Cabane D’à Côté
Even though this isn't a food blog, we've ended up talking about food a lot here. We don't really have a lot of hobbies or interests outside of seeking out new restaurants (we should probably work on that), and so far, Montreal has yielded many tasty things to seek out.
Last weekend, we finally crossed something off our list that we'd been looking forward to for awhile. As previously mentioned, we made reservations a couple months in advance for the Cabane D’à Côté "sugar shack," which is owned by the infamous Montreal temple to all things viande, Au Pied De Cochon. I'd visited a more traditional sugar shack a few weeks ago, but I was curious to see how the PDC fine dining version compared. They also operate a seasonal cabane à sucre down the road, but from what we've heard, it's a full-on gastronomic assault with foie gras stuffed into everything. Our stomachs aren't as resilient as they used to be, so we stuck with this one.
After a 40 minute drive to the country, we arrived. Our reservation was at 3:00 on a Saturday, which is literally all that was available when I was booking it. Definitely a weird time to eat a meal, but it worked out perfectly for reasons I'll explain later. The surroundings looked a lot like where the other sugar shack was located, but something told me this experience would be very different.
As we walked inside, a friendly server greeted us and checked our name off the list. As it turns out, he was also a bartender, and his drink station was set up right inside the front door. He handed us a drink menu to peruse as we waited for our table, and I ended up choosing maybe the most Canadian drink I've ever seen: "le Classique,"a mix of IPA beer, Canadian Club whiskey, and maple syrup. A bit sweet for my palate, but still good. In addition to cocktails, there was also a massive wine list.
Once we were seated, we had a chance to look around the restaurant. The interior definitely kept with the rustic, cabin-y feel, but it was definitely a bit more minimalist than my previous experience. We spotted a smoker outside, and since it was a nice day, the smell wafted inside. We ended up smelling like a campfire when we left, but that's to be expected. And, of course, there was a huge bottle of maple syrup on each table. Just in case.
Ok, on to the food! Since this was a multi-course tasting menu, it's going to be hard to remember and describe everything, but I'll try. We typically don't use our phones during restaurant meals, which means no pics. But this time, our phones ate first.
First up was a really great cold celeriac soup with snow crab. I'm glad this was nice and light, because the rest of the meal sure wasn't.
1st course: smoked ham and bacon with butter (because ham needs butter), mini buckwheat pancakes, a pork dish featuring cheek, crispy skin, and kale, and a really nice raw scallop dish with pickle, radish, and some kind of buttermilk sauce. The server called these the "appetizers," which was hilarious. It was a lot of food! It made me nervous to think about what was coming next.
2nd course: buffalo tartare, marinated endive with ricotta and sunflower seeds. This was the "light" course, I guess.
3rd course: smoked quail and cauliflower in broth, rabbit loin and kidney with greens, and a perfectly cooked halibut filet in a beurre blanc. No pic of the halibut, sorry.
4th course: dessert! Warm blueberry cake with sunflower ice cream, mini beignets drizzled with their own maple condensed milk (these were insane), and a berry/apple/cream millefeuille.
Remember how I mentioned the weird 3:00 reservation time? Well, after eating this much, we were glad we did it mid-day. I can't imagine starting this meal at 7 or 8, finishing at 10, then going to bed. Some digestion time is crucial. We were back home by 6:00, and we immediately changed in to sweatpants and relaxed. And no, we didn't need dinner. I wasn't even that hungry the next morning.
Unlike many sugar shacks, Cabane D’à Côté is open year round. If you ever visit Montreal, I highly recommend renting a car and making the journey out to Mirabel for this meal. It was a uniquely Quebecois experience that you won't find anywhere else. I'm glad we got to do it.