Thursday, July 21, 2011

Une Soirée Culturelle

In my last post I raved about the city of Montreal being a mecca of great food and diverse culture. I figured it would be a good idea to shed a little light on one of many summer evenings you can enjoy in Montreal that incorporate the two.
In the summer, you can enjoy free evening performances at the famous Theatre de Verdure, an outdoor theatre located in Parc LaFontaine.  On Wednesday, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, a very small but very well-known dance company in Montreal, was in the spotlight.  After a slight logistical error (on my part...) we realised that we had come two hours a place like this however, this is not an issue.

Dinner reservations set for after the show were cancelled and replaced by a spotted (literally) whole in the wall Japanese/French restaurant, Toroli.
Once inside, our 'botched' evening became an evening of culture, both alimentary and artistic. As you can tell from the outside, Toroli is a tiny little place, on the inside, you feel as though you have walked right into someone's kitchen.  There is one waitress/hostess and one chef - that's it.
We decided to order a few of their appetizers, correctly labeled 'entrees', which means 'entering'. (Everywhere else, main dishes are called 'entrees' which is completely wrong). My friend got the miso soup and I got their seaweed salad - pictured above.  Two very standard dishes managed to become delightful surprises made with utmost attention to colour, contrast and flavour, compliments of Chef Takashi Sakurai.  My seaweed salad came loaded with different kinds of sea weeds, very fresh vegetables and a delicious balsamique vinaigrette. The miso soup was also far superior to anything I have yet seen.
Another hit was their salmon and scallop tartare, served over a bed of grapefruit salsa and topped with jelly and caviar. It was a revelation in a martini glass.
The appetizer of the day ( only the freshest in-season ingredients) was a seafood salad with salmon, white fish, tuna and squid over a bed of many colours and topped with raspberries.
My dish was a BBQ eel crepe topped with spicy tuna and caviar. I chose this dish because it seemed to be the epidomy of French and Japanese fusion...a rendition of sushi, without the rice and seaweed but with all the attitude! I thoroughly enjoyed both the appeal, the look and the taste of this work.
Although I was quite satisfied already, we decided to try out one more item, called the 'Jewels of the Sea'.  By the description; a fried rice cake topped with house fried fish and tuna, it sounded like an upscale sushi pizza.  These little guys did not disappoint, they came four to an order and once popped in your mouth, can be described as....well...orgasmic really.
With such satiated bellies, our minds were in need of some attention so off we trotted back to Theatre de Verdure where we were comforted to see all the other people who had gotten the time right filling the theatre. (This theatre has a capacity of 2500 spectators). We proceeded to spend the rest of the evening cultivating our minds and spirits as our bellies quite were quite content to sit and digest a delightfully fresh and innovative meal. Chef Takashi Sakurai is a master and an artist...I have a feeling my friend will be frequenting this place many times to come!


  1. I have amazingly never been to Montreal (though have been to smaller Canadian cities like Halifax and Kingston several times... shrug). Your posts are making me seriously consider a road trip. Have fun up there.

  2. Rachel; That was outstanding! I felt as if I was right there with you feasting my eyes on the most decorative dishes and tasting along side of you as your descriptions teared at my stomach as my tounge was drowning in my mouth. I loved it all.
    Wish I was there with you, Patti<3

  3. A road trip to MTL is an absolute must, you should do so at your earliest convenience:)

  4. And thank you Patti! I wish you were here too:) You should come over to Boston, your tummy will be very happy!