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Torontonian's recount of Montreal feast (Leméac, Bistro Bistro, Cube, and more) Long.

a
artificialard Jul 28, 2006 05:58 AM

Two Torontonian foodies staying at Hotel St Paul this weekend. I've been diligently skimming the past few pages of the forum and picking on what I think fits us: we want more of a 'Montreal French' experience in a bistro sense as well as potentially a little more luxe and modern meal too. Thoughts/inputs/additions on my choices would be fantastic. As a baseline we've been to l'express on the last trip and thought it was great. Would like to experience more of that perhaps in a little more elevated setting.

Holder - steps away and seems like a great little bistro

olive et gourmando - again close and keeps coming up in the forums, thinking good for lunch

Cube - Somewhat more expensive then we wanted but is it worth it? Of course it's right in our hotel...

Anise/Chez l'épicier - One of these will probably be our fancier dinner. The menu of Chez L'epicier appeals more to me...

Leméac- would quite like to try their $20 for app and main after 10PM deal. Have also read this is kid friendly and has brunch?

au petit extra - looks like a charming bistro but not terribly close - worth it?

laloux - if we're in neighbourhood considering this as well

SECONDLY we will be joining a larger family group of 7 staying at the Omni. They will have kids 11 and 14. Half of the party is visiting overseas from Hong Kong and enjoys 'Western' food but a more staid menu or greater variety might be in order.

Right now am just thinking Au Pied du Couchon... Any other thoughts?

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    Mr F Jul 28, 2006 12:54 PM

    "SECONDLY we will be joining a larger family group of 7 staying at the Omni. They will have kids 11 and 14. Half of the party is visiting overseas from Hong Kong and enjoys 'Western' food but a more staid menu or greater variety might be in order."

    No offence intended, but after the above, this line reads like a complete non sequitur:

    "Right now am just thinking Au Pied du Couchon... Any other thoughts?"

    Au Pied de Cochon is nothing if not "uniquely Montreal," but I'm not sure it's what you want for your family dinner. (It could be, just make sure you don't go with the wrong idea.)

    The restaurant is an *extreme* fine dining experience. I certainly haven't tried any good restaurant so unusual or off-the-wall in Montreal, and I can't think of any other whose rep even comes close.

    To sum up their schtick: the setting is casual and lively (lots of bare wood, long bar overlooking the open kitchen), the menu consists mainly of haute versions of Quebec comfort food and bistro staples with a playful twist. All of it is served in gut-busting portions. Local ingredients, notably Quebec foie gras, are put to the fore.

    And it isn't cheap: mains cost about $20-50. Right now, seafood platters are anywhere from $40 to over $200 (can't remember exactly, might even be $300+).

    The menu (even the English version) will look bewildering to someone seeking a staid, Western menu; even experienced foodies will probably have plenty of questions.

    Besides all that..."this weekend" starts tonight, so it's unlikely you'll get more than a late-night table for two.

    For a nice family dinner that won't break the bank or be too much of an extreme foodie adventure, I'd think Mediterranean -- Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Greek, North African. Maybe not so uniquely Montreal, but much safer and generally more affordable IMHO.

    Regarding Leméac: the post-10pm $22 table d'hôte is offered on weekdays only, and I'm not sure if that includes Fridays. It's also likely to be a bit out of the way for you. But if you're in the 'hood at that time of night, it can't hurt to check it out.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Mr F
      carswell Jul 28, 2006 03:26 PM

      >>Regarding Leméac: the post-10pm $22 table d'hôte is offered on weekdays only, and I'm not sure if that includes Fridays.<<

      Really? Not saying you're wrong just that this is the first I've heard of the weekdays-only policy. No mention of it on www.restaurantlemeac.com either. Mind if I ask where your info comes from?

      Am 99% sure I had the night owl's special on a Friday last spring. (Just checked: It was Friday, March 31, after The Turn of the Screw at Opéramania. We had the snail pasta and steak-frites and my dining companion was blown away by her first encounter with Osoyoos Larose.)

      1. re: carswell
        m
        Mr F Jul 28, 2006 03:51 PM

        Looks like I was wrong about that...don't tell anyone.

        I thought I'd remembered seeing something to that effect printed on the menu itself, but apparently I was dreaming.

      2. re: Mr F
        a
        artificialard Jul 28, 2006 05:07 PM

        You're right - my request doesn't make a great deal of sense. That's what happens when I'm asked to suddenly figure out the travel arrangements for a large group in less than a few days. I'm adjusting my post but what I mean is that they probably enjoy some new flavors but don't want anything too experimental (odd fusion) or overly formal (Toque).

        Your advice is excellent - we may try for some more other worldly cuisine because I realise anything in Canada that's not Asian is likely different for where they're coming from. I had assumed aPdC was 15-30 so the price range is helpful - we will have to think twice about going.

      3. a
        Adrian3891 Jul 28, 2006 03:16 PM

        Go with Anise over Chez L'Epicier and order the nine course 'turf' tasting menu. After recent meals at Anise and Susur, my mom rated the Anise meal slightly higher. I'm not so sure, but either way it's cooking at a level few restaurants in this country reach right now. I've had one excellent meal at L'Epicier and one disaster. If you do choose L'epicier don't order the tasting and go a la carte. Don't forget about Chasse et Peche as it is also in walking distance and stronger than L'Epicier.

        Also, O&G is a must. Laloux is a good option if you're in the Plateau, but don't for forget about Cocagne which takes a more modern spin on the luxury bistro. Popular bistros L'express and Le Continental are also nearby. Au petite extra is good but a bit out of your way.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Adrian3891
          Fritzy Jul 28, 2006 09:49 PM

          Unless things have changed since last summer, O&G can get very hot on a summer's afternoon, so go early (better selection too).

          Fritzy

        2. a
          artificialard Aug 6, 2006 08:49 PM

          Thanks again all for the suggestions. As per the usual scheduling guffaws we ended up going to a few places off my list:

          Leméac
          Went with relatives and in a party of 7 for the 22h menu. It's an EXCELLENT value and the portions and dishes offered were definitely superb. Service was perfunctory (we were there up to 12PM though, so I can understand that) there were however a few instances where plates were put down such that an arrangement tumbled. I particularly liked that they were not too elitist or self-serving: when we asked for a wine recommendation the waiter offered us something great in the 40-60$ range whereas many other restaurants simply push the higher ranged bottles when you're not in the mood for one.

          I had the baked goat cheese to start and the duck confit as main. The goat cheese was very nice paired with an apple and walnut salad but was utimately too rich and filling. THe cheese was about the size of a hockey puck which was very large for me. The baked coating though was nice, light, and crispy and the cheese itself was very good. I remember another person in our party having escargot in a ragout that I thought was delicious. The duck main was very nicely done, slightly crispy on the outside with nice tender meat that slid off the bone and just enough fat to make it delicious. There was a very large mixed greens with it that was nicely refreshing.

          Everything was presented and prepared in an excellent manner with highly competent service and a great value - I think everyone should try it! As a sidenote there is a great patio and the room/atmosphere was comfortable enough for 2 families with a 11 and 14 year-old so it's a great place to take a family without having to go Wendy's.

          Cube
          Was staying at St Pauls so we decided to partake in the lunch menu which again was at a great price. It's simply 25$ for an appetizer, main, and desert. The dining room is simply beautiful. Understated modern decor with large windows that let the light through.

          I had the proscuitto and spinach salad to start, my friend had the pork rillette. My salad was divine - there were peeled grapefruit slices that cut through the strong proscuitto slices. I don't know what kind they used but I have never tasted it before - it's much stiffer and deeper in color with a bolder but leaner flavor. The rillette is not my usual thing but had a nice taste to it with some vegetables on top as a nice touch. I had the veal main with escargot and my partner had the salmon. I didn't taste the salmon but she said it was an excellent cut. I tended to agree for my main - there were two strips of veal that were perfectly cooked. The meat was so tender it just almost gaveway as I cut it and was fantastically tender. The escargot pairing with some potato was delicious but was quite hearty. Deserts were a chocolate cake of some kind and a mousse with some banana cookies on a blueberry compote. The presentation was marvellous photo here:
          http://tinyurl.com/qov66

          The service lagged slightly at times even though it was 2PM and there were only 3 other tables but was always professional. At that price it was one of the best lunches I had ever had.

          Boris Bistro

          Went here due to a lack of options at the time and insistence by friends who were attracted by the patio. The patio is quite nice, with trees and lighting all around reminiscent of an LA restaurant - it would probably my favorite patio around Old Montreal. We were seated quickly enough but had to wait too long for both menus and drinks. I had the duck risotto and another had the beef tartar. The risotto was adequate but not very exciting. The rice was nice and tender but the sauce was bland and lacked flavor while the whole plate didn't have definition - the duck and other vegetables mixed into the risotto made for a porridge-like presentation. My friend was unhappy with the tartar which was a little rough and didn't hold together like a good tartar should. My mojito also didn't seem to have any sugar which was annoying as well because I would've expected them to have good cocktails. Would not recommend this place or return - it was just a very mediocure meal for that location and price. I wish we had tried Holder instead.

          Zestos

          Hotel St Paul didn't have room service past 12 PM and we hadn't eaten yet getting carried away with walking around the Old Port. They were nice enough however to send up a brochure for an Italian place that delivered 24hrs and was priced better than room service. I had the veal cutlet with a fettucini alfredo sauce and a club sandwhich was ordered too. This is takeout so we did get pretty edible food, the veal was ok but marred by the rubbery thick cheese top. The pasta was actually quite good with strong flavor. Do NOT order drinks. Our orange juice was 5$.

          Le Keg
          I hate the Keg.

          Suite 88 Chocolatier

          Stumbled across it on St Denis during a heatwave. Gorgeous decor, delciious unique gelato (spicy chocolate) and nice staff. Unique flavors too. They have sake chocolate shooters, earl grey tea chocolate bars, and it's great place to just back and enjoy. suite88.com

          1 Reply
          1. re: artificialard
            carswell Aug 6, 2006 09:06 PM

            Thanks for the report. Please note that the name of the Outremont bistro is spelled as a single word, Leméac. In other words, it's not "the méac." Actually, it's a proper noun, the name of a former publishing house and bookstore that used to be located nearby.

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