April is a busy month for birthdays (I guess we know what everyone was up to during those hot weeks in August!! hmmm) and lucky for us Montreal has no shortage of great places to get out and celebrate. For one of my fellow Aries (partner in crime) we decided on a night out at the new restaurant and bar at the W Montreal. While I mourned the passing of what was there before, I was very excited to see what the hotel had come up with. None of us were disappointed.
For fellow bloggers, Vero, Vince, Caro and I, choosing a restaurant for an occasion like this isn’t as tough as you might think. While we all have different tastes (and we’ve all tried almost everything the city has to offer) we tend to get along when we have a drink or two. We’ve been very excited to sit and have a couple of cocktails at Bartizen (the new bar – I went a few weeks back for an opening and tried a few cocktails – It was fabulous) and to ask try Nom Nom Canteen, the new Asian-inspired restaurant. They’ve both been open for some time, the kinks have been worked out and the drinks and food offer something that we haven’t ever seen in the city.
We kicked the night off at Bartizen (think bar + citizen), a bar that specializes in cocktails crafted with local gin and heightened with artisanal “perfume”. The perfume, which is a spray that finishes off a cocktail by adding aura of flavour to the drink, is developed in house and used to create an olfactory experience that marries perfectly with the taste that follows.
Developed by mixologist, Michael Isted, he puts his talents and vast knowledge of plants and herbs to good use in drinks like the Boreal Fizz (an intoxicating blend of the essence of plants and trees found in local coniferous forests, the cocktail is made from spruce, Labrador, juniper, verbena and much more), the Three Sisters (a delicious cocktail that mixes spiced squash, maple and birch with allspice, burnt lime and a blend of Canadian, Irish and American whiskeys) the Holy Smoke (a truly divine cocktail that features gin, hops, carrot, fever tree tonic and an enrapturing frankincense perfume) and many, many more.
Bartizen was designed by New York based, May Redding, with the plush 40s in mind and while the transformation leaves a slight trace of what was there before, we are now invited into a sophisticated space where cocktails are shaken, stirred, perfumed and meant to be savoured.
Following a couple of cocktails, we made our way across the lobby to Nom Nom Canteen for the follow-up feast. Nom Nom had a splashy opening earlier this year with everything from sumo wresters to endless plates of food that we all sampled like there was no tomorrow. On Caro’s birthday we returned to a quieter dining room, a slightly calmer crowd (though things picked up as the night roared on) and an easy beginning to our meal. We let our waiter choose the food we would try (except for the dumplings and the fried chicken – those we needed in our lives).
The food at Nom Nom Canteen is a blend of French know-how with Asian flare and each dish, whether it be the squid ink blackened calamari, the duck dumplings, the whole roasted duck, the fried chicken or just about anything else on the menu. I recommend dropping by with a few friends and sharing four or five plates of food. The flavours are pronounced, the food is a perfect marriage of two cultures that couldn’t be more different and the restaurant offers something a little different in an area of the city desperate for diversity.
David dropped by with the gifts that we’d been holding back all night and while sipping on our last glasses of wine, Caro opened her gifts, dessert was ordered (the dessert poutine is addictive, I warn you) and in the end we all walked away happy. A night out at the W Montreal is always spectacular. With Nom Nom and Bartizen things feel a little more grown-up but that doesn’t mean growing up isn’t fun, birthdays remind us all of that.
Stay tuned for more.
Image credit for Bartizen: Patricia Brochu