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Dinner on McGill/St. Paul - Wilson, Vauvert, Holder, Stash, Gandhi, or other?

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Hi again,

I was wondering what you fellow boardies would recommend for a memorable dining experience on the McGill/St.Paul near McGill strip on a Saturday night?

We're hosting some relatives from the U.S. whose ages range from mid-20s to mid-50s and whose palettes range from adventurous to not-so-adventurous, and the plan would be to eat somewhere that at once has a memorable atmosphere and an innovative, tasty menu. We're planning the walk-around-the-Old-Port and then Casino thing, hence the choice of locale on McGill/St. Paul.

I've been to Vauvert and quite enjoyed it, so I know what I'd be getting there. Many of the other spots in the area, though, would be new to me, so I'm wondering if any of them get the thumbs-up or avoid-at-all-costs judgment from you.

Wilson seems interesting, especially with the supposed addition of chef David Adjey to their kitchen (has this happened?). L'Appartement looks promising, and I've heard good things about Boris Bistro and Holder, though I've only seen those spots by day/at lunch. On St. Paul, I know Stash and Gandhi are both reliable, though I'm not sure our party will be totally on board for Polish or Indian cuisine.

Thanks in advance for the advice!

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  1. I haven't been to the others, but I have thoroughly enjoyed Holder. I really love the boisterous atmosphere there. There's just something about those high ceilings that lends something to the acoustics, I guess. My boyfriend had a short rib dish there that was out of this world, and I remember really liking crème brulée trilogy.

    1. David Adjey has been hired by the Wilson restaurant, as a consultant to help develop their new menu(that's what David is doing mostly these days).

      1. Skip Boris Bistro - lovely atmosphere on the terrace (which is likely closed now) but truly ordinary food. Don't know if Wilson has improved, but early reviews were pretty negative. A few blocks west of your area is da Emma, which might be an interesting option as well.

        1. L'Orignal - cozy decor, interesting food, lots of fun
          Holder - yummy but noisy
          Méchant Boeuf - fun place, good music (usually classic rock)

          I also like Stash and Gandhi.

          NOT Boris or Appartement!
          And not Wilson unless you like being stared at blankly upon ordering a gin tonic.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nochainsplease

            I've tried Holder twice and it's now scratched off my list; oversalted meat and fish at dinner, toast brought 20 minutes after the omelettes at brunch. Vallières has proven to be a more consistent place with service and quality, although it's more casual.

          2. Is Graziella in that area? I went there a couple of weeks ago and everyone loved it. It was an excellent dinner with fine wines. We had 2 wines: La Rasina and Montesecundo. They were both excellent. I tasted almost everyone's plate and everything was excellent.

            1. I've been to Holder several times with my family and it's a safe bet for your group. The beef cheeks in burgundy has been excellent both times, excellent frites, steaks, soup and dessert. Only had one issue with the service - they failed to bring an appetizer we ordered one night.

              1. I just had my 2nd meal at Gandhi, the first this trip. I really love the esthetics of the restaurant. and the menu is wonderful. I found both times that the food is quite spicy (and I love it spicy) so that may be difficult for some of your guests.

                I highly recommend the prawn puri appetizer- the best I have had. They have a decent wine list as well. The portions were on the small side but can be forgiven based on a two person order and the food being very good- excellent Saag Paneer, Aloo Ghobi, Lamb Rogan Josh.

                Now to the bad news: the service. We had reservations- they put us right beside the door. I am not over dramatizing when I say my s/o was almost outside. When asked to be moved we were put at a table right by the kitchen when there were at that point many open tables. The restaurant is divided into two rooms, the first being almost full we asked to move again; this time to the other room that only had one active table for the sake of hearing each other and not the kitchen. We were told the owners were having dinner there so we could not.
                As the night finished we watched one half of a very lovely but understaffed restaurant become a bit frenzied and packed while the owners sat with a bottle of wine in plain view in the other half. While the food, atmosphere and location are fantastic, we were left feeling almost out in the cold.