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know of any family-owned small intimate french bistro/restaurnts in montreal?

We went to Montreal for our anniversary last weekend and had a great time. we had asked someone at the tourist information service for the same recommendation. We wanted something small, informal, and family owned and we ended up at Boris' Bistro on mcgill. It was too high end for what we wanted. Does anybody know of something that offers french, casual, more peasant/rustic style, food of which I speak for future reference? We may go to Montreal in the future and I would love to get recommendations for the downtown, university,old montreal area.

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  1. Small, informal and family-owned restaurants are not normally found in the downtown, university, or Old Montreal areas. You would be more likely to find what you're looking for in Plateau or Villeray, but I'm not really clear on exactly what sort of food you're looking for - perhaps Pied de Cochon might be closest, but it's not exactly small - although it's not huge - and while there are many lovely little bistros around, I'm not sure that style of food is what you're looking for either. Could you be a little more specific as to what "peasant/rustic style food" might encompass?

    1 Reply
    1. re: cherylmtl

      I get a feeling that if Boris was too high end then APDC is definitely too expensive.

    2. I think what you're looking for is more the type of bistro one would find in France and not among the ersatz bistros of Montreal. Montreal bistros tend to more high-end than their French counterparts, because they cater to a more affluent crowd. They feel more like fancy brasseries than actual bistros. Even a moderate, non-pretentious place like Le Margaux would be way fancier than what you're looking for.

      1 Reply
      1. re: SnackHappy

        we have a small10-15 table restaurant owned by a couple here in jersey city and it is fantastic. they feature buckwheat crepes filled with lamb sausage spinach and creme fraiche, pork with an apple brandy sauce, seafood dishes,escargot appetizers, roasted chicken etc... we were hoping to find something more along the lines of that type of food and atmosphere while in montreal. alas i guess next time we go we will need to go outside of the city.
        thank you for your help.

      2. The closer to what you are describing is perhaps some of the small bring your own wine restaurants (please do a board search if you are interested, there are many recommendations). Still, at most of these places, the mains will be at higher 20s and with some appetizers and a dessert you will end up paying $50 and upwards per person, not to mention this doesn't include price of the wine you are bringing. And food is fancier, albeit sometimes being interpretations of rustic fare.

        I am still not sure what you refer to as high end though. If the price is not an issue, and you are just referring the atmosphere, some of the small BYOB places might satisfy you. Or even Au 5eme Peche (not BYOB though), which is owned and operated by a family and is tiny. But then again, I've never been to Boris Bistro so I cannot interpret your situation well.

        However, I think Pied de Cochon is completely the opposite of family owned/small/ intimate. It is not excessively big, but it is loud, fast and out of control. There is nothing bad about it, but it is a totally different animal.

        3 Replies
        1. re: emerilcantcook

          The only other clarification I can make is that what we were looking for is a small casual french restaurant owned by a husband and wife, that serves homecooked, fresh country style french food. When I say high end, I don't mean price i mean style of food as opposed to more casual homecooked fare, you know, like someone's grandma was in the back preparing the food

          1. re: Bengaliwife

            The BYOB restaurant Le P'tit Plateau is run by a husband and wife team. The husband, the chef, learned his craft at his grandmother's knee in Bordeaux. That said, he's a modern and inventive cook and has a sense of style. Still, southwest French cuisine is by nature somewhat rustic and a certain homeyness continues to inform his cooking.

            As SnackHappy mentions, Le Margaux is run by a French couple. Though not ultra-fancy, I wouldn't describe their cooking as rustic. www.lemargaux.com

            At Le Jolifou, hubby and sous-chefs man the stoves, while wife looks after the front of house. The cooking is basically French but incorporates Latin American ingredients and flavours. www.jolifou.com

            For more refined and expensive but still run by a French couple, head to La Porte on St-Laurent.

            If you can get past the husband-and-wife thing:

            Le Jurançon shares many of LPP's attributes, though it's slightly less expensive and not a BYOB. www.lejurancon.com

            Au Cinquième Péché is owned and operated by two families and the kitchen pulls off the impressive trick of balancing rustic and elegant, earthy and ethereal, down-home and sophisticated. www.aucinquiemepeche.com

            1. re: Bengaliwife

              I'm not sure about the husband/wife, mom&pop aspect but,
              perhaps Le Paris Beurre 1226 Van Horne at Querbes or Outremont ave
              (514) 271-7502
              Once upon a time, there was the husband/wife/daughter at Au Bistro Gourmet 2100 rue Saint-Mathieu (514) 846-1553 but haven't been in years.

          2. Howdy!

            Not quite French, but heavy on the family, casual and rustic... you might want to check out Ange & Ricky, 195 Jarry E. (514) 385-6094. Le Roi du Plateau, 51 Rachel West (514) 844-8393 and Le Jolifou 1840 Beaubien, (514) 722-2175.

            1 Reply
            1. re: zekesgallery

              thank you all for your responses. These sound just like what I am looking for.
              next time I go I will report back.

            2. The little neighbourhood bistro Caf et Bouffe, described on the Villeray thread, might have the type of vibe you are looking for. It is not strictly "Français de France", the food is sort of Italianish and sort of Québécois, but it is not too far from the kind of flavour profile you are seeking.

              1. If you ever come back to Montreal, you should check out a BYOW called Le zeste de folie on Masson street in the Rosemont area. The food is simply incredible! Yvan, the chef and the owner, is assisted by his wife Sophie who takes care of the service. For me, it is a simple place where you can bring great bottles because they have the appropriate glasses and they even have carafes.

                1. i realise that i am responding WAAAY late but i couldnt resist and if you return soon then you will have the skinny before you get here... or you could pass on the info to someone you know who IS coming.
                  I have to say that the "couple owned restaurant" you are looking for is mostly a thing of the past - most couples who work together in restaurants usually either kill each other or divorce before too long. i own a restaurant and, beleive you me, it is no place to work on a relationship.
                  That said, there are couple of good suggestions below.
                  Jolifou is a very special place but it is not too casual and def not peasant/rustic. it is also of the beaten path - my taxi driver once asked me if i had the wrong address as, "there is nothing around here".
                  There are some great family owned restaurants in Little Italy, but they are not french style. If you really want to experience the french aspect of Montreal, you should REALLY try some of the new sytle bistro(t)s. They all play on the same kind of french/quebecois style food but with a variance of influences and environments. If you are feeling a little more adventurous next time, try these (you can look them up online)...
                  L'Assomoir - ceviches & tartares (yes horse too), great cocktails, sometimes live music
                  L'Express - The ultimate "classic french bistro" in Montreal. It has been there forever and is open really late too. try the octopus and lentil appetizer. also their cold foie dish is top as well. i love to sit at the bar, but that depends on what kind of diner you are.
                  For a place to experience two favourite Montreal pastimes at the same time go to Brasserie Brunoise right beside the Bell Centre (where the Canadiens play). Zach is one of the owners and a reeeeeally nice, genuine guy. Say hello if you get a chance. This place feels like an upscale pub, has screens ontop of the woodwork to watch the hockey game (with the volume on), but the food is really good with out being too high end french bistro food (leg of duck confit on greens, frisee salad with lardons and poached egg, some great fish and meat dishes too). NB... make sure you dont miss the pannacotta with the basil simple syrup. it is the simplest, most flavourful, texture combo crazy dessert i have had.
                  L'Inconnu is on St Andre at Roy in the plateau. Jeff, the Chef / Owner there, does really great market cuisine that reflects the Quebecois products. he is not cheap, but prices are very fair and he is also a really great guy to say hello to.
                  If you want some funkier, louder, more party atmosphere but still stay within the french local cuisine try Garde Manger. Expect lots of tattooed staff and patrons, but dont be fooled, the food is really good and local, market, french. This is one if the only places in montreal to get some good seafood as well. Oysters, raw scallops, crab, clams, etc.
                  Also in Old Montreal is L'Orignale. This is Canadian / Quebec cabin style environment with a local edge but, again, the music is funky and they focus on game and fowl as well as seafood and meats.
                  There is also Holder which is Old Montreal on McGill but this isnt cheap. it is the Montreal version of Balthazar in NYC. In this line i might as well mention Pois Penche (pwah-pawn-shay). It is right downtown and has a luxurious feel but its pretty expensive. it is definitely one of the most french style bistrot places in Montreal and is fairly new.
                  If you are coming to Montreal and want some current advice, send me a msg before you come and i will gladly help tailor some options for you. Dont tell anyone. LOL!
                  A la prochaine mon ami!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: montrealfoodboy

                    «Also in Old Montreal is L'Orignale.»

                    For the search engine, it's L'Orignal. Probably the most frequently misspelled restaurant name in town these days. (If so, Leméac's corruption into Le Méac runs a close second.) "The moose" in French. And definitely not L'Original or L'Originale ("the original"), as some spell it. www.restaurantlorignal.com

                    «If you are coming to Montreal and want some current advice, send me a msg before you come and i will gladly help tailor some options for you.»

                    First sentence of the Chowhound Posting Etiquette for everyone: "Please don't ask Chowhound users to reply to your postings via email. Email feeds one chowhound, whereas public discussion feeds the whole pack!"
                    - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3676...

                    1. re: carswell

                      just read it as you were typing. gotcha. i WAS requesting contact thru Chowhound though, not email - i dont want anyone contacting me through email. Just trying to help offer some suggestions. can u explain to me how i violated? i just want to be clear... i dont really get why you sent me a msg. thanks in advance!
                      also, thanks for the correction on "l'orignal"! i thought about it while i was typing it and then thought of how everyone pronounces it and i added the "e".

                      1. re: montrealfoodboy

                        Contributions to a discussion like you and I are having are usually referred to as "posts" or "replies."

                        In a discussion board context, "message" usually refers to a private message sent via e-mail or the board's private messaging system (Chowhound is one of the few boards that doesn't have a PM system though many hounds post their e-mail address in their profiles.)

                        So, sorry if I misunderstood your intent but "send me a msg," "give me a dingle," "don't tell anyone," etc. made that easy to do.

                      2. re: carswell

                        i will take you up on the offer of helping out...i am arriving around 8 wed night staying downtown near the train station and am looking for a nice place close by...the two of us eat just about anything and cost is always relative to the food...

                      3. re: montrealfoodboy

                        hi montrealfoodboy,
                        Thank you so much for your suggestions. We are waiting to go to Montreal when it gets warmer. I will definitely investigate your recs further and maybe try one on a future trip.

                      4. Try Mas Cuisine in Verdun:

                        Mas Cuisine
                        3779 Wellington St.(Near Hickson Ave.); 514-544-3779; Open: Lunch Wednesday to Friday, noon to 2:30 p.m.; dinner Wednesday to Saturday, 6 to 9 p.m.; no wheelchair access; reservations are essential; major cards; price range: $$-$$$
                        Published on Feb 02, 2009


                        There is a good review by Lesley Chesterman here.

                        1. If you are looking for something inexpensive and tasty, you should give a try to Justine Bistro à vin. Its a very short walk from the Mont-Royal subway station and it might be what you're looking for.

                          If you want to try out a Montreal institution, then L'Express near the Sherbrooke metro station is a must. It is not too expensive either (though not as cheap as Justine) if you can limit yourself.

                          Best of luck!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Histrion

                            Thank you bigfellow and Histrion for your suggestions. I will keep these in mind for future trips