We are leaving this post up for a few months in a tribute to the brilliance of Chef Derek Dammann. Sadly DNA closed its doors on June 2nd, 2012, a dark day for gastronomy in Montreal. Such creativity is rare and such tremendous talent will not be long in finding a new home. We just home that it’s here in Canada.
Would that all restaurants were as proactive as DNA! Chef Derek Dammann grew up on Vancouver Island and spent several years as Jamie Oliver’s Chef de Cuisine in London. He founded the restaurant with Alex Cruz, formerly of Montreal’s Decca 77 and who has recently opened his own enterprise which sources Quebec ingredients, Société Orignal. Together they changed the way Montreal dines. And apart, this extraordinary journey will continue.
Tired of the limited Canadian wine selection from the SAQ, the pair decided that the only way around it was to establish themselves as wine importers. So they did. And now wines from all across Canada are being ‘imported’ into the cellar. It’s such an extraordinary list that in 2010 DNA was named by Food and Wine Magazine as “The Best Wine List in Canada”.
They’ve applied this same chutzpah to seafood. Now it’s possible to slurp down a Cortes Island oyster while you’re eyeing your next course of Desolation Sound mussels. Mine came with pea shoots and a fabulous fennel broth. Perfect! For Dammann ”local” means all of Canada and because he has cooked across the country, he knows the great hidden ingredients. His passion and his talent are astounding. He aims for 90% Canadian content. He writes: “I take great pride in serving sustainably grown and harvested produce, meats and seafood ‘because food tastes better when its ingredients are the product of thoughtful stewardship.’ I have a whole animal philosophy at DNA and will always have one or two dishes featuring offal on the menu because it preserves an overlooked part of our culinary heritage.”
One of the most glowing recent reviews came from Montreal food critic Leslie Chesterman. She wrote in The Gazette “ When analyzing a chef’s cooking skills, I divide the evaluation into three parts: first, the creativity of what’s on the plate, second, the choice of ingredients, and third, the level of technique displayed. Right now, there are few chefs in Montreal who score so high in all three categories. After two meals enjoyed here this month, not only was I impressed with Dammann’s impeccable technique, but dazzled by his mastery of unusual ingredients too few Montreal chefs are willing to explore.”
Located near the waterfront in a fabulous part of Old Montreal, DNA is a happening place…glass and light and chrome and action! Their menus are good to read, good to think and good to taste!
Food Day Canada at DNA Restaurant (from 2011)
Wild Boreal food
Wild boar pancetta copatta
Fried sea lettuce
Smoked porcini mushrooms and balsam fir butter. Daisy bud capers and wood sorrel
Steamer clams and sea peas. Dulse and Red Fife scone.
Sea parsley maccheroni “alla chitarra” ~ Saint Beatrix pepper, duck yolk, cured lamb liver
Shoulder of Mr. Petit’s goat in hay ~ Wild gremolata
Spruce cone sorbet, wintergreen leaves
Larch panna cotta. Sea buckthorn and crabapple
Wild rose Turkish delight
1.Pancetta copatta is the belly wrapped around the loin and dry cured for one year.
2.Sea lettuce is a wild seaweed that we fry until crisp and toss with maple sugar.
3.Balsam fir butter is a homemade cultured butter flavoured with the tender tips of the tree itself, strained and emulsified.
4.Sea peas are a shore vegetable from Gaspesie. Dulse is a seaweed that flavoured the bread, also with beer and Red Fife wheat ( a true Canadian product under the slow food ark of taste ).
5.Sea parsley is just what it sounds like. Cured lamb liver is done in the style of the tuna hearts of Sardinia and grated over the top of the pasta to give a briny, sweet taste.
6.Mr. Petit is our goat farmer 30 minutes away in St. Angel de Manoir. The goat is cooked in hay from his farm. Wild gremolata is made in the same vain as the traditional except the ingredients are wild garlic, wild arugula, water mint and sumac.
7.Spruce cones are the rough cones of the tree that bud in July, they are split in half and infused in syrup to give off their flavour and a beautiful magenta hue. Very cleansing, especially with the wintergreen leaves.
8.Larch is a deciduous tree that yields a tender eucalyptus tasting needle. Sea buckthorn is a small bright orange shore berry from Gaspesie that tastes very much like passionfruit.
DNA Restaurant is one of about 300 restaurants that celebrate Food Day across Canada. Contact them at the number below to reserve a table.
DNA Restaurant est l’un des 300 restaurants à travers tout le Canada qui participent au Journée des terroirs . Contactez DNA Restaurant au numéro ci-dessous, afin de faire votre réservation.
355 rue Marguerite D’Youville
T: 514 287 3362