This past week off I’ve been on a full fledged tourist foodie endeavour with AT, my Assistant Taster from out of town, who may appear (looking rather unimpressed) in some of the coming posts.

If you’re in Quebec, you’ve surely heard of a cabane a sucre, or sugar shacks, that are quite the attraction during the early cold months of the year. Briefly, it has to do with classic dishes heavily saturated with a fiendish dose of maple syrup in these cabins in the woods where the maple syrup is actively cultivated. Not something you would find in the city at least not for the full authentic experience. Of course, intrigued by any gastronomic sensation, I kept it tucked in the back of my mind but really, driving 45 minutes to some secluded place outside of the city was kinda sorta out of question. I’ll try anything once and twice to be sure but when it comes to willingly being outside in the cold? Unlikely. I don’t even know why I moved to Montreal in the first place when I find winter unbearable.

Enter, LA CABANE.

  • Urban sugar shack in Montreal’s very own Old Port.
  • 5-course set menu containing maple syrup designed by 5 different chefs.
  • 5th year running.
  • Dates: March 6 – April 20, 2014.
  • Brunch (2 courses $22) or dinner (2 or 5 courses $59) + add-on wine($29) or beer ($17) + children’s menu ($20).
  • Reservations recommended for dinner, none necessary for brunch.

Though this isn’t the true sugar shack experience, my interest was still piqued so dinner reservations for two were made for opening day.

The website stated that dinner starts at 5:30 PM and since our reservation didn’t indicate a time, we arrived as the second and third guests of LA CABANE. You’ll notice that the photos gradually get darker as the sun sets. It was quite early for dinner but our courses came out fast since it was virtually empty at the start. The website doesn’t have an English version but this isn’t a hurdle our dearest friend, Google Translate, can’t assist with. This experience feels more geared towards the francophone but the staff could speak English so it was all gravy.

“Jen, are you ready to start? Stop taking so many photos. We just got here and you’re already embarrassing me.” -AT, probably.

The maple syrup came in this cute little white pouring jar. Though every dish had a maple syrup component to it, we were told to drizzle more to our heart’s content. The two of us went through only half of it over the five courses while this man sitting alone nearby had his refilled half way through. You just do you, man.

 

Starter

Warm baguette with some sort of garlic dip.

The server explained to us the ingredients in the dip (and every other dish) but every time, without fail, it went into one ear and out the other. Oops. This starter was only a precursor to the set menu so I couldn’t even tell you from the online menu. All I know is that garlic is one of its components. If you don’t like the dip, you could opt to douse the bread in maple syrup. That’s what I learned from this experience. If you’re not too big a fan of something, pour maple syrup over it and all will be well. Maple syrup makes everything better. Well, almost.

 

Course #1

Croquettes de morue, endives en vinaigrette, pacanes sucres et salees, oli piri-piri a  l’erable.
Translation: cod nuggets, endives in vinaigrette, sweet and salty pecans, maple piri-piri aioli

The salad was really refreshing and the pecans were delicious. I think it was pear slices that topped that salad on the right.

 

Course #2

Soupe de courge fumee, bonbons de saumon a  l’erable, brioche au beurre noisette.
Translation: Smoked squash soup, maple salmon “candy” bits, brioche with hazelnut/brown butter

As I was taking photos, I see AT’s face lit up with pure ecstasy while savouring the bite he had just had. You have to try these croutons. I put down my camera to try it out and OMG! It was as if my taste buds have never tasted anything before this. We thought it was maple-infused croutons when actually it was pieces of brioche in hazelnut butter not too far a stretch since we both did add maple syrup to the soup. Squash soup is one of my favourites as it is but the added maple syrup really, really made this dish. The salmon pieces were alright albeit not as tender as I would have liked. Cue the sunset.

 

Course #3

Jambon d’agneau, mostarda d’agrumes a l’erable et legumes croquants.
Translation: Lamb ham, citrus maple mustard, crunchy vegetables.

This first main dish was not exactly memorable but it was at least, very easy on the eyes. Lamb ham is a new experience though I didn’t even know lamb ham was a thing? If I recall correctly, the server said that the dip contained some sort of mayonnaise.

 

Course #4

Cassolette de fèves, joues de porc et wieners aux carottes, érable et fromage frais
Translation: Bean casserole, pork cheeks, wieners served with carrots, maple, fromage frais.

Overall, a very salty dish. The pork was very tender. The bread crumbs added a nice texture to the casserole. It was too easy to neutralize the saltiness by lubricating(sorry) everything with maple syrup. If you’re on a date at LA CABANE, you probably should skip the beans.

 

Course #5

Sandwich glace  l’erable et financier a  l’erable.
Translation: Maple syrup ice cream sandwich and maple financier (french sponge cake with hazelnut butter and almond flour).
The ice cream sandwich in its full glory.

This experience could not have ended any better. The maple ice cream sandwich was divine. I speak three languages and I don’t even have enough words to describe it? The financier cake was great as well but unfortunately it lived in the shadows of the ice cream so it probably would have been wise to try the cake first. I don’t even need to touch upon the maple syrup popcorn. Having the ice cream sandwiched between the two crackers was very well-executed as opposed to serving just the ice cream as is. Can I take a dozen of these for the road, please?


A lot of large groups came to dine at the urban sugar shack. Unfortunately for me, I was only in the company of my Assistant Taster. I kid! The company of this one is usually more than I could handle.

Both of us agree that LA CABANE 2014 was a pleasant experience. Though we couldn’t decide which we liked better the hazelnut butter-soaked brioche pieces in the squash soup or the maple ice cream sandwich the offering of these two alone are worth the visit. I never considered myself a big fan of maple syrup before this visit. Well done, LA CABANE. You won us over.

 

LA CABANE
Les Eclusiers par Apollo
400 rue de la Commune Ouest
Montreal, Quebec,  H2Y1H2
514-285-0558 / lacabane.ca

 

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