4 vegetarians on a road trip
hello! a group of 4 vegetarians are traveling around quebec in a few weeks. we are flying into manchester, NH and renting a car. from there, we are heading to sherbrooke (1 day), montreal (1 day), and quebec city (2 days) before driving back to manchester. we are going to concerts in the evenings but looking for brunching places and early dinner spots, or gastro pubs.
though we are vegetarian, we aren't of the "garden burger" variety - e.g., we are not specifically looking for vegetarian restaurants. the only thing we aren't looking for, really, are steakhouses! all cuisines are welcomed, most especially indian, thai, vietnamese. last time i was in montreal i stumbled upon a restaurant row with many delicious indian choices, but i can't remember now where it was or what the name of the restaurant we picked was!
any idea of where we should eat in these towns, or in between? we want to try the absolute best food in these cities! (well, considering we will all be in casual dress, anyway - the best we can get in jeans i should specify!) thanks!
During a November 3-day trip I tried a couple of fantastic vegetarian places and also had fantastic veggie food at another couple.., depending on how strict a veggie you are or what type etc...(i eat a bit of seafood on occasion, and on occasion don't enquire about what type of broth might be used )..there was only one exception to the fabulous eats....Indira (i think it was called), on St. Denis....blech. Stale bread, either undercooked or under-fatted dhal (grainy and weird), mediocre flavour in the other dishes we ordered. The beer there was the best part of the meal. Plus very strange wait staff who were kind of creepy and practically stood over us as we ate. Perhaps they're used to people bolting out the door.
I had a quick lunch at Chuch my first day there....LOVED it. If ChuChai is better, i can't wait to try !!! I had a bunch of different stuff there...oh so good and great prices. Lunch next day was at Guido and Angelina's....where we shared a spinach salad with provolone and a grainy honey mustard dressing which was divine, and a four cheese pizza that was sooo good. We finished the meal with cannoli. I don't know if it was just because we'd been walking all day in the cold, but that was a damn fine cheesy meal. A late dinner that night at Casa Tapas...indescribeable..I loved everything about this place...the almond soup ( I don't want to know what's in it!!)...was magnificent, they bought out warm olives and bread and oil before hand. We had a cheese plate of some sort, an artichoke dish, a mushroom one and several other tapas, all of which were divine ! They have a vegetarian Paella there but we didn't try it. We did lunch the next day at Lola Rosa, a small little place that is totally vegetarian i believe, many vegan items on the go...I had a ragout there that was yummy !!!! Last Montreal meal was sushi, one of which was a sweet potato item, at Sushi Wow, just a little take out place...mmmm.
I can't wait to go back !!
Lola Rossa is indeed a vegetarian restaurant. The most vegetarian-friendly Spanish restaurant in Montreal is La Sala Rosa - as it is part of the Casa del Popolo setup (Casa del Popolo, mostly a bar with alternative shows, has a small, vegetarian menu - soups, salads, sandwiches). But it the selection for vegetarians in Sherbrooke and elsewhere in the Townships is of course more limited.
I really want to like Lola Rosa as it's the closest restaurant to my work, plus it's vegetarian and oh-so-cute. However, my experience with the food has been mixed. I was first taken there for lunch when I came to Montreal to interview. I ordered the four cheese vegetable lasagna. It was extremely rich and greasy but tasted awful. I wanted to send it back but didn't want to make a fuss on my interview. However, so many people have raved about the lasagna since then I decided to give it a second shot, and indeed they've changed it substantially. It's still quite rich but much tastier, and has detectable vegetables. It comes with a pleasant "caesar salad" which is actually made with a tahini dressing.
The next time I went I tried the hemp burger, which wasn't terrible but I wouldn't recommend it, and the bread was blah. The little bits of beet and chickpea salad that came on the side were very tasty though. My friend ordered the veggie burger and seemed to have the same reaction to it as I did to the hemp burger.
I've had the lola rosa salad which is pretty heavy: lots of feta, olives, avocado, and a nice tahini dressing. The first time I had it I quite enjoyed it, but last time it was way overdressed, and sodden.
The borek is a spinach and feta filo-dough pie (the Turkish version of Spanikopita) which my turkish friends have made for me many times. The Lola Rosa version wasn't nearly as good as my friends', but it was fine. It seems to have changed since I had it, however, as it's now in one large piece rather than 6 mini triangles. Hopefully they've improved the recipe as well as changed the presentation.
I've tried a few of their tex-mex style dishes but would not recommend any of them, though I'm from Texas and have pretty high standards when it comes to Mexican or even psuedo-Mexican food. Clearly these dishes are popular, as they're what everyone else in the restaurant seems to be ordering.
Lola Rosa also offers a curry dish, a tagine, and a few other "ethnic" dishes which I haven't gotten a chance to try yet.
Overall, although the quality of the food is mixed, and the preparation seems inconsistent, I really enjoy the restaurant, especially in the summer when the front is opened up, the air is breezy, and everything is lit by natural light. The prices are a bit high for lunch but that's the price of convenience I suppose.
Le Commensal is a small chain of vegetarian restaurants that I remember as one of the high points of Montreal. There was a HUGE cold buffet and then a HUGE hot buffet. Everything was meat-free. Everything was fresh and delicious. They weighed your plate and charged you accordingly. Prices were moderate. The selection was vast. I see they have a website; go there for locations & specifics.
just got back last night... stuffed, exhausted, drove over 1000 miles! let me see what i can remember....
the GPS totally led me astray in sherbrooke. we searched high and low for le cartier, to no avail. we ended up at a sports bar with some good steak fries and mediocre pizza. we did hit tim horton's for breakfast on the way out of town and i've got to admit, ashamedly, they have a fabulous wheat toast. nice and airy and chewy. i wish we had fast food like that here in the states, i might actually eat it once in a while.
in montreal, we headed out to that fabulous indian row... while i couldn't find the place i ate earlier this year (i must have been on a nearby side street) we did find a vegetarian indian place where we split a bunch of dishes. a light lunch turned into a very heavy lunch. i thought it was just OK. not enough spice in the paneer dish i got, and the spinach/paneer dish was a bit too creamy. everything was really cheap.
for dinner in montreal we wanted to try that thai place, but found it was too far from the concert venue, and lunch was too heavy to eat an early dinner. we ended up at ?bano thai? a block up from le national. we ordered three dishes and some apps and soups, split them all around. i wasn't too terribly thrilled with this place. none of our three dishes were anything like they were described. the tom kai soups lacked flavor. a white pepper & garlic veggies dish had neither white pepper nor garlic, that we could tell. we wanted tofu with our veggies so tried to order extra tofu, but they promised the dishes came with tofu. between all three dishes i think i counted two pieces of tofu... and i just flat-out did not like my dish; veggies with vermicelli, way too congealed for my liking.
in the morning before heading out of town we decided to head up to that indian row once more. we found the place mentioned above, bombay mahal, and i am so glad we did!!! we thought it was closed, there was no one in there and there were no lights on. but the doors were open, so we went in and got a table. we had: a very weird but very good chaat, samosas, veggies + paneer tandoori, a vegetable biryani, and a lamb korma (one of my travelers deviates from the vege routine now and then). this is some of the best indian food i've ever had. few places here in philly can rival it, and throughout all my trips to NYC and DC there's no indian food there that comes even remotely close. halfway through we were full but had to keep eating. the veggies + paneer were an absolutely perfect dish, totally spiced perfectly and a gorgeous texture and color. i dipped some naan to sample the korma sauce (several times), and it was wonderfully cinnamony. we were sooooo thrilled with this place.
on to quebec city - all the food we had there was so heavy. this made for some lovely irish coffee bar crawls but some overly full stomachs! we had a really tough time with the GPS here, tried to find the mille fuille place but we ended up somewhere that looked like an american shoney's - we must have had the address wrong - we cut our losses and left. now dark, and running short on time, we went to le cochon dingue which was close to the concert venue. i think i gained 10 pounds upon walking in, the butter smell was so overwhelming! we had the fondue, which was actually fried cheese which surprised me. it was pretty good. had a salad, panini, OK stuff, but i thought the calories could have been put to better use.
for brunch the next day we headed out to a place i'd seen recommended around here, but the name is escaping me right now. cute little place on a small side street... had a warm goat cheese salad that was delicious, albeit small. the place was next to a restaurant called asia.
later on had dinner at a place near all those steps, actually halfway down the steps... cute atmosphere, food was so-so. we had a vegetable bisque and a pesto pasta, among other things. very heavy. great wine.
next time i will have to figure out the addresses a little better so i can find more of these places! thanks for all the ideas - we had a wonderful time!
Thanks so much for the report. Glad you got to Bombay Mahal - I love that place too - when it's not too busy! Hopefully next time you're back you'll have time to hit a few more places - with a better GPS (or MapQuested routes!)
Now I wonder... will you reveal the name of the band that prompted the road trip? I'm curious. :-)
thanks for all your responses. i leave tomorrow morning for quebec - just spent the better part of an hour plugging all these recs into my GPS! i have a TON of places in montreal - more unfortunately than i have time for... but i have more days in quebec and some empty meal spots, after scouring the boards. any last quebec city recs?
we are going to take the board's advice, eat at le cartier in sherbrooke, and hightail it out of there as soon as possible for montreal.
i will report back when i return - thanks again all!
Quebec City, but most restaurants will do whatever you want. A friend of mine is a Vegan and when he comes to Quebec we just tell the waiter and they GET 'ER done....
Vegetarian restos -
860 rue St. Jean (418) 647-3733
Le Restaurant Zen V
966, Boulevard René-Lévesque W (418) 687-8936
Cafe Mille Feuille VF
1394 Chemin Ste-Foy (418) 681-4520
re: YUL PHL
You can definitely find decent vegetarian food at Le Cartier: http://www.restoenligne.com/affResto....
I think the issue here is that a lot of the "destination" gastronomic restaurants tend to be located in the beautiful countryside in the Eastern Townships, but I don't think that is what you are looking for, and except for certain spas, I doubt most would particularly feature vegetarian cuisine.
I don't know if these places are where I'd go if I had only 1 day in Montreal - and I know you did say you weren't specifically looking for veg. restos - but if you do come back for longer, two places to try spring to mind:
I had some excellent food a Lola Rosa in the McGill ghetto (545 Milton) - I'd recommend it for lunch, had a great sweet-potato quesadilla and extraordinary chocolate tart.
I've also heard some amazing things about the vegan resto Aux Vivres:
Jim Leff's Montreal trip report
Don't know Sherbrooke or Qc. City well, but someone recently posted on Sherbrooke so you might want to check out this thread:
Just as an aside, not to dis Sherbrooke, but unless you have a special reason to be there (conference? family? friend) I'd highly recommend a second day in Montreal instead - we have so many great restos here, it's a shame to be so limited. :-)
if you want good vegetarien and inexpensive food in montreal I would defenitively recommend Aux Vivres at 4631, boul. St-Laurent coin villeneuve, they have very good food. Chuchai is really good, try their sticky rice mmmmmm
in sherbrooke I would recommend the cartier, it's not a vegeterian restaurant but there is a lot of vegetarien stuff on the menu,
if you are in sherbrooke and want to go Hiking you should go to le Mont Pinacle it's about 45 minute from sherbrooke, in the town of Baldwin and if it's not to far back in the month of october it's very worthwhile http://www.montpinacle.ca/sentiers_an...
in Quebec you can maybe try the Aviatic club in the Gare du Palais they have great wine and ambiance but I'm not sure that they have a alot of vegeterian stuff I don't remember... but i use to really like going there ( a bit expensive too)
Good luck on your trip
It's always possible to put together a fine vegetarian meal at Au cinquième péché. Not a huge range of choices, but what there is is first-rate modern French cooking. Plus they're still featuring organic vegetables from the Persil Perlà farm near Mirabel. Smart wine list with a good selection of wines by the glass, casual dress and young, enthusiastic and very welcoming staff.
BU wine bar has lots of little vegetarian plates and often a vegetarian main or two. Casual and cool ambiance. One of the city's best wine lists and an ever changing, always intriguing wine-by-the-glass program. Open late, too.
You should go to Chuch on St-Denis (next to ChuChai which is a bit more formal) and try their vegetarian Thai food. It is really good. I like their mock satay, the tofu curries, and their tofu and cucumber appetizer. Cluny Artbar is fun and has some wonderful blanched vegetable salads. And the Indian restaurants you mention are probably those found along Jean-Talon near Boulevard L'Acadie like Bombay Mahal which is at 1001, rue Jean-Talon Ouest. Happy masala dosa!
Chuch (not ChuChai, the more formal side) is also a byow, which can be a nice touch.
There are very few restos in Montréal where jeans would be a problem. Perhaps shorts, jogging pants or tracksuits, but not jeans.
A hip empire for concerts is the casa del popolo bar and across the street, the Salla Rossa concert venue and Spanish social club Sala Rosa www.casadelpopolo.com The café/bar just has a short, simple menu but it is all vegetarian - sandwiches, soups and salads. Because of the Casa del popolo management and patron, the Spanish restaurant (La Sala Rosa), although it is not vegetarian by any means, has a much larger selection of vegetarian tapas and mains than is usually the case.
Right now the weather is so splendid that I'd suggest heading to Jean-Talon Market or some other stretch of good food shops and treating yourselves to a picnic. I doubt this extremely warm weather will hold, but it may well be autumnal picnic weather.
There are a couple of other threads on vegetarian food in Québec City - you can do a search on this board (see the "search this board" feature).