On several occasions, the Divas have tried to dine at Le Bremner, Chuck Hughes’ second Montreal restaurant. However, for various reasons, we always had to cancel. But this time, it was Diva #1’s birthday and nothing was going to ruin these plans!
Located on Saint Paul East, the entrance is lighted by a soft red light which leads down the stairs to an easily missed door without a sign. Vegan Vixen was already sitting at our table, drink in hand, when the Divas and Sweet Pea arrived. Dimly lit, wooden tables, 80’s era chandeliers above the booths and sea-faring décor, Le Bremner creates a cozy atmosphere.
Our waitress quickly greeted us and told us about the drink specials that Vegan Vixen was already happily indulging in, a vodka and in-house tonic flavoured with grapefruit. The Divas and Sweet Pea all ordered a gin and tonic and the consensus was clear, homemade tonic water really does make a difference.
Everything on the menu looked good and a Divas’ meal is never complete without oysters and how could we not start Diva #1s birthday dinner without them? We ordered a dozen oysters which were served with fresh horseradish, half a lemon and two vinaigrettes: the traditional red wine vinegar/shallot and a white balsamic and cucumber option. The oysters were delicious and the white balsamic vinaigrette was extremely fresh and complimented the salty oysters perfectly. Why don’t more restaurants have this vinaigrette, it was amazing!
Our waitress told us about the specials for the night. One special, the lamb’s heart, made the Divas’ own hearts skip a beat! Vegan Vixen looked horrified at the elation in our eyes at the mention of eating heart but we paid her no attention as we’ve already broken her and she knew she’d be sampling some.
This appetizer was served with spinach and julienned celery root which added a nice crunch. The hearts were sliced thin, cooked rare and were very tender and didn’t have the usual taste of offal. The ladies were impressed!
Next up we had Bremner’s famous crab cakes and kimchi. Our waitress made sure to add a fourth since we were four because the dish usually has three portions. The crab cakes were on top of deep fried rice cakes which held a pile of crab and kimchi on top. The cake was not soggy or greasy and there was just enough spice to the cabbage to make it fabulous; it was definitely worth ordering.
Our last appetizer was the smoked trout. A nice alternative to the familiar salmon, the trout was served with crème fraiche and two small pieces of toasted bread. The trout was silky and fresh and very good. The bacon was not overpowering at all, almost to the point of irrelevant unless you got one of the crumbled bits. Served on an avocado spread, this smoked trout was an original combination of flavours.
Our appetizers done and another round of drinks ordered, we were ready for our main meals. We opted to have three and simply share them. Everything was so rich and divine that the Divas were getting full.
Upon our waitress’ recommendation we ordered the lobster pizza. We’re already familiar with Chuck Hughes’ famous lobster poutine so any dish boasting lobster as their main ingredient had to be a safe bet, especially since Le Bremner is known for its seafood. And this dish was definitely delicious. Served on a crispy focaccia, the lobster pieces were large and plentiful and the egg, cooked sous-vide style, added an extra layer of richness and creaminess after it was broken on the pizza.
The pork belly and mushrooms was next. A large portion, it was served alongside dandelion greens and brown “tourné” mushrooms. The pork had a sweetness to it and a deep rich flavour, though tough at times. The dandelions were a nice change to the usual greens but we wished there were more mushrooms.
Our third main dish was the hake and clams, recommended by our waitress who said that if she could, she would drink the dashi with a straw! She was spot on. The dashi broth was very flavourful, intense and salty. The hake sat on crisp brussel sprouts which were cooked perfectly, unlike the bland and grey attempts we remember from our childhood. The hake was meaty and flaky and had a bit of spice to it and the clams were very plump and tasty, though there were only two.
Surprisingly (or maybe not), we had room for dessert. Unfortunately, they had no more of their vanilla pancakes, which everyone raves about, but we were not distressed, there were many options to choose from.
The homemade donuts were served hot and covered in powdered sugar. They were ever so light. The lime glaze was served on the side in a squeeze bottle so we could control how much we wanted. It was so good, to the point where Diva #2 and Vegan Vixen were pouring it on their spoons and eating it alone!
Dessert number two was the chocolate pot de crème. If you like chocolate and peanut butter, this is definitely something to order. The portion was large and served in a parfait type glass instead of the typical small jar we usually see. It was velvety, rich and not as heavy as you would expect but definitely something worth sharing. If that wasn’t enough, between rich bites you tasted a touch of fleur de sel, *sigh* heavenly.
Overall, the Divas were happy to have finally eaten at Le Bremner and celebrate Diva #1’s day of birth. The service was great, Maude was fabulous and very attentive (our waitress recognized us from our previous trip to Garde Manger), the atmosphere was cool and the food delicious. There were a number of menu items the Divas had their eye, including the braised veal cheeks and octopus, for next time. If you’re looking for a place that knows what to do with seafood, check out Le Bremner. The Divas will definitely be back!
Our Rating: Splendid
Tagged: 361 Saint Paul, Braised veal cheeks, Chuck Hughes, Crab Cakes, Danny Smiles, Fish, Garde Manger, H2Y 1H2, hake and clams, homemade donuts, homemade tonic, kimchee, lamb hearts, Le Bremner, Le Bremner Danny Smiles, Le Bremner Montreal, Le Bremner Old Montreal, Lobster pizza, Montreal, Montreal Restaurant, Octopus, offal, Old Montreal, Old Port, oysters, pancakes, Pork Belly, pot de crème, Reservations Needed, Saint-Paul, Scallops, Seafood, smoked trout, Snowcrab, Splendid