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Kitchenette:

Great Potential, Not at the Top

RESTAURANT MARKET SOUTHERN GAY VILLAGE TRENDY <$60

The Pitch

I think it's time we explain how we pick a restaurant to review.  To keep it fair for everyone, we employ a random system of picking three candidates, with picking and veto rights exchanging hands between the two of us (don't try to understand).  Sometimes, we also pick places based on buzz, a recommendation, or simply because we like it.  Tonight Kitchenette came up as one of the random candidates, and since we like the restaurant's concept and its chef, we decided to review it.

The Mood

Mood image

Kitchenette is in the gay village on Rene Levesque East, well below where all the action takes place, so not many people know it exists.  You can also easily miss it with its inconspicuous entrance and signs.  The décor is simple yet modern with wood floors and a couple of lounge chairs on one side.  For a Wednesday night the place was very empty with only two other tables occupied, probably due to the nice weather and people preferring to be outdoors in the middle of summer festivities.

The Food

Kitchenette's menu is certainly very inviting: Southern inspired with French influence.  It's like they combined French finesse with Southern soul.  The menu is seasonal so it does change all the time, but they have some items that have stuck around for a while: pulled beef taco, flat iron streak, braised short ribs, and  blackened fish have become staples.  On a “green” note, chef Nick Hodge makes a point of only serving non-endangered seafood.

Maryland Style Crab Cakes with Ranch Dressing thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Starter

Starter

$12

$12

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Maryland Style Crab Cakes with Ranch Dressing

Two Broadway-style Maryland crab cakes are served on a red-white chequered napkin.  The cakes were well-executed; crispy batter with a soft, moist filling.  However, the overall dish was forgettable.  I would expect this sort of presentation (the chequered napkin) at Kitchenette's more casual sister restaurant Icehouse.

Spot Prawn Ceviche with Traditional Garnishes thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Starter

Starter

$16

$16

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Spot Prawn Ceviche with Traditional Garnishes

Served in a stumpy cocktail glass with fried tortillas on the side.  The flavours were excellent!  The combination of the onions, chilli peppers, avocado, and cilantro in the lime marinade was spot on.  And the shrimps, oh boy they were big and juicy.  They didn't skimp on those either.  Definitely worth ordering again, a hit!

Demi huitres thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Starter

Starter

$18

$18

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Demi huitres

Half a dozen oysters of two varieties; both from New York (honestly I can't remember the names).  Well, they're oysters… yes they were fresh and briny, but they came with a sort of mignonette that I didn't really care for.  Rather, I opted for a drop of their homemade Tabasco sauce.  I definitely had better oysters before, but I'm guessing it's my own preference.

Beer-Braised Short Ribs with House BBQ Sauce thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Main

Main

$25

$25

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Beer-Braised Short Ribs with House BBQ Sauce

Served on top of roasted garlic mashed potatoes and buttered haricots verts.  It seems every time I order braised short ribs these days, they are matched with mashed potatoes.  The combination just works!  This dish was simply excellent; the meat was well-cooked, juicy and tender, and the sauce added a sweet and smoky flavour.

Smoked pasta with lobster bisque thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Main

Main

$27

$27

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Smoked pasta with lobster bisque

One of the specials for the night.  The flour for the handmade pasta is toasted/smoked before it goes into the mix.  Each individual component of the dish was excellent, the pasta was nicely al dente, the lobster succulent and buttery (and there was a lot of it), and the sauce/bisque was rich and creamy.  Somehow, however, the dish just didn't come together for me.  It was good, but not great.

The Service

We always thought the service at Kitchenette could use a little improvement.  The waiting staff is definitely more French than Southern (as opposed to the aforementioned Icehouse); you don't feel the welcoming hospitality as you walk in.  We've been here a few times and on more than one occasion our waiter seemed to either be distraught or have something else on his mind.  Tonight (and I'm sure this is a rare occurrence) I had to ask for clean cutlery three times; and although the staff quickly fixed this, I would hate to think what else was not clean up to par.

tagged:  DAZED & CONFUSED

The Verdict

When we think of Montreal's trendy “market-fresh” cuisine scene, we mostly think of French-inspired restaurants.  Kitchenette comes up as a breath of fresh air in comparison, with its Southern influence.  And even though we want to try every item on the menu, our experience thus far never got to that “wow” level.  You should try it at least once, especially if you're looking for a more upscale restaurant, but for now we'll stick to the more casual Icehouse.

tagged:  PLAN B.

Price per person:  $41.33

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514eats

Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink.  We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.

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