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Jul 25, 2006 06:25 PM

Rue Peel Eats

I am traveling with a group of friends to Montreal this weekend and am staying near Peel and Sherbrooke. I have been doing some intense research to find the best places to eat in and around where we are staying. I have a rather large group (around 15) that I will have to keep tabs on so a small cafe may not work. The group will probably split up during the day, but I would like to have dinner together Friday and Saturday night. I have heard through friends that Montreal has some of the better steakhouses, so I'd like to do that one night. Some of the closer places (walking distance) I have found are Alouette and L'Entrecote (which sounds pretty cool). For other restaurants, a local friend recommended Baton Rouge. If there are any places that you feel would encompass the Montreal experience or that are just fun, please feel free to add your suggestion. Any bar info (where to go and stay away from) would be an added plus. Thanks :o)

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  1. Please specify the age range of the group members, how much you're looking to pay for your meals, what kind of atmosphere you like, whether peripherals like wine lists are important and if you're willing to leave the downtown core.

    Personally, I think going to a steakhouse in Montreal is a waste of time for visitors. Not that the food is always bad, just that the local restaurants don't deliver an experience or meal different from those you'll find in most any large city in North America. They also tend to offer poor QPR. Much the same applies to Baton Rouge -- industrially produced food (it's a chain, after all) served in a venue that could be located anywhere in North America. Neither Baton nor a steakhouse will leave you with the slightest understanding of what makes Montreal special from a food standpoint.

    1. Re L'Entrecôte (which I assume is L'Entrecôte St-Jean). In February, the Gazette's fine dining critic had this to say about it on that other board: "The last time I went to L'Entrecote St-Jean my steak was tough and terrible. And the wine list at that place sucks." (This more or less corresponds to my one and only experience but that was years ago.) See also the review from a few years back:

      1. Yes, stay away from L'Entrecôte St-Jean. Alouette is even worse. If you have your mind set on steak you perhaps might wish to try Queue de Cheval,, which is located close to your hotel and is definitely the best nearby option for a steakhouse. You also might wish to consider Rosalie which isn't too far from your location. Everything else involves a bit more of a walk.

        1. Carswell, Thanks for the info so far. The group ranges from late 20's to mid 30's. Price really isn't an issue although I'd rather not spend $80 a meal per guy. It just turns into a headache when the bill comes around. With the exception of Thomasein's suggestion (thanks), steakhouses seem to be out (which is fine). I figured Baton Rouge was chain so I appreciate the feedback. As far as wine, I'm sure we will have a few glasses, but nothing out of the ordinary.

          I guess starting over, if you had a group of friends coming into town and wanted to show them a good meal/good time in a casual atmosphere (without breaking the bank) but not a chain, where would you take them? It doesn't necessarily have to be walking distance if you feel the place is worth the trip. I just rather enjoy the city from a walking vantage rather than through a cab window.

          3 Replies
          1. re: juice

            One place I have eaten at in walking distance of your place is Le Grand Cafe on rue Union. The only time I ate there I had steak but they seem to have a variety of more decidedly French fare too. It was rather boisterous the evening I was there. I am not sure of the layout as it might apply to a group of 15. It is also open for lunch Mon to Sat. Also a nice place for a Friday lunch in your neighborhood is the covered patio at Julien's also on Union.

            1. re: juice

              I've taken any number of visitors and sent more than a few parties (some of them largish groups and some of them through this board) to Au Petit Extra in the East End and have yet to receive a complaint. Indeed, several, including some who have eaten in far starrier venues like Toqué!, have declared it their favourite resto in the city for its combination of good food and drink, bustling upbeat atmosphere, friendly service, unpretentiousness, affordability and mix of clients from all walks of life. Typical response (from a Vermont-based chowhound): "Just wanted to let you know that my son's French class highlight of the weekend was their dinner at Au Petit Extra. Thanks for the suggestion. I can't wait to try it." It's located in the East End (corner of Ontario and Papineau) but you can easily hop the metro to Beaudry station and then take a pleasant 10-minute walk through the gay village (Ste-Catherine Street) or gentrifying nabe to the north; either way, you'll get a feel for the Montreal lots of tourists don't see.

              Other ideas?
              - Montreal is bistro central. Old Montreal's Brasserie Holder or Outremont's Leméac would be safe bets for a group your size.
              - thomasein's suggestion of Rosalie has some merit, though I've not been lately and women and sensitive New Age kind of guys in your group might be put off by the models', er, waitresses' "bursting out of their uniforms" look.
              - Maybe thomasein or someone else will pronounce on the appropriateness of Garde-Manger for a large group. The food, atmosphere and price certainly sound like they'd fill the bill.
              - BYOBs are another possibility. Two with nice terraces large enough to handle a group are Jardin de Panos on Duluth (standard fare Greek but the courtyard is one of the city's best) and Rites Berbères (Algerian couscouserie; groups of seven or larger can pre-order a méchoui dinner -- four salads, marinated and roasted leg of lamb with vegetables and couscous, dessert sampler and mint tea -- for around C$40 a head, taxes included). Yoyo has a front room that could probably accommodate a party of 15. The last time I was at À l'os there was a table of at least a dozen in front.
              - Edging into the spluge category but 20- and 30-somethings will feel right at home at the only-in-Montreal Au Pied de Cochon and they'll just freak (in the best possible way) at the menu. With plenty of advance warning, our party of ten didn't faze them; you'd want to inquire about their willingness to take on a group of your size.

              There are plenty of other possibilities but this window is tiny and my eyes are beginning to cross. More later maybe.

              1. re: juice

                Juice, while I wouldn't necessary recommend you go to Baton Rouge for your Montreal visit, Baton Rouge is not as bad as people say here & on other food boards(I check them all). In fact the food is pretty good. Their steaks is one of the best items on their menu(among the better steaks I have tried in Montreal). Baton Rouge started as a restaurant in Laval(a big town north of Montreal), & then later on opened more locations.

              2. Carswell, you have outdone yourself. Thank you for all the tips. Jardin de Panos sounds like a great idea for lunch and then I'll have to get a vote on where to go for dinner since I have so many suggestions. I hope I can return the favor to you or others when visiting DC or Philly.