Toronto Wino & his Concubine hit Montreal this weekend
I don't normally post on the Montreal board, so I'll introduce myself...
I'm Jamie Drummond, Sommelier for the Jamie Kennedy restaurants in Toronto.
I am in Montreal this weekend (Friday night through Monday night)... and I would love some tips on where to go, as after being in Canada for 10 years I have never really had a trip to Montreal.
We are joining my good friend Sacha for dinner at Joe Beef on Saturday night, so that is sorted.
But the rest of my time is free.
We are staying in "new" Montreal (?) at Le Petit Prince... here: www.montrealbandb.com and would love some advice regarding reasonably priced boites and bistros (we are both on a budget this time!).
Also... I need some good bar recommendations... In Toronto I frequent the Communist's Daughter, The Crooked Star, Unit, The Gladstone and the Spoke Club.
So I tend to enjoy a place with lots of character and swathes of interesting people to watch.
I'm curious about the seafood and oyster bar at Maestro SVP. My wife and I are visiting Montreal in a couple of weeks. The proprietress of Maestro reccently was a guest on a local radio show here in Los Angeles called "Good Food," and she had an encyclopedic knowledge of oysters and the wines to serve with them. www.maestrosvp.com.
Well, it's been a few years since my last visit to Maestro SVP (I used to live in Mtl), but I still consider it the best place I have ever been to for oysters (and I've tried a few in NYC and Toronto that are also quite impressive, but don't quite match what I experienced at Maestro). The wide selection of oysters and the quality of the food was incredible back then. Also had a great bistro feel.
Perhaps some current Montrealers can give you a more recent review...
Sean here... you've served me some great wines at the bar at JK a few times, but we haven't ever formally introduced ourselves... I highly recommend trying to book a table or grabbing some seats at the bar at Au Pied de Cochon, it's definitely the real deal: honest, simple, indulgent (mainly local) food and a loud, fun, casual atmosphere.
But make sure you show up with an empty stomach: the portions and fat content in a typical dish are huge! The charcuterie choices are great, as are many of the foie dishes. The seafood platters are also really good, but I'm not sure if PDC has moved into its spring seafood extravaganza season yet (they source most of their seafood product from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Magdalen Islands)... And the sommelier has some interesting bottles from slightly off the beaten path regions, primarily French (some good Languedoc wines).
For a more modern French-influenced type of thing, Leméac on Laurier is very good as well. And friends who've been say Tapeo and Pintxo are both great for Spanish/Basque tapas.
If you want to do a couple of food and wine-related things during the day check out Jean Talon Market, and the SAQ Signature store on St. Catherine, which is sort of like a Yonge and Summerhill LCBO on steroids: you can find all sorts of old vintage and rare wines, things that are hard to find in Ontario, even from importers. Especially wines from small French producers in places like Burgundy and the Loire (as well as back vintages from classed growths in Bordeaux). Right now the store has a number of Didier Dagueneau wines from recent vintages, for example.
If you want to step out of your familiar element for lunch go to Schwartz's Deli for the smoked meat. It's full of character and the best smoked meat I've ever had. Mordecai Richler used to hang out there. I always bring a whole brisket back top Toronto. No wine, but hey you wouldn't want to ruin a good sandwich!
I agree about Au Pied-Get JK to pay the tab there, you'll return with some great ideas.
How about Greek seafood? One of the most enjoyable meals I've had in Montreal. Very fresh fish, you pick out your own. Can be pricy though. And not downtown.
Get some bagels at St Viateur to take home if you want to try traditional Montreal style bagels., Just a few blocks (I think) from Schwartzes. It's neat to watch them make the bagels.
You'll be going back.
For restaurants you have already have some good recommendations. However, I would second the following: L'Express (for a true french bistro feel, as well you should ask for the second wine menu), Au Pied de Cochon (something of a Quebecois version of Joe Beef, though that doesn't come close to doing it justice) and Aszu (if you want to experience something with an old Montreal feel).
As for bars, if you go to BU you might wish to check out the trendy Mile End Club which is almost directly across the street. Judging from your list of bars the closest equivalents would take you much further south on St. Laurent. Maybe, start with GoGo Lounge (on St. Laurent between rue Prince Arther and ave. du Pins), check out the scene and maybe proceed a few steps north to Le Bifteck since you seem partial to dives. If you are still not satisfied continue north on St. Laurent hitting Blizzart, Jupiter room and Korova. By this point I would expect the rest of the evening to be a blur.
You will enjoy Joe Beef-you might ry and get up to BU on St.Laurent either for dinner or some wine and italian style tapas-a slightly simpler concept than JK wine bar,
You could also spend some time in Old Montreal-lots of great options there too-Holder on Mc Gill as a good atmosphere again for dinner or drinks.
re: montreal traveller
I followed a recommendation on this board recently and had an excellent lunch, 3 courses for $11.95, at Bistro Justine on St-Denis just north of Mont-Royal. Can't find that in TO. It's also a wine bar so that might (or might not) be interesting for you. Wine list is on their website.
Pintxo (Basque tapas)is very good and reasonable, also Reservoir on Duluth, Brunoise. Being kind of Plateau-centric but that is the 'hood with great food.
And you are going to Au Pied du Cochon, oui? Lots of character there, worth the money.
Can't help with the bars -- my shadow darkens only wine bars -- but for a recent list of resto recs, look here www.chowhound.com/topics/400827#2576211 and follow the links to ...an endless banquet's listings.
Le Petit Prince is a great B&B. Too bad about the mostly razed block and the sad spectacle of the Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine house it faces, but they're easy to forget once you cross the threshold.