“Hambar”: a Bar in Which One Eats Ham

You know how some words just stick?  Hambar is a restaurant opened by Philippe Poitras, a sommelier with an appreciation for the simple combination of cured ham and wine; he also chose a name for his restaurant that has stayed with us since we first passed it during our last visit to Montréal.  We were wandering the streets after a theatrical meal at Au Pied du Cochon (obviously, our pig radar was significantly heightened), and the many cured hams hanging in the Hambar entry way caught our eye.

The ham décor, combined with the frankness of its name, inspired an inexplicable fondness for a restaurant we’d never even been to.

Imagine our delight when, after all these months, we got to go and experience what lay beyond that initial hallway of ham!  As part of Montréal en Lumière, Hambar hosted a Swiss brunch with a special guest: Francois Villard, a cook-turned-sommelier-turned-winemaker from Northern Rhone in France.

This was our final event for the festival, and we were excited to meet Mr. Villard and dine next to our friends serrano and prosciutto di Parma.

We started with a small portion of rich, wine-seasoned Swiss fondue served with dense, seedy bread and Villard’s Les Contours de Mairlant 2013 Marsanne.

This inspired fond recollections of our first indulgent fondue experience in Montréal, and it just felt right to bookend the festival with hearty portions of melted cheese.

Next, we had something a bit lighter—and a little unfamiliar at this point in the trip—greens! FRESH VEGETABLES!

The slightly bitter greens and tender beans were tossed in a lovely herb vinaigrette and served with the L’appel des Sereines 2012 Syrah.

The main course was roesti with sunny side up eggs, thick-cut bacon, and fruit.

Roesti is a traditional Swiss breakfast item made of grated potato that’s fried up pancake-style and cut into wedges. It’s a pie-slice of well-seasoned potatoes, and it’s awesome. Served with Villard’s Poivre et Sol 2012 Saint Joseph.

Next, for the cheese course, we ate nutty slices of cave-aged Swiss Gruyere with berry compote.

Dessert was a beautifully presented sucker punch of chocolate: a chocolate tart, cacao streusel, chocolate whipped cream, and chocolate-dipped pretzels.

I think we could post an entire album of the photos we took of this photogenic dessert. It was unbelievable!

As we finished our wine, we savoured the convivial atmosphere, and the warm sun streaming in. Thanks to Hambar, Francois Villard, and Switzerland (yes the entire country) for validating our belief that all brunches should include hearty portions of wine, pork, cheese, and chocolate!