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Romantic fine dining, Montreal (I'm asking early)

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My husband and I are going to spend the week of September 29th in Montreal because we've never been there (except driving through when we moved from Alaska to Vermont). It's an anniversary tradition for us to choose a fine dining restaurant we've never eaten at before for our dinner that night. I'm feeling a tiny bit overwhelmed by all of the possibilities that I've been reading about here, so I was hoping that by posting a little early, I could get some recommendations that might be more tailored to suit our unique circumstances. We'll be staying at the Quality Inn downtown on Crescent Street (I got an astounding rate of $60 a night, thank you Priceline.com!), and we'll have our car with us, though we prefer to use public transport if that's an option (so no problem suggesting a place off the beaten path).

The primary thing is that both of us have recently (in Feb) had abdominal surgery to resolve our type 2 diabetes (it was a success, we're not diabetic any more), and one result of this is that we have small stomachs (about the size and shape of a large marker). This means we eat slowly, and that we don't eat a whole lot at once. Of course different things are going to fill us up at different rates but I won't go into a lot of detail here. :) So one of the things I was hoping for was a restaurant that would have smaller portions available, or be willing to give us smaller portions at a reduced rate (a restaurant that would be willing to work with me on our meal would be ideal but I don't have any expectations on that regard).

As to cuisine, we're less fond of Asian foods than we are Latin, European (especially Italian, my husband is Italian-American), Mediterranean (especially Greek) styles. We are not particular about authenticity so long as it's good.

My husband doesn't like fish or shellfish (not allergic, just doesn't like it), so the menu needs to have some non-fish items that are better/different from what I can make at home (having 20 fish things and 1 steak available for non-fish eaters isn't going to cut it, I make awesome steak at home, we don't need to shell out a fortune for that).

We generally try to spend less than $100 total for our meal, but because of our health situation, we can't have any alcohol, so that's not going to include any wine or other such drinks, and keeping in mind that we have small tummies and will be taking food back to our room with us, that's not as low an amount as it might seem to some of you. :)

Also, if they have a web site, preferably with a sample menu, that'd be even better. Though it seems to me that an awful lot of places up that way don't have websites like they do down here. Which is disappointing, I hate traveling 'blind' like that. :)

I've rambled long enough, I guess. If there's something I've forgotten I'm sure you'll all let me know, and thank you in advance for your thoughts and suggestions.

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  1. If you really want to do the small portion thing, Pinxto might be good, it is a Basque style restaurant that serve pinxtos (smaller size tapas); but their menu is a little bit seafood heavy. You can check it out and see if you can put a meal without seafood. http://www.pintxo.ca/

    It is not the most romantic place, and could sometimes be a little loud but it is damn fine.

    Other than that 100 without wine could go a long way, and as long as you don't mind taking home some leftovers, a lot of the other recommendations in the board will do good.

    4 Replies
    1. re: emerilcantcook

      Oooh nice menu! There's some interesting non-fish things that I think my husband would like, though. Thanks!

      1. re: emerilcantcook

        Second Pintxo, went there for lunch for my birthday's and it was fantastic. There is usually quite a bit of fish in the menu, but there are other options as well. The main courses are quite large, though, so you might want to order a few "pintxos" instead.

        Another option I can think of, and I loved, was Ariel (http://www.arielrestaurant.com/). Really nice place, friendly atmosphere and the food is top notch, mostly french with some japanese fusion ingredients.

        Good luck!

        1. re: dockingman

          I second Ariel for romantic ambiance, particularly if you can get a table in the garden room. My wife and I ate there when we were in Montreal on our honeymoon, back when it was Les Caprices de Nicolas.

          1. re: dockingman

            Oh this looks like a lovely place, nice and romantic! Thanks!

        2. Regarding your hotel, just remember you get what you pay for. I've heard less than stellar reviews about the Quality Inn on Crescent. It is Crescent Street after all (bars, noise, "altercations", etc.)

          2 Replies
          1. re: RhondaB

            We're saving on the hotel so we can splurge in other places. I don't usually go for the higher end places most of the time because we're going to be spending most of our time out, the hotel is a place to sleep, and I wear earplugs. :) It just needs to be relatively clean.

            1. re: RhondaB

              I'm still trying to work out the best choice for our anniversary dinner and having a bit of a challenge 'cos our anniversary is on -Monday- for crysakes. :)

              Anyone have any more recommendations to make? I'm seven months out from surgery now, and we've worked out the kinks for ordering meals and such, so small plates are less of a concern than I thought they might be. :) Now my primary concern is nice, romantic, unusual, and OPEN on Monday. ;)

              Also, you might be reassured some, Rhonda, it's not the Quality Inn on Crescent we're staying at, I had that wrong. It's the Quality Hotel on uhm some other street, near McGill University. :)

            2. A couple of suggestions. You could just order appetizers. They are small, and there's usually an interesting variety. You could also share a main course, and just pay whatever plate charge the restaurant asks. You could go for Tapas, and eat as little as you wish.

              1 Reply
              1. re: bomobob

                Yeah, those are all thoughts that we had, but it is good to have them reiterated! thanks!

              2. Hi Morganna! When my boyfriend and I went to Montreal for our anniversary last year, we had a great Portuguese tapas dinner at Portus Calle on St. Laurent - very romantic atmosphere. I remember really enjoying a dish of shrimp with roasted tomatoes and goat cheese, and a grilled linguica... but we had a whole variety of small plates. One thing is that the menu was only in French and Portuguese, so it helps if you're familiar with one of those. ;) But the server was very helpful in suggesting dishes for us!

                Our favorite meal, though, was at Bistro Cocagne (http://www.bistro-cocagne.com) on St. Denis, which is a sister establishment to Toque - less formal, but still "fine dining" for sure. The waiter was incredibly friendly and gracious, and our food was fantastic. We actually went back again for dessert the next night (for the Pudding Chomeur)!

                -----
                Restaurant Portuscalle
                4281 boulevard Saint Laurent, Montreal, QC H2W 1Z4, CA

                Bistro Cocagne
                3842 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC H2W2M2, CA

                1. We've split a question about speaking French vs. English in Montreal over to the Not About Food since it's, well, not about food. You can find it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/548270

                  1. This is certainly not an original idea and perhaps someone has already suggested it but you have to try a smoked meat Schwartz's (first choice). If the line there is to long try The Main right across the street. Or Downtown try Dunns.

                    For a little more on Schwartz's: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpvPPg...

                    Great now I've made myself hungry.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Withnail42

                      Oooh my goodness!! we're definitely going to have to go there. Looks like they make their own meats, all of 'em?

                      1. re: Morganna

                        I may have mis-posted. Certainly a great place and worth a visit but not overly romantic.

                        (Alaska to Vermont-talk about opposite ends of the country. One heck of a drive!)

                        1. re: Morganna

                          They cure and smoke their meats the old-fashioned way.

                          You may also find this fun:

                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRMA4O...

                      2. Morganna, your trip sounds wonderful! I lived in Montreal for many years and was there just last week visiting. Have you decided where you're going to have dinner yet? I would second Pintxo as an option. Another suggestion would be Tapeo. http://www.restotapeo.com/
                        To tell you the truth, my friends and I were intending to eat at Pintxo until we decided (on the day of) to switch restos and head to Tapeo, and I'm very glad we did! The food was divine, as was the atmosphere. The restaurant is small, cozy, is on a wonderfully quaint street, and the portions sound like they are right up your alley. Also, you'll be happy to know that there are a tonne of non-fish options.

                        We lingered at the restaurant for quite a while and never felt as though we were being rushed to leave.

                        Let us know if you're thinking of any other spots for lunch or dinner. By the way, be sure to stop by either Fairmount or St. Viateur bagels (I prefer Fairmount) for some bagels to keep your belly full on the drive home.

                        Happy anniversary and let us know how your trip goes!

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: sf toronto

                          Well, our anniversary is on a Monday night, so that does limit our options for that. :) We're going to Shahi Palace Monday (I have reservations for 6PM). Then Tuesday we're going to Au Pied de Cochon (I have reservations for 6:30PM that night). I haven't determined where we're going Wednesday night, and could use some help with that. We'd like something Greek. I've pored over the board here, and found a few recommendations but not a lot (oddly enough, maybe the Greek food around Montreal is mostly just souvlaki and gyros at pizza places? That can't be true, can it?). There's one place I was planning on asking about, Uh... I think it was called Molivos? Something like that I gotta fine the link. :) They have skordalia and saganaki, which are two of my favourite things. ;) So any thoughts on that head would be greatly appreciated. Also, dinner Thursday night isn't set either, and I'm thinking something in the Latin quarter, any thoughts on that? I'll look at Tapeo, too. :)

                          Edit: Ok, Tapeo is a definite, we'll go either Wed or Thur. :) Thanks! Reservations recommended?

                          1. re: Morganna

                            I would definitely get a reservation at Tapeo. It's such a teeny tiny place and fills up fast.

                            Pintxo's website says they're open on Monday evenings:

                            http://www.pintxo.ca/Templates/ingles...

                            Here's a thread about greek food. I've been to Panama. The food is good and the atmosphere is casual and boisterous.

                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/479693

                            1. re: Morganna

                              Saganaki at Philino's on Parc is great. When we eat there, we usually do an entire meal of appetizers and skip the main course completely.

                              1. re: moh

                                *happy squeal* I'm making reservations there this afternoon. We'll do Philino's for Dinner Wed and Tapeo for dinner Thur.

                                We'll probably do appetizers simply because our tummies just aren't that big any more. :) I'm getting SO excited about all this.

                                1. re: Morganna

                                  make sure you let us know how everything turns out!

                                  1. re: sf toronto

                                    You can absolutely count on it. :) I'll do a complete report "Montreal Review by Foodies with Small Tummies" ;)