This is the seventh post in the Montreal Jazz Festival Weekend series. Other posts include New Series! Montreal Jazz Festival Weekend, L'Express Montreal, A Tour of Montreal Bakeries and Bagel Shops, Lawrence, Market Jean-Talon and Mont Royal, and Patati Patata.
I'm all about enjoying the food that's famous for a particular region. If I'm in Japan, I most certainly will seek out the best sushi, ramen, and other local fare. When I was in Southeast Asia, I focused more on street food, the hawker stalls in Singapore, the Muslim Indian restaurants in Malaysia, and streetside noodles stalls in Thailand (still the best noodles I've ever had).
So when I arrived in Montreal, of course I had to do the same. I sought out Montreal's famous bagels, smoked meat, and poutine. I realized Montreal was most known for restaurants that focused on ultra-rich dishes, likes dishes that make liberal use of foie gras in all sorts of crazy ways.
Though it was fun to experience all of these Montreal specialties, I was feeling pretty icky by the third day of our trip. All that fat - from the carb-heavy bagels and gravy-laden French fries to the copious amounts of meat - was making me a bit tired of rich foods.
Our last dinner in Montreal turned out to be one of my favorite meals of the entire trip. Hotel Herman is located in Montreal's Mile End neighborhood and first opened in the summer of 2012. It focuses on seasonal, produce-driven dishes.
The entire menu consists of creative small plates (my favorite kind!), and showcases them beautifully. The menu is not huge, and thus our table of four was able to experience a bulk of the dishes, which was great fun.
We started with the Bisque ($13 CAD), a barely creamy lobster bisque served with fresh red scallions. I liked how the soup was not too heavy in terms of cream, but still had a gorgeously fragrant and deep seafood flavor plus generous chunks of lobster.
The Chilled Sweet Onion Soup ($10) was phenomenal and artfully poured table side. The soup itself was chilled, made with eel, fresh cream, and sweet onion. Inside, there were tiny bits of caviar, which gave a salty pop to the bite. I loved the sweet creamy flavors.
Cucumber ($8 CAD) was a salad of thinly shaved cucumber slices mixed with thicker chunks of sous vide cucumber mixed with salt and Sheep's milk. The sous vide cucumber had less water and thus was just a bit more dense than the fresh cucumber slices, introducing an interesting interplay of slightly different textures. There was also yogurt and chamomile plus a nice addition of salt. Overall I loved the bright and fresh flavors of this salad.
The next dish was Asparagus cooked in a Louis d'or butter and cheese sauce and tons of morel mushrooms! Louis d'or is an award-winning washed rind raw milk cheese from Quebec. The dish stayed true to the flavors of the ingredients, and the strong asparagus flavor came out, standing up well to the earthy morel mushrooms.
One of my favorite dishes was the Yellowfin Tuna ($14 CAD), raw slices of yellowfin sashimi served with a wild onion purée (which was reminiscent of mild wasabi) and fresh Thai basil leaves. I loved this dish, which borrowed ideas from Japanese cuisine but took full advantage of local Canadian ingredients as well as the chef's creativity.
Razor Clams ($16 CAD) consisted of a cold razor clam salad tossed with chives in light mayo sauce and topped with thinly sliced radish. The clams were sweet, and the fresh, lightly peppery, radish added a nice balance to the creamier clam salad.
Venison was gorgeously seared on the outside, rare on inside. The dish came with white beans, pickled celeriac, and a creamy, tart celeriac purée.
The Lamb was the favorite of the table. The meat was pan-seared to perfection in brown butter, with an ultra thin charred exterior yet a very soft and flavorful rare center. The lamb flavor was pronounced and overall the meat was fantastic. The dish came with both raw and cooked white turnips, which were delicious.
Choux ($9) is a great dessert to get especially if you are dining with a few people. It consists of varying sizes of cream puffs (or choux creme) with different fun fillings, like porcini, caramel, and browned butter.
These were fantastic, and perfect for a table to share.
All in all, I really loved Hotel Herman. There was not a dish I did not like, and overall, I really enjoyed everything I ate there. Chef-owner Marc-Alexandre Mercier is doing an excellent job. It's quite clear that he cares a lot about showcasing the inherent flavors of the ingredients. He and his team are executing every dish at a very high level and really exploring interesting flavor combination.
Prices are reasonable, the space is elegant yet cozy, and the service is great. We had a wonderful time and I would not hesitate to come back.
All Montreal Posts
All Canada Posts
New Series! Montreal Jazz Festival Weekend
L'Express Montreal (French bistro)
A Tour of Montreal Bakeries and Bagel Shops
Patati Patata (poutine)