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Aug 28, 2007 07:09 AM

Dream Romantic Foodie Weekend MONTREAL

My husband and I are both big eaters (and I'm a big cook) -- all types of cuisine, high brow, low brow, ethnic, whatever. He has never been to Montreal and I'm going to surprise him with a weekend trip mid September. We're staying at Hotel Opus (Sherbrooke Street and St.-Laurent Boulevard). We would be perfectly happy to go from breakfast to market to incredible cheese shop to lunch to coffee to unique grocery store to afternoon cocktails to wine shop to dinner to sleep! And then repeat the next day! And the next! We fly in Friday late afternoon and leave late on Sunday.

If anyone has recommendations for the weekend, please suggest a day itinerary for us. I'm not so familiar with the city, but understand it is pretty walkable (we won't have a car). I'd rather spend more time walking (build up an appetite) around a particular area that is chock full of great food finds than cris-crossing the city in a taxi to go to one specific place.

I'd imagine on Friday, we'll probably opt for cocktails (any serious cocktail bars, either with the classics or with fancy new-fangled libations? -- How about wine bars?) and a yummy dinner somewhere near our hotel (which I understand is fairly central). Maybe somewhere French for dinner to really introduce my husband to the City. And, on Saturday and Sunday -- please recommend markets or unique food shops. Are there any foods that are unique to Montreal - baked treats, deli surprises or street food? Any seasonal treats that we should be sure not to miss?

All suggestions welcome -- thanks in advance!

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  1. I would highly reccomend you spend your saturday in the Jean-Talon market area. Great market and right near Montreal's Little Italy, "Little India", and "Little Latin America" If you feel like doing a marathon food day this is the place to do it. There are way too many good places in this neighbourhood for me to even begin talking about, so do a quick search for jean-talon or JTM on the boards.

    1. I'll give you a couple of suggestions but the best thing that you can do is read through the threads on this board, do a bit of research, then come back with some more specific questions (simply because these things have all been addressed before).

      For cocktails, you have a couple of choices in your area. On St. Laurent, up from your hotel, you have GoGo Lounge and Pistol. Keep in mind that they are doing road work on St. Laurent, so you'll have to do some meandering and its not that great to look at. If the weather is nice, sit on the roof top terrasse of Reservoir on Duluth for some home-made beer and tasty nibbles (fish and chips, goat cheese fig sandwich, etc.). The Plateau Lounge in the W Hotel also serves some innovative cocktails using fresh ingredients. If you are going there, I suggest you do it early say before 11pm (they open at 4) because the later it gets, the more crowded and pretentious it becomes.

      We don't have street food but for markets, Jean-Talon is your best bet (it's bigger than Atwater). Once there, you can visit Hamel cheese store and aux Havres for ice cream. The market is near Little Italy, so you can wonder around and find some good bakeries.

      As for food, the possibilities are endless. Like I said check other threads but a couple to think about are L'express, Lemeac (they have a $22-2 course special after 10pm) and Le Club Chasse et Peche.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jellybelly25

        I would say avoid the food at Pistol. It's mediocre and super greasy. Also Go-Go Lounge and Pistol are mainly frequented by university students and 20-something stripey shrt types. If you want a more upscale epxerience, you'll have to head to the holel bars Old-Montreal. If you want a slightly more grown up crowd, you'll have to go up to Baldwin Barmacie on Laurier, or Plan B or Edgar Hypertaverne on Mont-Royal.

      2. BTW, What's the adress of The Opus Hotel? I've never heard of it and google maps comes up with nothing.

        Do you mean The Omni on Sherbrooke Ouest? Their restaurant is called Opus.

        If that's the case, you'll be close to Pullman wine bar on Avenue du Parc. Maybe that could be you're Friday night stop.

        4 Replies
        1. re: SnackHappy

          No it's Opus: It's the hotel that was owned by one of the restaurant groups on St. Laurent. I can't for the life of me remember the specifics but the group wasn't allowed to have a liquor license for the hotel because of (infractions, fines?) or whatever it was that they were receiving for their liquor management in their restaurants. In the end, Opus took it over and will be opening a bar in the hotel. Maybe it's already open.

          In reference to your comment about "20-something stripey shrt types," I completely agree. I offered Pistol and Go Go as suggestions for drinks because she said she was looking for afternoon drinks and these places will definately be comfortable during the day.

          If you are not too tired from your flight, you could head down to Old Montreal immediately, as SnackHappy suggests, and go to hotel Place D'armes or Nelligan. Baldwin Barmacie is nice but I wouldn't consider it a "serious cocktail bar" as you said you were looking for. I found the cocktail list to be quite boring.

          1. re: jellybelly25

            Thanks for clearing that up, jellybelly. That used to be the Godin. I thought that place was owned by Daniel Langlois.

            1. re: SnackHappy

              I found an article about it.

              Turns out Langlois only owned 5% of it.

            2. re: jellybelly25

              I love the Nelligan for drinks after work. It's so comfortable, and the bartender knows how to make a decent martini (rare in the area).

              Rumour has it that Mechant is also a good after-work drink spot, but tends to be more boisterous. I haven't been yet, mainly because I just love the big leather couches at the N.

          2. For Friday evenings avoid St-Laurent all together and head instead a few blocks west, about 8 minute walk, to Parc and go to Pullman( for great wine selections from one of the top sommeliers in the provinces and great bites.

            10 Replies
            1. re: swissfoodie

              OK -- Excellent suggestions! I actually have read through many of the posts on this board previously and appreciate the repeated suggestions.

              Pullman looks fantastic and I believe would be a great spot to walk to after we check in on Friday night for some wine and snacks. Perhaps we'll follow that up with steak frites at L'express (are these two places anywhere near eachother? does it matter? is everything really within a $10 cabride?).

              Sat AM, we'll go to the JTM (which sounds super fabulous - can't wait to try the cherry chocolate ice cream from aux Havres that has been mentioned on this board in previous posts). Are there places to eat in the market? or is it really more of produce/butcher/cheese shops that will package for takeout and cook at home? Are there any lunch places in or near the JTM that we should hit for a small lunch (hopefully, we will sample a few things at the market), perhaps in little italy or little latin america (not sooo keen on Indian)? Often, we'll go to two or three restaurants and have a coffee and one must-have dish at each one to make our meal (we do this in Manhattan all the time - including this past weekend - and it usually ends up filling us up to the hilt and emptying our wallets, but boy is it fun).

              Perhaps Saturday afternoon or early evening (after a nap or a museum -- we should probably do at least ONE non-food thing while in town), we'll head over to the Old Quarter for a walk through the romantic streets at sunset and have an upscale drink at one of the hotel bars (which hotels - Place D'armes or Nelligan? Is that where Plan B or Edgar are located?) - followed by dinner in this area (again -- suggestions? Is Le Club Chasse et Peche in this area? It looks really cute based on reviews on this site and elsewhere).

              Then -- Sunday -- I'm sure we'll sleep late in our food coma and be hungry for a final lunch/brunch before we head to the airport. Any suggestions for daytime places? We're not super keen on brunch, unless it's super inventive, as I feel I can get eggs and bacon just about anywhere (including my own kitchen!).

              I believe I've gotten great suggestions from you all -- just not sure about the logistics of the city for a marathon food weekend.

              Thank you again!

              1. re: Stickies

                There are lots of places to eat at Jean-Talon Market. Most places offer grilled meats or sausages. Most of them are in the east structure or the south strip. The ice cream place is called Havre-Aux-Glaces, btw, and it's an absolute must.

                Around the market there's the infamous Petit Alep: a favourite of many on this board. You could also go for pupusas at Los Planes on Bélanger just east of the market. If you do go, avoid there Mexican dishes and go for the Salvadoran specialites.

                Plan B and Edgar Hypertaverne are on Mont-Royal avenue in the Plateau.

                If you're looking for brunch with non-egg options, you could do worse than Réservoir. The food there is delicious and inventive, they make their own really good beer, and it's a short stroll up the street from your hotel.

                  1. re: mainsqueeze

                    We both wrote that at teh same time. Aren't we cute?

                1. re: Stickies

                  A really great place for lunch that is quite near JTM is Le Petit Alep, situated at 191 rue Jean-Talon Est. They serve delicious Armenian and Syrian foods, and it's a wonderful place for a light and affordable lunch. You can even sit outside.

                  If you like Salvadoran food, there are a couple of places within walking distance from the market that serve up excellent pupusas, tamales, and the like. Los Planes (531 Bélanger E.) is one of our favourites. Slighty futher, there's also La Carreta (350 St-Zotique E.)

                  But you can also eat right in the market. I usually get a sausage sandwich from Balkani and dessert at Havre-aux-glaces. The crepe and smoothie/juice stands offer some wonderful treats, and if you're looking for a croissant or other baked fare, try Au Pain Dorée or Première Moisson. All of these are situated within or on the perimetre of the market.

                2. re: swissfoodie

                  If you are going to be at the Nelligan for drinks I suggest going to Chez L'Epicier for dinner afterwards It's pretty casual but we always have a good meal there and I love the atmosphere of the place. We are from Toronto but visit frequently. We always make sure we do brunch at Beauty's, great hangover food....bacon and eggs, etc. My other must do is dinner at Brunoise. Fabulous food.

                  1. re: millygirl

                    go to au pied de cochon, rediculously good. get the fois gras poutine.

                    1. re: millygirl

                      Warning about Beauty's though - you will have to stand in line for breakfast sunday morning. And personally I don't think it's worth the wait.

                      It might be a little out of the way, on St. Laurent - but you just have to do Schwartz's for lunch. A trip to Montreal is nothing without a smoked meat, french fry and cherry coke.

                      I also double recommend the Nelligan.

                      1. re: maisonbistro

                        Any good brunch place on Sunday morning would have a line up: If you want to avoid line-ups, you need to get to them before 10:30. My general experience is that if you go at 10:15, you can walk into most places. But if you want to sleep in, well, you'll have to suck up the wait.

                        I would agree that Beauty's is not worth the wait. I agree with the other suggestions by mainsqueeze, But would add a few other possibilities. I am always fond of croissant, and we have a wealth of lovely places in the city. My current favorite is Fous Desserts on Laurier East (near St. Hubert), which would be a 30-45 minute walk from your hotel, or a short <$10 cab ride. Their croissants are outstandingly buttery and crisp and flaky. Their other pastries are fabulous as well. Also, any of the Premiere Moisson or Patisserie Gascognes (there are several places that as easily accessible by cab near your hotel) can provide croissant/pastries/panini/quiche/etc.etc.etc. Very French and very delicious! And after the food coma that is your weekend, it may be nicer to have a lighter last meal ( although if you are like me and can't resist all the goodies in these places, it may be less light than you should have!).

                      2. re: millygirl

                        It is my opinion that Beauty's is higly over-rated and over-priced, and certainly not what I would call inventive.

                        For less run of the mill brunches, I like Leméac, Byblos, Le Cartet, and Bistro Truffert. You'll find recent reviews of all of these if you search this board.