Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring @ Liverpool House

Spring came early in Montreal, a rarity, and it was no more apparent than
along Notre Dame Street West. To celebrate my birthday Bombshell suggested
we indulge in food porn at 'Liverpool House'... the sister restaurant of the
famous 'Joe Beef'. Sister restaurant in name only because the food was, is
a stand-alone culinary experience.
As a young boy, my formative years were spent in a quiet, safe neighbourhood
with beautiful tree-lined streets and mom-and-pop corner stores. The main
street, in our quaint section of town, was right around the corner from where
we lived. This section of Notre Dame in Little Burgundy is evocative of that

Marcel Proust once said, 'The door of memory is opened by the taste of
a Madeline cookie.'

Little Burgundy (La Petite-Bourgogne) is a neighbourhood in the southwest
borough of Montreal. Its approximate boundaries are Atwater Street to the
west, Saint-Antoine to the north, Guy Street to the east, and the Lachine
Canal to the south. The adjacent neighbourhoods are the borough of Ville-
Marie and downtown Montreal to the north and northeast, Griffintown to
the southeast, Pointe-Saint-Charles to the south, and Saint-Henri to the
west. The neighbourhood became famous for producing several talented
jazz musicians. During Prohibition and the later pre-Jean Drapeau years
as an 'open city,
Little Burgundy was home to many lively nightclubs featuring homegrown
and international performers; one of them was Rockhead's Paradise, owned
by Rufus Rockhead, after whom a street is named. Oscar Peterson and Oliver
Jones are the two best-known musicians who emerged from the bebop and
post-bop era.

'We come together in unity to play a grand symphony of cosmic consciousness,
in the divine meditation of our souls' manifestation as being ONE.' ~ Ange Maya

Liverpool House is split into a barroom, which is totally decked out in
Canadiana, and a laid-back dining room, with deer antlers, rowboat oars,
and great artwork on the walls. The woodwork and cream-coloured
wainscoting are painted a warm white. The rest is decorated with flowered
wallpaper, brass chandeliers, and leather banquettes, antique hutches and
squash displays beside the door. There is an eclectic mix of paintings —
over-sized modern canvases and tiny impressionistic. Listen carefully and
you can hear Bob Seger's 'Against the Wind'.

We sat at a corner banquette facing the dinner menu, which is a large
blackboard suspended over a row of tables. Looking around you would
never think or believe all that rhetoric concerning the dire economic condition
in Montreal. The place was in a constant flux… patrons waiting for the next
group to be seated. They must do three or four turnovers a night. Fréderic
(Fred) Morin (one of the owners) came over and sat with us... we had seen
each other since Globe’s 25th Anniversary Gala evening… and for what
seemed like a long enough time… we caught up and reminisced.

Our wine was a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon... Montepulciano Falesco,
Marciliano, Rosso Umbria. I am not a big fan of Italian wines but this one
was slightly robust and delightfully fruity on the palate. And the chorus of
dishes explodes…
We begin with a plate of succulent raw oysters... juicy and very meaty.
A dozen was not enough... but we wanted to fully enjoy the next courses.
Liverpool House has a rotating menu; it offers seasonal entrées inspired
by ingredients found in the market. For the second course...we had two foie
gras dishes. One, of course, was 'Foie gras poêlé' au pain croutés…sautéed
and very moist… with an added 'Joe Beef' combination of spices. The other
was ' torchon de foie gras or terrine' named for the vessel in which they
are cooked. The third appetizer, compliments of the kitchen, were roasted
Brussels sprouts with bacon, almonds and mustard. It was tangy, sugary
and crunchy... their originality and taste shined brighter than the rainbow,
and we could not satisfy ourselves enough, even though it seemed like we
had our fill, but the main dishes remained.
Bombshell had been fawning over their famous 'Lobster Pasta' for quite
some time, so immediately went for that. The lobster pieces were larger
than a pear… so soft and sweet. Every morsel was a meal. The pasta portion
was equally delicious, once again with their mélange of spices added. I,
being a Sea Bass aficionado, had the 'Wild Striped Chilean Sea Bass' on
top of a saffron risotto that was the stuff of dreams…. soft, moist and seared
to perfection.

The meal set the precedence for the fabulous dessert of almond cake
with a slight vanilla tinge… and a sparkle on top. There's a lot to like
about Liverpool House, but the question is, 'How does it differ from Joe
Beef?' I read somewhere that compared the two in this fashion, 'If Joe
Beef is macho Liverpool House is more feminine.' You sit among a gallery's
worth of fine art and soak up the buzzing candlelit atmosphere.

* From Where I Sit!
March 20, 2015

* Liverpool House ****
2501, Notre Dame St. W. @ Charlevoix
Little Burgundy, Montreal
(514) 313-6049