Recently, one of our foodie dreams was realized with our first blogger meetup with TriniGourmet, Belly In Hand, Bring it to the Table and Learning Patience. Thanks to the efforts of the always effervescent Corey from Learning Patience, CHAUD CAFE WINE & BAR graciously hosted our food blogger luncheon, which pleasantly melted into dinner as we tasted, sipped and chatted for hours.
Our meal started strong with adorable cups of Cioppino – a classic Italian stew of shrimp, octopus, mussels and fish in a flavourful tomato broth. The presentation of this dish reminded us that Chaud Cafe truly understands that people take the first bite with their eyes.
As salad lovers, we were thrilled by the next offering, Salad Nicoise, which at Chaud Cafe is a pretty powerhouse salad!
Lightly dressed mixed greens comprised the base of the salad and then came the tomatoes, bell peppers in three colours, crisp snow peas, olives, a boiled egg halved, potatoes, anchovies, and for us the piece de resistance - strips of perfectly seared pepper-crusted tuna steak. We’re coming back for this salad!
The next dish from the Chaud Cafe kitchen was the Smoked Salmon Mimosa, which our cheat sheet described as sieved eggs, red onion, cucumbers, capers, scallions (green onion), mascarpone (cheese), and baby spinach on a slice of marbled pumpernickel bread.
Continuing with the things on toast theme, the hearty Warm Mushroom Ragout on Toast came out. Anything with mushrooms (provided that the mushrooms are fresh) is a must-try. The mushrooms and spinach were cooked down to an almost stew-like consistency and then plated on toast and topped with a sliver of Manchego cheese. Three words – intense but lovely.
Soon after Chaud Cafe’s Grouper Po’ Boy arrived and totally did New Orleans justice with a po’ boy constructed from crispy fried fish served on a baguette slathered with a Creole remoulade. The po’ boy was dressed with the requisite lettuce, tomatoes and housemade pickles, along with coleslaw, which added a nice texture and flavour boost. A quick word about the pickles, they were so crunchy and on point that we wish that the restaurant sold them by the bottle (hint, hint)!
Although everyone in foodie land sings the praises of pork belly, we just can’t seem to get excited about it. So, when the Portuguese Garlic Pork Belly came out we chickened out and didn’t sample what was probably Chaud Cafe’s tasty local take on very popular dish.
We did try the Roasted Bone Marrow, another wonder of the culinary world. We went brave, sampling it with the accompanying parsley-red onion salad on toast and can report that it tasted like a very rich, meaty butter. Interesting flavours and texture, perhaps there will be a next time for Roasted Bone Marrow.
The next dish was the Salmon Crudo, which was actually a substitute for the non-pork eaters and the “chickens” at the table. It was happy substitute though – wedges of salmon alternated with orange slices, topped with shaved fennel & apples and crispy capers. We liked the sushi-grade salmon and orange combination, but the toppings, oh the toppings. Not only were the shaved fennel & apples and the fried capers absolutely divine, they also provided a nice counterbalance of texture and flavour to the salmon’s inherent fattiness.
Chaud Cafe’s signature French Fries with Arugula Mayo and the Grilled Vegetable Cous Cous Salad also made their way to the table at some point during the meal and were immediately sampled. We’ve enjoyed both of these dishes on previous visits. The cafe’s French Fries deserve their hallowed reputation and for us the Arugula Mayo just puts them over the top! (No ketchup needed here.)
Dessert time! We were totally primed for dessert by the time the Warm Apple Crumble w/Brown Butter-Pecan Ice Cream and the Flourless Chocolate Cake w/Sour Cream Sherbert made their entrance. With these desserts, we ended the meal on a high note just as we started.
Many thanks to Alison and the staff at Chaud Cafe & Wine Bar for hosting us!