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Boston hounder coming to Montreal

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I've been meaning to visit Montreal for years and am excited about a visit later this month. As a big foodie I'm looking for some great eats - whatever represents Montreal at its finest. Cost is not an option. Love rustic, laid-back places with excellent food. I guess since it's Montreal I'm thinking Québécois and French are what I'm most interested in sampling but am open to just about anything.

I have reservations at Toque and Au Pied du Cochon just to have the bases covered, but with a short visit (only 3 days!) wonder if there are better spots to check out, or others folks would recommend. We're staying just north of the Quartier Latin, but we have a car so location is not a major constraint.

Thanks!

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  1. first, you do not need a car.

    second, you covered the base with Toque! and Au Pied de Cochon; I will not suggest "Joe Beef" because it might feel like it's too close to what aPdC do ( but they are completly different).

    You could walk up St-Laurent and have a quick bite at Schwartz's ( smoked meat) and continue north ( bus might be problematic since the street is under repair, but a short taxi ride ) to the Jean Talon Market (if you're in MTL during the weekend) to sample and taste a lot of local produce ( have a look at Hamel Cheese store (or the other one ) for a very fine selection of quebec cheeses, try a few scoops of ice cream or sorbet from Havres Aux Glaces; go to "Le Marché Des Saveurs" a store at the market that focuses on quebec products from all over the province.

    If you want to try a nice lunch, go on Jean Talon Street ( bordering the market on the north side) and stop by Alep (or Le Petit Alep) for syrian/middle easern fare.

    or try something different, like Raza or Jolifou, two small restaurants focussing more on latino cuisine, raza is the more "traditional" and Jolifou is more "french" with a mexican touch.

    for brunch, I suggest the "Reservoir" on Duluth, a few steps east on the corner of St-Laurent.

    for the rest, search the forum.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      It sounds like you'll be staying just a short walk away from Au Pied de Cochon. Nearby you will also find L'Express, a wonderful French bistro, and La Brunoise, another great dinner spot. Lots of reviews of both on this board. You might want to check out Juliette et Chocolat, a restaurant devoted to chocolate, chocolate drinks, chocolate fondue, in the Quartier Latin. And Maximilien's recommendations are right on - Reservoir, Jean-Talon market. I'd add Pintxo to the list as well.

      1. re: Plateaumaman

        Not to be too picky but calling Brunoise "La Brunoise" might make it harder for people to find the restaurant in the phonebook etc. The proper name is, and has always been, Brunoise.

        1. re: eat2much

          At least I spelt Juliette properly. The worst time I ever had finding a restaurant in the phone book was for Le 2. Luckily now it is Map (Pintxo).

      2. re: Maximilien

        The Jean Talon Market is open all week, in fact it is less crowded during the week so I prefer it then (I live five minutes away). I just wanted to clarify Maximilien's comment above.

        Le Petit Alep is one of my favorite restos in Montreal, and so affordable! I must warn you though that your breath will stink for the rest of the day if you eat there! It is so worth it though.

        1. re: Maximilien

          I would definitely add La montee de lait on Villeneuve street in Plateau as a MUST. It is amazing, very french (you feel like you are in a quaint residential neighborhood in Paris!) and a great culinaryy experience. Reservation required it is a small restaurant. I would definitely do lunch or brunch at Reservoir, very good and so cheap, but not the greatest atmosphere.

        2. If you do not get a chance to try the Poutine at APDC, try to fit it in a stop for some in your travels throughout the city. Schwartz for smoked meat is a ritual when I visit, as well as a trip to Jean Talon Market.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Infomaniac

            Sweet! Thanks for the recs. I can't wait for the visit...
            Anything especially UNUSUAL I should try while there? Say a funky lunch spot? Ethnic food you don't find elsewhere?

            1. re: Sgt Snackers

              I was impressed with this African place on Mt. Royal Ave. called Farafina, Mains were a little pricy but nice prices on some of of the S. African and other African wines. Also an Ethiopian place my cousin keeps telling me about that I haven't been to yet called Au Messob D’or. Not sure where it's located. Not much like this in Boston.
              Your really going to like APDC, sounds like exactly like what your looking for. Making a decision on what to eat there is going to be tough. A lot of nice place in that general area.
              If you like cheese, get to Jean-Talon or Atwater Market, buy some unpasturized cheese made from raw milk. Première Moisson is a excellent chain of bakeries if your in the mood for sweets or bread for that cheese.
              Not sure what your agenda is but getting around on the Metro is easy and nothing like the riding the T. Download or pick up map and you can get close to anywhere you want to get to.
              If I think of anything else I'll post it here.

          2. If you want to experience true Quebec poutine (fries topped with cheddard curds and smothered in gravy), la Banquise is not very far from your hotel, less than 15 minutes walk. Located on Rachel street about a block or 2 west of Christophe-Colomb/du Parc Lafontaine.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Campofiorin

              la Banquise is an excellent choice fro poutine. If I remember there open 24/7, and they serve several different varieties of poutine. I had bacon poutine last time I was there. I was packin a few extra arteries with me, so I was fine.

              1. re: Infomaniac

                Thanks for all of the recommendations!

                - What are the best bets for ordering at Au Pied du Cochon? I am NOT on a diet. Do they really have foie gras sandwiched between two other pieces of foie gras? Sign me up.

                - Favorite varieties of poutine? How about one with foie gras? Just kidding. (Though, maybe not.)

                1. re: Sgt Snackers

                  Poutine with Foie Gras is the dish that made Au Pied de Cochon famous. You might also want to try the Cromesquis (cubes of deep fried foie gras), the pig's foot with foie gras, the foie gras hamburger, or the foie gras grilled cheese sandwich.

                  Depending on when you go this month, they may have started serving their magnificent seafood platters. Try the lobster roll (with foie gras, of course).

                  1. re: rcianci

                    God, I was kidding about the foie gras poutine - now I am having just a small idea of what I am getting myself into. Really looking forward to it :-)

                  2. re: Sgt Snackers

                    When I visit la Banquise, I usually stick to the regular poutine, fries cheese and gravy. Bu I also like the Elvis which is topped with ground beef, mushrooms and green peppers if I'm not mistaking. They have a wide variety to choose from. Bacon poutine is also very enjoyable to say the least.

                    1. re: Sgt Snackers

                      The foie gras poutine is delectable, but it's definitely a "gourmet" poutine. For the true poutine experience, I recommend La Banquise late at night. My favourites there are the regular and the one with green peppers added. Another nearby and tasty poutine is at Patati Patata. Apparently they use red wine in their sauce. I have found http://www.montrealpoutine.com/review... to be pretty reliable in my poutine explorations.

                      1. re: Sgt Snackers

                        I was there almost 2 weeks ago & had the onion soup, it was superb! I had the pig's foot with foie gras - it was huge, and delicious. My friend had the tomato tart (fantastic as well) and a pork stew (potee) made with 3 types of homemade sausages. All served with the incredible garlic mashed potatoes and nice vegetables. Enjoy your experience!

                        1. re: morebubbles

                          WHOA.... Don't forget the Duck in a can!!!!

                          half a duck breast with Demi Glace, Foie Gras, Half a head of Roasted garlic, Choux emburre (Braised buttered cabbage),..... served on a bed of mashed root veggies. Damn, that is good.... pass the Zocor...

                  3. Thanks for the recs, everyone! We came ... we saw ... we ate ... we did the foie gras poutine. It was amazing.

                    We only actually had three restaurant meals in Montréal proper - La Banquise, Toqué and Au Pied de Cochon. Toqué and APdC were fantastic, of course. Banquise was just a poutine stop (my first experience with it anyway) and a couple of beers, not a bad place at all.

                    At Toqué we went for the seven-course (which was really eight-course, I guess depending on how you count) tasting menu and wine pairings (I like surprises). The dishes were universally brilliant, very fresh ingredients, wonderful and sometimes surprising flavor combinations. The highlight was undoubtedly the sea scallop served on the shell with strawberries - like nothing I had ever tasted - just incredible. Other dishes included a lobster bisque of sorts (though the soup was a carrot soup - so much butter it didn't matter), a nice terrine of crab, and a very tender and very deep red guinea hen. Service was extremely professional and I really enjoyed the atmosphere - not stuffy by any stretch - though I wish someone asked the teenagers at the next table to get off their cell phones.

                    APdC really was the polar opposite in many ways - bustling, crowded as all hell, anything but refined food-wise - but oh so good. They managed to lose our reservation but were VERY accomodating regardless. I could not resist the foie gras poutine which was worth every rich, fatty, cheesy bite. It didn't even SOUND that good but yes it was. Certainly the highlight of the trip. The duck carpaccio was very nice, some kind of spicy sauce (habanero or harissa?) drizzled on top, lots of pepper - good counterpoint to the poutine. My partner had the happy pig chop which was enormous, of course - maybe a bit overdone in my opinion. Being the fan-boy that I am I had to go with the duck in a can, just unbelievable - the cabbage, duck breast (and skin and a ridiculous amount of fat) and foie gras spilling all over the mashed potatoes. As they say on the Simpsons, holy flirking shnit. We spied others getting the massive and lumbering seafood platters which looked like the catch from a trawler net on ice. Service was harried but very attentive and friendly. APdC is absolutely my kind of restaurant - rambunctious, exuberant cooking, over the top in every way. Can't wait to get back.

                    I could tell there were lots of other interesting options - every time we passed by l'Acadamie on Rue St-Denis there was a queue spilling out onto the sidewalk. Something new?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Sgt Snackers

                      I dream of that foie gras poutine.
                      Thanks for the follow-up. Sounds like you ate well.

                      1. re: Sgt Snackers

                        I'll be heading to Montreal (from Boston) in a couple weeks and also plan to dine at Toqué and Au Pied de Cochon. The 7 course sounds appealing but I've been fixated on the suckling pig. Sounds so good! Any chance you saw any other diners enjoying that dish? I'm also glad to hear that it wasn't stuffy as I'm looking for a less uptight and more relaxing experience.

                        I wasn't initally tempted to have the foie gras poutine but now I think I have to try it. If you enjoyed your first taste of poutine you might want to give it a try in Cambridge at Harvest. Sadly served sans foie gras.

                        1. re: kittychow

                          You're going to love it. Be sure you get reservations at both (and CALL APdC to confirm the day before ... they lost our reservation but were able to squeeze us in only because I had called.)

                          Toque was nice, some folks wearing suits, others wearing jeans and polo shirts. Pretty cozy. Did not see any suckling pig - in fact it seemed a lot of tables around us were doing the seven-course menu.

                          Harvest has poutine!!?!? Where, pray tell, do they get the cheese curds and are they fresh (i.e., squeaky)??

                          1. re: Sgt Snackers

                            Not sure wher they get the curds but they are fresh. I just took a peek at the menu and I don't see them now! I got them at the bar so maybe it's a different menu. I'd give a call. Gargoyles also had them over the winter but just switched to blue cheese fries for the spring menu...

                            Thanks for the reservation follow-up suggestion. I'll be sure to give a shout the day before.

                        2. re: Sgt Snackers

                          As far as I know, L'Academie has a big queue because they don't take reservations. It's a huge place, inexpensive and the food is pretty inconsistent, not very remarkable. The service can be very poor - we waited for an hour at lunch time once with a toddler, oh so tedious, no bread on the table, ack! Nevertheless they receive busloads of tourists on a regular basis and they are byob and right next to the liquor store. Something is keeping the place full!

                          Duck in a can is moving to the top of my list of "things to eat". After the homemade foie gras poutine party this weekend perhaps. My friends have very particular hobbies!