When your meal starts with an amuse bouche of a sweet-looking macaron that turns out to be savory, you know you're in for a witty and whimsical dinner. Such was the case at Chez L'Épicier in Montreal. This quaint restaurant (and gourmet grocer) may be in tourist-oriented Old Montreal, but it's a favorite with locals as well, making it a much-celebrated destination for dining.
That macaron was made with black olive and goat cheese, and was absolutely terrific. So after a fabulous meal that included beef tartare with beet purée and crisped lard, as well as scallops with pan-seared foie gras, I couldn't wait to tackle the dessert menu.
My dining companion had a flight of four crème brûlées, boldly colorful and flavorful, providing four chances to shatter the sugary crust. As tempting as it was for me to order more of the house-made macarons, I took the advice of many Montrealers I had met and went with the Club Sandwich ($10).
I had a good laugh when the server brought the playful plate. Before me: two skewers of quartered "sandwiches" made with chocolate and vanilla mousse inside slices of cake. A closer look revealed slices of strawberry standing in as tomato, and basil leaves pretending to be lettuce. The "French fries" were actually pieces of fried pineapple, and the "cole slaw" was creamy honeydew melon salad with mint. Good flavors and textures, fun for the eyes as well as the taste buds. And a fitting end to a fun meal, taking me full circle of twists from the start of a savory macaron to the finish of a sweet sandwich.
About the author: Jay Friedman is a Seattle-based freelance food writer who happens to travel extensively as a sex educator. An avid fan of noodles (some call him "The Mein Man"), he sees sensuality in all foods, and blogs about it at his Gastrolust website. You can follow him on Twitter @jayfriedman.