Old Montreal: Back at the Sugar Shack



Last year, chef Laurent Godbout moved into the Scena building in Montreal’s Old Port and took over resident chef duty during the 2-month sugar shack event. At the media event showcasing the menu, journalists, bloggers and VIP were blown away by the menu, so it’s no surprise that chef Godbout is back for more in 2015. I enjoyed my experience so much that I accepted the invitation to try the new Chef à l’érable menu, kiddo in tow.

I love the Scena dining room, sunny and airy in the daytime, somewhat mysterious at night. Add a moose head, hang some Gold Rush-era laundry and a few kerosine-style lanterns; plant a large ice counter right smack in the middle of the communal tables; and you’ve got yourself an instant if not traditional sugar shack.



The menu also plays the classic vs. modern card, not suprisingly since chef Godbout — who represented Canada at the latest Bocuse d’Or — is renowned for his inventiveness. Oreilles de crisse, or smoked pork crisps, are sprinkled with maple sugar. Poached eggs perched atop creamy blood pudding substitute for souffléed omelet. And tire sur la neige, or maple sugar taffy, is poured on frozen milk instead of the traditional shaved ice.



My favourite dish was the first one out of the gate: the Potato Chowder with shredded ham and maple-pickled mustard seeds was a crowd pleaser. Not shown, the mashed potato with ham juice, parsley oil and cheese curds also blew everyone away. Power to the spuds, I guess. © Savitri Bastiani


Maplewood smoked trout cones were typical Godbout at play, showcasing unexpected presentation.


Another favourite, the poached egg on creamy blood pudding, smothered in béarnaise. Tomato provided acidity and balance. The menu announced sponge toffee but, since everyone shares from a central dish, somehow none made it to my plate.


The coq au vin-style meat pie featured the kind of deeply crisp crust I like and a generous topping of saucy mushroom. My neighbours, partaking of a different pie, complained of too much cinnamon, not me.


Coincidentally, we had watched the French movie Les saveurs du palais the night before, so I looked forward to the cabbage stuffed with bacon and mushroom on the menu (but announced by the waiters as a filling of chicken confit in duck fat). Spectacular looking, yet the least convincing dish for me.


At $60 a head before tax and service, the menu is somewhat pricey compared to good ole out-of-town sugar shack. (I’m told the Cabane à sucre Chez Jean, which set up digs inside the Jean Doré Beach Chalet, offers a great traditional-style menu and spectacular views for those in search of more classic fare.) But Scena’s Chef à l’érable menu definitely strays into more uncharted, gourmet territory well worth the visit. Since I don’t have reservations for this year’s Cabane Pied de Cochon, I arrived bent on delighting in the food. And did.



The huge puff pastry was stuffed with caramelized apple, maple whipped cream and pistachio. Not shown, the “pineapple poutine” of fresh fry-cut pineapple, cheesecake curds and salted caramel sauce was the other big winner of the afternoon.


Info: Cabane Scena – Chef à l’érable
From March 6 to April 12
Price: $60/guest (tax & service not included)

Opening Hours
Fridays & Saturdays: 7 pm service
Sundays: 1 pm service

Photos: I’ll admit, I’m no kid Kodak and would rather enjoy the food then run around for pix. Thanks to Scena and photographer Savitri Bastiani for many of the beauty shots above. All bad photographs are mine (or kiddo’s) as usual.


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