time for the main courses.

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Criss-cross Fries
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Sliders au Poulet Croustillant / Fried Chicken Sliders ($11)

After, we had the Sliders au Poulet Croustillant. They were so delicious. The chicken is crispy and although they claim it to be spicy, I didn’t find it spicy at all.

The mayonnaise was light and you could taste the freshness of the vegetable. The criss-cross fries that accompanied it was also warm and crunchy.

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Gravlax de Saumon ($10)

Then, we had a palate cleanser to continue the night. The Salmon Gravlax was beautifully presented but could have been less salty. Nonetheless, the tzatziki softened the saltiness. The yogurt-like texture also added a Greek twist to this Nordic dish.

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Bavette de Boeuf / Beef Flank ($17)

We kept going with the Bavette de Boeuf. This flank beef is cut from the abdominal muscles or lower chest. The meat was marinated with chimichurri sauce  that could have been less salty too but gave a good jalapeño kick. Other than that, the beef was quite tender.

Surprisingly, I found myself more fond of the mashed potatoes. It was buttery and smooth. It certainly made the dish.

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Pâtes Fraîches Maison / House Pasta ($12)

We were a little disappointed with the Gravlax and the Bavette but the House Pasta set Mayfair back on track. The cavatelli was al dente. The mozzarella was excellent. Although this dish won’t remind you of a nonna’s cooking, it is the ultimate modern-day comfort food. Served with bread, the House Pasta is guaranteed to fill your belly up.

That was our last main course and we moved on to dessert.

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Brownie ($9)

The desserts are really pretty and the brownie was no exception. This deconstructed brownie was served with strawberries, basil and some mousse.

Although it looked really pretty, the brownie was not as warm as we hoped. It didn’t stand out as much as we hoped because damn, look at how pretty it is!

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Crémeux aux Argumes / Cream with Fruits ($9)

And finally, we had the Crémeux which was also deconstructed. The random blobs of meringue was delicious. Beet powder that was sprinkled over it was very interesting too. We preferred the Crémeux over the Brownie.

To end the meal we had another round of cocktails!

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Goji Kiss ($14)

The Goji Kiss was a great cocktail to have at the end. It is sweet but calming because of the Chai tea added to it.

And to cap it all off, we had Noble Intentions!

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Noble Intentions ($14)

Noble Intentions was another calming cocktail. The subtle taste of hibiscus and pomegranate was refreshing. We were glad we ended the meal on this note.

Generally, I love the vibe at Mayfair and I’ve been to Mayfair more than one occasion before this collaboration. I would definitely come back for the drinks because it is certainly one of the best bars and probably the only alcoholic Victorian tea lounge in Montréal. I love how English it looks.

As for the food, I’d come back for the pasta or a salad if I am ever getting a drink before 9pm. There is definitely room to improve. The drinks were certainly superior. They are innovative and keeps you excited. Service is also great and friendly. Staff are very alert.

Cheers,

N

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Expected Wallet Damage: $$$

Contact: 514 647-4005 or reserve online through their website or OpenTable

Opening Hours: Closed on Sundays, Tues – Wed 7PM – 12AM, Thurs – Sat 7PM – 3AM.

Perfect For: Birthdays, Dates, Girls’ Night Out, Saturdays with the Boys, Group Outings, Happy Hour

Where: 451 Rue Rachel E, Montréal, QC H2J 2H2

Café Melbourne (Montréal, Canada): Up All Morning to Get Lucky or… Brunch

Café Melbourne is a Montréal-based café inspired by the café and brunch culture of Melbourne, Australia. My dad grew up in Australia and I still go back there every year to visit my sister. I can confirm that the brunch scene there is miles ahead of the world and I am so happy Café Melbourne is bringing that to Canada.

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Café Melbourne, Montréal, Canada.

I have been to café Melbourne on a number of occasions for their flat whites because we all know that the Aussies do it best. I also come for the posters screaming dry sarcasm that anyone who has grown up British or Australian know very well (my oh my do I love witty comebacks).

Nonetheless, this was my first time trying their brunch and after seeing it over and over on Instagram, not only was I excited but I had very high expectations because everything looked so delicious.

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Tumeric Latte ($5.00)

We started off with the Tumeric Latte that my friend Karen had chosen. This was such a common sight in Sydney when I was there in January. Tumeric is really great for your body. It has a lot of anti-inflammatory benefits.

This latte in particular was very creamy, as a tumeric latte should be. The tumeric taste is really strong though! You’ve been warned!

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Lucky Charms Hot Chocolate ($6.00)

I had the Lucky Charms Hot Chocolate instead. This was all over Instagram and it looked somewhat nostalgic – brings me back to when I was 8 or so. I expected it to be super sweet but fortunately it wasn’t diabetically sweet. It was balanced and hot – perfect for a cold Spring day.

Then came our brunch! The moment we were waiting for 😉

The service was quick and the dishes came out perhaps 5-10 minutes after we had sat down.

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The Jungle Bird ($21.00)

We had the Jungle Bird which is only available for a limited amount of time. We found out that the meat is fresh from Grinder at Griffintown and we instantly knew we were going to have a good time.

This breakfast burger was very filling. The meat was perfectly juicy, firm and resembled the amazing beef we have in Australia too. We loved the touch of pineapple and hint of blackberry jam to balance the savoury. The brioche also melts in your mouth.

The only critique we could give were the sweet potato tater tots. We loved that it was sweet potato but we wished it could have been crispier!

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Toastie ($16.00)

Then we dug into the Toastie, as recommended by the team because it is greasy, cheesy… how can you go wrong with that, right?

And true enough, we loved it. The bread, once again, was crunchy yet soft and was filled with just the right amount of mozzarella cheese, chicken and… curry! The curry melted my heart. The fried egg flowed with yolk which made our mouth water and last but not least, the figs went hand in hand with this star too.

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Donuts from Leche Desserts

For dessert we had the much talked about donuts from Leche Desserts and oh my god, they were amazing!

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Brunch Spread @ Café Melbourne

We were impressed by the brunch here and I am excited for what is to come. The menu changes from time to time but the Smashed Avocado ($17.00) is an Australian classic. It is here all the time. It is definitely something you should try because their representation of an avo toast in Australia is pretty accurate.

Café Melbourne is definitely one of my top brunch places in Montreal now. You have to drop by this gem in le plateau, especially if you are Australian. This place has got our native tongue written all over it and I love it. The service is also fast, friendly, impeccable and damn, if you’ve never tried a flat white in your life, let it be Café Melbourne that serves you your first one!

This place is not only amazing for brunch in the weekends but also great for studying over coffee in the week days.

Until next time!

N

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Expected Wallet Damage: $$-$$$

Contact: no reservations! they are super responsive on Facebook/Instagram too

Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 9AM – 5PM, Brunch on the weekend 10AM – they run out of food

Perfect For: Birthdays, Brunch Dates, Sundays, Studying (on the week days), Conversations over Coffee

Where: 4615 St Laurent Blvd, Montreal, QC H2T 1R2