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NYer's Montreal Itinerary

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Hello! I will be in Montreal from Thursday evening through Sunday morning (7/3-6), with three other adults (mid-30s) and a two year old. This is my itinerary:

Thurs night: Au Pied de Cochon
Fri. lunch: Chez L'Epicier
Fri. Dinner: Le Club Chasse et Peche
Sat. lunch: L'Express
Sat. dinner: Lemeac
Sunday lunch: at JT Market
(Toque was booked, so couldn't get a reservation there at all).

I also plan to fit in the following:
Bagels taste-testing between Fairmont & st. Viateur
Poutine at La Banquise
Bilboquet for ice cream
Olive & Gourmando for breakfast or snacking
Orange Julep?
Maybe Schwartz's, depending on time and appetite constraints
Harvey's for a burger (seriously)
Beauty's for breakfast (for sentimental reasons)

Any thoughts on my plans? Does it seem like my choices are varied enough? Should I replace dinner at Lemeac with one at Chez L'Epicier, then do lunch at Lemeac (or some other place) instead? Is Orange Julep worth checking out over L'Express, since we will have a child with us?

Also, we're staying at the Hyatt, and I'm not familiar with the layout of Montreal (although I have been to Montreal before), so maybe it makes sense to change certain things around to make it easier to get to the places?

I'm really looking forward to coming to your beautiful city. I really appreciate any feedback. Thanks for any advice you can give me!

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  1. Holy Moley Cjk5! That is a lot of French food! Hope you are packing your Cholesterol meds...

    If you are focusing on French Cuisine, then this is a great line-up. You are hitting a lot of high notes. Personally, I find lunch at L'Express followed by dinner at Lemeac a little redundant, as they are both French bistros, but that being said, they are both great places to eat, and so typically Montreal.

    As for the rest of the list, the bagel tasting is a must. Poutine, also worth trying, although if you get the fois gras poutine at Au Pied du Cochon, that might cover it. You may want to see how the rest of the list goes, as thinking about all the food you will be eating is making me full... Those are pretty rich meals you are talking about!

    1 Reply
    1. re: moh

      I know, I know. I am dreading the scale upon my return. But not dreading it enough to dampen my enjoyment of each and every bite of foie gras!

    2. WOW! You will not go hungry, let me say that. ;-)

      "Is Orange Julep worth checking out over L'Express, since we will have a child with us?"

      These two are completely different animals. Orange Julep is an outdoor snack bar with picnic tables, serving hot dogs, fries, etc. along with the venerable orange julep drink. Definitely cool to go with a kid, but a world away from the bistro L'Express! OJ is worth checking out if you want to see a Montreal landmark (it's a giant orange) but not if you're looking for top-notch food.

      I agree with Moh that you've planned an enormous amount of heavy French meals, and you may want to consider swapping one or two of the lunches with some lighter fare, like perhaps a brunch at Byblos (see recent Bostonian post) on Laurier East or either Le Cartet or Olive & Gourmando (closed Sun.), both in Old Montreal.

      "Also, we're staying at the Hyatt, and I'm not familiar with the layout of Montreal (although I have been to Montreal before), so maybe it makes sense to change certain things around to make it easier to get to the places?"

      I don't think you need to worry at all. Montreal's a fairly small city, being contained on an island as we are. Nothing is usually more than a 30-45 min. drive away from anything else (except in rush hour, of course) , and much is walkable or easily reached by metro and/or bus. Have a fantastic trip!

      1 Reply
      1. re: kpzoo

        Leméac makes a fabulous chopped salad topped with grilled shrimp, that's a light option; they also have brunch on sundays. The outdoor seating there would make me pick that place over l'Express, if you must omit one of the two.

        You've omitted italian food, is that intentional ?

        I personally would skip the Julep , it's out of the way and would waste precious time you could stroll on the various streets surrounding your dining places after your meals.

      2. Maybe replace L'express or Lemeac by either Bazaar (middle-east influence), Jolifou (mexican/south-american influence), Madre, Raza (mexican/south-american -ish) or "M Sur Masson" ?

        1. Have to join the Avoid-the-Julep chorus unless you're a huge fan of kitsch architecture. Not only is it way out of the way, the immediate surroundings are absolutely soulless, a wasteland given over to automobile culture. I'd also suggest dropping Harvey's; it ain't what it used to be and, in fact, is pretty vile.

          As for ice cream, aside from sociology (great place to study the bourgeois Outremont street scene) and a few flavours (the currently unavailable maple taffy and the enjoyable strawberry cup made with OK strawberry ice cream and fresh strawberries), there's nothing particularly noteworthy about it. A decade or two ago it was arguably the city's best ice cream parlour but its expansion and the arrival of superior competitors mean that's no longer true. Not saying it's bad, just nothing special. See the ice cream thread for better (more interesting flavours, better ingredients, smaller batches) options. www.chowhound.com/topics/518157

          While your restaurant list is heavy on the French, the establishments you've chosen are actually quite varied: APDC is over-the-top home-style Québécois; Chez L'Éplicier is postmodern market French with a terminally cute fondness for semi-deconstructionism; LCC&P is contemporary French/Italian/American; L'Express and Leméac are both bistros. And these various styles of French are, after all, what this city does best. What you're missing, IMHO, are the places I, as a resident, find most interesting: the small, neighbourhood restos and the BYOs. To Max's list of the former, I'd add Bistro Bienville, Au Cinquième Péché, Bouchon de Liège and La Chronique. My favourite BYO remains Le P'tit Plateau.

          1 Reply
          1. re: carswell

            And to add a reason not to go to Bilbouqet, they serve it in the passageway between Complex Dejardins and Place des Artes- basically the "mall" under the Hyatt.
            Not sure how you intend to do all of this with a two year old... The kid area at FIJM is great but the magic only lasts so long...

          2. I agree with others about Orange Julep and Bilboquet. They're really not worth the trip. And as for Harveys, it's quite possibly the worst burger in this burger desert of a town. Why anyone who's ever had a good buger in their life would ever eat there is beyond me. If you insist on eating chain burgers you could do much better with A&W.

            2 Replies
            1. re: SnackHappy

              Not much for chain burgers myself but I guess A&W's aren't too bad. Me, I've been having a secret love affair (public now) with their onion rings.

              1. re: SnackHappy

                I have to admit that an A &W teen burger and onion rings are a favorite treat with me, but it depends on the outlet. The A&W on Sources is really great.

              2. Thank you all for your great comments! Based on your suggestions, I am nixing Orange Julep and Bilboquet from my list. I'm intrigued by Byblos and Jolifou, so maybe I'll switch L'Express with one of those.

                As for Harvey's, I'm tempted to nix it too, but we don't have it in NY (or the US) so it's kind of a tradition to go there whenever I'm in Canada.

                BTW, what is FIJM?

                Thanks again everybody!

                4 Replies
                1. re: cjk5

                  > BTW, what is FIJM?

                  I beileve it's what we locals usually call "the jazz festival" or "the jazz fest" ;-)

                  (Festival International de Jazz de Montréal)

                  Please report back, I'll be curious to hear how you survived your food-packed trip. :-)

                  Have an amazing time!

                  1. re: cjk5

                    It is indeed the Jazz Fest. One obsession - from one NYer to another- when I go to FIJM every year ( I have already come and gone), is the Dairy Queen right next door to the Hyatt. We don't have that or Orange Julius in NY. And I don't go with a kid!
                    You did not mention anything about coming for FIJM- are you aware that you are coming during it and staying at the hotel right in the middle of it all? Also, the pool at the Hyatt is closed...

                    1. re: carfreeinla

                      I too love Dairy Queen and Orange Julius! Oh no, now I'll have to factor those two things into our caloric budget, although one can get DQ in New Jersey. . . As for FIJM, I think it's going to be pretty much wasted on us, since we're not coming for it, and we just happen to be staying at the Hyatt-- it just happens to be going on at the same time we will be there (I know this sounds like jazz-sacrilege). Thanks for the info!

                      1. re: cjk5

                        Be sure to visit the kids area at the fest. And if you go during the day, you will find lots of space to run, and snacks to eat right around it.

                  2. I would suggest going to l'Express for brunch rather than lunch. They serve very nice pain doré, smoked salmon bagels, croissants etc at surprisingly reasonable prices. It's less busy than lunchtime too. Book your table in advance and ask for the window table, as there is room at the side for your stroller (no highchairs). I often go on Sunday mornings around 10:30 with my 7 month old, and have had very child friendly service.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: english muffin

                      I don't think L'Express serves brunch, though. They serve breakfast so you have to go pretty early before they switch over to lunch service.

                      1. re: SnackHappy

                        Sorry I should have said breakfast. We've always arrived around 10:30 and the breakfast menu is still on offer. To give you an idea of the prices: 2 pain dorés, 2 freshly squeezed orange juices & a cafe au lait for $23.

                    2. A thousand apologies to everybody for reporting back so late! I have been wanting to thank you all for your suggestions and advice for over a month! Well, we ended up sticking to most of the schedule: 1) APDC -- I thought this place was great although the main dish I ordered (beef tongue for two) ended up being a little much after a few bites (complete with fried oysters, foie gras, etc.). This place is over the top, and I loved that about it. Some of my dining companions disliked it for this very reason, and felt that the food was just about making a statement rather than crafting a great meal. I definitely want to go back there, but will probably have to go alone!; 2) Chez L'Epicier -- I was a little underwhelmed by this restaurant as my meal (both the appetizer and main course) was underseasoned (I got the fish main course-- sorry I am forgetting all the details. . . ) -- however, I tried the veal steak and thought it was excellent; 3) LCCP -- this was a fantastic restaurant. period; 4) Lemeac -- totally solid fare and enjoyable experience; and 4) Lucca -- (I know this wasn't on my original list, but my plans got derailed a little bit) I did not choose this restaurant, but was very pleasantly surprised and we all thought it was excellent. The seafood in the seafood dishes were especially fresh. We also dropped by Olive & Gourmando, Faimont bagels & St. Viateur bagels, and loved them. Between the two bagel places, i give a slight nod to St. Viateur, but I would take either one any day. Also, we tried some poutine at La Banquise (I got one with chicken and peas, if I remember correctly) and I thought it was just okay.

                      Again, I'm sorry for the delay reporting back and really sorry for the lack of details in my report. But I really appreciate all your help, and wanted to let you know all your advice was put to good use. One more word on our trip to Montreal -- we found the service in all the restaurants to be fantastic. It was incredible, actually. Thanks again!

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: cjk5

                        Hi cjk5 - we (my wife, our 2 year old and I) will be visiting Montreal for three days from NYC and planning to sample most of the same restaurants you have been to. How was your experience with the more refined ones (APDC, LCCP) with a 2 yr old? did u mention upfront that u needed a high chair at the time of the reservation, etc.? Ours is a well behaved boy that eats pretty much everything (so no need for anything special), but I don't want to feel uncomfortable. Many thanks

                        1. re: cimny03

                          APDC is a world class restaurant, but it is not refined in atmosphere. It is boisterous and casual -- joyous controlled chaos really. I have seen small children playing among the tables and the patrons and staff treat it as part of the flow. So I think PDC could more easily and happily accommodate your 2 year old than LCC&P.

                          1. re: cimny03

                            Yes, APDC is totally boisterous and casual and small children fit right in, although the chairs may not be very comfortable (we didn't get a high chair here -- the boy sat mostly in his stroller, which was pushed up to the table, and then got out and was passed around to people's laps). At LCCP, we sat in a booth against the wall, so the boy had a comfy space to spread out. He was a little fussy, but the servers took it all in stride and did not make us feel unwelcome at all. Our waiter even offered to bring a special meal for the boy, which I thought was amazing since it's not exactly a place that offers a "kid's menu!" At Chez L'Epicier we got a high chair, but had not requested it ahead of time. Overall, all the restaurants were extremely kid-friendly -- much more than I think NY restaurants are. I hope you have a great trip!

                          2. re: cjk5

                            "This place is over the top, and I loved that about it. Some of my dining companions disliked it for this very reason, and felt that the food was just about making a statement rather than crafting a great meal. I definitely want to go back there, but will probably have to go alone!"

                            That's hilarious. My exact experience. Next time you're in Montreal let me know. If I'm there at the same time I'll go with you. LOL!

                            1. re: Davedigger

                              You're on -- I'm going to order duck in a can!

                              1. re: cjk5

                                That's what I had when I was there. Wow, I feel delishiously sick just thinking about it. LOL!