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Coolest Kid in the Neighborhood


Disclaimer: This meal was comped.

The Pitch

A few years ago, as part of my review of the now-defunct Ludger, I mused over the rise of the buvette gourmande.  These establishments blur the lines between a watering hole and a restaurant by serving top-rate food in a bar setting.  As much as I lament the loss of this Saint-Henri gem, another candidate carried on its flame in the same Sud-Ouest neighborhood.  Loc entered the scene in 2015, and I have been a happy customer since.

Sadly, this hotspot would succumb during the pandemic among countless nightlife venues.  Luckily for us though, the Saintwoods duo fronted by fashion/party kids Zach Macklovitch and Nathan Gannage also behind Apt. 200, SuWu, cole Prive, Name's on the Way, a clothing line and vodka bottle would save Loc and add it to their collection.  With the cold settling in, the owners summoned a group of influencers to sample the newly-introduced winter menu.

tagged:  MEDIA EVENT

The Mood

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Occupying a historic building which once housed a bank then a post office, Loc is situated on the quieter edge of Saint-Henri, a few blocks west of Notre-Dame Street's restaurant-dense stretch.  The minimal labeling outside combined with the elevated windows which do not grant passers-by a peek inside add to the bar's incognito status.

Which is not to say it's not popular.  If anything, think of Loc as a best-kept secret among the city's Anglo "in" crowd.  Inside, the layout was preserved while some updates have been introduced to the bar, tables, banquettes and walls.

tagged:  ANGLO CROWD

The Food

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On the plate, the new principals kept things in line with Loc's mantra.  Vegetarian and animal-based dishes count many crowd pleasers and come in sharing format.  The seasonal menu is still recherch while remaining accessible.  On the safe side, you have pastas, salads and a cheeseburger which easily makes the city's top ten list.  A perfectly-executed version of a classic burger featuring a thick, juicy patty in a brioche bun, this alone is worthy of a visit here.

Otherwise, some innovation is shown with hollowed-out, roasted delicata squash rings coated in gastrique and topped with sage leaves and goat cheese.  Not everything works though; squash/bacon croquettes were a tad oily and a romaine/radicchio salad needed more zip from its dressing.  As we were licking our fingers from a very satisfying meal, our waiter served us with another winner in the form of a fluffy carrot cake topped with frosting and crunchy corn flakes; a pleasure to bite into.

Croquettes thumbnail (click to enlarge)
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"squash, bacon, gentleman's sauce"

Squash Delicata thumbnail (click to enlarge)
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Squash Delicata

"gastrique, sage, goat cheese"

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Tuna Crudo

"kohlrabi, verjus, aleppo pepper"

Salad thumbnail (click to enlarge)
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"romaine, radicchio, provolone"

Cavatelli thumbnail (click to enlarge)
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"sausage, fennel, rapini"

Chitarra thumbnail (click to enlarge)
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"oyster, shiitake, grana padano"

Cheeseburger thumbnail (click to enlarge)
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"fries, mayo, brioche"

Carrot Cake thumbnail (click to enlarge)
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Carrot Cake

"with corn flakes"

The Verdict

As much as the goal behind being a (wannabe) food critic is the sharing of one's likes and dislikes, at times I cannot fight the selfish urge of keeping a hidden gem under wraps.  Although beloved by those in the know, Loc had yet to gain the mass exposure it deserves.  With its new splashy owners and tonight's influencer push, that is all about to change.

On top of the solid food covered above, you can expect strong cocktail and wine programs, in addition to DJs on weekends and special events such as "meet the winemakers" which took place last Sunday.  For all of these reasons, I have placed this stellar gastropub on my "faves" list.  Now, I don't know who Loc was named after, but he must be one cool cat!

tagged:  SOLID

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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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