Finding fantastic restaurants in Montreal is not a difficult task. Quebec has a rich culinary history, and when combined with the melting pot of different cultures found in this city, amazing things happen. However, what I do find difficult is locating higher level cuisine that has higher level beer to accompany it. Don’t get me wrong, you can find great food offerings at many of the brew pubs and beer bars around town, but I’m referring to places that offer more Haute Cuisine. I don’t know why exactly, but in Quebec more than Ontario and the States, the macro beer producers seem to have bullied their way into most restaurants. In my experience, the beer choices are reminiscent of monopolized soft drink selections; all Coke, or all Pepsi. Instead, it’s Labatt products or Molson products, along with their subsequent import accompaniments (Heineken, Corona, Guiness, etc…). Or they might carry all McAulsan products or all Boreale Products, which is sort of better I guess. However, I say why not have the choice to order from an array of options, or something on the smaller scale, or something a little more elaborate that can perfectly match the beautifully crafted meal you are about to ingest? Let me tell you, although that “blond” you ordered might go well enough with most things, there is nothing quite like pairing a decadent, house made chocolate brownie with a rich, coffee infused imperial stout from Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! (Which I’ll get to shortly).
My good friend Mr.Phatman (phatmanpheasts.com) and I have been wanting to do a Blog collaboration – or “Blaboration” as I like to call it – for some time now. That’s him on the right. What a sexy specimen. We weren’t sure how to go about doing this Blaboration, and finally just settled on keeping it simple. We would have an evening of beer and food pairings, and then each write our own blog posts – Mr. Phatman would concentrate more on foodie things, while my focus would be leaning towards the Beer side. He writes about twenty seven blog posts a day, so he clearly beat me to the punch. I think he just locks himself in a small room, narrating his entries aloud to hyper intelligent apes, as they type feverishly to please him. Please see his post here (but finish mine first!).
Matt, another good friend of mine, owns a restaurant in the Monkland village called Prohibition Montreal. It offers up fantastic modern rustic cuisine, with some international and southern influence. Previously known as Vino, its name was later changed to something more fitting after they arbitrarily lost their liquor license due to some bureaucratic red tape. Not to fear, though! They reacquired it a while back, and are now fully stocked with plenty of beer, wine, and booze. Instead of serving up the typical beer selections, Matt decided to sell beer from Brasserie Dieu du Ciel(!) exclusively. If you are not already aware, Dieu du Ciel is arguably one of, if not the best brewery in Quebec, and perhaps even Canada (13th best brewery in the world in 2013 according to ratebeer.com). I’ve written several articles on their offerings; feel free to check them out here.
I wanted to meet up with the Phatman for a few drinks before dinner, and because I’m a bit of a lame beer geek, I told him we should buy some crazy bottles and brown bag it in the park – you can’t get good beer in any old bar! I could see him rolling his eyes at me through our text conversation, but he agreed nonetheless. I ran to my local beer shop and grabbed two sexy bottles. The first was Dulcis Succubus from Le Trou du Diable, and the second was Saison Pinnacle from Brasserie Dunham. It was really great timing to randomly see these two award winning beers on the shelf, as they sell out quick. Both are of the Saison style, but treated quite differently. Dulcis is a bit of a wild beer, and having been aged in white wine barrels for a long period of time, it takes on earthy and funky flavors, mixed with a tart and zesty backdrop. Pinnacle is somewhere in between a Saison and an IPA, showcasing beautiful fruitiness from the yeast and hop combo, which balances against a tremendously bitter finish.
As the Phatman and I romantically sipped these sexy beers from mason jars while sitting on a park bench like wannabe hipsters, we soon realized that we were late, so we quickly ran to the restaurant (and by ran, I mean we walked slowly). We got a sweet spot on the terrace and got to drinking and eating. For my appetizer, I ordered the Salmon Tartare, and as my main I decided to be gluttonous and got the fried chicken with fried challah bread and a watermelon salad…yes! (If you want to see their whole menu, you can click here). Beerwise, I started with Dieu du Ciel’s Dernière Volonté, a Belgian IPA. This citrus forward beer paired nicely with the subtle flavours of the raw salmon, adding a nuanced complexity to the dish, while the capers allowed the spicy yeast profile of the beer to blow up, creating a good balance of both subtle and bold flavours all around. This was a solid tartar, which in my opinion was enhanced by the aggressive yet refined layers of this beer. The Phatman started with their cheese filled corn fritters, which was certainly the winner between the two starters. If you go, you have to order them – incredibly delicious!
After ordering the fried chicken and fried challah bread dish, I was a bit worried about what beer to have with it. Generally with richer foods, I tend to go for bigger beers; this time, however, I decided on Blanche du Paradis, a Belgian Witbier. I thought it would match the flavors of the dish and the lively carbonation might cut through the fat. And it worked! Brilliantly, I might add! This modern take on fried chicken and waffles is really a “breakfast for dinner” type of meal. The batter clearly had a bit of cinnamon in it, which matched the clove/cinnamon Belgian yeast properties in the beer to a T. There was also this incredible watermelon salad served alongside, with mint and red onion, which added such a nice freshness to the meal. That, combined with the effervescence of the beer, made this fried, maple syrup covered dish feel much lighter than it was. Mr. Phatman had the blackened fish atop a bed of bitter rapini. To go alongside, he ordered Pénombre, a Black IPA that he drank with great delight. I had a taste of his dish as well, and it was fantastic!
When we first arrived, Matt came over to tell me that their order of Péché Mortel (a sexy-ass coffee infused Imperial Stout) was damaged in the delivery. I fell to my knees in a fit of crying rage, but when he came back shortly after with news that they just received more, I pulled myself together. With that in mind, I ordered the brownie for dessert, as it would pair beautifully with this rich, dark, coffee infused beer. I actually don’t remember what other craziness was going on in and around that brownie, but I do remember it being wonderfully crafted; it was dense, but creamy, with a great sweet to salty ratio, which I love in my deserts. The brownie really helped make the coffee flavors explode in the beer, and the beer helped mellow the sugars of the dish nicely. The Phatman ordered bread putting, which if not for the beer pairing, would have been my first choice. I stole a spoonful – it was heavenly.
Stuffed with food and beer, the Phatman and I stumbled towards our respective homes, where we sat rubbing our tummies in delight. If not only for the Dieu du Ciel selection and the endless beer pairing possibilities, you should really go and experience the great food, atmosphere, and all around awesome down to earth service that defines Prohibition Montreal. And now, having finished my article, you can read Phatman Pheasts version of the evening, likely filled with lies about me.
An Article by Noah Forrest