Tag Archives: Verdun

Flagrants Desirs chocolate

chocolateProving that while all of my desires are, in fact, flagrant, but not all of them are 72% cocoa, I must admit a weakness for the Flagrants Desirs brand of chocolate my local IGA grocery store sells. Available in a variety of flavours, the dark 72% cocoa is my favourite, as I like my chocolate dark, but not too dark. The 72% cocoa is just milky enough to be sweet and creamy, but dark enough to satisfy my craving for that more bitter, earthy taste. There’s an extra-dark 85% cocoa, but I’ve found that anything above 80% is too dark for my tastes. I may be noir at heart, but not that noir.

Also available from this line are chocolates with dark cocoa nibs, as well as the dark orange, dark pear, and dark mint flavours.

Cocoa nibs (image via Gourmet Sleuth)

Cocoa nibs (image via Gourmet Sleuth)

So far I have also enjoyed the dark cocoa nibs variety, which I find tasty but sort of troubling, since the cocoa nibs are pretty small and tend to come off as random grit in the chocolate. I didn’t really expect them to be hard, since I always visualize cocoa as a powder, but the nibs are actually hard specks of cocoa beans (as per the photo at left). The chocolate itself has more of an earthy dirt-like flavour, thanks to the nibs and the cocoa levels, which is interesting, though not quite the flavour profile I prefer.

As a fan of the original Terry’s Chocolate Orange (the one you have to whack on the table to split into individual orange “wedges”), I am very intrigued by the Dark Orange, but have not yet sampled its wares. I think this may be a winning combination, though the lack of whack may prove to be a liability.

The Dark Pear confuses me, since I’m not a big chocolate-with-fruit combo type of gal (and, in fact, tend to find this type of pairing quite abhorrent, barring the inherent deliciousness of the chocolate covered cherry and aforementioned chocolate orange), but in the interests of science, I may have to investigate this option. I just fear that it will go uneaten, as my husband hates the thought of sweet & savoury together, as well as chocolate plus fruit, so anything I don’t like in this department is definitely going to end up in the trash.

After Eight bar (image via Nestlé)

After Eight bar (image via Nestlé)

Dark mint? Obviously delicious. I mean, the York Peppermint Pattie and After Eight mints are proof that chocolate plus mint equals success, and anything darkly chocolatey is clearly a winner in my book.

Overall, I really like this line of chocolates, both for its dark chocolate and willingness to break out of the typically “acceptable” chocolate flavours, and also because it’s hella cheap. The grocery store near me sells these 100 gram bars for only $2.59. Comparably gourmet types of chocolates in this size range often retail for three to five dollars, so this is a rather nice bargain for those with a sweet tooth. I’m also addicted, so I tend to pick one of these suckers up once a week. As far as bad habits go, this one’s pretty cheap, so I’d encourage you to check out the Flagrants Desirs line if you see them at a grocery store near you.

In case you’re having trouble finding the Flagrants Desirs line of chocolates (I’ve noticed they’re not necessarily available at all IGAs), you can currently find them at the IGA at 5144 Bannantyne in Verdun, and you can also order them online for home delivery at the IGA online grocery website.

Crescendo

Just got back from an early breakfast at Crescendo, a nice Italian restaurant right on the waterfront in Verdun. Their tax issues with the city (borough?) of Verdun notwithstanding, my husband and I found this a nice alternative to our regular Pointe St-Charles haunt, The Fine Pointe. Within walking distance of our place, this may be the first (and only?) breakfast place in Verdun worth checking out!

According to the online reviews we found, the place is a bit pricey for lunch or dinner, but we found their breakfast prices fairly reasonable. You can get two eggs, your choice of meat, plus baked beans, toast, fresh fruit, home fries and coffee for about $7 per person (depending on the type of meats you want). The menu is pretty basic, with French toast and omelette options, but nothing super fancy like Eggs Benedict. You can get a cappuccino or a latté if you desire, however, so that’s a nice touch.

Restaurant Crescendo (photo by Flickr user dennisfones)

Restaurant Crescendo (photo by Flickr user dennisfones)

The restaurant itself has a nice big terrasse with a great view of the St-Laurent River, so you can watch all the people going by on their canoes, speedboats, sailboats or… boogie boards? (We were trying to figure out what this group of three people were doing. It looked like they had some wide, short surfboards and were trying to paddle them, standing up. We forgot the camera at home, so there are unfortunately no photos of these weirdos. Any guesses?) Or just soak up some sun and watch the dog-walkers, cyclists and rollerbladers whizz past on the bike path just outside. Which makes me wonder: why aren’t there more waterfront restos in this town? I mean, it’s not like we live on an island, or anything…

Anyway, if you want to grab a table on the terrasse, you’ll want to get there early. By the time we were leaving at about 10 AM, the place was already packed, and some jerkoff was swinging a baby around. Apparently my husband saw the guy bash one of the waitresses in the face with the kid’s feet, and, in typical rude Montrealer fashion, the douche didn’t even bother to apologize. Classy! I just hope the waitress later “accidentally” punched him in the back of the head, spit in his coffee, and spilled his meal in his lap, but the staff seemed way too nice for that kind of revenge fantasy.

Aside from the psycho hose-beasts that may be breakfasting beside you, the restaurant seemed quite nice. Their home-fries appeared to have come from a bag, which didn’t impress me, but I enjoyed their crusty bread and thick sausages. They also serve their coffee in a cup and saucer, for that upscale edge. It’s always nice to have a place to rest your dirty coffee spoon, am I right?

If you’re feeling wild and crazy, grab the ferry over to Nun’s Island afterward. The pontoon departs from the “marina” just outside (I employ scare quotes here as it’s about the tiniest marina I’ve ever seen, consisting of maybe five total piers that are brought in to land during the winter freeze), takes about five minutes shore-to-shore, and only costs $2.50 per person. Seems like a fun way to tow your bikes over for a ride on another island in the stream, and if you’re short on cash, you can always take the pedestrian bridge back instead.

One final note: Crescendo doesn’t take Interac, though they’ve got one of those freelance (read: sketch-o) ATMs by the front door, so you might want to hit the bank before strolling on down.

ADDRESS: 5150 Lasalle Blvd. (Verdun)
METRO: Verdun
PHONE: (514) 766-2171

Rex Pizza

Maybe pizza CAN be healthy, but at Rex Pizza, you're getting the grease! (photo via The Sun)

Maybe pizza CAN be healthy, but at Rex Pizza, you're getting the grease! (photo via The Sun)

Rex Pizza looks like a totally sketchy hole-in-the-wall restaurant, one that you’d probably skip over entirely if you hadn’t heard otherwise. But based on a recommendation from one of my Twitter followers, @safesolvent, who said they had a pretty great breakfast (?!), I decided to give it a whirl.

Oddly enough, this mom ‘n’ pop shop has its charms. Ever been to Cosmo’s in NDG? There’s a similar vibe going on at Rex Pizza, where there’s actually a sign above the cash register that reads “Prices are subject to change, depending on customer’s attitude.” Right on! After all, why shouldn’t customer service peeps fight back when they tend to get treated like shit all day long?

According to their menu (which, by the way, announces PAS DE LIVRAISON!), they’ve been around since 1965, and judging from the interior, the place is much the same as it was when it was first built. There’s a counter with built-in stools for those who like to eat at the bar, plus a few tables, and the whole place must seat about 20 people, max. It’s cozy, and the owners are friendly but not TOO friendly. Which I like, as small talk isn’t really my forté.

The menu consists of pizza (obviously), Italian selections like pasta, Greek items like gyros and souvlaki, and the standard fast-food fare like burgers, hot dogs, fries, clubs and subs. I’ve had their cheeseburgers and fries, and would rate them similar to those found at the Belle Province, with the unusual “all-dressed” version of the burger involving coleslaw. Their fries are tasty, though not as crunchy as I generally like.

For breakfast—yes, they do serve it, despite the oddity of a pizza place serving breakfast—they’ve got eggs and meats, plenty of combos, and brunch specials that give you the works (eggs, bacon, sausages, pancakes, French toast, baked beans, potatoes and coffee; or eggs with a bagel topped with hame and cheese, plus baked beans, potatoes and coffee). My husband and I hit up Rex one morning and got their 2 Egg Combo #3, with bacon, sausages, ham, smoked meat, baked beans, potatoes and coffee. Holy smokes, that’s a lotta meat! With all of that, it was a tad greasy, but whaddya want? These kinds of breakfasts generally are, and the meats were all delicious. I particularly enjoyed whatever seasonings they added to their potatoes, spicing it up nicely.

Overall, I think Rex Pizza makes a good choice if you’re in the neighbourhood and want to grab a quick bite. They don’t deliver, so if you’re not in the area you probably won’t go out of your way to find it. They’ve got a good selection, and as a neighborhood fast-food joint, I’d say they’re definitely worth checking out, particularly if you’ve got a morning-after hangover that you need to clear up with a good, old-fashioned greasy breakfast.

ADDRESS: 4811 Wellington (Verdun)
METRO: Verdun
PHONE: 514-768-3718

Aka-Fuji

I didn’t get a chance to update the “Sunday Snack Attack” yesterday, as my husband and I were busy celebrating our 1-year wedding anniversary with a nice dinner out, so instead I shall regale you with the story of how Aka-Fuji has now become our favourite sushi place in Montreal.

Meet the chef! (photo via Hour.ca)

We first decided to visit Aka-Fuji after reading Joshua Karpati’s positive review in the Hour. As he put it, “downtown’s loss is Verdun’s gain,” and since we’re always on the look-out for good restos in the hood, we had to check it out. We strolled down Wellington, braving a street fair to get there. At first we were the only people in the joint, which was a bit disconcerting, but it eventually began to fill up. And I’m sure it’s going to become a total hotspot, if it isn’t already, because the food was great!

To start, they brought us a dish of wasabi peas, which was a nice touch. We also ordered saké, so they let us choose our cups, and we began drinking as they prepared our tempura. We had the medium tempura plate (there’s also a large size), which came with four shrimp and a variety of deep-fried veggies. As Karpati says in his review, it’s a very light batter and not the super greasy/salty concoction we typically associate with tempura. The shrimp were perfect, and although I burned myself on the veggies, I would give them a thumbs up as well.

Next up we went straight to the sushi. Unfortunately, they were out of the ingredients for the Spider variety (soft shell crab, avocado, bonito flakes, sea smelt roe, mayo), so we ended up going for the Spicy California instead, but I thought they were super tasty nevertheless. We also opted for some of the Spicy Hotate (scallop) and the Kara-Age (fried chicken, crab stick, omelette, cucumber, sea smelt roe, mayo), all of which were tasty, but next time I think I would like to try some without mayo. The Aka-Fuji sounded delicious to me, but my husband isn’t a big fan of either salmon or eel (the ingredients are listed as shrimp, omelette, crab stick, grilled eel, salmon roe, squid, scallop, cucumber, Japanese squash, and lettuce, and I wonder how they can cram it all in!), so next time I may have to order them for myself and let him pick something else.

All in all, I enjoyed the meal, the service was super attentive, and I found it to be a nice, straightforward menu for those who like sushi. Plenty of selection, without being overwhelming, plus several combo ideas for those who aren’t sure what to choose. We ordered saké, so our total was over the usual amount I’d allow for a “cheap” restaurant, but without the alcohol, it’d definitely be affordable. And I’m definitely going to be back!

Sushi is, to me, the best summertime meal, so having a great sushi restaurant in the neighbourhood is one of the best things that can happen, aside from sitting outside with an ice-cold beverage on a terrasse or balcony. You can get items to go as well, and if you visit the website, they’ve got a PDF version of the menu that you can peruse before you go. If you live in the area, I’d definitely recommend Aka-Fuji!

ADDRESS: 3872 Wellington (Verdun)
METRO: de l’Eglise
PHONE: (514) 223-4262
WEBSITE: aka-fuji.com
HOURS: Closed Mondays, Tues-Wed & Sat-Sun 4-9PM, Thurs-Fri noon-9PM

Mémé Tartine

I’ve lived in Verdun for over a year now, and I just got around to trying Mémé Tartine yesterday. Which is ridiculous, because I pass the place every time I go to the metro, and I’ve heard good things, but I guess it sometimes takes a feud with your local café to try new things, eh?

I was supposed to meet up with a friend for lattés yesterday afternoon, and although we ended up missing each other, I’m not too upset because as it turns out, Mémé Tartine rocks!

First of all, their location is unbeatable: it’s right next to the Verdun metro, so anyone coming or going is likely to take a chance and pop in for a coffee before work, after work, or whenever.

Secondly, they’ve got a great little terrasse out front, now that the weather has warmed up, with an umbrella and two Adirondack chairs to lounge in, as well as a few café tables.

Third, if the terrasse is all full, you can grab something to go and drink it in the park that’s right across the street.

Finally, and most importantly, their lattés are large and well-made, their almondines are delightful, and they’ve got a loyalty card that encourages repeat business with a “buy 4 get the 5th free” scheme. Win!

So now that I’ve finally sampled their wares, I can definitely recommend checking out Mémé Tartine for a coffee, pastry, or even a sandwich.

ADDRESS: 4601 Verdun
METRO: Verdun
PHONE: (514) 762-4624