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Foodie tourists from NY coming to Montreal in early September looking for recomendations

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My wife and I are coming to Montreal the first weekend in September and would really appreciate any recommendations as to where to eat, where to stay, what to do.

I know, I know it's really open ended so a bit about us. We're adventurous foodies; my wife is one of NY's best caterers and I'm a pretty good cook myself although I work as a photographer, we like everything from fine dining to low-brow. It's also going to be my 48th birthday while I'm there so I will certainly want an excellent meal that night.

Several years ago we came to town just as a stop over and stayed at Auberge du Vieux-Port which was nice and intimate but not that special, kind of college dorm-esque. Are there any small boutique hotels with a bit more ambience that anyone can recommend? Not anything swanky, overly fashionable or pretentious please.

As far as restaurants, I guess I would like to know what the best tables in town were. Again, I understand that it's an open question but we're adventurous eaters and love to try things that we can't find in NY or are a town's specialties.

Any recommendations would be appreciated.

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  1. Just got back from Montréal (we're from Toronto), and we had the best meal we've had in a very, very long time at O'Thym on Maisonneuve.
    http://english.montrealplus.ca/portal...
    It's also BYOW, but don't let that scare you. This is really several notches above the rest, liquor license or not. I had an absolutely outstanding shrimp dish for my main, and my partner had venison. I don't red meat, but he was making such a fuss over how good it was that I had to take a bite. And then I had another! Wow!! It was very busy, so make a reservation if you're going on the weekend. The food comes out at a nice pace as well, do you have time to chat and digest and make room for you cheese course. We tried four different types of Québec cheeses, and the serving was quite large, for just $12. Dinner for two (without wine, of course) was about $110. It's not super cheap, but it's worth it!
    Another resto that you might want to check out is La Colombe.
    It's BYOW as well, in a quaint little neighbourhood, and very good.

    As far as hotels go, we stayed at the Chateau de l'Argoat on
    Sherbrooke, at Berri. It's a smaller hotel (about 30 rooms), and it includes breakfast, which is in a very central location
    and clean. Parking in included as well, which is a nice bonus. They're not going to win any awards on style, but it's a nice little place and the staff is very friendly. We've stayed there a couple of times and really liked it.
    http://www.hotel-chateau-argoat.qc.ca/

    Have a great time in Montréal!

    1 Reply
    1. re: gigi

      Well this is all great too but you must try local French Canadian delicacies such as "Poutine" and "Sugar Pies".

      Poutine is like the "Philly Cheese Steak" of Montreal. People go about searching for the best one. Essentially it consists of Fries, gravy and cheese curds. There are different varieties such as the Italian poutine, or chicken poutine, etc...

      Just something to consider if you want to dive into the culture a little.

    2. If you are going the BYOW route, you should try Yoyo. I recommended it in another post. It is at the corner of Marquette and Gilford and located in the Plateau Mont-Royal which is the trendy area of town. It is one of the best restaurants in town. I tried lots of them, but always end up comparing them to Yoyo.

      2 Replies
      1. re: cricri7

        Unless you are planning on bringing a special bottle of wine for the occassion I would skip the BYOB scene altogether. Most restaurants have at least a few affordable bottles on their wine lists. It has been my experience that with the exception of very few BYOBs, most cannot compare foodwise to better licenced establishments.

        1. re: eat2much

          I agree that most BYOs aren't worth the trouble, but I disagree that good BYOs are only worthwhile with "special" bottles.

          If you buy a $20-30 bottle from the SAQ for your BYO dinner, you're usually going to be having something much nicer than you would if you ordered a $20-30 bottle off a wine list.

          A $20-30 wine from a licensed resto will typically be a $10-15 wine at the SAQ; while a $30 SAQ wine will typically go for $60+ on a wine list (or even more -- I noted a $40 Italian cab selling for $140 at one place).

          That makes the BYO a bargain, beverage-wise, even when you consider that they tend to boost the price of food somewhat to make up for the lack of corkage fees and liquor sales. (I'd say the premium works out to about $10/person in most cases.)

          A concrete example: not too long ago I had a BYO dinner with four wine drinkers and four bottles of wine averaging about $25 each -- not special bottles, but far better than anything at $25 at a licensed place. (And before you go calling us lushes, note that one wine was a moscato d'Asti @ 5.5% abv.)

          Not only did we save about $100-150 compared to a wine list, a licensed place couldn't have let us walk out with our unfinished bottle of dessert wine.

          Overall, I'd say the good BYOs save diners from one of the less pleasurable aspects of eating out: watching their wine consumption a little too closely. It's nice to pop a decent-if-not-special bottle (or two) without worrying about breaking the bank...

      2. Here's a link from this site:
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
        In spite of the fact that we went there on our last night and really enjoyed our meal (been there a few times and liked it), I would say that L'Academie is one that would be difficult to recommend. I had sushi-grade tuna, which was cooked perfectly and came with veg. that was beatuiful and crunchy (as I like them), it's more than 300 seats and has a bit of a foodhall atmosphere. They work the staff HARD, and for most servers it's tough to keep their composure throughout the entire evening. My tuna - so good! - was just $21.95...which is superb, but out waiter (poor guy - he was quite stressed) didn't even look at us when he approached the table. He just opened out wine and then left! :-) Some might have been put off there and then, but I know the food is always quite good, and it's cheap; the decor is beautiful for such a place, and we had a table on the second floor that allowed us a great view of St. Denis for people-watching. It was a wonderful evening.

        As I said above, we just got home from Montréal, and I want to go back already! You'll have a great time.

        1. Hotel Nelligan in Old Montreal was great. Very friendly staff, stylish but not pretentious, nice room. Includes a continental breakfast and glass of wine in the afternoon.

          1. All:

            Thanks for the recommendations, keep 'em coming. Just wanted to say that we aren't looking for BYOB places.

            1 Reply
            1. re: joshfoto

              >>Thanks for the recommendations, keep 'em coming.<<

              You'll probably get more and more useful resto feedback if you read through recent threads (as Mr. F memorably said a while back, this site is the mother of all FAQs) and then inquire about specific places. There have been a dozen or so queries like yours since the start of the summer tourist planning season and I'm sure I'm not the only poster who's reluctant to expend time and energy repeating himself.

              Also, see if you can get your hands on a copy of the March 2006 issue of *Gourmet*, which is devoted to Montreal and hits most of the foodie/tourist high points.

              As for hotels, you should also consider the Hôtel XIXe Siècle www.hotelxixsiecle.com in Old Montreal and Hôtel Le Germain www.hotelgermain.com downtown.

            2. The Saint Sulpice may be the kind of hotel you're looking for, small, upscale, but not pretentious. Ask for the Sweet Deals rate which may be in effect in September. I agree with Carswell re restaurant recommendations but I think I have enough energy to suggest Chasse et Peche, one of the best in Montreal right now and an easy walk from the Saint Sulpice.

              1. Last time we went to Montreal (we're from Toronto), we stumbled on Brunoise on some foodie's blog. Her review was dead on. The place was great. Because we didn't have reservations we ended up sitting at the bar for dinner, which turned out to be great as we got to chat with the owner (who was delightful, provided us with a dessert sampler and wouldn't let us tip him to boot!)

                Fabulous food at what I'd consider an amazing price. The prix fix sets ranged from about $28-$40 for 3 courses and were well worth it! Great attention to detail and great atmosphere. We went almost a year ago and haven't stopped talking about it!

                Can't wait to go back this weekend!

                1 Reply
                1. re: pammycakes

                  >>Fabulous food at what I'd consider an amazing price. The prix fix sets ranged from about $28-$40 for 3 courses and were well worth it!<<

                  While Brunoise isn't taking patrons to the cleaners, the prices can no longer be described as amazing. The prix fixe currently runs $39 to $55, with most options falling in the $45 to $50 bracket. www.brunoise.ca/eng/mainplate.html

                2. Also a NY-er that catered in Westchester & NYC that just got back from a 5 day food tour of Montreal: These are the
                  hi-lites and must haves:
                  Joe Beef -dinner
                  Anise- dinner then cross street & have lychi martini at cool lounge named Baldwin Barmcacie (a drugstore in past)
                  Chocolates at "Chloe" and palmiers and any other baked goods at Olive & Gourmando (cash only)
                  Brownies at Le Maison de Cakao
                  Au Pied de Cochon (APDC) was worth a dinner
                  BEST JEWISH BAKERY EVER: Cheskie Hymish (spelling?), 359 Bernard W. (the chocolate babka I am still dreaming about)
                  BAgels at Fairmount and St. Viateur wefe good/different

                  This site helped as did the Montreal issue of Gourmet:
                  http://endlessbanquet.blogspot.com/20...

                  1. Oh, I forgot to mention to skip L'express. Overrated and not as good as Balthazar is even now. Have fun and have a great pastrami (in Montreal its called smoked meat) Order medium fat at Schwartz's--it is worth the wait and have poutine wih chopped pastrami on top!