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Montreal Spa lunch

On Wed. March 14, I'd love to go to a day spa (with a lounge room -- not just a waiting area in a hallway -- for relaxing and enjoying some lovely teas/flavoured waters and perhaps a delicious spa menu) for some pampering and enjoy a fantastic lunch there OR within a short walk. I'll be staying at Cotes des Neiges & Queen Mary that week and don't have a car so will have to rely on bus/metro. Thanks! (I enjoy any cuisine at any price, but since it's a day of pampering, would prefer something with table service and a relaxed or elegant atmosphere. I live in Toronto so a Montreal specialty would be best.)

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  1. I'm not really sure what kind of price range you had in mind, but Spa Diva is a posh spa, supposedly one of the best in montreal, and they do serve lunch. I've never eaten there, but the spa is quite a treat, although expensive. There are also a few restaurants nearby, depending on what you're in the mood for. A great cafe for a light lunch is Vasco da Gamma.
    The spa is downtown, so you would have to take either the metro, or 2 buses to get there.
    Enjoy!

    2 Replies
    1. re: sharon86

      That's ironic because my Dad just suggested Vasco as well. Or Area.

      He thinks lunch at the Beaver Club is the best value in town but it takes 2 hours to enjoy!

      I'm also considering RainSpa. Spa Diva actually has very reasonable prices, so thanks for the tip!

      1. re: Food Tourist

        Sorry, what I meant to say was that Spa Diva is reasonable compared to posh spas in Toronto.
        I booked at Spa Diva since it's at Les Cours Mont-Royal and therefore very easy to reach by metro. They told me they don't serve food in their lounge which is confusing since their website says that meals are included in some packages. We'll probably hit Vasco or Beaver Club but still considering suggestions.
        RainSpa is in the same hotel as Aix Cuisine du Terroir restaurant but I have no idea how to get there by metro.
        http://www.aixcuisine.com/home.html
        Any thoughts? It's not too late for me to cancel or change my spa reservation.

    2. Area is kind of far from Spa Diva, you'd have to take the metro or get a cab.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Campofiorin

        Do you think Area offers a chow-worthy lunch? If not, where is a fantastic place for lunch or brunch downtown?

      2. If you are thinking of going to Rain Spa it is at the entrance of Old Montreal and is very close to Place d'Armes Metro station.
        I recently had an afternoon of treatments at Amerispa in the Omni Hotel (Sherbrooke street corner Peel) and they included a "Health Break" in the treatments, and it has nothing to do with "lunch" or real food for that matter! The treatments on the other hand were fabulous, the place is beautiful, they have a relaxation room with a fireplace, plush robes, great staff. I think you should look into it and compare with the treatments at Spa Diva, then you would be very close by to eat at Vasco or Beaver Club.

        1. Got a sneak preview today of the neighbourhood, and enjoyed a delicious (but not made there) portugese custard tart ($2!!!!) at Cafe Vasco. I think the sandwiches look and sound wonderful, but the self-serve atmosphere isn't what I was hoping for. (On the other hand, table service never guarantees a good meal - my smoked meat sandwich and poutine quebecoise lunch at Dunn's on Metcalfe today is a case in point).

          2 Replies
          1. re: Food Tourist

            Dunn's is not the best place for smoked meat, let alone poutine For smoked meat, head for Schwartz' on St-Laurent north des Pins and for poutine the best place IMO is La Banquise about a 15 mins walk east from there on Rachel (about a block or two north lf Schwartz and to your right well passed St-Denis.

            1. re: Campofiorin

              Don't worry, Schwartz is still my favourite, but I decided to take a chance and try something "new" this visit. (After all, it's impossible for me to keep saying Schwartz -- or any of my other favourite places -- is the "best" if I haven't given other places a fighting chance!) I am planning to check out La Banquise and Frite Alors! for poutine when I make my now biannual bagel run to St-Viateur Cafe.

          2. I'd try fries on their own at Frite Alors. As I recall, the poutine is nothing to write home about. And lucky you, both Frite Alors and La Banquise are located on Rachel within a couple of blcks from one another.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Campofiorin

              Being a person of taste, I don't do poutine. ;o) However, I, too, have heard that Frite Alors's version doesn't rank with the best.

              That said, when they're on their game, their fries are the best in the city. But whatever you do, don't go to the Rachel franchise, where the merguez is served cold in the centre and the fries are often underdone and greasy. Not all Frite Alors shops are made the same. Frieswise, the most consistent operations are the original store on Park Ave. and the outlet on Laurier East. And, Leff's recent rave notwithstanding, more than one Frite Alors connoisseur of my acquaintance has knocked the St-Laurent outlet as being substandard (I've not eaten there).

              1. re: carswell

                Tried the "small" fries ($2.50 for a good-sized basket) at the Lacombe (CDN) location today -- slightly disappointing. A bit tough, bruised-looking, slightly greasy, mostly tending towards overcooked (too brown) with some slightly undercooked (translucent). However, the American mayo (paprika, shallot, garlic, harissa, onion) was really tasty. Is it true that the fries are cooked in horse fat? I didn't see that stated anywhere on their menu or website. At least they had my favourite SP Limonata ($2.75!!!) to wash it all down!

                Also got some take-out sushi and sashimi from Atami because of all the hype on the Toronto board...it was really disappointing, but maybe it's because I didn't order the house specialties such as Atami rolls (I was feeling too cheap to drop $15 on one order of rolls -- most of which contain crabstick). I ordered butterfish sashimi, mackerel sashimi, and smoked butterfish sushi, I believe. I basically pointed at what I wanted (though they forgot to include the sea bass) and paid $13. Definitely wouldn't go back.

                Decided to postpone the fancy lunch to Friday. Dinner at APdC tomorrow! Spa Diva was okay, but the very small lounge area wasn't anything to write home about...best part was free cans of V8. 'Nuff said. Later in the day, I noticed a male guest eating at one of the small tables in the more noisy atrium area...but who knows where the food came from!

                1. re: Food Tourist

                  Have only been to the Lacombe outlet once and didn't have my socks knocked off. The thing to bear in mind about Frite Alors is that it's a franchise operation and, while the menu is the same from location to location, the cooking isn't. The safest bet is the original location on Park Ave. north of Fairmount; I've also had good experiences at the Laurier East outlet. But even at those two stores, the product varies depending on the cook.

                  >>Is it true that the fries are cooked in horse fat?<<

                  One of the (now quite old) reviews on their website says horse fat. One of the local resto critics (Haldane?) says s/he was told it's beef tallow. It could even be a combination of the two. Horse fat would be harder to come by but, since Quebec is a major North American horsemeat producer, sourcing it probably wouldn't be an insurmountable problem.

                  >>Also got some take-out sushi and sashimi from Atami because of all the hype on the Toronto board...it was really disappointing<<

                  Was biting my tongue a while back when people here and on the TO board were raving about Atami. "Really disappointing" sums up my reaction, too, which is unfortunate since it's only a few blocks from my home. The specialties are not that special, so you didn't miss much. And consider yourself lucky you didn't order the uni, the nastiest I've ever had anywhere. Masako is CDN's top sushi bar these days (plus they deliver), but you're really best off leaving the 'hood and heading for a place like Mikado or Jun-i on Laurier West.

                  1. re: carswell

                    Thanks, carswell! Masako is nice and close to the Rockhill apartments where Dad lives, so I'll send him there when he gets a craving. What is the "best" sushi in downtown? Or are you saying the Laurier sushi places are the best in Montreal?

                    1. re: Food Tourist

                      Jun-I is a notch above mikado; because of the size of the restaurant, Mikado feels like they are just pumping out rolls after rolls ( most of the orders ) like they don't really care; don't get me wrong, I'm sure they do; but when there are so many orders it must be hard to be as passionate.

                      I have not been to Mikado for a few months ( nearly a year ) and the last review I heard was not really that great. On the plus side, they can have really good "specials' orders when sitting at the bar (on the sashimi side), and their sushi menu is/was somewhat extensive.

                      these days, I really only go to Jun-I, it's closer to home, smaller, feels more traditional and the cuisine (yes cuisine) is a lot of fun to try out; they have a small sushi menu with some specials from time to time; but they have a real menu which is not japanese but French ( Italian-ish) oriented cuisine, with a slight japanese twist. The tasting menu always look interresting. It's a good restaurant to go to if you or your friends don't eat sushi.

                      I also read ( in Voir ? ) that Tri on Laurier east. is a really good albeit really small, restaurant! I think that it's more of a take out.

                      1. re: Maximilien

                        Lesley C reviewed Mikado last weekend and she seemed to enjoy it. Tri on Laurier is indeed quite good, but it doesn't seem like the menu evolves very much.

                    2. re: carswell

                      True, about a year ago I was told that they no longer use horse fat. Tant pis...

              2. Hey Food Tourist,
                Please post after your meal at PDC---I am really interested to see what your experience is like. Hubby and I were some of their #1 fans until recently, and the last 3 times we have been we have been extremely disappointed (won't go into it here--don't want to put ideas in your head), but needless to say we are taking a break and checking out the many neglected restos we have not visited in mtl. Everyone else seems to continue to sing the praises of PDC though, so I am curious to see if it is just us. Please post a mini-review if you can. Thanks!

                3 Replies
                1. re: foodismyfriend

                  APDC food was good but sauces were very strongly-flavoured. Service dropped off half-way (we had to ask for dessert menus and then they only brought one, and continued ignoring us). Marc was our server (he's a co-owner accountant I believe) and never asked us if we wanted wine or anything else once our apps arrived. Dad and I ordered the special guinea hen for two (which did not contain foie gras), and were SHOCKED to discover an $80 charge on the final bill. Considering most main courses are $20-30, this seemed out of character. Foie gras with apple tart was an overly sweet dish, again with intensely reduced balsamic sauce. Duck in a can did not impress us at all. Mom enjoyed the oreilles de crisse (she's a pork rinds fan).

                  I'm not sure we'd return in a hurry. Atmosphere and service aside, the food is good but not excellent. Their cookbook is an entertaining read but we decided against buying it.

                    1. re: Food Tourist

                      Gee, just about all my favorite things form the menu although I haven't tried the guinea hen yet. Oh well, sorry you didn't enjoy your meal.

                  1. Beaver Club lunch was lovely, with excellent service and value, and all the little "extras" for which one can hope at a fancy restaurant. Complimentary veg crudites with curried dip to start, amazing bread basket including delicious banana bread, and fantastic array of complimentary petits fours (macarons, tuiles, etc. -- 4 per person) and huge bowl of intensely fresh red seedless grapes accompanied the tea/coffee service. Terrific duck appetizer, good main course black cod. Thinner-than-usual but decent Boston clam chowder ($9, not included in the prix fixe). Really good overall. Even the bathroom is wonderful.

                    Prix fixe lunch including app, main, Fairmont teas/coffee and all the extras cost only $26 plus tax and tip per person. Wine by the glass ranged from $10-16, the $16 white really aromatic and delicious. They even packed up the leftover banana bread in a gift bag and included their recipe. I would definitely return.

                    I also got my Schwartz and St.Viateur fix. Duc de Lorraine croissants were slightly disappointing this time around. Have they changed the recipe in the past two years? Several Toronto croissants are now better than theirs. My other disappointment was missing pork neck day at Atlantique.