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Pop it Up and Throw it Down: From Supper Parties for Chili Pepper-Lovers to Montreal's Best Peruvian Restaurants

Posted by Amie / April 24, 2012

Hit and run pop-up restaurant in Montreal 2 questions: Why aren't pop-up supper clubs the thing to do in Montreal? And why aren't there more upscale Peruvian and Mexican places in Montreal? Yeah, ceviche is everywhere, but most of the cooks dicing up tuna tartar can't even pronounce "aji amarillo" ("ah-HEE ah-mah-REE-yo". There. Consider your life bettered). But this Saturday night you can head to Hit & Run Resto's $100 8-course dinner. Don't have the money? Me neither. So for everyone else I need your recommendations on the best Peruvian restaurants in the city to throwdown. Read on for the dinner party menu, throw down options, and to leave a comment.

When you've got so many great restaurants in Montreal already, do you really need food-crazy locals stalking twitter for the next big, one-time-only event held in some quasi-secret location for those quick enough to grab tickets? Matt 'Mad Dog' McKean says yes. And his chefy friends Joanna Notkin, Georges Tremblay, Danny Notkin and Joe Smith agree. This Saturday, they're stuffing 72 people into Caffe Mariani in St-Henri for a Central/South American/Japanese/French feast.

Sound a little too fusion-y? It's not. McKean blames his California upbringing, 5 years as a chef in Costa Rica and travels in Central and South America. Think "Sexy Mexi," he says.

Here's my play-by-play on the menu:

Meyer Lemon Margarita with kaffir lime leaf, cazadores, grand marnier, meyer lemon juice, and Himalayan pink salt

Comments: Strong opener. The margarita name makes you think Mexican but kaffir lime leaf seems Thai/South-east asian, meyer lemon is a California thing, and the Himalayan pink salt is thrown in to kick the whole thing up the gourmet scale. The salt is supposed to be better for you than table salt or kosher salt or even Maldon salt, because of its high mineral content. There's booze involved, though, so you probably won't care.

Wellfleet and Kumamoto oysters with jalapeno mignonette

The oyster course seems a bit strange but it's the California influence kicking in, and the jalapeno in the mignonette tie it in with the rest of the chili-heavy meal. If you don't like heat skip the mignonette...but also skip this meal. This is for the true believers.

Mache Salad with Serrano-Avocado Vinaigrette, ferme Basque crispy confit duckleg and Iberico cheese

Little bit of Spain, little bit of France, tiny bit of Mexico via serrano chili pepper and avocado. Duck confit with even more fat, though? And with chili pepper? The French would disapprove. Let them. The duck's in there, says McKean, because it's popular in Chiapas, Oaxaca and Sonora cuisine (taco de pato). Not the confit version, but McKean thinks, "That's where the "sexy" comes in!!" Litres of duck fat oozing...not everyone's interpretation of sexy. Maybe that's why I'm single...

CausaCrab Claw and Matane Shrimp Causa

Yes! Yes! Finally, gourmet causa in Montreal! The layered amarillo chili-studded mashed potato salad with mayo-coated local sustainable seafood is the best thing I've heard of in awhile. Two enthusiastic thumbs up. God willing, it'll live up to its potential. Let it be known, I did (half of) it first. McKean learned the dish from a Peruvian chef. It's easy comfort food. If you don't happen to grow aji amarillo in your backyard like I do (you can't buy the fresh chilies in the city) you can buy it in purée form at specialty grocers.

Halibut and Lobster Ceviche with aji amarillo and organic crispy yams

That beautiful yellow chili pepper is back to spice up the ceviche. Shoot the leche de tigre (tiger's milk) at the end, after eating the lime and chili-marinated seafood. That's the salty, spicy liquid at the bottom of the dish. It's supposed to give you a ton of energy and be an aphrodisiac. Basically the best caffeine-free Red Bull of Rockstar shot around.

Mango Sorbet with Mezcal

This is not dessert. This is a palate cleanser. Boozy ice. No worms. Probably.

Organic Charlevoix Braised Pork Belly Tacos with micro-cilantro, spicy crema and salsa pasilla

Good thing you just had that mango sorbet. After everything that came before this will knock you down with a one-two (fat-chili) punch.

Maple-smoked Grass-fed Bison Short Rib from Alberta with black trumpet and chanterelle mushrooms, guajillo chili sauce, creamed rainbow chard and saffron-sunchoke purée

So many questions! Why even mention that the bison is from Alberta? No one wants to hear it isn't local. I think most of the $100 ticket price goes into this dish. Those mushrooms aren't cheap! Probably the Alberta bison was cheaper than the stuff you can get at my favourite place at Jean-Talon market. Is the creamed rainbow chard creamed into the Jerusalem artichoke (aka sunchoke) purée, or is it its own creamed wonder? Because that chard, no matter how rainbow, is going to turn the purée an attractive shade of green, like the grass fed to those bison way out yonder on the great Albertan plains of not Quebec.

Mexican Vanilla Cheesecake-filled Doughnuts with apple crumble

Is the crumble on top of the donuts? Or is it a full serving of crumble on the side, like donut à la mode but without the ice cream? Ice cream is so overdone in desserts anyway, right? Maybe it's more so apple crumble à la mode where the donut replaces the ice cream? No, they would have written apple crumble first, then. Can you "plate" a donut?

Apparently my questions didn't make the "frequently asked questions" sheet for the event.

For the answers, you'll have to pay the $100 and attend the probably fabulous dinner on Saturday. Besides the mescal in the sorbet and the booze in the margarita, you can make your alcohol purchases, should you choose to do so, from the selections at Caffé Mariani.

What: Hit & Run Resto Pop-up Dinner
Where: Caffe Mariani, 4450 Notre-Dame West
When: Saturday, April 28, 8pm
How Much: $100

peruvian-cuisine-hit-and-run-pop-up-restaurantIf your pocketbook is a little less full, there's pop-up dinner darling, Cookies Unite, happening on Monday, May 7th at Nouveau Palais. $30 for creations from Toronto pop-up pros, Ellen Shrybman and Daniel Hadida.


And of the Peruvian restaurants in Montreal, I want to know which ones you want to see thrown down. The only ones I know are:

Villa Wellington
Augusto al Gusto
Le Coin Urbain
Eche Pa Echarle
El Jibaro

Upscale Peruvian/French combos:


And there are a few others listed here that I nothing about. Do they exist?

Dizzy after all that popping up and throwing down? Me too. Hungry? Me too.

Photo credits: from the Hit & Run website and my own from Tant'a Restaurant and the gastronomy museum in Lima, Peru.



Russ Cooper / April 24, 2012 at 01:32 pm
If you speak Japanese (or, shit, even if you don't), check out their little promo vid:
Jane / April 25, 2012 at 07:26 pm
I find it odd that you are reviewing a dinner that you never tasted. Half the restaurants in this city charge you $100 before you walk in the door so it doesn't seem that put there to me... Unless you're practice is to dine in the under $10 category...
Mina / April 26, 2012 at 01:47 pm
You should try Sol Y Mar. Excellent peruvian food
Amie / April 28, 2012 at 12:48 pm
Thanks, Mina. Some Peruvians mentioned that place to me too, and I guess I overlooked it. Definite contender.
matt / May 2, 2012 at 06:13 pm
MEZCLA!! a new peruvian restaurant on champlain near st.catherine in the village--- AMAZING;)
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Best Peruvian Restaurants” was a great blog, cannot wait to go through far more
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