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Sunday, September 15, 2013

EN CACHETTE SPEAKEASY - COCKTAIL LOUNGE

Mouthwatering Montreal Montreal restaurants

  EN CACHETTE SPEAKEASY - 

GREAT DRINKS AND A BURGER TO KILL FOR

Their webpage (not as yet finished):  http://www.encachette.ca/final/
1765 St Denis St, Montreal, QC H2X 3K4    Telephone:  (514) 419-1986

Price Range:  ~$20-30 per person including one drink, meal, tax, and tip


En Cachette Speakeasy on Urbanspoon



On the approach...

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Past the sign, and on the way down into the speakeasy...
And the burger to KILL for!

Speakeasies have come a pretty long way. Historically, this was a type of bar that illegally sold alcohol during Prohibition. No matter  how many speakeasies were raided by cops, these bars were simply too profitable for their owners to shut down. So, what does this say about human nature? Basically, nothing is going to stop us from having our fun :). Okay. Pseudo-sociologically-valid commentary is now out of my system.

Speakeasies are now (obviously) perfectly legal, and are now fairly synonymous with retro-style, swanky places. And that's pretty much what we have with the En Cachette Speakeasy on St-Denis Street:  Swanky bar, swanky food, and swanky drinks. Now, I have to say, En Cachette is pretty accurately named - it is VERY well hidden. The first time I went was to meet up with ten people, and we ALL walked past the place by accident. But, as we discovered, En Cachette is well worth finding! They have interesting, flavorful drinks and even more flavorful food.


Let's start with the drinks. First up, we have their apparently most popular cocktail, the Hendrick's Cucumber Cooler ($12). It's made from a combination of Hendrick's gin, sugar, cucumber, mint leaves, and lemon juice:


I'd never thought to add cucumber to a drink...

It was a pretty sparkly drink, with the flavors subtly mixing together. Altogether, it was mildly minty, mildly bitter, and mildly tart. Also, it was quite refreshing!


This is their Blue Velvet ($9). This is a cocktail of vodka, pineapple juice, midora (what is that?), and curacao blue (what is this?) (yeah, I take stuff into my body without really knowing what it may be sometimes. Probably not the best of ideas...):

Basically, this drink tasted like liquid candy. Very, very, VERY alcoholic candy (you WILL taste the vodka!). I'd have it again!


Here's a pitcher of sangria (I think it cost $17 - sorry, too much to keep track of that day):



It was STRONG, both in flavor and in alcohol. Most sangrias (that aren't homemade) don't have such strong hints of alcohol to them, but at En Cachette, the sangria both tasted and felt good and powerful.

And finally, by comparison, their Sangrita ($9). The sangrita is made of tequila, lime juice, tomato juice, tabasco, and orange juice. The drink is served with the tequila on the side - you pour it in yourself:



Hands down, this is my favorite drink here. Normally I don't like savory alcoholic beverages, but this drink is a serious exception to my own rules of personal taste. It reminds me of gazpacho and salsa (the sauce, not the dance), but it's still very obviously a beverage and not a sauce/soup. Interestingly enough, the tequila changes the flavor of the cocktail (and obviously for the better). Basically, without the tequila, the drink's lime accents shine through much more strongly than the other flavors (although they are clearly still there), and with the tequila, it becomes a more... harmonized (if that's the word) blend. Both tastes are worth experiencing, and so I had the drink essentially half with the shot, and half without (you'll see this tasting strategy again soon in the review, I assure you).


All interesting drinks, although for my money, I will be ordering the Sangrita more often than not. I will DEFINITELY be ordering food too. Their food is pretty damn awesome. Apparently it's planned and prepared by someone named Mama Christina and Chef Laurence Duchesne (according to publicity materials). The food is, nominally, typical pub fare. Except it's anything but typical. You guys all know about the concept of evil twins? Well, the pub food at En Cachette would be the GOOD twin to the usual pub fare. In keeping with the swankiness factor, all of the food offerings are higher-end or at least higher-quality versions of pub staples. I'm-a-gonna list these staples from least interestingly-modified to most interestingly upgraded. And so, we have olives:
Nothing unusual at all. Just good, salty olives with pits. They went well with the Sangrita!

Then we have "honey onion rings" - basically onion rings very lightly drizzled with a light honey ($7):
It's a honey of an "O", honey-nut Cheerios! ... Whoops, wrong honey-accented, O-shaped food jingle!
The onion rings were very, very crunchy, and had good amounts of salt to them. The honey complemented the saltiness VERY well, and I have to wonder why more people haven't put honey on their onion rings. I know I'll be doing that from now on...

Now we start getting to the more interesting stuff. Their wings ($8):


The staff, always friendly, were willing to REALLY spice these wings  up when we asked. The ones we got were not quite burn-your-tongue-off levels of firey, but they had a very solid kick. The texture of the wings were a very happy surprise. The meat tasted...fresher than other places somehow. My guess (and it is only a guess) is that the wings were marinated (or at least had a spiced rub applied) but NOT frozen, since the meat's texture was almost springy (in a good way). Basically, it felt like a solid bite of meat as opposed to other pub wings that kinda just disintegrate in your mouth without you applying too much in the way of chewing effort (due to being frozen first). Also, the sauce was decidedly more paste-like than in other places - it was nice and caked on, and really added to the taste experience.

And finally, we have my personal favorite here, the En Cachette burger ($10) (this preference could change - there are one or two other items that I haven't tried yet, and those untried things could displace this dish. Not likely given how much I like the En Cachette burger, but possible). It was positively splendid!


You want this. And if you're vegetarian, you WILL turn carnivore due to this burger!*
*This claim may or may not be false. Results may vary.
Oh my GODS this thing was gooooooood. Whereas with the wings and onion rings were merely mildly upgraded versions of the usual fare, the Cachette burger was more of a burger ascendant. Just check out this list of ingredients that make up the burger: Kaiser bun, white cheddar cheese, beef patty, bacon, onion, WHISKEY JAM (I don't know how they made it, I only know it's good), homemade Mama Sauce, romaine lettuce, tomato, white onion, parsley and a huge goddamn battered, deep fried Russian pickle. Here's a look inside:


I'm going to guess that the brown jelly would be the whiskey jam.


Oh man. The battered, deep-fried pickle. What. A. REVELATION.

The patty itself didn't set the burger apart; it was the sauces and that pickle (it's the thing that looks like a fish finger). The sauces tasted good and smoky (I assume that'd be the whiskey in the sauce talking), and and the deep-fried pickle? It. Was. HEAVENLY. At first glance I thought that they'd put in a fish finger in my burger, only to find out they'd put in something BETTER. I'd never had battered, deep-fried pickles before eating this burger, but you better believe I'll be seeking those out now. The batter of the pickle was thick and crunchy and flavored, and it meshed really well with the briny saltiness of the huge pickle slice on the inside. The deep-fried Russian pickle is good enough to be its own dish! And as such, the inclusion of the pickle in the burger made for an interesting taste dilemma. It really changed the flavor of the burger when it's topping the burger. You take out the pickle, and the smokiness and onion-y hints of the sauces and other toppings shine through considerably more. That left me with an interesting eating strategy:  I ate half the burger with the pickle in, and half the burger with it out (I suppose, in my younger years, I'd have just ordered two burgers and been done with it :P). Either which way, this is a burger to KILL for, my friends! Which brings me to just one bit of slightly disappointing food - the fries. They aren't bad, but next to this burger... it's kinda like being the followup act to the Beatles - you're going to be overshadowed...

Phew! What else is there to say about this place? Oh, right - they have various DJs over the week, and after a certain hour, the place goes from relaxing and loungey to a dance-heavy place. It gets pretty crowded when that happens, since En Cachette really isn't that big. Finally, one more thing:  Watch the steps. Oh my goodness, I've never nearly fallen so many times in one night. The steps to get in are deceptively steep, and that last step on the way down is very easy to miss. Inside the speakeasy, several parts of the floor are deceptively raised, especially en route to the bathroom. Do be careful!

And that's that - time to go hunt for more deep-fried pickles!


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Mouthwatering Montreal - En Cachette Speakeasy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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