Kitchenette is one of those Montreal restaurants that is exists quietly in the hearts of Montrealers who know where to find good food.
Located directly across the street from Montreal’s CBC building on René Lévesque Boulevard, the bistro is the premiere lunch destination for the buzzingly busy broadcast crowd.
When the sun sets, however, Kitchenette takes on a relaxed evening atmosphere, as local residents escape the bustling terraces of the Montreal gay village and wander the one block south to install themselves for a calm evening meal.
It was my friend Tania who told me I absolutely had to visit Kitchenette, claiming that it was her #1 place to eat in Montreal. So on Thursday night we dodged raindrops and cozied up on a bench in the back corner of the bistro for a delightful meal, a couple of glasses of vino and philosophical/heartfelt conversation on the subject of ‘love.’
After a mouthwatering meal (and a conclusion that ‘humor’ is the most important characteristic in a partner), we had the chance to chat business with Chef Nick Hodge, the owner of Kitchenette. When I asked him to describe Kichenette’s menu, he simply suggested that it was “pan-American soul food.” Nick is not trying to compete with any current culinary trends happening in the Montreal food scene. Instead he’s cooking up what he knows best. And being born and raised in Texas has certainly given him the required roots to do delicious southern cookin’.
The savory dishes, the genuinely kind staff and the casual ambiance of the restaurant impressed me. If the heart of the home is the kitchen, the heart of Montreal might very well be found at Kitchenette.
Oysters from Saint Simon (New Brunswick) and Raspberry Berry Point (PEI) are accompanied with tomatillo-habanero mignonette, fresh lime wedges and a homemade Tabasco sauce served in a medicinal dropper. The dropper functions well, and reduces the risk of tragically over-spicing your oyster.
Both Tania and I agreed that the oysters were fresh and smooth on the palate, without any oceany aftertaste.
Three offerings of po’boys: grilled shrimp, with fried green tomato, oyster with spinach-parmesan aioli and lobster with smoked-paprika saffron mayonnaise. And if you’re not familiar with the Po’boys, Tim (our dashing server) described the little Louisiana sandwiches as “anything that’s battered, deep-fried and put between two buns.” Well summarized.
Japanese Tacos: Homemade taco shells are homemade and derived from wonton (dumpling) recipe, and then stuffed with teriyaki pulled beef, butter lettuce, green goddess sauce (avocado/wasabi vinaigrette) and daikon coleslaw (mild-flavored white East-Asian radish). A small square of palate-cleansing citrus Yuzu ‘jello’ is served à coté.
The tacos were PHENOMENAL, and apparently it’s not uncommon for a table to order six of them, devour them in an insatiable fit, and then order six more.
Desserts are baked by Chef Nick’s Mother-in-law, who attended culinary school at L’ Institute d’Hotellerie de Montreal. Despite already swelling stomachs, we sampled the Sticky Toffee Pudding Sundae with ‘Cracker Jacks’ – big win! I can’t wait to go back and sample all the desserts.
I also want to congratulate Kitchenette for implementing an ecologically sustainable business model. Written at the bottom of the menu was this statement:
“Kitchenette will not serve Chilean sea bass, black grouper, shark, sword, marlin, sailfish, blue fin tuna or eel in support of SeaWeb, Oceana and the Monterey Bay Aquarium educational efforts to speed the recovery of these endangered species.”
This, I hope, will become an industry standard. I give kudos to Kitchenette for ensuring the message gets out.
1353 René Lévesque Boulevard East
Insider Tip: Go for dinner. Lunch is great, but the pace is a bit more relaxed when the sun goes down. Unless you have a penchant for cute radio journalists… then go for lunch. Either way, make reservations. Definitely make reservations.
Foodie Quote: “Food that fits right into the Montreal style. [The chef’s] touch is light and complementary ingredients create sparks of flavor.” -Leslie Chesterman (The Montreal Gazette)