Urban Sugar Shack – Chef à L’érable

by Jason

We are finally at that time of the year when the spring thaw releases the cold clutch of old man winter’s grip over the city and when we welcome the warm weather by abusing our pancreases into producing more insulin for the litres of maple syrup we ingest. Like clock work, hungry hoards of people rush to make their cabane à sucre reservations to indulge in a Quebecois tradition of jumping in their car, driving 45 mins outside the city, see some animals and fall into a catatonic, sugar induced baked bean and bacon lust coma. Classic sugar shacks are common, but uncommon are the ones located right in the city, especially the ones that offer a unique contemporary spin of this timely maple season tradition.

I was invited to the media tasting and soft launch of the “Un Chef à l’érable” event featuring Chef Laurent Godbout. Located at the Scena space in the Old Port, Chef Godbout offers locals and visitors alike to enjoy in a cabane à sucre envisioned with a modern menu in an equally chick space amongst the heritage that shrouds the area amongst the historical buildings and museums of Old Montreal.

ChefErable-9The multi course, multi service meal started with a pea soup with maple crème fraîche, grilled bacon and homemade soda cracker. The smokiness of the bacon carried through the soup which was slightly sweet and made velvety by the fresh cream.

ChefErableHomemade creton with ham and foie gras.

ChefErable-2Iceberg salad, poached eggs with maple syrup vinaigrette topped with oreilles de crisse (fried pork rinds… not actually “Jesus ears”.) I personally like iceberg lettuce, but the way this dish was served was a bit awkward to eat – we needed a knife to cut the long strips of lettuce that made the salad a bit awkward to serve and to eat. The poached egg did however taste amazing on a slice of bread spackled with the foie gras cretton.

ChefErable-3Boudin noir with crispy kale, shaved dried duck confit on top of a white bean purée. The sausage was seared nicely and went well with the creamy purée that was highlighted with the salty hits of the duck brought the entire dish together.

ChefErable-4Roasted pork cheeks with roasted cauliflower and brussel sprouts served with a squash and potato tartiflette with cheddar. The pork was tender and complimented the sharpness of the cheese. Incredibly hearty dish with the roasted vegetables and bacon in the tartiflette.

ChefErable-7_zpsc95b7147Gourmet tourtière à la Laurent Godbout topped with sautéed mushrooms in a pepper and congnac sauce. This classic cabane à sucre staple was elevated with the mushrooms in its boozy sauce. Nice flakey and butter pastry dough held in the meat which I ate with a spoonful of the table-top fruit “ketchup” and generous drizzle of maple syrup. The compote was nice, but sometimes tourtiére needs real ketchup… and by “sometimes”, I mean “all the time”.

ChefErable-5Hay braised ham with maple jus. The infused aromatic earthiness of the ham was delicate and was complimented by the sweetness of the maple jus.

ChefErable-2-2The dessert course featured maple bacon s’mores with homemade marshmallows and sugar pie cones with raspberries.

ChefErable-8Maple taffy on shaved “milk snow”.

ChefErable-7Doughnuts with maple cream.

ChefErable-6Churros in chocolate sauce.

Chef à l’érable par Laurent Godbout premieres this weekend starting on the 14th and runs until mid April offering three dinner services on Fridays and Saturdays, and three lunch services on Saturday and Sunday. This unique and contemporary twist on the traditional Quebecois cabane à sucre is a great way to enjoy refined classic sugar shack dishes in a modern urban atmosphere… without the roaming livestock and the food-coma drive home.

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