Friday, June 29, 2012

Lola Rosa Cafe (Best Montreal Discovery Yet)

Location :  545 Milton, Montreal. 
Website : 
Damages : Average Expensive - $13 per plate (approx)
Food : Awesome!
Ambience : Very Boutique-y, homey feel
Service : Amazing, personalized and friendly

"I could issue an open challenge to any restaurant in Montreal to make a plate of Nachos better than this one!" said my extremely satisfied husband after he sampled the dish.

Seriously. It was THAT good.

And not just the Nachos. Going by a few online reviews, our first order was the Nachos. We ordered a half portion first, but when we saw the dish arrive on a fellow patron's table, we promptly changed it to a full portion. And we paired a black bean burrito with it. We definitely wanted to have the brownie there, so we chose to skip the appetizer or soups. Can't you tell how healthy we are? :D

The Nacho (notice the capital N) were served on a huge wooden chopping board (ingenious!). Let's discuss them layer-by-layer. First we had some amazingly crispy tortilla chips. They were pure corn, from the taste of it, and lightly salted with a bit of garlic pepper. Then came the black beans. Rich, thick saucy beans, full of flavor. Topped on that was a thick red salsa, bursting with the freshness of tomatoes and cumin. Next were lots of bits of avocados( my favorite!) and chopped scallions. And finally on top, rest two scoops of sour cream and shredded beetroot. The whole thing was topped with a generous helping of chopped coriander and paprika. Oh and did I forget the cheese? Of course there was cheese. Oozy, melty, soft cheese. All over the dish. And the whole dish was piled high on the chopping board/plate. Beautiful. Take a look. 

Next, the burrito. This was also one of the best burritos we have had so far in the city. Carlos and Pepe's had turned out to be an extreme disappointment already. 

The burrito was a nicely warmed tortilla, with black beans and corn queso served on a bed of salsa sauce. This was served with a side of mexican rice and fresh crunchy salad with a dressing that I could not identify but sure did love. Next time, we shall take pictures that  after having a couple of bites so you can see the insides better. 
The burrito was normal portion. So we finished it easily enough. But the Nachos. Oh my god. We were beyond full and yet we could not stop eating it. Really. We kept going at it. Both of us. Ashwinfinished the Nachos and although we were so goddamn full, we could not help but order the dessert we had promised ourselves. So it was brownie with ice-cream time.
Ah, piece of heavenly goodness. 

The brownie was soft with a nice crunchy top, dense, but fluffy. My immediate reaction to the first bite was, "Damn I wish I could bake THAT well!" Since Ashwin had finished the never ending Nachos, I took it on myself to leave no morsel uneaten of the brownie and proceeded to stuff my face with it. 
The people at Lola Rosa are really sweet too. We reached there just minutes before their kitchen closed since Ashwin had a match before, but they still entertained us. In fact, our server, a pretty young woman, was having her dinner that time, but in spite of that, she gave us her full attention and kept interrupting her meal to come to us and ask if we are ok, or we needed anything else. 

Near the end of the meal, the owner, Eric, himself came and asked us if we loved it. Nice. 

Now if you are from some weird planet and food and service alone isn't enough to pull you to a place like Lola Rosa, their is yet another beautiful facet to this Bistro. It's like a living, breathing, everyday, Post Secret Project.
The tables near their window place seating have little drawers in them. Ashwin noticed these when we were waiting to make a bit of space in our tummy for dessert. When I, the eternal explorer, opened these drawers, we found little bits and pieces of papers and notes. Little secrets or anecdotes that people had scribbled on them and left them there. It was beautiful. I went crazy after that. I opened the drawers on all the tables in our row (We were their last customers so the place was empty. Really. I do not embarrass my husband like that publicly!). It really was beautiful.

When we were paying the bill, Eric mentioned that they have a new restaurant opening in St. Laurent area soon. And that will have even more food! Color me excited. :D

Monday, June 25, 2012

She loved the smell of smoke

In the small hotel bed, the two of them lay next to each other.

He had opened his arm out on the pillow and her head rested in the crook of his elbow. Turning away from her, towards his side of the bed and he pushed his other hand into his backpack on the floor, riffling for a few moments, and fished out a cigarette pack. He flicked it open with one hand and pushed a cigarette into his puckered mouth.

She watched him with a mixed look on her face. Her forehead wrinkled with disgust but her mouth slightly upturned with fascination.  Her plump cheeks were flushed pink, from his proximity or from the wear and tear of his prickly stubble. She looked away from the cigarette smoke and laced her fingers through his other hand. The one on which her head rested. That’s when she noticed them. Small, dark, round marks on the underside of his wrist. Several of them.

“Are those..”  she gulped, turning her head back towards him.

“ Cigarette burns” he said between puffs.

She looked at his hard chiselled face. It was a weird face that he had. He had a soft school boy dreaminess around his eyes, but the rest of his face was all string and chiselled. High cheekbones, a strong square jawline and smooth, thick black hair. But his eyes were a light molten brown. Darkened amber, but light milk chocolate. She loved his eyes the most.

“Don’t worry so much,” he drawled lazily, “this is from way before.”

“How does it burn like that though?” she asked hesistantly.

“When the cigarette is at its butt end, I just quashed it on my wrist,” he said casually, like his wrist was just another spare ashtray he had lying around.

“Did it.. didn’t it burn?”

“Like hell”

She looked at his thin, almost black lips. That too was from his smoking, she knew. He had been smoking from almost 12 years, since sixth grade. He had tried to quit a few times, all half-hearted attempts.

“See these marks?” he jerked his cigarette hand towards her, “these are lighter. They will go away with time.”

“The ones on the other hand won’t?”
“Nope. They are not meant to. I held the butt to my skin for longer.”

“Mmm,” she said, already back to her thoughts again.

He smoked out a couple more drags before she spoke up again.

“How does it hurt?” she wondered out aloud, “Does it sting, does the flesh smell?”

He thought for a second and replied, “It was a long time ago, Kari.”

“Can you..” she looked into his eyes, took a deep breath, and continued, “Can you quash that one out on me?”

She held out her wrist.

“No!” He almost screamed, his voice thick with horror.

“It’s not going to kill me!” she exclaimed

He shook his head firmly, “No. No way.”

“Niel,” she pleaded, “c’mon”

“Why do you want me to do that??” his voice was raw, hoarse, suddenly.

“I don’t know,” she shrugged, and the sheet slipped away from her shoulder to her breast, revealing her low cut tank top.

His cigarette was burning out now. He reached across her to his ashtray.

“Niel,” she implored him.

“Kari, I..” He was at a loss for words. “Why?” he asked her, again, heavily.

“I want to feel it,” she answered simply, “I want to feel a bit of the pain you did.”

“What will that get you?”

“I don’t know Niel,” her voice became quick now, urgent, “Maybe some understanding of your life.” She brought her hand closer to him.

He looked at his cigarette. It was starting to singe his skin.

“Kari, please” his voice still hoarse.
“Do it,” she said simply and led his hand to her wrist. She held out her hand, palms open, exposing her wrists underside.

He brought the cigarette really close to her skin. Her soft, white, fleshy skin, with a hint of pink. He was looking at the cigarette, intently. She was looking at her wrist.

A bit of ash rolled off the burning stick and touched her white skin. Her eyes, expecting a burn, opened slightly wider. When she realized it wasn’t the cigarette, she looked up at him. “Niel,” she smiled, “Do it.”

He brought the cigarette down on her wrist. Held it there, and looked up at her. She had shut her eyes.

“When I turn 18, I will start smoking” Kari promised herself.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Smoke's Poutinerie - Vegetarian Poutine!

Location :  2019 Rue Bishop, Downtown Montreal
Website :

Damages : Next to none! $6.99 for a small and $8.99 for freakishly huge meal
Food : Awesome!
Ambience : Like a fast food restaurant
Service : Again, like a fast food restaurant
So, this review might be slightly biased since I am a first time Poutine eater. Actually, no. Second time. But the first one was so bad, that I have 1) Erased that experience from my mind and 2) In comparision, this Poutine, was OBVIOUSLY great.

One amazingly big brownie point goes to this eatery for the simple fact that it had Vegetarian Poutine! In a city where everything is meat based, in a place where the Bacon is named after the country, getting the state dish's vegetarian version is a find. 

And the vegetarian Poutine was great too! Out of the two people in our party who ate the meat versions, one of them liked the vegetarian more.

Both of us veggie people got the Onion and Mushroom Veggie Deluxe Poutine. So no variety there. Though I, like an idiot, ordered for the large portion. Let's just say, that we all took home leftovers, but Ashwin and I, the large portion orderers, well, a week later, we still have Poutine sitting at home. After being consumed as an entire meal 5 times already. THAT huge.

Well, the Onion and Mushroom Poutine was amazing. The gravy was well spiced, onions perfectly caramalized and the mushrooms soft and well dunked in the gravy. The fries were as good and crispy as fries should be, the cheese curds used were soft and creamy and melt in your mouth cheesy. Topped with fresh green peas, the entire thing came together really, really well. Though next time, I think I'll try the Nachos Poutine, because that looks like an amazing fusion of cuisines. Mexican and French? Yes Please!

Ashwin found his favorite meat combination, Chicken Bacon Poutine. Let's just say that he likes it so much, he refuses to let me throw out the leftovers, a week after too. He believes its the perfect combination to go with the Poutine-y fries, gravy and cheese curds combination. 

We were way too hungry to take pictures this time, since we went there directly after Ashwin's Soccer game. Which was directly after work hours. But the pictures here are from the Poutinerie's website, and that is exactly how our food looked. So you won't mind me pilfering the image from there, will you?

Last piece of advice though - When eating Poutine, always always opt for the smaller portions. No matter how famished you are. It will always be more than enough. I promise you. (In case it isn't, Montreal is full of desert studios to fill your stomach after anyway right? ;) )

Friday, June 08, 2012

Some songs are best forgotten

"Nanu, STOP running around!!" Blanche screamed at the three year old toddler. It wasn't a fun age to eat veggies she assumed, but she did not know when would be a fun age to just be calm.

"Masi, if I sit, will you let me watch TV?"

Goodness, the kid knew how to bribe!

"Love, my cable is out. You will have to watch whatever comes on the normal channels.. is that ok?" Blanche did not really want to get bribed, but there was no other way she could get Nanu to sit in one place and eat. "And you will have to promise me that you will eat at least half of these veggies."

Nanu thought for a few second. While running. And then came sat next to Blanche. "Put the TV on!!" he urged.

"One bite first," if the kid could bribe, he could for sure forget his promise.

Nanu made a face and shoved a spoonfull into his mouth while pointing at the TV.

Blanche reached for the remote and put the TV on. It was a soap opera rerun that was playing. "Do you even understand anything?" Blanche asked Nanu after a few more spoonfulls.

He shook his head in response but stubbornly refused to peel his eyes away from the set.

Blanche turned back to her book when she heard a familiar song play faintly in the background of the dialogues. 

She stopped reading a looked at the scene. It had nothing to do with the song. It was an old odd song. A song she had refused to listen to since years. And now it was playing in front of her.

I knew I would always hold on
While you would let go
You would let go
'cause no faith, my love, no faith
you have no faith in our love

You are too quick to judge
Too fast to run
Too fast to shut 
While I stand here and wait
I wait while you would let go
you would let go cause
no faith, no faith, no faith my love
you have no faith in our love

He used to sing this. To her. For her. And here she was. Still holding on. 

(This post is dedicated to two people, both will remain unnamed. Though the first one is who I used to call my little darling. Nanu is how I imagine him to be today.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

No one knows

He looked up from his book and craned his neck, his eyes hunting for her face. She wasn't there. 

He pushed his chair out and then swung on it a bit, trying to look beyond the end of the row he sat on. She wasn't there.

He stretched his hands out casually, and humming and hawwing gently stood up. He strolled to the end of the room and looked out of the door to the lobby. She wasn't there.

"Seen Divya Madam anywhere?" he asked of the guard. 

"Madam left some time ago. She signed out also" the guard quipped back, hiding a smile.

These people, they thought no one knew. But he knew. He knew everything that happened here. 

He caught the swallowed smile. He knew, he knew that the guard knew, but that did not matter. He was no one.

Carlos and Pepe's Mexican Restaurant - Go if you must

Location : 1420 Rue Peel, Downtown Montreal
Damages : Inexpensive - $9 per plate (average)
Food : Strictly average
Ambience : Casual
Service : Great
I judge Mexican restaurants by a simple standard - their guacamole and salsa should be better than my homemade one. And based on that, this restaurant lost by leaps and bounds. Which is sad. Let me tell you why..
Carlos and Pepe's has the advantage of being a stones throw away from Rue St. Catherine. It also has the most pretty seating arrangements, with table placed by its huge glass walls facing the streets and small booths in little corners of the restaurant. Its servers are warm, friendly and smiley.
As soon as you enter a small basket of heavenly spiced tortilla chips are placed in front of you with a small dipping bowl of a unique salsa and barbeque sauce combination. And a little bit into that basket, the server will get you a warm mug of vegetarian soup, on the house. So far, so amazing.
But the main order is where things go downhill. All dishes don't come with guacamole, and I know I'm complaining just because I am a crazy avocado lover but hey.. chili with guac, quesadillas with guac.. always taste awesome. Anyway, we went for the fajita (which did have guac accompanying it) and a veggie chili platter (no guac).
The food came fast enough, but boy, did it disappoint us. The veggie chili platter was a bed of rice, which barely visible beans on it smothered with cheddar cheese. The Salas served on the side had less than sufficient dressing and Ashwin refused to touch it at all.
The fajita was served on a Sizzler platter, with four tiny plastic containers filled with a sparse helping of cold refried beans, salsa, discolored and over salted guacamole and sour cream. They also gave us a bamboo basket with soft tortillas with it. All the veggies in the fajita were not seasoned. Some tasted just of oil. The condiments in the tiny container were just vile and the soft tortillas tried their best to bring the dish together but failed against the rest of the component's conspiracy.
We left both the dishes not even having eaten them halfway. The desert menu was like any normal restaurant's but so disgruntled were we that we refrained.
The drinks menu showed an impressive range of margaritas and martinis but since it was a workday lunch, again, we refrained.
Both our verdict at the end of the meal was that even though the quality of the entrees left a lot to be desired, having tortilla chips with salsa and some margaritas here after movie wouldn't be a bad idea.