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where to take gal on date

been living in mtl for a year, and as a student, i don't treat myself to restaurant outings as much as i should. however, i've got a special gal coming to town in a couple of weeks, and would like to impress...live in the mcgill ghetto sans car, so any advice from those who've eaten around more than i have would be greatly appreciated.

thanks (as i know this question probably repeats itself daily on these boards..apologies..)

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  1. Help us narrow it down, markiank.

    Budget before drinks and tip?
    Is the wine list a factor?
    What about BYO?
    And ambience -- formalish? casual? hip? intimate? bustling? music (background music or something more assertive)? neighbourhoodish or designer decor? only people your age? etc.
    Type of cooking -- bistro, classic French, modern market-driven French, Italian, Portuguese, Lebanese, Greek, Persian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, etc., etc.

    1. No car is definitely NOT a problem where you live - there are lots of places you can walk to (romantically strolling) or less romantically take the bus a bit north.

      What does she like? Is she a meat-eater or a (semi) vegetarian? There are many restos in the Plateau and Mile-End that correspond to all the categories carswell helpfully lists.

      A place that comes to mind which has a pretty, exotic (and comfy) décor is Khyber Pass on Duluth; it is an Afghan resto - somewhat exotic but not overly spicy or too "heavy" food - and is a byow.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lagatta

        Went to Khyber Pass a couple of weeks ago, and I wouldn't recommend it for a special date.

        It's affordable, the soups are very good, but the mains are decent but IMO forgettable.

        I'd say "heavy" is definitely on the menu, too. The house specialty consists of a large lamb shank and a mountain of rice (+ raisins and grated carrots). The lamb was nice and tender, the carrots and raisins a tasty combo, rice above-average (but that's not saying much) -- and yet all together it just wasn't anything special; tasty, filling, bordering on bland. Other dishes seen and/or tasted were also quite rich and generously portioned.

      2. I like Soy on St Laurent for dates. It is nicely-lit, the food is delicious (gourmet Chinese with other influences) and the service has always been good. You can also walk to a number of bars afterwards if you want to continue the evening. Walk to St Laurent (or while the construction is going on, a few streets east) to take the 55 bus going north, and get off at Laurier. You should make a reservation as it fills up fast.

        Soy
        5258 ST LAURENT
        MONTRÉAL, QC H2T 1S1, Canada

        (514) 499-9399

        1. check out Khyber Pass on duluth

          3 Replies
          1. re: celfie

            celfie, did you read my post? That said, I also agree with Keramel's recommendation. Soy is nice, attractive and not too expensive. There are many pleasant, moderately-priced places in Mile End and the Plateau, easily accessible by bus or romantic stroll (and not even a killer to take a taxi back home) from where you live. It is right in the McGill ghetto that the offer is limited (the only decent place I could think of there is Amelio's, and I wouldn't take a date there). Definitely AVOID the places on St-Laurent between Sherbrooke and av des Pins/Pine Avenue though. They are overpriced and not very good.

              1. re: lagatta

                "Definitely AVOID the places on St-Laurent between Sherbrooke and av des Pins/Pine Avenue though. They are overpriced and not very good."

                You're dissing La Porte, Map, Café Méliès? When did you last eat at any of these establishments? Please share with us why you think they're overpriced and not very good.

            1. You're a student, no car, with what I'm guessing is tight budget.
              The place to go? Santropol, corner of St-Urbain and Marie-Anne.
              And I disagree with Mr. F; Khyber Pass is a good suggestion. I've always liked their lamb.

              9 Replies
              1. re: rillettes

                I didn't dislike the food at Khyber, but I just don't see the appeal for a date that includes the goal of impressing "a special gal." It's a decent place with a certain charm, but I see absolutely nothing impressive about it.

                Instead of more carping, I'll throw out a suggestion: Pintxo. Price might be an issue, but as splurges go it's on the affordable side.

                1. re: Mr F

                  Yes, that is a lovely place, and an easy walk from the McGill ghetto. I prefer Pintxo to MAP.

                  1. re: lagatta

                    FYI. Somebody suggested at an earlier topic is that MAP is closed. Their father (or mother) restaurant Pinxto is really good (and impressive) if budget is not an issue. However, with drinks, your bill will go up and it is not BYO.

                    The suggestion below for Prato is also good, but the ambiance will be nothing to write home about especially with the construction at St Laurent right outside the door. But their pies are good, if you are into the think crust style.

                    People also suggest L'Express for such occasions, but I didn't get a chance to try it out yet. I just hear people raving about it. It is French, it is perhaps more Montreal than any of the suggestions and it is a short walk from the ghetto.

                  2. re: Mr F

                    My bad for the misinterpretation.
                    There's always Prato. Affordable, good food, and the 2-hour (a slight exaggeration) wait for your dirty pie will let you get to know the special girl a bit better.

                    1. re: rillettes

                      wow, this thread got active even quicker than i expected. pintxo sounds wonderful (how much might i be looking at $$-wise after wine and such -- you said it's not byo?). i'm willing to spend money (i did say she was special, right?), just might like to get out of there with some room for drinks afterwards.

                      any other recs?

                      thanks for the help, and keep it coming. i'll let you know how it works out in a couple weeks

                        1. re: markiank

                          The web site has a menu, so you can probably estimate based on your appetite and wine budget.

                          http://www.pintxo.ca/

                          You can perhaps go to Pop! (http://www.popbaravin.com/) at Pins if you are into innovative cocktails. At least that is what I would do if I were on a date.

                          1. re: markiank

                            I in fact also took a special lady from out of town to Pintxo. With the wine (one bottle) it came out to slightly more than $100 which was pretty good if you ask me.

                            She loved it. I scored major brownie points.

                            1. re: markiank

                              i'd try blue nile on st denis, its etiohpian and you eat with your hands. can be a very sensual experience
                              its also a pretty place and i like the food

                      1. I like Casa Tapas for a date because you share the plates and I love the place. You can have sangria instead of wine so you save a couple of bucks there because it is less expensive than a bottle of wine.

                        1. This gal's vote is for Brunoise. Their menu is prix fixe, 3 courses for $48 or 7 courses for $60 . Add wine, and I guess it becomes a fairly big splurge for a student, but I have to say that I can't imagine that she would be anything but WOWed. The food is truly excellent, service is great, and the atmosphere is cool but not stuffy. Also not too far from you at all, on St. André at Roy.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: foodismyfriend

                            I'm in the same situation...

                            I was thinking of L'Express, because I haven't been there since spring and the last experience was thoroughly enjoyable, with great service. I'm also craving the tartare.

                            But then Cinquieme Peche (on Mont Royal E.) came to mind - seems to be a bit more intimate, and I've heard some decent rumblings about this place in the last year or so. Has anyone been there yet?

                            1. re: goldkixx

                              If you want to impress a gal, I would not take her to L'express! If you read the latest threads on this restaurant, you will see that almost everyone experiences bad service there. Someone here said that it should be expected because it is french, but I beg to differ. When I pay a good amount of money, I should not be pushed around by waiters. I won't say more because it could get mean on my part....I never went to Le cinquieme péché so I can't comment.

                              If you are looking for a good steak tartare, I like the one chez L'Évêque but it is not a trendy restaurant. It is more of an old style french restaurant. The prices are around the same as L'Express but way nicer! Their red snapper is incredible.

                              1. re: goldkixx

                                Plenty has been written on this board about Au cinquiéme péché, almost all of it positive. Use the search feature.