Some call it a bakery, as all their bread is baked fresh in-house, while others call it a cafe, but whatever you want to call it, the food can easily make Olive & Gourmando a morning or weekend ritual in Montreal’s picturesque Old Port neighborhood.
There is normally a decent line that sometimes extends outside, and once you make it in, you’ll probably glance towards your left where they offer a large variety of their products including spicy nuts, homemade granola, jams and tea.
Stepping further inside, it sort of gives you the feeling of a cafe in the French Riviera, minus the gorgeous view of the Mediterranean. The Rembrandt red walls and old wooden tables add to the funky decor in this lively atmosphere.
They have an interesting ordering process; the hostess directs you to your seat, and then you order from a counter. Their offerings are all written on a wall above your head. You have a choice of cold sandwiches or hot paninis, and their ingredients are listed. Some of the combinations are very unique, like the smoked trout sandwich which has herbed cream cheese and sun-dried tomatoes and most people rave about it. They also do a daily soup along with daily plates, and have several breakfast items as well.
As I went to place my order, I caught a display of mushrooms and root vegetables that was truly intriguing because they had a mushroom mac and cheese. Being a huge mushroom fan, I had to order it. There’s four cheeses and among them are Havarti and Provolone melted and fused together over several types of mushrooms, caramelized onions and some truffle tapenade. Tapenade is a spread consisting of mushrooms, black olives, truffles, capers, anchovies, and extra virgin olive oil. Say no more. It came out in a skillet sitting on a wooden cutting board served with salad that had a honey mustard dressing and some grated almonds on top. The mac and cheese was simply incredible. The potent sharp and extravagant mixture of cheeses combined with the mushrooms delivered a heavenly one-of-a-kind taste. There was the perfect amount of black truffle involved, which was nice because I had several dishes that were overloaded with truffles and it ruins the dish, but here they really knew what they were doing. The salad wasn’t incredible but it was simple and good enough for what it was.
I tried to save some room to try what my girlfriend ordered; The Gustavo. In a freshly baked panini sat grain fed chicken, some tasty grilled red onions, balsamic marinated Portobello mushrooms, Havarti cheese, and a maple Dijonnaisse sauce. We both thought it was excellent. The Portobello mushrooms were rich in taste, as was the chicken, and everything mixed very well together. Unfortunately they sell out of some of their sandwiches, so if you get there after lunch you may not be able to choose from all the varieties.
Even tastier than The Gustavo is The Cubain, a hot panini featuring ham, braised pork, and a homemade mayonnaise (with chipotle peppers, pickles, coriander and lime), and gruyere cheese. Of course I asked for mine without pickles and coriander because I’m not a fan of either, and the panini was one of the best i’ve ever had, it really packs a powerful punch to your taste buds.
We couldn’t leave without trying some baked goodies, so we ordered the Palmier and the Extraordinary Brownie and took them to go. The Palmier was definitely the best one I have ever tried. They glaze it with their own homemade vanilla sugar, which is a combination of cane sugar and Tahitian vanilla beans. The puff pastry is fine in texture and very crunchy, and with the combined sugar and vanilla beans you’ll experience a sensational and original taste that becomes truly addictive.
I know people rave about the brownie and don’t get me wrong the texture is extraordinary, but it didn’t do it for me. It was too light and not dense enough, a combination that unfortunately wasn’t satisfying. I did love the touch of espresso inside, but I think they should use a different chocolate other than Valhrona, as the high grade luxury chocolate would probably be better suited for truffles.
I have been a happy customer for quite some time, and wish I would have known about this place years ago, as they have been open for more than a decade. If you’re looking for a top-tier lunch, then Olive and Gourmando is the way to go. Just know that they are closed on Sundays and Mondays, and after 6pm every day.
351 St. Paul Ouest, Montreal, QC, H2Y 2A7 T: (514) 350-1083
JarredReviews is my personal weblog. The opinions and experiences represent my own. If you read that I didn’t particularly enjoy a meal or restaurant, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try it and see for yourself. Restaurants can have an off day, people make mistakes, we’re all human. My writing is mainly so that you can find out about great restaurants that you may have not heard about, and also to give you an idea of what I enjoyed that you can experience for yourself. Food reviewing is very subjective and you must take this into account and use your discretion when reading any review; If I have had a bad experience somewhere, do not let that stop you to try the restaurant yourself.