We recall a time when nightlife spots were easily categorized into buckets; you went to bars to drink, restaurants to eat and clubs to party. Back in our twenties, we would hit all three in one night, in that order! Today these demarcation lines are blurrier, owing to several bars and clubs – e.g. Brasserie Harricana and Soubois – serving food that would give good restaurants a run for their money.
With this in mind, tonight we sought out both a drink and a bite at Ludger in Saint-Henri. Having previously dropped in for oysters and libations only, it was high time we delve deeper into this self-described buvette gourmande's food proposition. Be sure to reserve if you plan a weekend outing here, as we had to snatch a rare table in what turned out to be a very busy night.
tagged: BETTER RESERVE
Ludger's corner location allows for ample window space, helping offset the feeling of confinement brought about by the narrow but elongated space. The young Friday night crowd – part laid-back, part chic – kept pouring into this buzzing neighborhood hangout flooded with upbeat electronic tunes, all ready to get their weekend in gear.
tagged: GROOVY TUNES
The focused menu won't have you flipping through pages in search of something to order. Beers are (mostly) local while cocktails are complex yet whimsical. As for chow, the chalkboard menu has been replaced by a printed version consisting of shareable snacks, starters and mains showcasing in-house and local ingredients. Everything is plated on appealing vintage dishware and boy is the quality there for what you're paying; this food is too good for a bar.
"Legendario Elixir de Cuba, house-made ginger syrup, lime, soda". We normally make this highball cocktail with spiced rum, but the in-house ginger syrup provided a strong enough kick.
"spicy mayo". These fried cornmeal battonêts were heavenly. With their creamy interior and delicately-crispy exterior, you won't even notice the absence of french fries on the menu.
"mint, asian pear, yuzu dressing". A refreshing menu option that we added purely to work in some greens. Sharp flavors worked against sweet pear, which added some crunch that the lettuce was lacking.
"mustard seed, caramelized onion puree, parmesan, poached egg". The umami was there from those meaty ‘shrooms and the $3 homemade bread pictured above provided a vehicle to soak up the runny egg.
"wild mushrooms, green peas, pepper raclette". There was a nice play with textures in this pasta dish coming from the crunchy peas and squishy mushrooms, but the raclette flavor didn't appeal to us.
"swiss chard, chimichurri, ratte potatoes, QC cinnamon cap mushrooms, crushed cashews". Perfectly cooked and seasoned meat was surrounded by an enchanted forest of marvels; simply wow!
"cream cheese". A flawlessly fluffy and moist cake was topped with decadent cream cheese serving as icing; this was impossible to finish, even when split among the two of us.
When it comes to bars, we normally look for a lively ambiance, well-thought-out drinks and friendly service, all of which Ludger has under its belt. Throw in the top-notch grub we were served and we're instantly hooked, adding this watering hole to our current crush list. With the one-two punch of outstanding eat and drink facets, Ludger has clearly raised the bar on bar food.
Price per person: $36.50
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.