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Sep 30, 2007 01:55 PM

Montreal for Three Days...Where to Eat???

I've already made plans to go to "The Pig's Foot" (Au Pied Cochon, sorry about spelling) due to a friend's recommendation. My girlfriend and I are both restaurant maniacs, and I'm in the business myself. Where is the great local spots and the hidden gems? Places for drinks would also be appreciated. Thank you SO much.

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  1. The best BYOW for me right now is Le zeste de folie on Masson street in the Rosemont area. You need reservations because it has grown in popularity. The menu is not extensive but everything is excellent! If you want to try one BYOW while you are in town, this is the one.

    1. Where do you want to start?

      Coffee and pastries:
      Cafe Sante Veritas on St Laurent, corner Notre Dame in the old port. Barista Anthony Benda recently took third in the National Barista competition, and it shows. His cappuccinos are not to be missed!
      Caffee in Gamba: Parc and Fairmount. Owner Jean Francois serves up a mean espresso on his gorgeous Faema, and goes out of his way to ensure you have a good time. Try the cannolis!
      Cheskie's Bakery: Bernard corner of Parc. Closed from sundown Friday til Sunday mornings (it's Hasidic), their chocolate babka would make you weep it's so beautiful, if you can manage to get there before it's gone. Just try and resist the perfect little ruggalahs.
      Cocoa Locale: Baker Reema whips up the most incredible cupcakes. The chocolate chai will have you on your knees in pleasure.

      Ethnic food:
      Halal 786 at 786 Jean Talon, technically pakistani but makes the best Indian in town in my opinion. Skip dessert though, the gulab jaman is horrid.
      Pushap: get your indian desserts here. There's one on Jean Talon, near Halal. Dil Bahat is my favourite, a honey drenched milk ball stuffed with pistachio cream.
      Khyber Pass, on Duluth East. This local favourite features Afghani food, and has the bonus of being BYOW. There's an SAQ express around the corner on St. Denis if you get caught short.

      Affordable eats:
      Bazaar Anise (Laurier and St. Urbain): Chef Racha serves up flavours that have to be experienced to be believed. She infuses a middle eastern touch into European favourites like hanger steak. The veal cheek is incredible, as is the falafal. Good wine list, open late.
      Lemeac (Laurier West, past Parc): the after 10PM menu isn't to be missed. $22 gets you a choice of appetizers and main course in the classic French bistro style. Great wine list, too!

      High end:
      Club Chasse et Peche in the old port. It'll make your wallet cry, but it's oh so worth it. Low lighting, comfortable leather chairs, a fantastic wine list, and a menu that concentrates on local ingredients.

      You've already got Au Pied de Cochon on your list, so I'll just give a heads up: Go VERY hungry. This restaurant is an homage to excess, with foie gras topping everything from rabbit to french fries. If you don't want to roll out, I suggest getting an appetizer each and sharing a main course. As an example, the duck in a can (for one person!) sports four hockey sized pieces of foie gras. Truly a glutton's paradise.

      Local must-haves, classic Montreal style eats:
      Smoked Meat:
      Schwartz' deli on St. Laurent. Go in the off hours (say 2 PM) to avoid the line ups. Get the classic smoked meat sandwich, medium fat at least (lean's too dry), and get sides of fries and a half sour pickle.

      Maam Bolduc on de Lorimer serves up this classic, heaped with fresh cheese curds. They also serve the classic Quebec dessert tarte au sucre (sugar pie). Order one and share it, the slices are HUGE.

      Montreal-style bagels:
      Fairmount Bagels on Fairmount and St. Urbain makes the best in my opinion. Others will argue for St. Viateur, but these are my favourite. But hey, they're only a block apart so try both and make up your own mind.

      If that's not enough for you, spend some time at Jean Talon market. Try the classic polish doughnuts at Wawels, indulge in baklava from Ryad, enjoy meat on a stick from various vendors in butcher's row, and top it off with a sorbet from Havre Aux Glace. If you're lucky, they'll have the choco-cerise in stock.

      Google will serve up the address for any of these places.

      4 Replies
      1. re: phedre

        Halal 786 let me down the other night when I ordered delivery. They don't have any appetizers and the food was really nothing special. I had heard such great things so I was really surprised. I had the chicken tikka masala and biryani, along with some flat bread (forgot the name).

        1. re: Keramel

          They have some really great dishes, but I stick to the stuff that you can't get in an Indian resto. (Their Mustard Greens are to die for.) Maybe you just got them on an off night? If you're willing to give them another try, you should definitely go into the restaurant and get one of their daily specials (or the mustard greens).

          1. re: Moosemeat

            I agree about having something in the restaurant itself. For example the fried whole fish. I you're there on Friday, I strongly recommend the haleem (only made that day). I agree that the mustard greens are good. Incidentally, I'm not a fan of their biryani either but I like the chicken tikka.

            1. re: morebubbles

              I may give it one more try, if I have a chance. Thanks for the advice.

      2. So many choices, so little time. First of all, thank phedre for being oh-so-helpful--great reviews and info! One suggestion would be Brunoise--great food, cool vibe, very decent pricing--all in a neighbourhood that you will be able to walk from to after-drink fun. I truly can't imagine anyone being disappointed by this resto--the food is just too good.

        My high-end addition has to be Toqué. Pricey but good---service can be hit and miss-although I have found that if you show a bit of attitude, suddenly people get nicer. Food is truly excellent--some of the best that Montreal has to offer.

        Enjoy--and please post a post-vist- post!

        2 Replies
        1. re: foodismyfriend

          Just got back from my trip. I have to definitely thank Phedre for the great recs.

          Started off with some coffees at Cafe Sante Veritas, as it was a block away from my hotel. Fortunately, the owner was there, and we had a wonderful discussion about coffee, good eating, and his passionate hatred of Starbucks.

          Dinner first night at Au Pied de Cochon. Awesome. Almost comical. Started with the foie gras cromesquis (Sp?) which unfortunately my girlfriend missed out on the whole experience, trying to pick hers up with a fork. I still love her, though. Next, we had the venison tartare, one of the best I've ever had: huge portion, onion-y and spicy. Next, the foie gras over the potato pancake with bacons, onions, mushrooms, and a rich maple syrup sauce. One of the heaviest/best things I've had in a long time. I was disappointed in my appetite, because I really wanted the foot or the duck in the can or the pot-au-feux, but I just simply couldn't do it. I had the duck marget, and it was wonderful.

          Stumbled home, spent the next day walking up and down St. Laurent, St. Denis, Lorimer, etc, snacking at various cafes and little shops. We had poutine at "Frite Alors!" and it was about as good as cheese fries with gravy can get, I suppose. Went to Schwartz's for the smoked meat sandwich, made sure to get the fatty cut, and had some delicious frites and cole slaw. While Schwartz's was very good, to all Montreal hounds I highly recommend a stop at Katz's Deli in Manhattan. There were some funny comics on the walls referencing their competition for the best pastrami.

          Went to a great scotch bar on Rue Ontario- the name escapes me, but it was very cool.

          I would have loved to have eaten more, but unfortunately, my trip was short and most things were closed (sunday/monday). I will return, however. If you guys need any NYC help, don't hesitate to ask!

          1. re: CocHoliday

            "Went to a great scotch bar on Rue Ontario- the name escapes me, but it was very cool."

            Almost assuredly L'Île Noire (342 Ontario East, 514 982-0866), which shares a Tintin connection with Frite Alors! and Le Petit Moulinsart.

        2. Hi, it has been a while since I have been to Montreal. I am planning to go back this fall, and Sara's better still be there. Sara's is a small hole in the wall on St Catherine. The sign is what to look for, there used to be a sign sticking out that said Pizza 99cents. But they have those Turkish style gyros, and falafel that is to die for. They better still be there when I get back, not only is their food amazing, but they are wicked cheap too! As far as drinks, I am partial to O'Regan's Irish Pub, it is a block up from Crescent off of St Catherine as well. But if you like Chinese, I haven't ever had a bad meal in Chinatown. Good Luck!
          P.S. any native Montreal-ers want to let me know that Sara's is still there?
          Also, where to get tiramisu. I had it once on Peel St, Cafe Rock Dentente, but that place went and the place that was there last time didn't even have Tiramisu!! That was the whole reason we had driven to Montreal in the first place! Thanks

          1 Reply
          1. re: quibby

            Hi Guibby!
            I believe that Sara is still there. But if you want the total Gyros experience in montreal (And that goes for anyone who reads this), you have to try Le Village Grec's Gyro. It is by far the best Gyro in montreal. It will just kill you. They're located on Jean-Talon corner of Bloomfield. Another sandwich classic (Lebanese style) would be Boustan on Crescent.

            Some of my favorites places (That weren't yet named here) are Le Milsa (Brazilian Grill) and Les Chenêts (Classic french cuisine with the craziest wine selection I've seen in my life!). Both are on Bishop street.

          2. I would try for The Keg on rue ST Paul at the Old Port, it is a sure vibrant and the staff is great apart from the fact the food is very good.
            I love les Trois Petits Bouchons on St Denis for their french food, wine by the glass from their personal, imported wines, they serve an amazing tartiflette and their bison ribs are fall off the bone amazing. They also know how to pair their wines with their food.
            I second the idea of heading off to the Jean Talon market, it's awesome and some of the restaurants in that area tend to serve what they get fresh there every day...

            good luck!