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May 26, 2008 11:38 PM

Best Patisseries and Boulangeries in Old Montreal

I'll be visiting Montréal this summer, staying in old Montréal. I'd like a place to get really good quality breads, especially croissants. Also been looking for amazing Egg bread, or challah. When I was a child our local bakery made a variety that was so heavy and yellow that when you pulled the braid apart the bread had a grain like meat. I've heard great things about Montréal bakeries, so I'm hopeful! If there is a place that makes, or is close to somewhere that makes, really good espresso and latte, that is a big plus in my books!

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  1. Hmmm, challah in Old Montreal? All I can think of is Gibby's, which is the furthest thing from a bakery I can imagine. But maybe they'll let you get a small loaf or two to go...

    Olive & Gourmando is not bad, though perhaps a bit trendier and less trad than what you're looking for.

    Overall, I would say Old Montreal is not known for its food purveyors; it's kind of a tourist trap. If you are willing to venture out into the chowier areas of town, we can give you some much better suggestions.

    Olive et Gourmando
    351 Rue Saint-Paul Ouest, Montreal, QC , CA

    Gibby's Restaurant
    298 Place D'youville, Montreal, QC H2Y2B6, CA

    1. Hiya, for croissants in Old Montreal you've got to head over to Olive et Gourmando on St-Paul, without question. If you search the board for the name you'll find lots of positive recommendations for their croissants, brioches, sandwiches, brownies, espresso... pretty much everything they make is delicious!

      Olive et Gourmando - 351 St. Paul West - 514-350-1083

      I can't think of a single place to get a challah in Old Montreal, can anyone else? I'm a big challah-eater and I worked in the area for over 3 years, but there's nary a challah in the vicinity, unless something's opened recently.

      For *the best* challah, you may want to venture up to the Mile-End area where you can check out Cheskie's, a Hassidic-owned (if I'm not mistaken) bakery that was mentioned (along with Olive et Gourmando) in Gourmet's Montreal issue a few year's back. Just keep in mind they're likely closed between Friday sundown and Saturday sundown. One caveat: I haven't tried their challah myself as it's a bit out of the way for me and they never seem to be open when I'm in that 'hood, but I've heard it's good.

      Cheskies - 359 Bernard W., Montreal (514) 271-2253
      - take the 55 bus north from Place d'Armes metro to Bernard & walk west a few blocks

      You can also check out this challah thread:

      Good luck and please report back!

      7 Replies
      1. re: kpzoo

        A short cab ride to Atwater Market one morning and you might get lucky, there is a Première Moisson, you could have breakfast there and check out the bread.

        1. re: superbossmom

          take note that Olive et Gourmando is closed sunday and monday.........

          1. re: superbossmom

            The last time I was there, PM did not offer challah. I think it's just one of those things that's got to be bought in small bakery that serves a Jewish clientele or a grocery store in an area where people of that faith reside - NDG, Outremont, CSL etc.

          2. re: kpzoo

            As a challah lover, I have to agree with going to Cheskie's to get it. It (and one other place nearby) is your best bet to get fresh challah, and it is worth the trek. The trek isn't even so bad. The Park bus (number 80) runs very frequently, and can be caught just outside the Place Des Arts Metro.

            In hommage to RGR's LES tour, here is a Mile End Boulangerie/espresso tour that would fit your bill:

            Take the 80 bus to Villeneuve. Stop here at about noon on Wednesdays through Sundays, and go to Cocoa Locale. You need to get here by noon when she opens to get the best selection. Pick out one of her delectable cupcakes, best in the city. Or if you are feeding a crowd, pick up a cake. Red Velvet is my favorite.

            Walk north on Park. If you want a bite to eat, you can turn right on Laurier and head to Toi Moi et Cafe for excellent coffee and breakfasts/lunches on the terrace. Across the street from Toi Moi et cafe is Patisserie Gascogne, go in and ogle at their magnificent display of decorated cakes, chocolate sculptures, and French pastry. They have very good croissants and chocolatines, but I would hold out til further on to try these. But I would consider buying one of their mini-quiches or sausage rolls, they do excellent quiche. The quiche is small (about 2 inches in diameter) and doesn't take a lot of stomach space.

            Backtrack back to Parc. Continue north about 1 and a half long blocks. On the east side of the street is Caffe in Gamba, one of the newer coffee shops in town. They do really great espresso and fabulous latte, one of the better places in the city. They also sell the beans, which are really great. I love the Paladino beans.

            Continue to head north on Parc until you get to St. Viateur. Turn right. Immediately, you will see St. Viateur Bagels to your left. Go in and buy a hot sesame bagel, consume it warm. If you want, buy some cream cheese, lox, various spreads, etc. But when they are warm, they are delicious alone, and a real Montreal experience.

            If you are needing more caffeine, continue down St. Viateur and hit Club Social and Cafe Olympico for straight espresso shots with the locals.

            Turn around, head back to Parc. Continue north to Bernard. Turn left. On the north side of the street, you will see Cheskies. Go. Buy the Challah. You must. Best to buy it whole, and I prefer the sweet challah that is braided. Cheskies also has good rugelah, although I find that these are not as decadent as some I've bought in NYC. Chocolate is my favorite.

            Continue West on Bernard, and you will come to Premiere Moisson, one of the better "chain" artisanal bread shops in the city. They have a fabulous selection of loaves, all delicious, and I love their lardon/fromage (ie. Cheese and chunks of bacon) fougasse (or they have olive fougasse if you don't like bacon). They have good croissant as well, but again, I would hold off here and wait for later (or try it for taste comparisons!) Also nearby is Bilboquet, which sells lovely ice cream and sorbets. I think the sorbets are the better choice, the mango sorbet is extremely flavourful, and the lychee sorbet is also a major winner. If you like cheese, go to Yannick, probably the best cheese shop in Montreal. Here you can get perfectly ripened raw milk cheeses from France and other places. This is in my opinion the only place you should buy your Epoisses. But warning, Yannick isn't cheap. But it is worth every penny.

            Ok: Now the croissant. The rest of the trip is not so bad. You could walk from the first stop Cocoa Locale to Premiere Moisson in about 20 minutes, 30 minutes at a leisurely pace, without the stops. And there are mulitple opportunities on this trip to get very good croissant. But if you want what I consider the best croissant, you have to add on this extra leg. You will be wanting exercise at this point anyways.

            Backtrack back to Parc. Turn south (right), backtrack back to Laurier. Turn left on Laurier. Walk all the way to Fous Desserts, which is a couple of blocks past the Laurier metro. This walk will take you about 30 minutes from the Premiere Moisson. But at the end awaits the crispiest butteriest croissant you'll ever have. Also worth tasting: the chocolate pear croissant. The almond croissant is apparently also good. And if you see them, buy the caramel au fleur de sel tart with nuts. Insanely good. This is the only part of the tour that is not in Miles End, it is in the PLateau. If you are really tired, you can take a quick cab to Fous Desserts, wouldn't cost more than $7-8.

            1. re: moh

              I'm sure if I hit all these places my stomach will most likely burst. Will that keep me from trying? Nope! Everything sounds very delicious and I am VERY excited to sample all the amazing Montreal fare. My trip isn't until late August, so I will be madly drooling until then...

              1. re: spunge_girl

                I think the key to doing this bakery run is either going with a group of people and sharing everything, or knowing you'll be taking stuff back to your hotel. For example, you won't want to finish off an entire loaf of challah! Also, some things can be savoured later without much loss. For example, the Cocoa Locale cupcakes can be bought (early because they sell out!) and eaten later that day without significant loss of quality.

                I hate to say, I haven't even put all the places I could have on the list. Mile End is a treasure trove of great places. I haven't included gourmet food shops, a bunch of great restos of all types, etc. I have really only included the bakery and coffee shops. But I should add a chocolate stop or two:

                Genevieve Grandbois is a shop that makes handmade chocolates. They are beautiful, delicious but pricey, it is worth buying a few pieces to try. My personal favorites are the balsamic vinegar chocolate, the piment d'Espelette chocolate and a butter crunch caramel with sea salt that is dipped in a thin coat of dark chocolate. This place is on St. Viateur, past the bagel shop on the opposite side of the the street.

                Others wold also recommend Juliette et Chocolate, a cafe/chocolate shop on Laurier, west of Parc. Dedicated to all things chocolate, they have light meals (non-chocolate crepes), hot chocolate, cold chocolate, brownies which are very delicious and rich, chocolate decadence. I like it very much, but have a few personal favorites that are not in Mile End.

              2. re: moh

                If RGR knew Mile End, I think he would be very proud.

            2. Dang, sorry, that is way off topic, that Mile End pastry/coffee tour! Sorry. But it is worth considering...

              Forgot to add an on-topic comment. Best Chausson au Pomme (Apple turnover) is at Bouchees Gourmandes, in Old MOntreal. Across the street from Olive and Gourmando.

              1. Surprised no one has mentioned Café-Santé Veritas on St-Laurent just south of Notre Dame. One of the city's top espresso bars, especially when award-winning barista Anthony is pulling the shots.

                2 Replies
                1. re: carswell

                  What's good foodwise at Cafe Veritas? In my one experience dining there(it was just when they first opened), I didn't care for their pancakes, although their fruit salad of some kind was fairly good.

                  1. re: BLM

                    Have had a couple of stuffed pita-like sandwiches that were good in a West Coast crunchy granola kind of way. The breakfast muffins I tried were nothing special. But I was recommending Veritas as the leading and perhaps only "somewhere that makes really good espresso and latte" that's close to Old Montreal pastry shops, not as a source of pastries or baked goods.

                2. Although a bit removed from Old Mtl but very accessable via the metro, for an amazing dense & slightly sweet challah that may take you back to your childhood, head to Atlantique on Cote des Neiges, just north of Queen Mary (where the street splits). Their challahs reside by the cash register & they sell out quickly. And next door to Atlantique is Au Duc du Lorraine where you can check out their croissants. Atlantique's challah is quite different than Cheskies (whose challahs IMO tend to be a bit well done). But if you do get the opportunity to check out Cheskies, their babka, especially their Russian babka is just to die for! Both the chocolate & cinnamon. And if you can't make it to Atlantique, just follow Moh's advice --- you will not go wrong!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: RhondaB

                    RhondaB, I have not had the Russian Babka! thanks for the tip!!!

                    1. re: moh

                      Please do report back. Cheskies rugalah do indeed rock so let me know which you prefer if you could only have 1. A friend of mine who used to swear up & down by the now defunct Renfeld's on Decarie, was quite impressed with the cinnamon babka but me being a chocoholic ... One of my favorite Sunday rituals is to stop at Cheskies, then either bagels at St Viateur first or if no parking at that moment, over to CAG for a quick pull & to chat with adorable J-F, then back for get the bagels. And if I'm feeling particularly bad, over to Cocao Locale to see what cakes, pies, cupcakes Rima's baked up. And yes yes yes to her Red Velvet!!!