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Driving the 401 - Toronto to Montreal

I'll be driving from Toronto to Montreal on a Friday evening this month, hoping to get to Montreal before midnight, but won't be able to leave Toronto any earlier than 4 pm. I'll likely encounter traffic, so, any suggestions as to where to grab a dinner that's quick and tasty or at least not too depressing? Thanks.

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  1. I frequently make the drive from Toronto to Ottawa. I frequently stop at Chez Piggy in Kingston. Nice cozy spot, good menu and service.

    1. When I'm in Kingston or passing through, I usually go with one of my friends to a place called Grecos. A lot of my friends really love that place.

      Grecos Grill
      167 Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L1A9, CA

      1. Chez Piggy is nice etc., but I don't believe it is too quick. The Kingston Brew Pub has nice reasonable food and great brewed in house beer. One small glass should be fine etc.

        It may be easier for posters to list places you wouldn't want to eat on route. i.e any 401 rest area.

        1. I am not sure what type of food you are looking for but when I was a graduate student I really enjoyed the Vietnamese cuisine at Mekong at the corner of division and princess in Kingston. Almost all the dishes are under $10.

          1 Reply
          1. preference for atmosphere?

            one of the best meals you can get in kingston is the wok-in. spicy malay (if i remember correctly) it something that's a little cafeteria in feel. the place is tiny and cozy but a serious hound kind of place.

            the brew pub is ok foodwise but the real treat there is a bourbon pie they do. it's similar in concept to a pecan pie/butter tart and something i always had to have when dragged out there for some celebration or another.

            greco's is an upscale (for kingston) greek place that i doubt will be quick but served consistent and reasonably tasty food.

            takesushi was always the better of the two (the other being asha across the street) but i'm unsure how the existence of either of these are doing. takesushi is korean run but they were super friendly and always offered up little dishes of extras. the sushi is ok but overall they were one of the better experiences in kingston.

            jj's if you want a pretty good burger.

            woodenhead's is like a more pedestrian terroni but the atmosphere is certainly not depressing and may refresh you for the ride on out. plus, you could get some pizza to go and take it on the road if you really wanted.

            1 Reply
            1. re: pinstripeprincess

              What about the Pilot House in K-town. I'm sure there may be somewhere nice along the main drag in Gananoque but I just don't the names of any places. Cornwall, Lancaster, Prescott are all food wastelands, IMHO.

            2. Not really a place for dinner, but the Big Apple - just outside Colborne, IIRC - makes some mighty fine pie, and considering when you're leaving, it's probably about 3 hours into your drive.

              4 Replies
              1. re: KevinB

                the pie is awful there. i never got it while i was in kingston but an aunt felt the repeated need to bring it back when she was on work trips.

                just.. gosh darn awful. flavourless and undercooked filling. mushy and unpalatable pastry crust.

                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                  There have been several threads on the horror that is the big apple. As someone who was on the receiving end of such *gifts* from visitors, just don't.

                  1. re: JennaL

                    I agree with pinstripe and JennaL on this one...the Big Apple is awful both in terms of its pies and the other food. Its a good place to stop for 20+ minutes and let the kids let off some steam, but to eat no thanks.

                2. re: KevinB

                  The Hot Apple Pie at McDonald's is better....

                3. The Flying J on the 401 (around Napanee I think??) has damn good brownies, believe it or not. Great road snack. They also have meatball and bacon skewers. So tasty. And when they are fresh the pizza slices at Pepperoni’s (also at the Flying J) are pretty good.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: magic

                    My wife and I stopped at the Flying J one time for dinner at about 9pm. We both got the buffet. I am absolutely not a finicky (sp?) eater, nor is my wife. She started with a salad. I went off to try a number of things on offer.

                    I came back with potato salad... couldn't find anything else that looked half appetizing.

                    My wife took a bite of her salad, looked at me and asked "have you ever had lettece that is dry?"

                    We didn't eat anything and felt rather dumb actually.
                    The waitress came over and asked if we needed anything. "Just the bill, please"
                    She said, "You didn't eat anything." Turned and walked away. She came back and gave us a bill for 2 Diet Cokes smiled and said "have a nice trip".
                    We hadn't complained or anything, so she must have been aware of how bad it was. That was about 2 years ago.

                    So, bad food but really good, friendly staff.
                    We tipped her very well.

                    1. re: Conductorchris

                      The buffet I know nothing about. I took one loook and passed. It's not run by Flying J though. I can't remember that restaurant's name. All I know is Flying J makes great brownies.

                    2. If you're around Belleville at dinner time, I'd recommend the Boat House downtown (a bit of a drive off the 401, but not too bad). Nothing too fancy or special (very casual, in fact), but good fish and chips and seafood.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: PaulV

                        On the right side nearly at the foot of Princess Street, Kingston (take the Division Street exit and follow it till it meets Princess Street, turning left and proceeding almost down to the Lake) there is a bakery whose name eludes me, something along the lines of PanChenko - but they have the best roast beef sandwiches I've ever tasted already made up, along with a variety of other savoury, sweet and bread comestibles: they will also do sandwiches to order, and you can call your order ahead for quick pickup. It will take you about 15 mins off the 401 to reach - lots of parking on the street and in a lot just about opposite the bakery - the half hour is well worth it, and infinitely better than the cluster of fast food joints at the 401 exit.

                        1. re: Bigtigger


                          if you'd like food to go then this is definitely your place. you may however not be in luck as they don't do dinner service and i'm not sure how late their deli/bakery is open. my favourite and most addictive yet probably ridiculously easy for me to make item in their case was the dragon noodles. spicy oniony egg noodles. delicious.

                      2. It is too bad that you are in such a hurry because Luke's in Kingston is AMAZING and definitely worth adding time to the trip to Montreal. What about staying in Kingston Friday night and then heading to Montreal in the morning?

                        264 Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L1B5, CA

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: zoohort2

                          I second this recommendation. When we're passing through Kingston at mealtime, Lukes is our preferred choice. Friendly service and great food!

                        2. Please keep the recommendations limited to the Ontario portion of her trip.

                          Missmu - if you are looking for recommendations for the Quebec leg of your trip, please post on the Quebec board.

                          Thanks to all for helping to keep the Ontario board focused on Ontario Chow!

                          1. Linguine's Italian Restaurant
                            151 Pinnacle Street
                            Belleville, ON K8N 3A5

                            I know that this will make me sound like a Toronto snob, but I never expected to find such a good restaurant in Belleville. Nice atmosphere, good food. Located in downtown Belleville which is about 5 or 6 minutes off the 401.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Jean Georges

                              Linguine's is now located on North Front Street, closer to the 401.

                            2. There is a little Czech place in Gananoque called the Maple Leaf. It's on the main street just up from the town hall. Great sznitzels, goulash, homemade original Czech style dumplings, spaetzel and borsch. Everything is made from scratch. Quiet relaxing atmosphere not hurried. Quaint little patio in summer. Closes for a few months i winter.

                              Just down the street is Anthony's. Great food, fabulous prime rib cooked fresh everyday in special ovens. Make sure you get the au jus with it. They do a great job with the side veggies too. The place is in a real need of a visit from restaurant makeover though.

                              Pilot House in Kingston terrific fish and chips / real pub food. It's a little snug inside, space is tight. Its raucous and a little worn around the edges like a real pub.

                              Not a fan of Grecos. Waiters shouting Ohpah! every couple minutes gets annoying.

                              Looking for a great diner try Morrisons in downtown Kingston. Solid food and brisk service. On par with those great diners in find in the US.

                              1. Brockville has two good fish and chip take-away places downtown. I can't remember the names of either of them but I've found them both worth a visit - drive around and you should be able to find them or ask. Grab some fish and chips and drive down to the waterfront park and watch the big ships go back and forth along the St. Lawrence Seaway. Good and quick and you can be on your way to Montréal (oops, am I allowed to say that name on this board?) in a jiffy.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: PaulV

                                  The chippers in Brockville are Dons Fish and Chips and Manollis. Dons was featured on the Road Food site. Very positive reviews. I've eaten there many times and they are very good.

                                    1. re: NewtonSquare

                                      Don's fish and chips gets my vote, fresh tasty food every time....they even make their own corndogs!!!!

                                      1. re: NewtonSquare

                                        We gave downtown Brockville's Brockberry Café a try for lunch on our recent May long weekend trip to Montreal. Briefly, it's acceptable, but a little pricey for the quality we experienced. The dining room is clean, bright and overlooks the city's main street.

                                        We asked for a Beau's lagered ale, the superb local product of Eastern Ontario. Our server went to check, returned, and reported they did not carry it, so we both had a small draught of Wellington County Ale.

                                        We both had the recommended $12 Crepe Neptune that came with a choice of sides. My wife chose the lettuce salad and I just had to try the soup of the day, Pork with Cauliflower and Broccoli. The single crepe was slightly disappointing, filled mostly with surimi, or "crab select" according to the menu, accompanied by a few tiny shrimp and 3 bay scallops in a bland béchamel sauce. However, the soup was novel and well crafted with ample cubes of lean cubes of pork and lots of tasty cauliflower and broccoli that had not given up their flavors to the light stock.

                                        As she was clearing our plates our server informed us that they did indeed have Beau's beer on draught and asked if we wanted some now. I always thought servers were trained to check before every shift to learn of any new items that may have been added.

                                        In all, we will probably try it again on our next trip, but be a little more careful in what we order.

                                  1. Definitely have to get off the highway, otherwise it's strictly burgers and dough nuts all the way. Take a moment to exit at Kingston, and drive around. Anything is better then a big mac all the time! ;)

                                    1. If you'll be coming into town via Hwy. 20 on the Quebec side and if you can wait that long (or are in need of a pick-me-up later in the trip) I suggest you stop by Smoked Meat Pete's on Ile Perrot - meat-eaters close to me say it's got the second-best smoked meat after Schwartz's - and it's a lot bigger, with shorter lineups, and live blues music to boot.

                                      Smoked Meat Pete
                                      283 1 Av, Les Cèdres, QC J7T, CA

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: kpzoo

                                        I ate at Smoke Meat Petes a week ago. I was dissappointed. The vaunted fries were dark brown and limp, usually indicitive of using a potato with too much starch. The smoked meat was thicker cut, soggy and a bit bland. Nothing like Schwartz.

                                      2. I usually get off at Division Street which is Exit 619, I believe and make my way to Denny's at the Day's Inn. It's not gourment but for me and my family it's quick and a decent rest stop. Besides that, there's tons of other fast foods on the strip, KFC, Wendy's, Arbys etc. There's gas stations and a mall across the street. It ain't glamorous but it serves our needs.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: adf1962

                                          In order of quality and food,

                                          Le Chien Noir
                                          Saigon Delights

                                          1. re: wongjym

                                            Pat's Restaurant on Division is much much better than Cambodiana. It's the original owner who's now started up a new restaurant.

                                        2. Kingston.... Windmills Cafe .... http://www.windmills-cafe.com/

                                          It is on Pricess street downtown. So a bit off the highway but after eating you can stretch your legs down Princess towards the water.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: hth

                                            Give Mike's Restaurant a try if you like good homestyle diner food (not super fast unless you order one of the specials) good food especially the fish dinners and soups. It offers meals sort of like the specials at the Tulip. Its at the Marysville exit, right off the highway and if you're like me every kilometre counts, two exits east of Belleville.off of the 401 If you do have some extra time fill up with gas on the Tyendinaga reserve - just south of Marysville.
                                            Safe travels.

                                          2. Auberge de France on Front Street in Belleville is fabulous- TL gave it 3.5 stars, I believe. It's classic French bistro with a twist- perfectly executed. If you let them know you don't want to linger, the service can be sped up. It's far better than any of the Kingston recommendatios in MHO. I had one of the worst dinners ever at Linguine's in Belleville- even teenage daughter who eats everything couldn't finish pasta.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Countygal

                                              I'd agree with the recommendation of Auberge de France, especially for lunch (more practical as a rest stop on the way to Montreal - it probably deserves more time for dinner). I had a really nice lunch here in the summer. It also has a nice selection of imported items to purchase as well as local PE County cheese. It will be hard to leave without taking some souvenirs with you.

                                              1. re: PaulV

                                                Too bad this is a 2-year-old thread. But I suppose the recos (at least, some of them) will be useful for anyone else making that trip. With the way restos come and go, I'd double check before planning to go to any of the ones mentioned back in 2007.

                                            2. Yesterday on the way out of Prince Edward County, when everything else was closed or booked, we landed in, of all places, Trenton.

                                              The only place with a waterside patio (on the waterway) is called Tomasso's on Front street. It was far, far better than I expected, as it's got a personality-free street presence, and has the interior of a Casey's.

                                              We had a credible greek salad, a caesar made from raw ingredients rather than a jar, and a very decent (deep, not thin) mediterranean pizza, clearly hand-rolled in the kitchen (spotted the corn meal), and again, pizza sauce made on a stove rather than in a can.

                                              Surprising. I'd go back if I were in the area again.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: svanegmond

                                                On the way to Montreal we've had some decent lunches at the Brockberry Café in downtown Brockville. Their soups have been a little unusual and particularly good. We have also enjoyed the salad and sandwich combinations. The service is friendly and prompt. We were disappointed by their pricey and boring pasta with faux crab.

                                                It's downtown just a few minutes south of the 401 and they have a large, but hidden, parking lot at the rear.


                                              2. The Fish & Chips in Napanee (I think exit 579A off the 401) would be a good stop. The halibut is great--and so is the Greek salad. For a healthy meal, the Greek Salad with grilled chicken is the way to go--then for a treat, try the butter tart--it's made by one of the waitresses and it's excellent..