Wednesday 19 June 2013

Lola and the Creen Machine Shuffling Over from Buffalo

Dynamic 22 year old assistant director and musical composer Laura Lonski and her team from the Francis Bacon Experimented were supposed to shuffled over here from Buffalo to bring their production of 420: The Musical to the Montreal Infringement Festival (
Laura Lonski

The number 420 stands for  April 20, which is National Pot Smoking Day.  Lonski told me the play is a takeoff on The Wizard of Oz, with a cast of characters travelling together to meet the Mighty High.  It was postponed  and will hopefully play here at another date. I was impressed with Lonski, who reached out to The Suburban to tell her story and then disappointed to hear that the visit was put off.

Anxious to see Montreal, she  has booked a gig for her band Lola and the Creen Machine for Thursday night, June 20 (9:30 p.m.) at CafĂ© Sierra (131 Prince Arthur on the corner of de Bullion Street). It will be her and drummer Mike Creenan. There is no admission charge

"We play alternative piano, soul, rock and blues mix," said Lonski. "I've been a singer/songwriter in Buffalo for awhile, but I just started playing out in bars and open mics a little over a year ago.  I'm making a demo this summer."

This will be Lonski’s first trip to Montreal. “I took four years of French in college,” she says. “I love the language and always wanted to live in France. Maybe it will end up being Montreal.”

Sunday 16 June 2013

P.F. Chang's opens up at Carrefour Laval

After much anticipation,P.F. Chang’s China Bistro has set up shop at the Carrefour Laval, located  next to the Keg and close by Crate &Barrel at the Highway 440 side of the large and popular shopping centre.

The entrance to the Laval restaurant.
This is only the second P.F. Chang’s in Quebec, the other having opened in April next to the former Hippodrome Blue Bonnets at Decarie and Jean Talon.  There is one in Toronto. But guess where they will set up shop next? Director of Operations Cary Mausner told me that it will be St. John’s, Newfoundland in April 2014, to be followed by Calgary and Vancouver and then a second Toronto locale. “It is all about finding the right physical location in a city,” Mausner shared.

The new Laval restaurant, with operating partner Elie Sucar at the helm, can seat 180 plus an additional 40 on the terrace and 40 more around the bar. There will be valet parking for a modest fee Thursday through Sundays. Besides the Keg, Carrefour Laval is already home to Portovino, Baton Rouge and one of the best food courts in the region. There is no question in my mind that P.F. Chang’s will thrive here. Every dish we had was beyond outstanding.
The large dining room in Laval.

P.F. Chang’s only went international three years ago, with locations in the Middle East, Mexico, Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Philipines. Canada came knocking when Michael Aronovici, a highly experienced restaurant brand investor and operator,  got the rights via his Interaction Asian Restaurants.   Aronovici was present at the Laval  location for a pre-opening dinner,  along with some of his other investors. This included Gideon Pollack, vice-president of business development for Claridge Investments.

Each dish on the P.F. Chang’s  menu is prepared to order using the freshest and highest quality ingredients. The environment at each location combines  influences of Chinese and American cultures. A panoramic, hand-painted mural depicting 12th century China, is visible from the main dining room and commands attention as the restaurant’s centerpiece, while several terra-cotta warriors stand guard. The majestic 11 foot  tall horses grace the entrance to many of the restaurants. This horse symbolizes the original Forbidden City in China, which was built for China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huangdi.

Gideon Pollack and Michael Aronovici.

P.F. Chang's is an international brand that features a unique dining experience within an elegant, contemporary and family-friendly setting.  With over 230 restaurants globally, each P.F. Chang's restaurant is a culinary journey inspired by the cuisine of the five regions of China, from Mongolia and Sichuan, to Beijing, Shanghai and Hunan.  Each restaurant also features a variety of signature cocktails and unique desserts. 

P.F. Chang's menu items are cooked-to-order in traditional Chinese woks, using only the freshest ingredients delivered to the restaurant every day. The restaurant understands the importance of responding to consumer tastes and preferences and offers a wide range of vegetarian options and is also well known for its gluten-free menu offering, Aronovici maintains.

The won ton and egg drop soups are traditional starters. But the chicken lettuce wraps remain the true signature dish.  The Mongolian beef (tender flank steak wok-cooked then quickly tossed with scallions and garlic), crispy honey shrimp (lightly battered and tossed in a sweet and tangy honey sauce with green onions) and double pan-fried noodles (crispy egg noodles, stir-fried with mushrooms, bok choy, carrots, celery and onions and comes with a choice of beef, pork, chicken, shrimp or vegetable) and a bowl of steamed rice are also favorites.

Elie Sucar and Cary Mausner.

Aronovici explained that every ingredient is fresh. None of the meat is frozen and staff arrive by 7 a.m. each day to begin the preparation process. Staff were trained at P.F. Chang’s facilities in the United States. Many of them spent extended time at the Toronto location

To reach the Laval restaurant, call 450-687-8000.