Just returned from 4 nights in Montreal - here are the highlights..
Having perused the Montreal board for hints and trends as to restaurant choices while we were in the city, I thought I should at least report back on where we went and what our impressions were. For context, we were celebrating my wife's 34th birthday.
Stayed here during the summer on business and was impressed, so returned with my wife over the December 7 weekend. The hotel itself is Old Montreal meets SoHo loft. Very chic, but not cold. Rooms are each quite unique, ours was on the 4th floor, heated floors, awesome bed. They could upgrade the A/V to truly top things off, but we were there to be out in the city, so a basic TV was not a total loss!
Friday - La Chronique http://www.lachronique.qc.ca/en/accueil.html
Arrived a little late due to travel (and snow!), but our table was held and was the last one. We opted for the tasting menu which was excellent. I chose wines that complimented the food (got some basic clues as to what we would be having beforehand). The wine list is quite good, not elaborate, mainly French but with a few Italian and New World gems - reasonably priced. Main event was a beautifully seared sweetbread topped with foie gras. I would highly recommend this restaurant.
Breakfast - Hotel Gault (included) - nicely done buffet or table ordered choices
Coffee/snack - Caffe Sante Veritas - very good coffee (espresso is a passion of mine
)Toque for dinner:
Research here and reviews elsewhere placed Toque as a must see and (depending on which list) at the top of many peoples list of places to go. The space was a disappointment. Given the blank sheet they must have had, I don't understand their choice of layout or lighting. The ceilings are high and the lighting consists of flourescent orbs that cast a general haze over the entire space. Intimacy is lost, focus is lost, ambience is absent. Even a candle on the table would go a long way to improve this aspect. The food - we both had their daily oyster creation to begin - one of the best I have tasted (and we frequent the best oyster houses in Toronto!). My wife opened with squab raviolis which were excellent, and had the risotto of the day, which was a foie gras based creation and was also excellent. I opened with the house seared foie gras - very good - and had the special suckling pig which disappointed. The curry was very very weak and the meat was both dry and under portioned for a main course. We had a beautiful bottle of wine (Staglin Family Cab.). Skipped dessert as we were meeting friends at Time Supper Club (upscale titz & glitz establishment with unbelievable people watching).
Headed to Cafe ArtJava on Mont Royal for brunch. Best espresso in Montreal imho, nicely portioned breakfast, great service/buzz/atmosphere.
Dinner - went to Laurie Raphael http://hotelgermain.com/en/laurieraphael.asp
Excellent food and atmosphere - wine list is ok. Sort of a tapas concept in that the dishes are sampler size so three per person makes a meal. Stand outs were tuna tempura, grilled calamari (stuffed), quail, and the Angus beef was extremely good. We also tried their very interesting deserts - candie floss pie & Hypnotic tasting experience - both deserve attention if you go. The Hypnotic Poison perfume scent is deconstructed on the palate, and thus on the plate.
Schwartz's for brunch - nothing to add here, it is what it is = awesome
Dinner - Ferreira Cafe http://www.ferreiracafe.com/
So this was the place we liked the most.. It may have been the combination of atmosphere, the wine choice, the mood we were in - but all in all, we found the food and the staff to be the best experience we had while in town. If you go, choose the sardine club appetizer and the roasted black cod for your main, then have the sommolier pick from their impressive selection of Portuguese wines. For a Monday night - this place was jammed. We ate at the dining bar which was a blast...
Tuesday we headed home after getting to Fairmount Bagel and stopping by Schwartz's for take out...
Thanks very much for the report! Sounds like you had a nice visit. Appreciate the report on Laurie Raphael: I've only eaten at the Quebec City restaurant, and that was a while ago. I have heard that the new Toque site is not as nice as the old site. I've never been to the new one, but I miss the old Toque, I really liked the space on St. Denis.