I made it one of my 2013 best bets here, so my soft spot for turquish mezze bistro BarBounya is no secret. When the invitation came to try their new brunch on the house, with a +2 for my men graciously provided, I could not resist…
Located on trendy Laurier in Outremont, BarBounya charms you from the get-go. A beautiful space with an eclectic décor, it draws local foodies around communal counters of solid wood: I usually feel like an ungainly turkey perched on high whenever I climb on a stool to eat (my grandmother would say it’s gonna rain), but here I feel comfortable. Go understand.
Maybe it’s because I’m getting used to it since this was the fourth time this year I’ve eaten at BarBounya. I discovered it at one of the media launches, came back for a journalist association Chrismas dinner and dragged my family there last summer (they loved it so much it took no convincing to wake them up early on a Sunday morning for our guest brunch). BarBounya even holds the record for the restaurant I most frequented this past year.
I also must confess that I have a thing for the cuisine of chef Fisun Ercan, celebrated for her Su Restaurant in Verdun. I even cooked a past New Year eve dinner from her first cookbook as described here. It was quite the hit.
On the menu
The brunch menu continues the evening table d’hôte’s bias towards freshness and discovery with its fresh herbs, pomegranate arils and plain yoghurt in every guise. You may go for mains alone or start with a shared brunch platter at a cost of $25 which includes:
• kaymak and honey;
• tomato and cucumber salad with ricotta or feta;
• nuts and dried fruit;
• homemade nutella and jams;
• and warm bread.
Shown in the upper right, the kaymak was a discovery for me. Now I just need to know where I can buy it in town.
Right off the bat, I swooned over the kaymak, a buffalo milk cream that resembles cheese. Since Monsieur had dived into the salad and kiddo was immersed in his Nutella, I asked at large if anyone wanted to try the kaymak. Silence reigned, with everyone concentrating on their end of the platter. I took advantage to swallow the whole. It was soft and delicate smothered on bread. While not partial to honey, I enjoyed it thoroughly. A great way to start.
For the entrée, Monsieur ordered borek, a meat pie made with pine nuts, pistachios and raisins. Kiddo asked for the brioche with tahini and chocolate. I was famished and chose heavy-hitting chicken livers, duck gizzards and poached eggs in yoghurt sauce.
Brioche bread smothered in dark chocolate and tahini with pomegranate arils and fresh herbs. The perfect choice for your favourite chocoholic.
Borek, a flaky savoury pastry stuffed with three different meats, pine nuts and raisins. Think meat pie a la Middle-East.
Chicken livers and duck gizzards with poached eggs and yoghurt. This offal fan was in heaven.
All was scrumptious but kiddo, like so many youngsters, didn’t appreciate dark chocolate… After he stole my eggs, I was able to order two more even though single poached eggs are not on the menu. One of these days, I swear, chicken will come after this boy for eggy genocide.
Although I was only able to grab one bite of my poached eggs, the liquid yolk pouring over the offal to mix with the sauce belonged in the “take a mental note” category, it was that good. Peeking at the next party’s plates, I spied some lamb sausages served with chickpea, tomato and poached eggs that looked positively delicious.
In all, the menu offers 7 main dishes to choose from, a limited but distinctive choice far removed from the copy-paste menu of so many breakfast joints. Everything we tried was fresh, tasty, somewhat unfamiliar and satisfying at the same time. Although BarBounya only started serving brunch a few weeks back, the place was almost full when we visited.
Maybe because of the newness of the hour and formula, the only damper was the service, smiling but slow to get going. The latte took an eternity to arrive and was lukewarm. The party next to once was passed over and had to ask for menus multiple times. Once everyone’s choice was made, though, everything settled into a comfortable pace. Passed the growing pains, let’s bet the staff will find the cruise control button.
BarBounya adds to the city’s impressive brunch offer and will please adventurous food lovers who think beyond egg-and-toast. With any luck, after such a convincing brunch maybe I’ll finally be able to drag my reluctant-to-try-anything-new men to the chef’s Su Restaurant, on one of those balmy Montreal nights when a simple dinner can last forever and forever. You gotta love this food town.
Where? When? How much?
Where: 234 Laurier Avenue West, Montreal, H2T 2N8
When: Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm
How much: The Su platter is $25; plan $14 per person for mains