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The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
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is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 04.05.02
Montreal

GREG DUNCAN

Trudi does fondue in Dorval

Chez Trudi is one of those places that make you feel immediately at home. Cozy, comforting, and warm all at the same time.

Cornered at a good location on Lakeshore drive in Dorval, this Swiss eatery has a lot going for it and a lot to offer. Upon entering, diners find themselves in a setting of traditional Swiss flair. Personal touches of the owner are abundant. You can almost hear Heidi singing. It's that simplicity that has made this restaurant a success.

The menu offers up classic insight into a world of valleys and alpine vistas. Regional items such as Geschnetzeltes (veal with cream and wine sauce) and Rosti, along with Bundnerfleisch (shaved thin slices of cured beef) and Raclette tempt the palate.

Other specialties such as Engadiner Nusstorte (a rich pastry filled with ground hazelnuts, cream, and honey) reveal the taste of closely guarded family secrets.

Perhaps better known is the Swiss classic Fondue. Switzerland's international culinary reputation rests largely on cheese. Emmenthal and Gruyere provide piquant, nutty flavors and another Swiss delicacy Kirsch (a distillation of cherries and a useful spirit in the kitchen) combine with good wine to provide the well-known fondue.

Fondue is a meal and a party all at once. Diners can choose from a cheese fondue, a beef or a fruit and chocolate fondue.

My partner and I were tempted by Cordon Bleu and Wiener schnitzel, along with a large selection of sausage dishes but could not resist the fondue experience -- the sound of sizzling beef immersed in hot oil at a table next to us confirmed our order.

Husbands take note. This is the place to take your wife for an affordable romantic evening for two. My partner and I chose an option that allows a full fondue extravaganza. A pot of bubbling cheese arrived with a basket of cubed crusty bread for the dipping.

Swirling and turning, we polished off the whole basket. A simple salad arrived next and was napped in vinaigrette that was ever so subtle. Chez Trudi offers this dressing to go, as it is very popular. I can see why.

We anticipated the arrival of beef and it came to the table quickly. Lots of cubes atop a bed of lettuce looked daunting at first but we managed to eat it all -- with relish. Actually, gherkins and pearl onions accompany this dish, as do four sauces for dipping.

Mild curry, herb, cognac, and tomato compliment each morsel as you cook up the next cube. The side of Rosti and pickled beets, carrots and cabbage seem just the right accompaniment.

The Rosti is smoky, and flavorful here. Rich and with just the right level of crisp, onion flavor. Probably the best I have ever had. Owner Trudi gave us a few tips on how to make them properly. It was a nice touch.

Good coffee allowed us a short pause as the table was cleaned prior to dessert; Fresh place mats and napkins promised good things. Fondue is both messy and fun, after all.

A plate of fresh fruit arrived with a dotting of miniature marshmallows. An interesting combination and oh so apt. We happily dipped each piece into the velvet chocolate that revealed small pieces of hazelnut. We discovered that allowing the fruit to bathe made the chocolate adhere to the fruit better and thus the obvious benefit. We could not resist spoonfuls of the chocolate between bites of fruit. Wonderful!

The full fondue option for two comes with a half liter of wine and all the aforementioned items. At just under fifty-three dollars it is an exceptional value. No pretense here, just simple excellent food and friendly service. My only regret is that I had not come here sooner.

Chez Trudi is located on the West Island at 455 Lakeshore Road in Dorval. 514-631-1403. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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