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New to Montreal!

Hello Chowhounds,

I've finally found a place where I can some food answers! Phew! I recently moved here and currently living in the Cote des Neiges area. Any recommendations for good restaurants in this area??

I'm also looking for a natural food store, in particular quinoa and food available in bulk bins. I'm also looking for an excellent spice store. I was so spoiled at my food co-op. I am now only realizing it! Any help would be great!

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  1. Welcome to Montreal, calla0413, and also to my neck of the woods.

    While there aren't really any destination restaurantss in CDN, there are lots of affordable worthwhile eateries, especially of the ethnic variety. The following discussion and the links it contains cover many of them: www.chowhound.com/topics/98541

    You should also try searching the board (use the search box at the top of the page) for terms like CDN and Neiges and specific street names (e.g. Lacombe, Victoria).

    The neighbourhood's only "health" foods store died a deserved death a few months ago. ExoFruits on CDN north of Queen Mary is one of the city's better green grocers and also has some bulk items and a selection of organic produce, dairy products, grains, etc. The closest natural foods stores I know of are in NDG (on Monkland a block or two west of Girouard), the Plateau (Tau, Rachel-Berry, etc.) and, though they're hardly worth a special trip, Mile-End (Park between St-Viateur and Bernard).

    Actually, your best bet is to take the blue line to the de Castelnau or Jean-Talon station and hit the Jean-Talon Market and Little Italy. Besides the wealth of produce, cheese, breads, meats and fish vendors, there's a bulk foods store in the southeast corner of the market and a natural foods store just across from it, not to mention the nearby Anatol bulk foods store at 6822 St-Laurent. The market is also home to the city's best, if sticker-shockish, spice store: Olives & Épices. The other place I tend to buy spices is Gourmet Laurier, on Laurier a couple of blocks west of Park and easily accessible from CDN via the 51 bus.

    Lastly, see if you can put your hands on the Quartiers Gourmands guide. It's sold in most French bookstores (like Renaud-Bray in CDN) as well as many gourmet groceries, coffee roasters, bakeries, cheese shops, etc. By far the most complete (but not exhaustive!) of the city's food shopping scene, packed with pictures, addresses, phone numbers and maps. It's in French but is pretty easy to understand.

    6 Replies
    1. re: carswell


      Okay, on your advice, I went to Renaud-Bray on CDN and tried to get the Quartiers Gourmands guide. I asked one of the associates and they have never even heard of it. They asked me if I had the right title. Is it a book or a magazine? I think I was just in the magazine section, thinking that it was a mag but, now, that I think about it maybe I should of checked in the books.

      Also on your advice, I went to the Exofruit on CDN and AHHHHHHHHHH! I found my quinoa in the bulk bins. Yeah! I also found a lot of other things I would have eventually been looking for. The price isn't bad either. The produce looked pretty great!

      Now, the Jean-Talon Market and Little Italy will have to wait for another day but, I'm much happier for having discovered the Exofruit.

      Thanks to you, I'm going to read the latest Saveur (from Renaud-Bray), make up a batch of curry quinoa and lemon-garlic grilled shrimp tonight! Yummy! Yummy!

      1. re: calla0413

        Am pretty sure I've seen the Quartiers Gourmands guide at Renaud-Bray on CDN but in the cookbook section, not with the magazines. If not there, try Au Pain Doré nearby. If not there, I know I've seen it recently at Toi, Moi et Café on Laurier a block east of Park. Elsewhere, too, but I didn't register where.

        ExoFruits is a great resource.

        And in reference to another message, I'm not aware of any natural food or health food stores in the Plaza CDN area. However, right across from it is Kim Phat, one of the city's top Asian groceries. And FWIW the Kam Shing in the Plaza is my favourite.

        1. re: carswell

          Thanks I will try the cookbook section at Renaud-Bray. I didn't venture too far into Renaud-Bray because I was a mission for quinoa today! Hahahaha....

          Thanks for the info.

          1. re: carswell

            I'M pretty sure I saw the guide at Capitol in JTM last weekend and would bet they also carry it in places like Olive et Épices, La Dépense and Marché des Saveurs. I've also seen at la Queue de cochon in the Fromentier building on Laurier East and it's also probably available at their St-Hubert st. (south of Beaubien) outlet.

        2. re: carswell

          I picked up a copy of the 2007-08 Quartiers Gourmands ($11.95) at the CDN Renaud-Bray today. www.quartiersgourmands.com It looks like they accept advertising from shops they recommend (and they seem to recommend every location of several chains) so I am having a hard time figuring out if it's biased or relatively objective and trustworthy. Even so, it's a great way for non-residents like me to get informative maps of food routes.

          1. re: Food Tourist

            Haven't confirmed this but have also heard that businesses pay to be listed. Either way, I would take any qualitative judgments with a large grain of salt, which is not to knock QG's usefulness as a directory, a way of getting the lay of the land, a one-of-a-kind source for addresses, phone numbers, opening hours and general descriptions of products/services offered.

        3. carswell,

          Thanks for quickly replying to my inquiry. Your information is very much appreciated. I figured that they were a few hidden gems in the bunch.

          On one of my visits here, my husband and I drove around the area to see if we would like the neighborhood, we ended up in Snowden and we stopped for dinner. I saw this cute, hole in the place called Connie Cheung's or Maggie Cheung's or something like that. Thinking only really positive thoughts, I went in without hesitation. It was on one of the worst food experiences I've ever had. So, I'm a little leery of trying "homegrown" restaurants unless I get a recommendation. I was so thankful to find this website.

          Judging by all the literature I've received from the real estate agent, I figured the best place for me to some "real" food shopping was in Little Italy. You just confirmed it for me.

          I am going to take a little walk tomorrow and visit the Exofruit and the Renaud-Bray for the Quartiers Gourmands. I'm hoping that I'll be able to find what I'm looking for at Exofruit. I've had a real hard time finding popcorn and quinoa. We finally found popcorn and now, that I've found it, I'm finding it every where else.

          I'm a little puppy Chowhound in training but, learning fast my friend, learning fast!

          Thanks for the help!


          1. just from memory, there should be some bulk food places north up near the cdn mall - perhaps even a health food store?

            1. celfie,

              Thanks for the info. I haven't actually taken the time to really look at the places in the CDN mall. I did walk through it to get to the Canadian Tire. I surprised by the number of many different dollar type stores. I will have to check on the CDN mall!


                1. re: celfie

                  When you do, don't forget to go on a empty stomach and have lunch or dinner at Kam Shing. ;)

                  1. re: MCMM


                    Now, I read in one of the conversation strings there are two Kam Shings and one is completely different from the other. If I was reading right, there is one Kam Shing IN the CDN mall and then there's a Kam Shing across the street. Which is the good one?

                    1. re: calla0413

                      In the mall and across the street from the mall are one in the
                      same, they moved about a year or two ago to accomodate the
                      crouds of people lining up at the door. There is another one, however it is not on Cote Des Neiges. Try the one IN the mall.


                2. also check out victoria around van horne (plamondon metro) or east on ave du parc below bernard. the bus on van horne and cdn (161) will take you van horne and parc and it's just a block down to bernard

                  1. Oh, okay. Somewhere near the CDN mall...got it!


                    1. On Victoria near Jean Talon (one street south just past the underpass) there's the Caribbean Curry House. Cheap but yummy!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: gerbera


                        Thank you! That sounds very yummy indeed. Curry anything happens to be up there on my list of yummies!

                      2. On Victoria, corner St-Kevin, is a great Vietnamese restaurant, Hoai Huong. I've lived in Toronto for 10 years now, and still make it a point to get there on each visit back to Montreal.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: FlavoursGal

                          It's very close to where I live. Any dishes you can recommend? I'm not very familiar with Vietnamese and have only recently discovered Vietnamese Spring Rolls. I know, I know...where have I been living??

                          1. re: calla0413

                            You can't go wrong with anything on the menu. Their special combos are great and include a small, very tasty soup, along with an imperial (spring) roll, and your choice of grilled meat and/or chicken and/or shrimp/fish, served with rice. Or you can have the special that includes a bowl of soup and an order of stir-fried chicken and vegetables in a "bird's nest." It's wonderful, as are the grilled items.

                            Their pho (Vietnamese noodle soups, pronounced "fuuh") are excellent, although Hoai Huong is not a "pho house," which are so prolific in the city. These soups are inexpensive, and a meal in themselves, available with steamed chicken, barbecued chicken, or beef.

                            There is also a dish (I forget what it's called) that consists of vegetables topped with very wide rice noodles, which are topped with grilled meat.

                            Their stir-fried dishes are wonderful, too. Aside from the bird's nest mentioned above, their dishes containing lemongrass ("citronelle") are excellent.

                            The cold rolls (non-fried spring rolls) are good, containing shrimp and pork, together with vermicelli and fresh mint, served with a hoisin-based peanut dipping sauce.

                            They're always packed, but the turnover is pretty quick, so do wait if there's a line-up to get in. Enjoy, and welcome to Montreal (although I now live in Toronto, Montreal remains very much a part of me).

                            1. re: FlavoursGal

                              It all sounds sooo good. Maybe, I can coerce my non-adventurous husband to go with me tonight. hehehehe...

                              I didn't know what to expect with Vietnamese food and this gets me started. I figured it was a good sign if it was packed all the time, which is what we've noticed. I'll let you know what I thought.

                              1. re: FlavoursGal

                                I don't know about the rest of the menu, but the Pho at Hoai Huong is less than impressive. With so many good Pho places in that neighbourhood (Pho Lien comes to mind), I'd skip Hoai Huong if I had a craving for some vietnamese soup.

                          2. Welcome to Montreal !

                            The is a really good sushi restaurant called "Atami" at the corner of Cote-des-neiges and Edouard-Monpetit (on the second floor). It is one of my favorite sushi restaurant. The food is fresh and very tasteful.

                            They also served other japanese food, not only sushi.

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: chantal

                              Excellent recommendation, Chantal! I discovered Atami on a visit to Montreal last year - just walked in because my daughter was in the mood for sushi.

                              It is excellent. I love the chef's specialties, on the separate menu. I was delighted a few months ago when Sado Sushi opened up in my Toronto neighbourhood. It is a sister restaurant to Atami, and has the same menu. It's great.

                                1. re: celfie

                                  celfie, I assume you're asking about the prices at Hoai Huong. I noticed when I was there last week that the prices had been jacked up a bit. Their combos are now, if memory serves me correctly, in the $12 to $15 range. Most a la carte dishes are $10 and under.

                                  1. re: FlavoursGal

                                    I think he meant at Atami. What are the prices like there?

                                    1. re: SnackHappy

                                      The prices for regular sushi, sashimi and maki are reasonable. Once you start ordering from the chef's specialties menu, or cooked main dishes such as teriyaki, the prices are steeper ($15 per chef's specialty).

                              1. re: chantal


                                Thanks for the recommendation. I always wondered how the sushi places were on CDN but, haven't been in yet. So, far, I've only been to a few of the casual dining places in CDN and only because I hadn't unpacked the kitchen yet. Those experiences were okay in a pinch but, nothing that I would categorize as good! Well, except the pizza crust at Pizzafiore on Lacombe off CDN but, the sauce was lacking.

                                Now, that the kitchen is unpacked I haven't had time to explore the restaurants yet. Still working on unpacking the rest of the boxes. I did have time to explore some of the food shopping places. I'm very happy to have found Exofruit based on a recommendation from carswell. I can't wait until I get the time to get to Jean-Talon/Little Italy.

                                1. re: calla0413

                                  Also, if you like tacos and burritos, La Nacion on Ste-Catherine West near Guy is quite good and affordable.

                                2. re: chantal

                                  Atami is good but don't go if you are super hungry...you will wait a looooong time for your food even when it's practically empty.

                                  1. re: hungryann

                                    Good to know. Maybe they make the rice fresh!


                                3. Thank you everyone for letting me know where I can find Quartiers Gourmands. I went back to Renaud-Bray on CDN and found it with the cookbooks just like carswell said I would. I missed it the first time because I only went into the magazine section. Now, I'm looking forward to reading it!

                                  1. Carswell has given you great advice as usual. We used to live in this neighborhood and I'm quite convinced it's one of the better eating spots in town, and great for exploring and discovering new finds.

                                    Exo-Fruit is a great grocery store and really wonderful for daily shopping needs. For bulk foods Carswell is exactly right: get on the metro and go to Anatol on St. Laurent. You'll never open a bin in any other store ever again. While you're in that neighborhood, go to Sami, just off the market, between Jean-Talon and the market. They have the cheapest fruits and vegetables, and by far the best selection of exotic fruit and produce that I've found in Montreal; this time of year you get WAY better value for your money, though you have to dig a bit.

                                    You're also close to one of the best butchers in town: Atlantique, on the corner of Queen Mary and CDN. They aren't cheap but they really have wonderful stuff. It's a family-run place and they really know their meats. They also have a great little selection of prepared foods, made by the son-in-law, that are really wonderful. I love their herring salad. Also, if you have sharp elbows and are willing to battle your way through a fighting crowd, then try their pork neck available on Mondays for lunch. You have to go early because the crazy mobs ensure they sell out quickly. (I'm exaggerating of course, but only slightly.) It's incredible.

                                    One new development in the 'hood is that Boucherie Farhat has now opened a basement eatery. They had been selling their amazing sandwiches upstairs in the front of the store. Now they have a place to sit and eat downstairs. I haven't been yet, only walked by, but I'm delighted to see they're doing well.

                                    Other great local eateries are mentioned in the post Carswell linked above; my own favorites are in the link referenced in that post.

                                    Good luck and enjoy the neighborhood!

                                    1. In terms of spices, the best store ever is located in little Italy on rue St-Laurent. It's close to the market so you can visit this area and go and buy spices. It's worth the trip. You can buy spices in little bags, whatever amount you want. They have nuts, teas, ALL spices imaginable ! let me know how you make out.


                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Orysia

                                        Orysia, I presume you are referring to Anatol Spices on St-Laurent (west side) near Dante?

                                        1. re: Orysia

                                          Anatol is fine and I used to go there every weekend, but since I started looking into Olives & Épices, I find their spices bland and sometimes stale. They all taste the same somehow. As for nuts, the two guys selling nuts across from Veau de Charlevoix have much better nuts at prices to compete with Anatol. Even the chocolate has a strange taste and I found myself buying it at Milano instead.

                                        2. Calla, I hope you've made it to the Jean-Talon market area: we have a very good natural foods shop: Alfalfa. It is relatively economical and has well-informed staff. There is a bulk-foods shop across for it, but Alfalfa is more serious about organics.

                                          A restaurant you might like in CDN is Olivieri, the bistro of a bookshop here.

                                          Another place not to be missed is Boucherie Atlantique, a German butcher's, fine-foods place (even if you don't eat meat, there is lots of interesting food from Germanic and Central-European countries to see and buy). It also serves light meals at noon.