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May 4, 2008 08:19 PM

Chow 'secrets' in Montreal

The recent post on inexpesive places not too miss and the revelation of Boustan's secrets, i.e. the creation sandwich and the half 'n half, has got me thinking that there must be tons of other 'secrets' out there for Montreal chow.
Sooo, I think the time has come for all of you to spill the beans! I want to know what have you been holding out? What is the small hole in the wall that you've been going to and never thought of mentionning before on chowhound? What are those items you order that aren't on the menu? What's that place you don't mention here because you have a secret fear it will become too popular and go downhill?
Let's not talk about the same 20-30 places we always recommend to people visiting (not that they aren't worthy) but let's go beyond that; if you do bring up the usual suspects, it has to be something that isn't widely known. For example, Boustan with the creation pita that isn't on the standard menu.
I will start: Piccadilly bakery on Ogilvy street sells a whole spinach pie (spanakopita) which is as close to homemade as you can get without doing it yourself. The pastry dough is nice and crunch (not commercial phyllo) and there is over an inch of fillings (spinach, other greens and feta) for about 12$. It is excellent and you will get 8 good sized pieces out of it. you have to ask for it at the counter since it is not on display and they run out quickly on the weekends so get there early! So, I never willingly held out on this but it just never occurred to me before.
So, Montreal chowhounds, now it's your turn to give up the hidden gems in your chow repertoire!

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  1. Oh great, another reason to go to Piccadilly! Yum!

    2 Replies
    1. re: mainsqueeze

      Piccadilly and Terrasse Lafayette must be about the most strangely-named Greek food destinations in town...

    2. I've heard that the restaurant Shodan has a secret menu that became so popular, they now have a SECRET secret menu on top of that because the first was so widely known. Whether or not this is true or what items are available on either of them are beyond me, and judging from the fact that I've never been there and happen to have heard of both, I assume there's a SECRET secret secret menu either in the works or buried beneath the floorboards.

      1. Hungryann, I have been pondering your thread question, and I can honestly say I have no food secrets that I have kept from the board. I've shared my favorite cheapo eggplant dish at one of the chinese bakeries in Chinatown. I've documented my search for the infamous soup dumpling. I even mentioned the possibility of getting good strong kimchi at the sushi place in Westmount Square if you ask nicely, and if they have enough to spare. So no secrets from this little roving appetite!

        In fact, part of the reason I share my secrets is because I have more fear of businesses going under for lack of clientele, or not offering a dish because of lack of demand. I'm feeling less stressed about Cocao Locale these days, for instance...

        7 Replies
        1. re: moh

          You should feel much less stressed about Cocoa Locale. As I type this, I'm pigging out on a piece of lemon coconut cake. In addition, this week we also bought a chocolate chili brownie, for the Child (who, surprisingly, liked it, considering it packs quite the punch of chili.)

          The only "secret" I can think of offhand is at Au Petit Extra they have a house wine that's not on their menu, which they serve in 500 ml carafes - it's highly quaffable and quite reasonable. You have to ask for it, but if you look around the restaurant, you will find at least half of the tables have it (which is how we discovered it - by asking what the unlabelled wine was that the table next to us had).

          1. re: moh

            Thanks Moh, I know you diligently report your chow adventures. I do not mean to imply that people are willingly holding out but sometimes it's so ordinary to you that you don't realize it is a gem that's worth sharing. This thread is just meant to encourage people to post about finds that may be overlooked in the day to day.

            1. re: hungryann

              It is definitely a great idea for a thread Hungryann, and of course I love your spanikopita tip! Now I got to figure out where Ogilvy Street is...

              Oh, here's a nice tip! For those of you who live in Mile End, EuroBatory sell the wonderful sausages of Felix Mish! So now I won't have to go down to Verdun every time I need good Kielbasa. But I will make the trek down occasionally, as the owner is a lovely person, and I think he may have some products only available at his store.

              1. re: moh

                Here you go. It's in Parc-Ex and it's the parallel street north of Jean-Talon. Edit: Oops, I tried to Beta-link and it didn't work.

                542 Av Ogilvy
                Montreal QC, H3N 1M8

                1. re: hungryann

                  I am so happy that biking season has started! I am planning a full on exploration of Park Ex this summer :) Thanks Hungryann!

                  1. re: moh

                    Great news! I will stay tuned for your reports! ;)

                  2. re: hungryann

                    It is the rear end of the big Loblaws. Various little shops, more of them South Asian than Greek nowadays. (I also buy catfood there, as my vet's is located on that street, though while that is certainly chow, it is not very chowish). The next street north is St-Roch, which is also worth checking out.

            2. At byblos, they sell their homemade jams and poppyseed bread. It is not advertised and you need to ask for it at the cash.

              4 Replies
              1. re: isa1

                Hmm - interesting - I asked a woman who seemed to be the owner if they sold their jams a few weeks ago, and she said no - only at New Year's (which I took to mean Persian New Year). I am in love with their orange-blossom jam! Have you bought it there before?

                1. re: kpzoo

                  I have bought the orange carrot one. And bought a bread on Saturday, not sure about all the prices, the poppyseed bread I got was 12$

                  1. re: isa1

                    Cool, thanks. I'll try to be more persistent next time. I have dreams about that orange-blossom jam. :-)

                    1. re: isa1

                      Their poppy seed bread is really good but $12? Ouch. Reminds me I've got to get back there. Last time it was full and ended at Truffert which was underwhelming.

                2. OK, this isn't a huge secret, but something west-enders might not know. Despite the fact that the missus is a professional pastry chef, we're allowed to be lazy, and buy our pizza dough from Molisana on Somerled. You usually have to ask for it, but they have it in the back and it's absolutely fantastic dough.

                  And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, if you haven't been, you really really really have to get yourselves out to Andalos on Lebeau in VSL for an "all dressed" Zataar. Onions, olives, mint, turnips, lettuce, lemon juice, and tomatoes, wrapped up in a toasty warm fresh zataar coated pita. For $2.75, the endless lineup says it's the best, freshest sandwich in the city. The most unlikely location for a sandwich, but hey...

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: bomobob

                    Andalos is great. I went recently and they have added some stuff like falafel, shish taouk etc. I ordered a zaatar pita as always , all dressed of course but now they offer sauces as well, garlic, sesame, chili and something else i can`t remember. I had garlic and chili and it was quite good. is there any combo you recommend, bomobob?

                    1. re: hungryann

                      Yeah, this weekend there was a whole new setup of sort of submarine-type sandwiches. "All dressed" has progressed over the years. 10 years ago it meant mint, tomato, onion, and olive, but in the past year they added lettuce as an option, and my favourite turnips are even more recent than that.
                      I always ask for lemon juice, which they don't normally put on, but it makes the flavours POP like noting else. I've had the lettuce a couple of times, and I think I prefer it without.
                      The sauce turned up quite recently as well, but I think the thing I like so much is the unfettered freshness and complexity of the basic flavours.
                      Still....garlic, huh?

                      1. re: bomobob

                        Yup! It's like a garlicky runny mayo; it adds moistness to the sandwich. The chili sauce gave it quite a kick also.

                    2. re: bomobob

                      I've been listening, bomobob, I live in VSL and am looking forward to my first bike ride over there. I do know that their pitas are the best, because my local Lebanese takeout (Amara) uses them. are there picnic tables outside or anywhere else to sit and enjoy a sandwich? (not opposed to sitting on grass, even)

                      1. re: C70

                        There are picnic tables outside. Is Amara any good? They often send me their delivery menus but I have never tried them.

                        1. re: hungryann

                          standard fare, menu-wise, but HUGE portions and always very fresh, tender chicken. Best I've tried locally. the special # 1- 2 shish taouk plates, 2 cokes and 2 baklavas is $18 and we always have leftovers for a sandwich or two the next day. what I enjoy is that along with pretty good rice and garlic potatoes, they send 2 different salads every time, so you never know what you'll get but it's always good. they'll send you an extra bag of ultra-fresh pita for 1.25 too, as the two included is never enough.

                          we eat this about once a week we love them so much.