My sleuthing strategy of engaging folks who work in restaurants in conversation about the food they serve – and often about stuff they don’t – has led to some great discoveries.
While staying at a resort in Barbados some years ago, I quizzed statuesque and smiling grill chef Heather about that country’s national dish: puddin’ ‘n’ souse. Impressed that I knew about this unusual salad made from weird and wonderful parts of the pig’s head, she told me to meet her the following morning at the resort’s entrance. An hour or so later, we were on the other side of the island at a place called Neville’s chowing down on the famed Bajan porcine delicacy at this eatery-cum-pig farm frequented only by locals.
At Kingston’s Pilot House, the tip we gleaned from waitress Kristi was not as exotic but no less of a find. Hearing that we were leaving the next day for Montreal’s jazz fest, she insisted we go to Pullman: a newish spot already known to cognoscenti located in the heart of that city’s downtown where she recommended the green bean salad and charcuterie plate.
Wow, this second-floor, edgily and sparsely decorated but comfortable spot – note the amazing chandelier made of wine glasses hanging in the foyer – is a now a must-visit for me. It’s a wine bar specializing in small plates of superb food.
Deep-fried calamari are impeccably crisp and come with a yummy aioli for dipping. The charcuterie is a dainty mix of salami, chorizo, duck breast and venison sausage. That green been salad is composed of tiny, perfect haricots doused in truffle oil and sprinkled with chopped almonds. Mini-bison burgers are a must. And a delicious dessert of figs soaked in red wine on a wonderfully soft graham crust comes crowned with a swirl of creamy mascarpone cheese
I guess the Pullman name is a reference to the famous train carriage which is reflected in the look of its cozy yet industrial design complete with booths. A perfect spot to nibble and sip while you chat (the noise level is refreshingly soothing with some lovely music in the background). More proof that quality not quantity matters when breaking bread.
Pullman, 3424 Park Ave. (at Sherbrooke), 514-288-7779.