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Friday, July 25, 2014

Chez Sophie

I rarely start my review with a bold statement unless I truly mean it: Chez Sophie is one of the best brunches that I ever had. I accidentally found out about this place when we were heading towards Le Boucan and took their business card when we passed by it. Only 1 month and a half since its opening, the reviews are all still positive. What grabs my attention is the journey of the Montreal-born Lebanese chef Sophie who had work in several 3-Michelin starred restaurants in France and Italy before moving back here to open her own restaurant. The menu reflects her culinary journey serving classic French-Italian food with a refined touch.

Before the meal starts, we were offered bread, butter, honey and fleur de sel. As you can see from the picture below a lot of the efforts are put into the choice of plates and utensils to fit with each item to make them visually appealing. It made us talking at the table like the composition of the spoon, the country of origin of the cute butter knife, etc... It is probably a first for me to have honey on bread, with a sprinkle of fleur de sel to give a momentary burst of honey and buttery flavour.

We had the brunch de Sophie, the chef's signature dish which consists of a smooth and silky mashed potatoes, parmesan emulsion, a rich flavourful beef jus, sautéed mushrooms and spinach topped with a crispy soft-boiled egg and paper-thin bacon. Looks simple, but a lot of cooking techniques are used in assembling this dish. For example, the perfection of the crispy soft-boiled egg is quite technical. One has to boil the egg until the yolk is gooey, deshell without damaging the egg whites, coat it with crumbs, deep fried at the right temperature until crisp brown while the yolk remains gooey. Also, I rarely get excited about bacon, but when you hear a crack with the slightest touch on this paper-thin bacon, it is quite magical.

More than half of my friends ordered the Nordic brunch. Who doesn't want seafood for breakfast?  It consists of fresh Nordic shrimp, briny-flavoured gravlax, cocktail sauce, deviled eggs, and a carefully-chosen perfectly-riped avocado. The buttery and smooth taste of avocado blended well together with the shrimp and gravlax. This dish is simply heavenly.

Finally, the brunch Anglais consists of two sunny side up eggs, roasted potatoes, chipolata and cassoulet. Having cassoulet in the menu is quite unusual for breakfast, but it does have all the components of a country breakfast - beans, ham and sausage. They are just put together in a different way. Quite a creative idea! The cassoulet is smokey and salty. My Frenchman friend approved that it is a 100% certified authentic cassoulet. I think it would be appropriate to call it a Brunch Français since the sausage and cassoulet are originally from France.

In all, my friends say it is the best brunch they ever had. I had high expectations coming into this restaurant considering that the chef has worked in high calibre restaurants, and my expectations were met. The mastering of her cooking techniques were well translated into her dishes, lots of play on textures and packed with flavours. What are you waiting for? Go to Chez Sophie!

Brunch de Sophie - Crispy Egg, Paper-thin Bacon, Sautéed Mushrooms and Spinach, Parmesan Emulsion and Beef Jus 
Bread, Butter, Honey and Fleur de Sel
Brunch Nordique - Mimosa Egg, Shrimp, Avocado, Cocktail Sauce, Smoked Salmon 
Brunch Anglais - Fried Egg, Chipolata, Roasted Potatoes and Cassoulet
Chez Sophie
1974 rue Notre-Dame O.
Montreal, QC
H3J 1M8
438-380-2365
http://www.chezsophiemontreal.com/
Chez Sophie Montreal on Urbanspoon

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