Summerlicious 2014 – Merlot

Tried out this west end French restaurant for Summerlicious.  I’m not sure why, but when I walked into Merlot, I had a flashback of visiting La Petite France the year previous and was immediately worried. 
https://sweetspellbaking.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/winterlicious-2013-la-petite-france/

Just like La Petite France, the walls were decorated with French art posters to go along with a French bistro feel. But that is where the resemblances end. IMG_8535

Merlot was warm and welcoming.  Our server was genuine, efficient and friendly.  One of our friends was running late, but our server made sure we had drinks and bread and checked in with us periodically to make sure we were ok. IMG_8529 IMG_8531

When our last friend arrived, the server gave us more time to look over the menu.  No rushing here and the place was filling up nicely.

Their dinner menu:

Chef Daily Soup
or
Moules ‘Saint Tropez’
Fresh steamed mussels in a light broth of white wine, tomato, garlic, onion, parsley and herbs
or
Salad ‘Au Roquefort’
Arugula, beets, cherry tomatoes, Roquefort cheese and lemon dressing


Fresh Pickerel
Pink peppercorn and cream sauce, served with blended rice and vegetables
or
Onglet ‘Bordelaise’
Grilled tender hanger steak with a red wine, shallot, herbs, parsley and butter sauce, served with vegetables and frites
or
Paillard of Chicken ‘ Basquaise’
Grilled free range chicken breast, white wine, tomatoes, onion, garlic parsley and black olive, served with fries and vegetables
or
Tortellini
Cheese filled pasta in a light cream sauce with fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, herbs and spices


Coupe Bistro
Poached pear in red wine, served on vanilla ice-cream
or
Daily Fresh Fruit Flan
With crème anglaise, fruit coulis & whipped cream
or
Chocolate Mousse

It was an automatic that for the first course I was going with Salad ‘Au Roquefort’.  Every ingredient in this salad is one I adore.  Even beets! Yes, beets!  So sweet paired against the Roquefort blue cheese, oy, I was in heaven! I could have eaten two plates.

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When I order from these menus, I try to pick an item I know I rarely eat or would be less likely to make myself.  I definitely would not be making a pickerel dish, and that is why I selected it for my 2nd course.  Pickerel is a freshwater fish, a smaller version of pike generally found in north-east US and eastern Canada.  The peppercorn cream sauce was well-flavoured and I really enjoyed the sweet vegetable puree.

IMG_8536 IMG_8537

And for dessert, of course the one involving ice cream.  Vanilla ice cream is always safe.  A little slice of wine poached pear for some texture. IMG_8540

After walking by Merlot numerous times over the course of a couple of years, I am so happy that I finally made my way inside to try their food.  The atmosphere was relaxed and calm and the staff, great.  I found the food nicely prepared and tasty.  Simple recipes are sometimes the best.  =)

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