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communal dining experience?

We are a young couple about to move to Montreal and we are looking for places that serve fixed price suppers at communal tables so we can also meet some like-minded people. Any suggestions? Thanks

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  1. Like-minded in what way?

    I've never heard of such a concept. The closest thing to it might be Chinatown on a friday night.

    3 Replies
    1. re: SnackHappy

      Well, like minded is just a way of saying it. We don't know actually. We just want to have more friends outside "work" and food is the best place to start since most of our lives revolve around it. Supper clubs are very common in France and in some parts of US (I know a few in NY, Oakland and Portland). Some are "legitimate" restaurants, while there are also underground dining clubs that operate without a license. You basically order a fixed-price menu and eat it around a communal table with other people. Most of the time, you bring your own wine. I heard with the established BYOB culture in Montreal there might be some opportunity to experience this. Thanks again.

      1. re: emerilcantcook

        I just saw an episode on FoodNetwork about Portland where they mentioned that communal restaurant. Maviris mentioned organizing a chowhound when you're settled in Montreal. I think someone did try to organize a ChowHounders dinner @ Niu KEE but it didn't come to fruition. If u do plan something just post it on this board, I for one would be interested in attending!

    2. We call it basque food here in Calif. Lunch is served at one seating, dinner at two. They seat you by groups at big long tables and than the food begins, salads, breads, soups, sides and usually 2 main dishes, and always pickled tongue. The food changes every night. All the food is served family style, (all the food is set in the middle of the table) and all the wine you can drink is included in your bill and right on the table for you. Everyone is real friendly and by the end of dinner you feel as if you've made a couple new frieds

      1. If you're looking for an intimate, relaxed place to meet locals, I would highly recommend Fuchsia, a tiny storefront/cafe located in the Plateau. The owner, Binky (who herself is incredibly warm and friendly) was exploring this very idea of communal dinners just for the sake of meeting new people a while ago, so you should give her a call and see if that's still happening. She runs a catering business as well as cooking in her cafe wholesome food and pastries with edible flowers. It's a very small space, with only two picnic-style tables and benches, so it's very condusive to getting to know your neighbours (which has been the case the many times I've been there for breakfasts and lunch). Fushcia is also available for private dinners if you book your group in advance, but like I said, you should check and see if she's doing public dinners. Or go for breakfast on a weekend!

        Binky Holleran is the chef and owner of Fuchsia, located at 54 Duluth St., Montréal, Québec. Tel: 514-487-3155

        Her description from a website:
        I use an assortment of edible flowers and flower salts in my cooking, such as pansies, nasturtiums, dianthus, lavender and roses. There are no real menu choices – there is a hot vegetarian meal of the day and in summer I usually make a salad or two as well. I heard someone tell another while explaining the place, “When you go home, you don’t tell your mom what you want to eat, you eat what she serves you.” That seems to sum up the feeling at the restaurant. It feels like home. Time passes more slowly and is more relaxed.

        Article for the Hour a while ago: http://www.hour.ca/food/food.aspx?iID...

        1. It sounds like a fun and interesting concept, but I don't know of anything like it.

          Maybe when you settle in you can organize a chowdown to meet others from this board at a resto.

          1. Le Cartet on rue McGill....big wooden tables that everyone sits around. Also have a great brunch there.

            2 Replies
            1. re: thegolferbitch

              Oh yeah! a great place for Sunday brunch!
              really yummy anc creative eggs....yogourt...meat lovers paradise...there are two big main tables in the front, where different groups can sit, however they also have tables at the back for a more intimate brunch.

              1. re: thegolferbitch

                I was at le cartet just the other day, and though the brunch was delicious, I did not notice people making friends with strangers.

              2. If you make a visit in Quebec City there is a new place with this concept :


                3 Replies
                1. re: vabou

                  Is there anywhere else in Montreal with this Cartet concept? Kind of like Wagamama in the UK, where people are not necessarily eating together, but just sharing the table with other diners?

                  1. re: foxburger

                    As SnackHappy mentions Chinatown on a busy night, in particular, perhaps Beijing on LaGauchetiere.
                    Why a busy night? cause they usually have a large 'overflow' table for people without reservations or for ones when the rest of the restaurant is full.
                    Why Beijing? cause I'm familiar with it and they have a large table as you walk in just for this.
                    Most times, you'll have to do the conversation initiating thing yourself, and then its a 50/50 if your neighbours will be interested in conversation.

                    1. re: foxburger

                      You'll often be seated with strangers at vietnamese restos, but I've never had anyone initiate a conversation with me.

                      Aren't there big tables with communal dining at Duel?

                  2. I have heard of these communal dinners too-- I have always thought this was a great idea. Some are in private homes and have a sing (or play an instrument) for your supper policy. For others, you have to 'apply' to join, telling them what you can bring to the table, so to speak.

                    Not prix fixe, but Schwartz's has shared tables and I have conversed with strangers there. Ditto at le Commensal (true to its name) on St. Denis--there are large tables downstairs.

                    Dining at the bar in many restos has often turned into a communal experience for me. Works better when you are alone, rather than in a couple.

                    1. This past february we had a communal brunch at APDC and had nice conversations (food related and not) with couples seated at our table. It seemed that if you reserved for 4 or more you got your own table but if you were two or three you were seated at a long cabane-a-sucre type table all squished together. The all-you-can-drink beer also helps to loosen people up and start talking. It is fixed prince ($50) but it only happens one day a year.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Arktik

                        We went to that brunch as well and the strangers seated next to us were not very eager to converse with us, nor to share with us! Any attempts at friendly banter were thwarted by them and they made darn sure that they got the best pieces of salmon etc off the family style plates before passing them along to us. I guess communal dining is not everyone's cup of tea.

                      2. Oh and there is this place; MUCS ( http://www.mucs.ca/dining+co-op/index... ). It's a sustainable community project -they cook food together (among other things) and eat together and have all sorts of potential friend-making events.

                        1. You could always join the Cheap Ethnic Eats (Montreal) MeetUp group. They meet a couple of time a month and go to some interesting places. I am a member, but have yet to attend since it conflicts with my schedule for now.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Andria

                            I'll second the recommendation for Meetup.com, specifically the Cheap Ethnic Eatz group for chowhounds. They go to a new restaurant a few times a month and it's always interesting. You'll meet a bunch of cool people too.

                            If you give it a try feel free to say hello. I go fairly often.