[Update: You can currently find the same team at Le Réservoir, a more casual gastropub.]
Falling in love with restaurants is a heart-breaking business, one where even the most well-loved and most well-revered establishments can fall victim to unfortunate circumstances. And when it was announced recently that Hôtel Herman would be closing at the end of the month, I could feel my heart crumbling. It is one of the culinary darlings of Montreal and also one of my favorite restaurants in the city. I first ate here a few years ago, and I've popped back in whenever I could, which makes this announcement that much more devastating. The only comfort that I have is in knowing that the chef, Marc-Alexandre Mercier, is too talented for this to be the last time that I'll be able to experience his cuisine.
This dish may not look like much - in all honesty, it's not the prettiest - but it. was. everything. I even returned the following night just to eat it once more because I knew that if I didn't, I would regret it for the rest of my life. To preclude: it was the most disgustingly hot and humid weekend ever. Having never been a summer person, melting at the mere whisper of heat, by 9am each morning, there was nothing more that I wanted than a bucket of ice and another shower. By night, I felt like a hot mess, and I'm pretty sure that I looked it as well. The last thing that I wanted to think about or eat was rich, indulgent food. But as it turned out, I couldn't stop thinking about these damn potatoes the entire weekend. To this day I think about them. Tender little morsels, cooked in probably a fair amount of butter and topped with luscious sections of uni are blanketed in the most gorgeous sauce also made of potatoes. Nestled within are pieces of sea beans to give little hits of crunch and salt. It was exactly what I could want in those life moments whenever I feel sad, lonely ... winter all condensed into one plate. It was comfort embodied, and now it becomes a relic in my mind's hallway of food fantasies.
Date: August 2015
Camera: Canon 6D
Normally when I travel, it is one of my rules that I don't repeat restaurants. It's not that I wouldn't want to go back to most of the places I've eaten at - I do! - it's that when I travel, the list of restaurants I want to try is almost always already impossibly long, so if I repeated restaurants, it would become infinitely more impossible. And Montreal in particular is one of those cities where deciding where I'm going to eat always feels like a bit of a Sophie's choice. So to skirt around my rule without officially breaking it, I started a tradition of eating multiple dinners each night. (You might think that I'm crazy, but I think anyone who's been to Montreal will understand.) The main dinner is devoted to visiting a new restaurant, and for second (and maybe third) dinner, I return to some of my favorites to try a couple dishes from the new menu. One of these dinners last year was at Hôtel Herman, where we had several plates, including the two below. Although I didn't know at the time that it would be the last time I'd eat there, it was a wonderful final bow.
Me: Since you wanted more savory, do you want more of the shrimp, and I'll have more of the dessert?
My brother: Sure.
[Dessert arrives; We each take a bite.]
My brother: I hate you.
Date: June 2016
Camera: Canon 6D