There’s no question that I am one lucky son-of-a-gun; I get to play guitar and scream at people for a living (and they enjoy it), and my favorite hobby is eating the best food I can find everywhere on Earth.
I am very fortunately able to investigate and chow down on some of the top bites on the globe, and if speaking in terms of: “what’s the best thing I’ve ever eaten in North America?” I can finally quickly and confidently answer that in one restaurant name: Le Bremner.
Le Bremner is owned by chef Chuck Hughes, a badass chef who has multiple T.V. shows, several cookbooks, two wonderful restaurants (Le Bremner, Garde Manger), and has catered what I consider to be the best damn catering of any festival in music: Heavy MTL. I first met Chuck when we played Heavy MTL for the second time; we all were talking about how amazing it was the first time, and I wanted to merely thank the chef. When I was introduced to Chuck, I realized that this was the same Chuck whose show I watch all the time when I’m home. Chuck was a super cool dude; we chatted a bit, he checked out the show, we traded contacts, then we were off to another city.It wouldn’t be until a little over a year later when Trivium returned to Montreal; Chuck was in another city working, but he had his chef Danny and his crew at Le Bremner welcome us into their home.
Le Bremner is a beautiful little spot, tucked away down a flight of stairs off the noisey main street; It mildly reminds you of a nautical theme – almost sea-side castle-basement; open and inviting while retaining it’s coziness. Playing cool music, with a hip and friendly staff – Le Bremner is very inviting. The easter egg of interior decor is the air conditioner. The A.C., decked out in stickers, is a nod to the rock n’ roll/ punk rock vibe that several of the dudes here come from – it made me feel at home, a link of sorts that shows the music and food worlds convergence.
Danny greeted us and asked if we’d want to try several things of his choice: Hell. Yes.
At the table tonight was Joey B (our tour manager, front of house engineer, production manager, and one of my Jiu-Jitsu partners), Corey and Paolo. We started with oysters and lobster in a freakin’ snare drum that contained some of the most marvelous oysters I’ve had on this continent, served with Chuck’s own hot sauce. Next, we tucked into snow crab kimchi that was just perfect – both main components majorly complimented each other.
Already – we could see the creativity in the kitchen the chefs like to riff on.
For my beverage of choice: house-made ginger beer (fantastic). We were greeted next by tuna and tahini sashimi (a pairing I wouldn’t have ever guessed that would go as well as this did, it almost generates a peanut flavor the way the two pair), into a scallop crudo chamoy aioli. Both of these dishes were Japanese sashimi quality fish, riffed upon with new school French Canadian master-mind gastro-tricks of simply pairing ingredients other wouldn’t have thought to pair. Just look at the tuna and tahini: Japanese-style prepared fish utilizing a Middle Eastern component, finished with French technique? Whew…
The moment when everything I knew about food was turned upside down? The shrimp and cornbread, and the hot lobster sandwich with a 63 degree egg. The cornbread was sweet and exactly as cornbread should be in texture, with this delicious shrimp sauce on top; it played off flavors of sweet, salty, savory, shrimpy (in a great way); it was like eating dinner and desert at the same time. Everyone at the table was flipping out on this one. The lobster sandwich did this in a similar way as well, playing off of sweet and savory, but taken to new heights. The gravy was rich and deep, bursting with a warm, reduced flavoring; the lobster and bread had a hint of sweetness that makes your brain able to enjoy the full spectrum of taste in one dish.
The spicy tomato salad and romano looks as simple as can be, but is brimming with flavor, the dressing and cheese take two simple vegetables to such great heights. Out came a fried quail bucket with house-made ranch, and by this point each of us just looked at each other and laughed at how good this meal kept getting. Want the best fried chicken you’ve ever had? Get Le Bremner’s fried quail bucket. Mixed wax beans, almonds, lardons, and a fried egg came out next; yet another thing I haven’t personally had as a combo, especially a fried egg on wax beans. It sure as heck makes vegetables way more fun. The flavor combos while read French, it took me to flavors of Chinese and perhaps Malaysian.
The finale’ was lamb neck, mascarpone and mint agnolotti; house-made, naturally. Godly! I mean c’mon, what can’t you do Le Bremner? Beautiful pasta made as good as Italy, herbs and spices and cheese that created a holy trinity on a plate. Hot damn…
Afterwords, we wanted to thank the kitchen staff for treating us so incredibly. The talent of these men and women working out of the kitchen in Le Bremner is staggering. Montreal is a place I’ve always considered to be a food capitol of North America, and after tonight, Montreal is king of food in North America.
We outfitted some of the staff with some Trivium gear and said our farewells, then were handed some of their house-made deserts (just take a guess how those were). The Montreal crowd that night was the best crowd of the entire 69-show North American headlining tour.
A massive merci beaucoup to Chuck, Danny, the entire staff of Le Bremner, and all things French Canadian.