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La Fourchette d'Or et la Cie: Cuisine Antillo-Francaise in Montreal

Posted by Amie / July 22, 2011

La Fourchette d'or Salad 1 with shrimpCuisine from the Antilles Islands in the Caribbean could mean anything from Jamaican jerk chicken to Cubano roasted pork and swiss cheese sandwiches, but French-Caribbean means something a little different, so when a new restaurant with a gorgeous terrasse opened on Parc just north of Mont-Royal I knew I was about to go find out exactly what island we were talking about here.

It turned out we were talking about the one that believes in tropical salad for lunch - avocados, pineapple, papaya, mango, plantains, corn, cucumber, and hearts of palm - along with rib-sticking red beans that come in their own single-serving ceramic pots with ground, dried cassava on the side and plenty of fish and seafood.

When most people think Caribbean food they think heavy dishes with lots of oil and meat, but La Fourchette d'Or et Cie believes that all those fresh fruit and vegetables that the tropical islands provide should make you feel lighter, which is why half their menu is devoted to salads.

That's not to say that you won't be full. The owner here really is trying to stuff you in an endearing Grandmother/Grandfatherly kind of way. Right away a small container of canned, brine-y olives is set down on the table. And even if you order the salads, the meal will start with the complimentary soup - that day's was a simple puréed unidentifiable vegetable in homemade shrimp broth. Though I wish the shrimp had been Quebec's own sweet crevettes de Matane instead of the tiny, fishy-tasting, frozen, farm-raised, antiobiotic-laden cocktail shrimp. But people eat those all the time (shrimp rings abound), but Quebec spoils us.La Fourchette d'Or Shrimp soupAt this point I'm straining a smile up at the very friendly restaurant owner/server. I want to love this homemade food he seems so proud of.

Relief came with the salad.La Fourchette d'or Salad 2A beautiful presentation of pineapple, papaya, tomato, avocado, grated cucumber, tender, moist shredded chicken, lettuce, and the best sweet and tangy freshly-fried plantains with dressing. Unfortunately the same over-cooked shrimp came with the other salad with frozen corn and canned hearts of palm. There's a reason we don't eat like this in Canada - not a whole lot of palm trees in these here parts, and it's just not the same when it's not fresh - but the colours were beautiful, and it was a light, refreshing salad that was just a little more interesting than the ubiquitous lettuce and tomato varieties with balsamic dressing. I am not a "lady who lunches"; this was a good salad. You do feel like you've stepped out of the country for a little while, and with the current heat it certainly does feel tropical around here.

I also kind of felt pressured to pour the entire small pot of dressing all over my greens and chicken as the restaurant owner watched, as though he didn't want me to waste away by eating too healthy:

"You want to be skinny all you life?" he asked. Maybe not the typical quality check you expect at a restaurant, but I do feel he had my best interests at heart...

I really didn't need all the dressing, though, as my salad came with the thick, satisfying pot of beans and ground cassava (a slightly sweet VERY filling root vegetable addition) to mix in to thicken. Did I mention the whole meal cost $6?

If for some reason this doesn't seem like enough food on its own, there's also wonder-style bread to scoop up those beans (the French influence in the Caribbean I guess), making it more like a hearty brunch than light lunch since you really won't need to eat again until the evening.La Fourchette d'Or BreadAnd there's a $15 daily special the likes of Pork Colombo or Chicken Fricassée, and Saturday's fried fish, or lamb skewers with green beans, rice, lentils, and hot sauce. Everyday options including the super affordable Creole plate ($7 for ham, blood sausage, cod, my favourite red beans, carrot, avocado, tomato, onions, peppers, and fruit). La Fourchette d'or menu 1And you can't forget happy hour, because fresh juices are where a tropical restaurant can shine. This one gives you the refreshing options, but also packs on the booze-y choices.La Fourchette d'or Drinks MenuGuava or pineapple punch for $5.50, or Quebecois Punch with gin, rhum, maple syrup and lemon for $6. Classic pinacoladas with fresh pineapple, or the special Cocktail Clémence ("c'est bon pour la morale!") with ginger juice and candied ginger, honey, rum, lime, and champagne to finish ($7). Replace the lime and ginger with mango and add gin and tonic and you've got the Marie-Ange "B". Or try alcohol-free coconut juice for $3.50 or bissap, ginger, and pineapple as the "Exotic cocktail Aminata NG" for $3.

I almost forgot! In case you get up too early to wait for lunch that's really brunch ("the elusive 'early-riser'. Identifiable by the dark black bags under the eyes and constant slagging jaw indicative of a yawn"), try the unique breakfast option of ham, cheese, fruit, chicken white (only), coffee, milk (I thought it was "cafe au lait" but it's actually just coffee and milk. Maybe a glass of milk?) and maple syrup (for the coffee? Or for the ham and cheese?). I'm thinking there's probably Wonder Bread in there too. Or try the $10 Caribbean brunch special every Sunday morning.

So, comfortable setting + sort of exotic cuisine + kind of upscale décor = good choice. There's a giant TV to watch the soccer/football, and a beautiful tropical (not tacky) terrasse for long, sun-soaked afternoons and unnaturally sticky evenings. We've already got the heat and humidity in spades, so now all you need is the papaya, pineapple and plantain salads to make you feel as though you're a whole lot further south than you really are. Think of it as a sun vacation and imagine it's January and you're saving $500.La Fourchette d'Or et la Cie - Cuisine AntillaiseLa Fourchette d'Or et la Cie
Where: 4525 avenue du Parc (north of Mont-Royal)
How Much: $8.50-$20 including tax and tip
514-507-8514

Discussion

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