OYSTERS and Good Pubs
I will be doing the college visit thing with my wife and daughter later this month and from look of things on this message board we should be in for some excellent eating. But can anyone recommend good places for oysters and also, for want of a better term, some "gastro pubs" or bars with serious beers (preferably local) and food to match? We are staying in the McGill vicinity but are willing to go wherever for a worthwhile place.
Are oysters still in seasons ? ( just curious...) anyway...
One of the good place to have oysters all around the year is "Maestro S.V.P".
For good local beers : "Sergent Recruteur", "L'amère à Boire", "Dieu Du Ciel", "Cheval Blanc", "Réservoir".
For the best "gastro-pub" experience, "Réservoir" is the right place; other suggestions are mostly bars (serving bar food, except for "Sergent Recruteur" which serves non-italian pizzas).
Be sure to add Au Pied de Cochon to your list. The online menu doesn't list oysters but they have served them in the past. What's more, you can wash them down with one of North America's top stouts, the locally brewed St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, which they have on tap along with several other McAuslan beers (including the excellent St-Amboise Pale Ale). Even if they don't have bivalves, there are plenty of beer friendly nibbles, appetizers and main courses and an agreeably raucous, even beer hallish ambience. Joe Beef -- arguably the west end counterpart to east end APDC -- often has first-rate oysters; not sure about the beer situation, though.
Most bistros serve oysters. They had two varieties on offer last night at Leméac, for example. Beer selection, especially beer on tap, will be limited, however.
Max is right about microbreweries. Dieu du Ciel is the most innovative and wide ranging, though their food offer is minimal. Réservoir's food (especially weekend brunch) is excellent, the beers a little less so. L'Amère à Boire makes the city's best pilsner, the Czech-style Cerna Hora (so authentic it's the house beer at the Czech consulate) and serves a killer lamb burger (avoid the fish and chips). Two more to add to the list, both of them closer to McGill, are Brewtopia/Brutopia on Crescent south of Ste-Catherine and Benelux (245 Sherbrooke West), where I've not yet been but which is said to make decent beer, especially Belgian-style ales, and serve OK food.
Bières et Compagnie has a huge selection of beer, much of it bottled. The food is mostly unremarkable though they do a respectable job with mussels and fries.
Maestro SVP will certainly have oysters galore. However, press and word on the street are increasingly negative, even re the molluscs (poorly shucked according to a recent report from a friend). Unless Max has had a good recent experience, I'd urge caution.
For the Oysters if you want to go out, I'd suggest Bouchoné, I haven't had anything better than their raspberry points in a very very long time.
For beer, beyond what has already been recommended (all of which I would second) I'd add Vice Versa, and Le Boudoir.
For the best beer/oyster combo I'd strongly suggest going to the Atwater Market and buying all the oysters (in all the varieties) you want at the fish mongers, after having perused the selection of beers at the cheese shop there and chosen the flavors you like, and then heading back to the dorm and pigging out :-)
I second Vices & Versa for the best selection of local beers, though the food is nothing to get excited about. I would recommend against brutopia, I find both the food and the beer mediocre.
I agree with Maximilien that Reservoir is probably the best "gastro pub" experience to be had in Montreal (their weekend brunch is something special.)