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More Informal Eating in Montreal

I saw the posts for fine dining - I'm looking forward to trying them.

These days, I'm less inclined towards fine dining on a regular basis - the older I get, the less pomp and circumstance I want. I enjoy a more "hanging out" kind of place, where I can relax with my husband, catch up on the week's events and eat and drink a leisurely pace. Can you recommend good places to hang out? Open and airy, roomy, and in order of priority: good service, good food and good ambience. The food is important, but again, these days, I've concluded that so long as the service and ambience is good and the food is not bad, I'm happy. Let me have your top two favourite eating places for hanging out and relaxing.

Thanks

The Traveller

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  1. Well, most of Montreal restaurants are like that; some are smaller "hole in the wall" some are a bit more "hip", some are a bit more frantic, some are laidback ...

    A good ambiance for me might be a bad one for you.

    'nyway, people will suggest more or less the same restaurants :

    Lemeac, Jolifou, La Porte, Bazaar, Cuisine&Dependance, L'atelier, Bu, Bouchonné, L'express, Au Pied de Cochon, Cocagne, Decca77, Joe Beef, Liverpool House, Graziella, ...

    Do you have any preferences, $$, style, cuisine, ethnicity ?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      Maximilien and Moh:

      Yep... you're right. Would you be willing to keep this post a "work in progress"? I would like to try some of the restaurants you've mentioned below and then by giving feedback, you can fine tune your recommendations. We just arrived here from South Africa last Friday and live in Beaconsfield; for now then, can you recommend two local hang-outs for us to try? In terms of cuisine - we pretty much love everything (I'm a self-taught gourmet cook), but how about we start with Italian and a pizza joint (great pizza is rare - in all of our travels around the world, I would recommend 3 pizza places: two in London, UK and one in Cote d'Ivoire of all places). Fyi, we recently had pizza from the Tennis Club (Cheeze?) which was highly recommended by two locals, particularly the signature Thai Chicken - I give it 4 out of 10.

      1. re: The Traveller

        Beaconsfield is far, far away (for someone who live on the plateau) and I unfortunately cannot give you advices on restaurants near where you live.

        There was a recent thread about the best pizza in town ... just look for it.

        1. re: The Traveller

          Work in progress sounds great! Looking forward to your feedback.

          Here is one of the pizza threads. As Lagatta points out, Bottega seems to be a board favorite, if somewhat controversial:

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/369745

          And here is a recent thread on Italian, albeit top-notch:

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/500200

          Maximilien's list from his first post has many of the gems in Montreal. I would comment that these are not particularly inexpensive restos that he has suggested, they'll run you about $30-40 and up per person for food tax and tip, not including wine or other alcohol. But food, wine and ambience will be great in these places, and you won't feel like you're being rushed out, you'll be able to relax and have a very nice meal. And as Maximilien points out, you will have to drive to get to these places from Beaconsfield. (Maximilien, it's not that far.... :

          )

          Please do let us know what you find! Also, please feel free to post specific places you want to try, and we can comment on those too. The Search function on this board can also help you with many good ideas.

          1. re: moh

            Yes, if you don't find a thread on Beaconsfield and northern West Island, create one! I live near the Jean-Talon market, so I don't have much reason to venture there as I don't happen to have any firiends or work clients in that particular suburb. Believe there are quite a few small family-type places there in unassuming strip malls, opened by recent immigrants, with very interesting food.

      2. I wouldn't mind a bit more information too, like cost and favorite cuisines. Might help to better tailor our recs. And re: ambience: is quiet important? Because then the great bistros might not work for you, but bistros are the best place for eating drinking and hanging out...

        Many of the Apportez Votre Vins places might fit your bill too. But I agree with Maximillien, one of the strengths of the Montreal restaurant scene is that many Montreal restos could fit your description.

        I should just warn you... Montrealers dress very chic... so it could be a very casual place, but everyone else is dressed to the nines. I'm happy to say that despite my lack of fashion sense, I can still enjoy these places and no one seems to mind that I am scruffy looking in these more casual places...

        6 Replies
        1. re: moh

          "Montrealers dress very chic... "

          Since when ???? and in what parallel universe ???

          Anyway, most restaurants, don't really care how you dress, some might look at you weird, but there are very few dress-code rules in town (except for the Ritz).

          1. re: Maximilien

            You'd be surprised how chic other North-Americans find Montrealers. It would seem that, outside Quebec, yoga pants, hoodies and white trainers are considered acceptable as long as you paid a lot of money for them.

            1. re: SnackHappy

              True. It's one of the things that relatives and friends visiting from the States invariably mention. What you don't see much here (compared with, say, NYC or Europe) is places that require men to wear a sports coat or tux.

              1. re: SnackHappy

                Yes, it isn't a matter of dress code rules or suit and tie for men, dresses or suits for women. Practically nobody at Le Petit Alep was wearing a tie - think there were a couple of guys in ties, but they had arrived from their jobs.

                1. re: SnackHappy

                  Hee Hee! I have spent a lot of time in yoga pants lately. The nice thing is that they are very stretchy, and you can eat much more when your belly is not confined. Very helpful when sampling MOntreal Zeppole.

                  1. re: moh

                    LOL, as long as you aren't wearing high heel shoes and white socks with your yoga pants (as seen in suburbs of Toronto).

            2. Dear Traveller,

              Welcome to Montréal! Since you and your husband have just arrived, take a bit of time and scroll back through the topics. You'll find plenty on "pizza" (with very strong schools of thought!) "West Island" (Beaconsfield is a West Island community), "casual restaurants" and so forth.

              Of course Italian restaurants aren't necessarily casual.

              Bottegha is usually considered the top pizza place - dress there casual but chic. Rather expensive for pizza but nothing will be as expensive as restaurants in London! (I have no concept of South African prices - we have a friend from there but when he visits home he is always with his parents).

              One casual place I'm very fond of is Le Petit Alep opposite the Jean-Talon market, a Syrian restaurant-bar-café with art exhibits and local fauna. Yep, as moh says casual here doesn't tend to mean tracksuits and white trainers. Last time I went there, not long ago, absolutely everyone was wearing black, but we were still in winter's grip.

              Portuguese rotisserie places are another popular casual option.

              2 Replies
              1. re: lagatta

                We live in the city during the week, and in Baie d'Urfe weekends ( selling the house)- I just made a reservation for le Bocage, 479 Beaconsfield blvd.
                It's a small friendly fine dining place, casual. It used to be called les 3 soeurs, prior to that Le Beaconsfield, it's been around forever. The new owner is a girl who went to high school with my daughter.

                I'll try to post a few other restaurants we like on the west island.

                1. re: superbossmom

                  We live in Beaconsfield, but seldom eat out in the area. A good pizza is hard to find on the West Island. I would suggest Gigi's in Pointe-Claire Village, if you like a really cheesy, salty old-fashioned pizza. The crust is thin and decently crispy. I agree with you that Cheevs is the pits. I find their Thai chicken particularly gross.

                  There are quite a few fresh Italian al taglio pizza options (the large rectangles of sheet pizzas). Many people like La Trattoria on Chemin Ste-Marie; I sometimes find theirs overseasoned, but they can be very tasty. I find Cavallaro's pizza (on St-Charles) has a processed taste; my personal favourite is Di Capua on Elm in Beaconsfield, but they are small and don't have a large selection.

                  If you like Indian, Bombay Choupati, an unassuming place, is absolutely worth the drive up Sources Blvd.

                  There are many restaurants that have invested enormously in decor, and serve so-so to allright food, that nevertheless seems to be appreciated by many people. Service in the West Island is rather student-driven, and generally lacks finesse, but places like Karma (Indian) and Maiko Sushi have gorgeous decor and generally good food.