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Anti-Valentines meal in MTL 2009?

After thinking about it, I was wondering a more specific question for my Montreal trip. My gf and I are not fans of Valentines/Hallmark day. What are some places in Montreal that won't be changing their menus? I understand it's a very busy night and the fact it is on a Saturday this year will not help. I just view v-day the same as New Years - culinary wise, it's best to stay home and cook with a good bottle of wine, but I can not this year. Anything from bistro to ethnic suits us. Can be fancy or divey- as long as the food is great and they don't do anything v-day wise, we will be happy. Gf is lebanese background, are there some good sit down places in MTL? I have read about some pick up places for shwarma, but heard MTL has lot's of great lebansese/middle east restaurants. Staying at Omni but we will cab to places as well.

Thanks

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  1. You should try the Petit Alep (191, Jean Talon East). It's a really good restaurant that serves Middle-Eaastern food. There are other threads on this board that describe it, I'm sure, but I recommend starting with the "Végétarienne" (which has a mix of their most popular appetizers) and going from there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: amelie1980

      Be warned: I'm not sure Petit Alep takes reservations, and I've faced a 45+ min wait on a random Tuesday nite...

    2. Two months out it's hard to know which restos will or won't offer a Valentine's special. Your best bet would be to inquire a week or two before. That said, I'd imagine the most likely offenders would be downtown restos and see-and-be-scenery places like those on the St-Laurent glitz strip.

      Immigrant-run eateries probably wouldn't make much fuss, so you could search the board for Portuguese, Chinese, Indian/Pakistani, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Greek, Senegalese, etc. reccos, shying away from the upscaler joints that cater to a westernized clientele.

      I also find that holidays aren't a big deal at many smaller neighbourhood bistros (like Au Cinquième Péché, Les Deux Singes de Montarvie and Bistro Bienville) and BYOBs (like Le P'tit Plateau and Le Bleu Raisin). But, hey, the economy's tanking and in two months restaurant owners may be desperate for any hook to reel patrons in with. So, call.

      Le P'tit Alep and its fancier sibling Alep are excellent reccos for Middle Eastern, especially with northern Syrian and Armenian influences. For fancy-ish but more traditional Lebanese cuisine, head to Daou in the east end or in St-Laurent borough. For sit-down with tablecloths but more home-style cooking, you might consider Aux Lilas on Park Ave. in Mile End (not that I'm recommending it, however, since I've not eaten there in many years).

      Oh, and if you and/or GF like Middle Eastern pastries, run, don't walk, to Pâtisserie Mahrouse and Pâtisserie Amal Bohsali. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9867...

      13 Replies
      1. re: carswell

        Carswell, the older Daou isn't in the east end, but in Villeray, in "le vieux Nord". 519 Faillon, a couple of blocks north of Jean-Talon métro.

        I suppose east and west are always relative, but this area isn't usually known as the east end.

        Only problem with the wonderful Petit Alep is that it gets a bit crowded and I felt really "oppressed" the last time I had supper in there in the winter. The food was great as always, the cost reasonable and the service good, but it was very noisy and I'm not sure it is a place I'd choose for a tête à tête with dear one.

        Though if I'm not mistaken they may have expanded a bit recently; anyone know? That might alleviate the winter crush.

        You could always go next door to Restaurant Alep (same kitchen) but they'd be more likely to put up the odd heart just to reel patrons, as carswell accurately says, though it isn't really their market. I've been there more with Middle Eastern family or cultural groups.

        1. re: lagatta

          Petit Alep is bigger now but I tried going on a Thursday around 7 p.m. a few weeks ago and there was a line-up and long wait so we gave up. Can anyone confirm whether they even take reservations? I don't think they do but I could be wrong about that.

          1. re: mainsqueeze

            The last time I asked, they did not take reservations. Not sure if that has changed since they expanded.

            1. re: mainsqueeze

              Yeah I wouldn't count on Petit Alep for the same reason. The food is lovely, but the place is too small for the demand (haven't been there since their expansion). I know you are not asking for romantic or specialness, but you don't want an hour wait in the cold eh?

              I am not sure how more expensive Alep is (never tried), but they reportedly serve the same food and more at a fancier space and of course higher cost. But they do take reservations.

              Daou is OK too. Good, but as great. I'd prefer the food at Petit Alep. I also don't know why and how but every time I go there, there is like a million birthday celebrations. The happy birthday songs start grating on you after a while. But if you'd like to see geeky pictures of Celine Dion in her old days (this is reportedly her favorite restaurant), run! They have many of them on the walls.

              I would also try with the BYO places as Carswell suggested. Mid-range French is one thing Montreal does well, much better than any other North American city. However, some of them might actually have special menus.

              1. re: emerilcantcook

                I was at Daou (VSL) a few nights ago and there were indeed 3 B-day celebrations. The B-day song they played for each one was super annoying. Also, the food was sucky. I have went on four previous occasions and it has been good though not mind-blowing; this time around, except for the filet mignon kebab all the other meats and shrimp were too rubbery from over-grilling and the fattouch was pathetic (basically pickled lettuce). I won't be returning any time soon, the quality-price ratio is too low.

                1. re: hungryann

                  Yikes. My one and only visit to the VSL location was for lunch last summer. Everything, including the fattoush, was first-rate, though the golf ball on steroids-sized falafel was drier than I prefer -- much better than the shawarma-joint standard but definitely inferior to Chez Benny. Was the only seated patron (the takeout trade was brisk), so no birthday parties, thank dog.

            2. re: lagatta

              Am unaware of any official definition of the East End, though I see one travel guide refers to it only as the easternmost tip of the island and not as including, say, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, which is widely thought of as being in the East End. And, yes, I know Daou is in Villeray. But that name will be obscure at best and meaningless at worst to most out-of-towners and even many West Enders. My choosing lowercase east end was a lazy/sloppy way to convey "well east of downtown, a considerable distance from the Omni hotel and located in a predominantly francophone neighbourhood."

              The expanded Petit Alep is noticeably roomier but still quite noisy when busy. On the other hand, the original poster expressly said he's not looking for romantic.

              1. re: carswell

                Even francophone East-Enders (the traditional population of from, say, "Centre-sud" (the central eastern area around Radio-Canada and the Gay Village) eastwards would definitely call Hochelaga-Maisonneuve "l'est".

                I just wouldn't call Villeray the East End for the same reason I wouldn't call Côte-des-Neiges (except, perhaps, near Snowdon) or TMR/VMR the West End. What I'd tell out-of-towners is that Daou is a couple of streets north and east of Jean-Talon market - really, a very short walk from there.

                Oh, I wasn't thinking romantic, just that I felt really claustrophobic in Petit Alep late last winter with the crush of people in black coats and many more queueing at the door and inside.

                Great food and value, always.

                1. re: lagatta

                  «What I'd tell out-of-towners is that Daou is a couple of streets north and east of Jean-Talon market - really, a very short walk from there.»

                  Yeahbut a lot of Calgarians don't know where the Jean Talon Market is either.

                  1. re: carswell

                    Not that I want to turn this into a big geographical discussion, but I agree with lagatta in this one. Villeray neighbourhood is right on St-Laurent and Daou is only a few hundred meters from St-Laurent. If it were in Rosemont I woudn't argue with you about calling it the east-end, but using your criteria the Plateau would be in east end Montreal and Mile-End in the west-end. I think a much better choice of terms would be to call it a northern neighbourhood.

                    1. re: SnackHappy

                      Et tu, SnackHappyus?

                      I've admitted it was sloppy shorthand. Apparently that's not enough. All right, then. With all my heart I apologize for mortally offending all you east of St-Laurent but oh, no, not the East End, no way, Jose types. Please forgive me. Please don't send me to the reeducation camps. I promise never to do it again and never not to refer to the market as not being the centre of the universe!!!

                      Personally, I'd never call Villeray a northern neighbourhood unless talking about urban planning in the first half of the 20th century. In my Montreal, Ahuntsic and Montréal Nord, not Villeray, are in the North End, and the dividing line is somewhere in a grey area between the Metropolitan and Sauvé/Côte-Vertu.

            3. re: carswell

              "Immigrant-run eateries?" what are these?

              1. re: MartinSLR

                i believe it means: restaurants run by people that are not originally from Quebec or Canada.

            4. Glomming onto this thread since Mr. travelmad478 and I are looking for the exact same thing. I know absolutely nothing about neighborhoods in Montreal, having never been there before, but can tell you that we are staying at Hotel Jazz (1216, rue St-Hubert). We won't have a car and probably wouldn't want to walk too far, but a metro ride would be fine with us.

              11 Replies
              1. re: travelmad478

                Hiya, carswell made a ton of good suggestions above, did you see his post? To find out more about each of those restos, just plug its name into the QC board's search box.

                1. re: kpzoo

                  thanks guys, i'll check out those sugggestions. on a side note, for one big splurge meal, where would you go - europea, la coqchine (sp?), laloux, cafe ferreira?

                  cheers!

                  1. re: rafer madness

                    That would take you back to Club Chasse et Peche. Europea is also highly recommended on this board. For your second place listed, I assume you are referring to Pied de Cochon? or Queue de Cochon? The former I would steer clear of, the latter is wonderful, but not a big splurge meal in the way you're thinking (although yes, it would be, calorie-wise...) .

                    1. re: cherylmtl

                      Why would you steer clear of PDC? I think you mean the opposite. I really enjoy PDC.

                      A big splurge meal would be the 20-course dinner at Europe's chef's table. The last time I was there the maitre d' indicated that it takes 4-5 hours.

                      1. re: cherylmtl

                        «For your second place listed, I assume you are referring to Pied de Cochon?»

                        I guess Cocagne. And you got your former and latter mixed up, no?

                        1. re: carswell

                          Certainly mixed up the former and the latter. I'd changed the wording slightly before I posted, and apparently missed the fact that the two restaurants were now reversed... This is what happens when I post at 1:45 am...
                          So, do not steer clear of PDC - but do steer clear of Queue de Cochon.

                          1. re: cherylmtl

                            apparently 10:47 am as well ;). It's Queue de Cheval.

                            1. re: C70

                              Queue de Cochon is an artisanale charcuterie at 6400 rue St-Hubert. They also have a counter on Laurier Est in the same local as Le Fromententier bakery (1375 Laurier Est).

                              1. re: mainsqueeze

                                Okay, I give up! My brain has just turned to mush, apparently. I know those things. Really I do. I'm not even going to try to clarify this again - who knows what I'll type this time!

                                1. re: cherylmtl

                                  No cherylmtl, please, DO keep clarifying! I'm busting a gut over here! No doubt too much winetasting...

                                  Perhaps you could comment on whether Pied de Cheval serves medallion de buttes?

                                  1. re: moh

                                    Only at their Villeray location...

                2. Nothing beats a large poutine at 3am for valentines!!!