Urban Sugar Shack – Cabane à Sucre Chef à l’érable

Chef a l'erable 2015

March 12, 2015

in Food, Old Montreal / Old Port, Reviews

We’ve had two consecutive days of above zero temperatures and this literal HEATWAVE has finally help release the clutch Montreal has had on Old Man Winter’s nutsack to remind us what sunny skies and warmer forecasts are all about. We Montrealers take this opportunity to shed our winter weight by putting our systems into high gear and burning calories by throwing our pancreases into overdrive by producing litres of insulin to parallel the bucket loads of maple syrup we ingest during this Cabane à sucre season. When cabin fever takes hold through the winter months, it’s nice to take in some fresh air and participate in a classic Quebecois tradition of inebriating ourselves on sugar shack classics as a family then falling into a catatonic, sugar induced, maple baked bean and pea meal back bacon lust coma.

However, not everyone has the opportunity to day a day-trip out side of the city, but luckily in recent years, the cabane à sucres have been coming to the city! I was invited to get a sneak peak at this year’s Chef à l’erable cabane à sucre headed by Chez L’epicier‘s world renown chef Larent Godbout – who for the second year in a row represented Canada at the prestigious world culinary competition, The Bocuse d’Or which was held in Lyon. I got to experience the five-course brunch where Chef Godbout offered a unique contemporary spin of this timely maple season tradition.

The first course was a potato and ham chowder, pickled mustard seeds and maple, garnished with olive oil and chives. I’m not a big fan of soup – unless there’s noodles in it, but this chowder was hearty and reminiscent of stew. Large chunks of potato and leaks swimming in a creamy broth highlighted by a large piece of salty ham that balanced the flavours of the bowl.

Second course – Maple wood smoked trout cones filled with chipped cream cheese and topped with lime zest.

Oreilles de crises with sucre à la creme and parsley. Fantastic thin curls of salty pork rinds dusted with bits of maple fudge.

Homemade maple ham sausage pogos with maple mustard sauce.

Kale and frisee salad, marcona almonds, apples, raisins with a maple-buttermilk vinaigrette. The salad was a refreshing; a great combination of tart apples with bitter greens and sweet raisons and almonds – really cleansed the palate for what was to come.

Third course – Coq au vin pot pie. Briased chicken in red wine with mushrooms, root vegetables, lardons packed into a shattering pie crust served with braising liquid.

A cabbage torte stuffed with bacon, mushrooms, and a tart and briny ravigote sauce made with maple vinegar.

Sliced boudin, topped with a poached egg, tomato, maple sponge toffee béarnaise sauce. One of my favourites, despite being a bit awkward to eat; sliced black pudding isn’t the optimal vessel to soak up runny egg yolk. I wanted to ask for bread, but I didn’t think they’d have any, and I was shunned for even suggesting it by my tablemates.

Maple braised beef macreuse – shoulder – and herbs served au jus garnished with oreilles de criss and parsley. The beef was fall-apart tender and the pork rinds added nice crunch to each bite, but the meat itself was a bit stingy for me. Deep in flavour, I just couldn’t get over the inherent texture of a braised cut of lean beef.

Mashed potatoes with ham gravy, cheese curds, vegetable crumble and parsley oil. Really enjoyable, the potatoes were whipped and the cheese curds were nice squeaky surprises.

The fourth and final course – the course of all courses – dessert! It started with a giant puff-pastry, diced caramelized apples, maple whipped cream and warm caramel sauce.

Orange flavoured Jell-O shots, citrus and maple liqueur.

Baked Alaska – maple ice cream wrapped in a folded crepe topped with charred whipped cream.

Pineapple “poutine”, caramel sauce and fleur de sel.

Everyone’s favourite and now classic Chef Godbout signature maple taffy on iced milk. A great spin on the traditional maple taffy on snow, the iced milk gives each spoonful a slight creaminess.

The Chef à l’erable cabane à sucre is definitely not your traditional variety, there are no pony rides or live animals for the children. However, there is an animator dressed up as a coureur de bois to entertain the children and annoy the adults. The meal was well paced, starting from the lighter smaller bites that crescendoed into the heavier dishes and finally the piece de resistance, a glimpse into what diabetes would be like if you ate like this on the regular.

The Chef à l’érable runs every weekend from March 6th to April 12th, for dinner services on Friday and Saturday at 7pm, and Brunch on Sundays starting at 1pm. It’s $60 per person which does not include tax or gratuity and reservations are mandatory.

For more information and reservations check out:

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