…about some of which (reviews) i feel guilty, for so glancing a treatment, and others about which i feel nothing at all – for they have gone unreviewed so far because my experience there was unremarkable enough (neither good nor bad), without being mediocre, that i felt no compulsion to talk about it to anyone.
Byblos (1499 Laurier E. @Fabre) – had breakfast here the other day, after hearing all manner of positive reviews. all in all it was delicious, but i think in future i’d like to go with someone possessing a greater familiarity with the menu, b/c what we ordered ended up being a little samey. a very silky eggs-tomato-herbs dish nod dissimilar to what i tried at Avesta some time back, a selection of yoghurts (beet, which was delicious; spinach, which was fine; and eggplant/nut/mint which lamentably did not live up to how good it sounds), and a coupe of pastries (spinach and tuna. fine, but a little heavy). oh, and a salad. anyway, it was just too much dill for that early in the morning. beautiful space though (granted, i was kind of looking forward to something a little danker), and i have nothing in particular to complain about, save my own failure to order something which would have allowed me to sample their variety of homemade jams which are supposed to be good. also i hear their omelettes are nice. i do intend to return, to try their much lauded “National Dish of Iran” “Le Dizzy” (only served on sundays, made with lamb, or eggplant in its stead).
Les Délices de L’Ile Maurice (272 Hickson @Wellington, in Verdun) i have heard Mauritian (not to be confused with Mauritanian, because apparently Mauritius and Mauritania are totally different places. who knew?) food described as a combination of French, Indian, Chinese, Portuguese and Creole influences, which is undeniably true, that being the sort of legacy one acquires as an island more or less off the coast of Madagascar (and as such, receiving a lot of boat traffic), but i don’t know that it really gives one that much of a sense of what to expect at a restaurant. what not to expect, maybe (spaghetti?), but no clear indication. nor did i have any, when i went to Les Delices De L’Ile Maurice, save that it would be interesting and new, which it was, albeit not so profoundly delicious as i had hoped.
first off, you may as well not bother if you’re vegetarian, because all of the main dishes are meat or fish (which can be prepared in a variety of sauces, in an interesting twist on what one usually expects from a menu. creole, curry, saffron, sweet and sour, among others, although in some cases, such as the spare ribs, the sauce is not optional). among the appetizers there are some vegetarian options, although most are battered and deep-fried. without getting too involved here, what stood out for me was:
1. the amuse-bouche that precedes every meal, at no cost, which consists of battered and deep-fried shredded cabbage, which i loved, because i love all of those things,
2. the assortment of condiments, which topped every table, including a thin, translucent, almost buttery herb-garlic sauce, a mild tangy chutney, salty delicious mint sauce, and a hot sauce that reminds me most of the hot sauce one finds in Korean restaurants (almost with a red beany sweetness) but a good grade or two hotter, thankfully,
3. the lentil soup which came free as the first course with all the main dishes, which was comforting and tasty,
4. how incredibly nice and accommodating and friendly the cook/waiter was. he was really a lot of fun, and we left ourselves more or less entirely in his hands as far as ordering was concerned,
5. the tea and gumdrops at the end, the latter being more adorable than appetizing, having as i do about a million fillings already, and the former noteworthy for being the first opportunity i’ve had to try tea tree tea (!), which apparently i love, and could only describe as tasting like a cross between how tea tree oil smells, grapefruit pith, and grapefruit-flavoured bubblegum, which i’m not sure i’ve ever had.
oh, and i was pretty into the deep-fried eggplant.
less exciting was the lack of vegetarian options (no one’s fault, really), and the sort of unspecialness of the tomato-curry sauce for the lamb. my dining partner assured me the lamb was very well cooked, incredibly juice and tender, but we were disappointed by the pronounced unspiciness of it all, after our cook made such an affair out of asking if we liked spicy, and how much we liked it, and whether he’d have to hold back and so on…only to have it be not really spicy at all. perhaps we just weren’t very convincing? or the mauritians don’t know from spice? or the verdunians have especially delicate tongues? i dunno. anyway, definitely worth a try.
more like this in due time.