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places to take non chowish people

and stilll satisfy chowhounds as well...

Because I am known as the food person at work, I was asked to pick up a place for our next outing. The problem is that I have been getting mixed feedback about the places I take them to. One left most of the food in her plate at Nicolosi and complained about her weird dessert (of which she only took a tiny bite in disgust). It was a chocolate and tangerine mousse/cake and in fact pretty fine, at least not inedible or not worth complaining about it for a month. She also thought the food there was too expensive (of course comparing it to Cultures!). I have painfully endured Thai, Korean, Chinese and the other "weird food" lunches/dinners with my coworkers. They seem to hate almost all chow favorites. I took my Korean coworker to Maison Bulgogi, he said it wasn't authentic at all and implied that I was the biggest gringo ever.

Long story short, they are really nice peeps, but frankly they are a pain to eat out with, something I have to endure every week or so. I am also not very happy that I take them to places where they don't enjoy the food or leave hungry; I don't want to feel responsible for their non-enjoyment.

Frankly with all our history, I am surprised that they still trust me in chosing a restaurant. So far the only place that seems to satisfy everyone is McKibbins, but damn I am tired of it. If I won't make a decision, I bet that is the place they will like to be going; but I am in the mood for a change.

Dear comrades, is there somewhere that could make me feel like I am not wasting my valuable calorie allowance, while not starving or intimidating the non chow crowd?Ideally it should be around Guy-Concordia, but if forced we can schlep out anywhere that has public transport. It also has to be "reasonable", some of the people think that only suckers pay more than 25-30 bucks for dinner, despite making and spending loads of money elsewhere.

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  1. You're obviously a slow learner:)
    I've been in the same situation, and the easiest way is to just leave the choice to someone else. I've gleaned that it's easier to sigh my way through Baton Rouge or some other cookie-cutter mediocrity that passes for "quality" food, than to feel like crap as most other people leave the curry on their plates because it's too hot, or surgically pick apart their sushi in the disbelief that it's actually raw fish. I can always find something edible, almost anywhere, many of the people you work with obviously can't.

    1. Since Italian is probably the closest thing to a universally loved cuisine, what about Café Presto on Stanley? OK, so it's located next to Chez Paré, the decor's no great shakes and it closes at 21:00. Still, the welcome's warm, the food's homey, honest and actually quite good and you'll have no problems staying within budget.

      1 Reply
      1. re: carswell

        I have not been to Cafe Presto in ages. That place was excellent when I went. I second that suggestion.

      2. My suggestions would completely depend on whether food that does not consist in burgers are out and whether you are looking for a nice sit down place. They are not necessarily knock your socks off places, but I find they please my less adventurous friends:

        Towa (korean/Japanese) - 1832 St-Catherine W
        Mango Bay (carribean) - 1202 Bishop (have not been there in at least a year so don't know about the quality)
        Etoile de l'Inde - 1806 St-Catherine W
        Pret a Manger (Chinese) - 1809 St-Catherine W
        Boustan's (Lebanese) - 2020a Crescent
        Hurley's

        Chains:
        Les 3 Brasseurs - I think its on the corner of St-Cath and Crescent
        Eggspectations - De Maisonneuve and De la Montagne

        12 Replies
        1. re: culinaryescapade

          I must take strong exception to the last suggestion. I would stay far far far away from Eggspectations. Far away.

          I've had nothing but bad, cold, burnt, food there - and really lousy service - both at the one on Crescent and the one one in the pepsi forum

          1. re: maisonbistro

            Hmm, the Eggspectations on Laurier is usually quite good. I haven't had the same problems there.

            How about the Guido and Angelina at the AMC center? It isn't bad, and Italian is pretty safe.

            How about Bar-B-Barn? I still like their ribs well enough.

            That being said, I remember a pretty funny post by Thomasein: "The answer to your post may be the null set."

            1. re: moh

              Thanks for the encouragement, Moh!

              Joking aside, thanks for the suggestions. I will perhaps run a list of options to the gang, and we can perhaps visit the ones they like in the upcoming months; meanwhile I can enjoy my "weird food" in my own privacy.

              I think Italian (both Presto and Guido) might be the safest option, but not sure about Etoile (too spicy). Also, a few of my pals/gals -and my partner also- hated Pret a Manger (I know I know... actually... perhaps I don't know what I am doing with them).

              Boustan might be a good lunch spot, if anyone refuses to eat there it is time to sabotage their print jobs.

              3 Brasseurs might be good too, I read somewhere in this board that they have flammekueche, which I've been craving. Who wouldn't love onions lardons and cream?

              Also someone in the group mentioned that they want to do all you can eat sushi soon. Umm, never a fan, and never thought is is a good deal in terms of getting your money's worth (I'd rather eat a small portion of good fish for the same price). But any of the places worth my visits? Should I take probiotics?

              1. re: emerilcantcook

                Never suspected I'd find myself saying this but Les 3 Brasseurs might be perfect (for them, not so sure about you). It's like a cross between Mike's and a microbrewery.

                «I read somewhere in this board that they have flammekueche, which I've been craving. Who wouldn't love onions lardons and cream?»

                A craving you won't satisfy at L3B unfortunately. The closest they come to a traditional tarte flambée (which they have the audacity to dub L'Alsacienne) is smoked sausage, sauerkraut, onion and Gruyère. See www.les3brasseurs.ca/eng/our_menu.php for the gory deets. For the city's decentest stab at flammekueche, at least in my experience, head to Pop! on Pine Ave.

                «Should I take probiotics?»

                That or a flamethrower.

                1. re: carswell

                  They used to have flammekueche systematically at boulangerie La Cigogne (before on St-Zotique, now on Beaubien) but a) one has to order it now and b) La Cigogne has falen victim to a fire and is closed - supposedly they are renovating. I'll keep you posted, but the best thing there was the Alsatian specialities (their bread is ho-hum) and these must be ordered now.

                  I'd much prefer Presto to Guido e Angelina.

                  1. re: carswell

                    they have the brasseur speciale which is onions, bacon, mushroom and gruyere, ask them without the mushroom and you pretty much have a traditional tarte flambée

                    I must admit that i find burgers and the jarret de porc are pretty good at 3 brasseurs, not the best, but much better than many places

                    1. re: westaust

                      Gruyère doesn't belong in traditional tarte flambée either. At home I use crème fraîche and fromage frais but, as per the Larousse Gastro, Gaertner/Frédérick's La Cuisine alsacienne and Robuchon's Le meilleur et le plus simple de la France, the "cheese" can also incorporate heavy cream and/or egg yolks.

                      1. re: carswell

                        Tried the brasseur special today sans mushrooms. Nope, didn't cut it. The bacon had the most interesting texture, like ground meat. Thank god they had some Bowmore to make me forget all...

                        And most coworkers were happy, so it wasn't bad at all...

                  2. re: emerilcantcook

                    emerilcantcook,

                    What did they hate about Pret a Manger ?
                    I have been thinking about trying it.
                    I usually go next door to Wok Cafe, the food is usually good and the staff is pretty nice.

                    1. re: InterFoodie

                      I much prefer Pret a Manger to Wok Cafe. Not that Wok Cafe is bad, but PM is much better, IMHO (although I'm guessing it depends on what you order) - but it's definitely worth trying it to see for yourself, InterFoodie.

                      1. re: InterFoodie

                        I seriously don't know what they hated about it. Perhaps they didn't like the fact that food there didn't come from a factory where everything ended up tasting the same? Seriously though, the fact that my factory produced food preferring coworkers hate the place should be the biggest endorsement for Pret a Manger. So no worries, give it a try.

                      2. re: emerilcantcook

                        I agree with you where all you can eat sushi is concerned. However, I think there is only one all you can eat place in your vicinity. Kanda on Bishop I think. Otherwise, I like to go to Sakura for a la carte sushi. It's on de la Montagne just south of Sherbrooke.

                2. What about Bardeco on Lincoln? I bet most people will find something they like to eat there. The vegetarian pizza (the garden one with whole asparagus) is excellent.

                  Another option is to take them to the Faubourg and let them all fend for themselves.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: mainsqueeze

                    Yup, we do a lot of Faubourg for lunch. I get my squidy, eggplanty, and XXX spicy Bangkok, and they get their Subway and wax poetic about it while trying not too look at my food or implying that I am the freak in the group. Painful as it is, it is complete equilibrium.

                    1. re: emerilcantcook

                      If you want to try a different slightly fancier food court, you aren't too far from Westmount Square. The sushi place in this food court (run by the couple that own the adjacent florist shop and fruit stand) is very good for the price. The sushi combo comes with a huge fresh salad and 14 pieces or sushi/maki for about $17, and is very filling. The sushi is very good, the rolls are delicious also. They also do udon, tempura, various teriyakis, and it is easy to eat well for $10-20 a person. The Korean guy could probably even request some kimchi to go with his meal. There are also multiple soup/sandwich/salad bars nearby for those who hate Japanese. I believe there is a Thai place too, although I have not tried it. I even think there is a Subway for the really hardcore folks in your group.

                      Yeah, I think it would be a nice alternative to the Fauberg for your group. (Not to replace it, just as a change of scenery).

                      1. re: emerilcantcook

                        The first (and last) time I ate at Subway a few months ago I collapsed in a migraine-y 6 hour comatose nap. No idea how people can eat it. That said, a good trick for protecting oneself during iffy sushi outings is a cilantro tablet or some fresh coriander - or make sure to have miso soup, which has similar properties to probiotics.

                        1. re: Plateaumaman

                          Or take probiotics. I always have some BioK+ on hand (a Montreal area product - made in Laval actually) and technically a food - like a super-strong yoghurt - but more medical than gourmet!

                    2. How about Hoa Hoang on Victoria St before Cote Ste Catherine.It has your standard Brochette fare and a great Vietnamese Omlette,tasty Birds Nest Chicken & Vegs, Sugar Cane Shrimp and fresh Spring Rolls. In other words a little something for everyone.Or on the other hand how about Portugese Chicken there is a new place on Notre Dame west of Atwater that's
                      supposed to be good.