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Which "Wine Bar" for dinner?

This year, instead of our usual trip to Montreal for the kind of fine dining not really available in Vermont, we have decided to try one of the fun sounding wine bars which seem to be springing up. We have identified "bouchonné -- comptoir à vin ", Bu and Pop! as three possible choices. Since we will have only one night this trip, any advice? Any other we should consider?

Thanks.

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  1. Been loyal to Aszu since its opening. I have tried many others, nothing has come close yet, and frankly their prices are not bad at all. The bbq-pork risotto is one of a kind. Located on Notre Dame st in Old Montreal (near the ND Basilica). The restaurant is in the basement, but don't let that fool you. Once in, you will be surrounded by wine bottles and you will be able to taste different wines since they usually have 2 sommeliers on staff (weekend) to combine your different plate with the best vintage. The waiters are also well verse in the language of wines. I think they have over 50 wines from around the world by the glass. The young chef is raffine and yet creative. I was there last night and again they surprised me with a meal/wine combination that I would have never dare to try. This restaurant can create the "différence" from your past fine dinning experiences.
    Here is their web page www.aszu.ca

    I hope you will enjoy your stay in Montreal :)
    Let me know if I was of any help.

    6 Replies
    1. re: MTLChick

      Aszu is indeed a better restaurant, though when I was there, the wine service was lacking due to staffing problems. But the food is very good, on a whole other level than Bouchonee I'd say. Also, La Montee de Lait has an excellent selection of wines by the glass and the food is fun and interesting.

      1. re: Lesley

        Bouchonné is the children of "La Monté De Lait" and is more a "wine bar"; the food is very good and the wine selection is very nice, a lot of "hidden" gems, even if the list is on the small side.

        1. re: Lesley

          Howdy!

          Let me pile on here with strong, loud, long and hearty seconds for both Aszu and Montée de Lait (recently my sweetie and I have been treating Bouchonné as a restaurant since we have always considered Montée de Lait a wine bar...)

          Given the reviews of Aszu:
          http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette...
          and
          http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette...

          I'm surprised to hear that there were any problems with the service at Aszu, must've been an off-night.

          1. re: zekesgallery

            What is Montee de Lait like physically? I have a vague memory of an old review saying it wasn't very comfortable especially in the winter time.

            1. re: Fritzy

              It's a fairly small room - cozy but cooler in decor than many other places. As it's small, it is also crowded, and can be noisy - but the food is so good, you're busy concentrating on your plate, and not your surroundings...

              1. re: Fritzy

                The winter problem is drafts from the door. People who are especially sensitive to cold should ask for a table on the other side of the room.

        2. There is also Pullman to consider (even if you read the horrible review that someone posted a few weeks ago).

          IMO, if your are more into wine than food, BU might be a touch better than pullman.

          Pop!, Bouchonné, "Les Trois Petits Bouchons" and "Justine" are more food oriented "wine" bars; I think they all have "funky" wine selection, mostly french natural unknown wines.

          which is the BEST for a one evening experience ?

          for wines : BU (http://www.bu-mtl.com/Vins_Verre
          )for "fashion" : Pullman
          for neighborhood feel : Bouchonné or "Les 3 Petits Bouchons"

          (I have not been to "Justine" or Aszu , so I cannot comment on what they have; I've not been to Pop recently and while it was good, nothing was memorable or worth the trip back )

          M.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Maximilien

            We tried Les Trois Petits Bouchons tonight and were pretty pleased. They have somewhat esoteric (and apparently biodynamic) wines. A number of them were served by the glass (4 white, 4 red was offered, including a $18 glass of Châteauneuf du Pape) but mostly are sold by bottle. They are moderately priced, around 30-50 range (well except the Châteauneuf du Pape). We had good food and were treated with very pleasant service: no sleazy ass kissing but nothing snobby as well. Just what I like about Montreal.

            But if you have one night, you might wanna try Bouchonne since people seem to be crazy about the place. Will visit soon.

            1. re: emerilcantcook

              Thank-you everyone for taking the time to respond. We have made reservations at Bouchonne for Friday night and will let you know what we think. I am definately going to have to come back more often given this whole new kind of dining experience.

          2. Bouchonne is by far my favourite wine establishment in the city, and I've tried them all several times. Their menu is unique, frequently has off-menu surprises, and the wine list is fantastic. The staff's knowledgeable and friendly, and the atmosphere is fantastic.

            Make reservations in advance! If there's only two of you, ask for the two seats at the bar so you can watch the chef in action.

            1. I can only talk about Bu since it is the only one I have tried and I really liked it. I loved the wines and the food. We shared a couple of plates and had Italian wines and I found the experience to be enjoyable. I would recommand it without a single doubt!

              1. I finally tried Pop! last night and was very disappointed by the service. It was laughable, and for no good reason; the place wasn't even full.

                I rank the 3 wine bars: Bouchonné, Bu, and then Pop! Bouchonné has everything - amazing ambiance, great service, and incredible wine list and food, Bu is also great, but doesn't have the rustic charm of Bouchonné.

                1 Reply
                1. re: lorie

                  I tried Pop! a few days ago as well. In contrast to your experience, our service was pretty good, but again the place was so empty that I would be surprised if it was bad. There were only two other 2tops and three servers; you need to be really incompetent to mess things up (but I guess they did, it in your visit). Funny, I realized how eating at an empty restaurant somewhat takes the pleasure out of dining out.

                  The wine list looked intriguing, but I decided to try their signature cocktails and a dessert. My partner had a glass of wine and a couple of small plates for a light supper. Not bad, but most of the items we tried were missing something; the flavors were finely composed, but they didn't linger. I don't remember any single bite from the experience. Perhaps I am eating too much bold spicy food these days, or I am lacking the sophistication to appreciate subtleties in food but I thought what we were served were pretty ordinary for the money you pay for them. Even the notorious chocolate pot wasn't "that" good after so much hype: a little bit more salt please! The tastes felt almost constrained, conservative, or muted; or again my palate is abrased by the amount of hot food I keep eating these days. The cocktails were good, but I wish they include some more winter mixes. Ginger beer and rum would suit hot summer evenings much much better.

                  I can't wait to try Bouchonne soon. I think the board members unanimously agreed about how good it is, so it looks like a no brainer.

                2. Try BU on St. Laurent. Serves Italian appetizers and entres....fried olives are great!

                  Laloux has a wine bar called POP! next to their resto.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bonne_vivante

                    I really like Trois Petits Bouchons and the food is awesome, the service impeccable and relaxed in the sense, they never press or hurry you.

                  2. My first Chow Hound Post (!!). Driving from Boston to Montreal, arriving mid-evening, staying at Intercontinental. Both Bouchonne' and Aszu sound exactly like what we are looking for once unloading the car, washing up and heading back out. WIll be with our two junior chowhounds (really budding foodies), our 13 year-old twins. Which of the two is the more casual in vibe, though, as we may all be a little tired after the 5.5 hour drive.

                    An onto a second request: we are in town for a hockey tornament that our daughter will play in. We will sadly leave beautiful Old Montreal for a Holiday Inn near the airport (apparently also near the rink where she will play both Sat night and Sunday)...anyplace worth trying out that way?

                    Lastly, which is the best Frite Alors location near to the InterContinental, figured we would have lunch there b/f heading out of Old Montreal.

                    Thanks much...very, very excited to be a part of this site.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: BostonRumbleDoll

                      Howdy!

                      Bouchonné is "more casual in vibe." However it is much further from the InterContinental than Aszu (which is walking distance). Trying to compare which is "more casual in vibe," is like trying to figure out which is more "apple-like" a MacIntosh, a Golden Delicious, or a Granny Smith. Aszu would be more than fine with 13 year-olds.

                      I can't help you with the airport. But there is a Frite alors! at 143 de la Commune (although it might not be open during the winter) and second closest would be 3497 Saint Laurent. More details here:
                      http://fritealors.com/

                      1. re: zekesgallery

                        In summer, at least, the de la Commune outlet is basically a window and has a very limited menu. Based on a single visit a couple of years ago, the fries there aren't as good as at the two top outlets: Laurier East and the original store on Park Ave.

                        Agree that Aszu would be fine for kids. Bouchonné would be more fun IMO.

                      2. re: BostonRumbleDoll

                        Greetings and welcome! And how exciting that you are bringing your daughter for a hockey tournament!! As a woman who only got to start playing well into my twenties, I am sooo happy your daughter is playing earlier!!!

                        I've never been to Aszu, but I do know Bouchonne was ok with kids, Cherylmtl went with her child, and did not report any problems. The only question is whether you'll get a place, it's kind of small. Either try to get reservations, or get there for 5:00 when they open, and that will be your best bet.

                        As for the hockey tournament, if you are out on the West Island near the airport (I am assuming it is Pierre Elliot Trudeau AKA Dorval), then there are plenty of great places. If you like Indian, then you must go to Bombay Choupati fro dosas, on Sources. Im sure there will be other recs, but could you just confirm the airport location?

                        1. re: moh

                          Like I always say, kids are welcome everywhere if they are well behaved. I notice that people talk with you more when you are with kids. Most waiters are really nice with kids and almost always offer a special plate for them. I ate at a restaurant on friday and there was a 10 year old kid with his parents just beside us. He stayed seated all through dinner and talked like any normal person would. The problem is when parents let their kids run around the restaurant and scream, otherwise most people don't mind when kids are next to them.

                          We have eaten everywhere with my 11 year old niece ever since she was a baby and never have we had a bad experience in a restaurant and we often go to more expensive restaurants where we have 3 hour long dinners. My brother and sister-in-law bring them little things to do. She always brought crayons and little books when she was younger and they always insisted on her being seated. She may have gone to the restroom a couple of times during dinner, but always with an adult. We always had compliments from waiters on how well behaved she was...well she did not have a choice. Parents today often let their children run around without saying anything.

                          You should Bostonrumbledoll bring your twins wherever you want to, you will see that most restaurants won't look at you sideways because you have kids.

                          1. re: moh

                            Not only did I take my 11-year-old son, but he loved the food! (especially the venison carpaccio and the cupcake). And there was a couple with a baby seated at one of the banquette tables, too. Definitely family-friendly, but in a good way...