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impress this Torontonian!

so, i lived in Montreal for 5 years, but suffered from McGill-Ghetto-Plateau-itis, whereby I generally stuck to places to that let me bring my own cheap dep wine and lined my stomach on a student budget. Some of my spots included Shambala for the lovely Tibetan, Santropol and Lola Rosa for awesome lunches, and Bistro Duluth for a nice date and lingering.

now i'm coming back for a weekend on the more generous but still frugal budget of a schoolteacher, and since my younger days have expanded my tastebuds and now have a penchant for Indian, vegetarian, Middle Eastern and Mediterreanean. I love a great cut of salmon or a great tabule salad, or anything with olives or artichokes or beets, and I'm a sucker for a good squash or lentil soup. i am open to any and all ethnic cuisines but not so much the creamy French and Italian stuff, I am looking for destination dining on a budget - places to write home about, bring a friend to, make a night of.

so...suggest away montreal CHers!

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  1. You like Indian, vegetarian AND you are frugal? Then Pushap is the restaurant you seek. There are a couple around town but I like the one at 5195 rue Paré (http://www.happycow.net/reviews.php?i...). There is a big selection of Indian sweets there too. Enjoy!

    7 Replies
    1. re: dmarg

      Seconded. Pushap is hands down the best Indian value in town. Quality home-made food at a price that makes me feel guilty.

      1. re: Joel_L

        You know, I heard from various people about Pushap too and had it on my list of places to try soon, but for whatever it's worth, I bought the last Protegez-vous magazine a few days ago... and Pushap is on the list of restaurants that were fined for unsanitary kitchen and keeping food at an unappropriate temperature...

          1. re: MartinSLR

            You have to read between the lines regarding fines. One can have a fine for storing meat over a box of veggies. Doesn't mean the place is dirty. If I go somewhere new, I'm not shy checking out the place and to see if it's a clean spot. Does the rule of checking the restroom is still a gage on the place.

            I've been to pushap on paré street and you don't go there for the decorations.

            good food for very good value. Is the kitchen spotless? I doubt it. but with the amount of people that eat there, never heard of someone getting food poisining yet.
            pushap on jean-talon near acadie is closed or ot looks like it burned

            the fines are for the jean-talon place in 2007 and the one on the sources in 2005. Don't know if the source still exist????

            here'S the info:

            9054-7951 QUÉBEC INC.
            4777 Boul. SOURCES DES
            Pierrefonds Restaurant

            Nature de l'infraction Date de l'infraction Date du jugement Amende

            Avoir détenu un produit altérable à la chaleur sans le maintenir constamment à une température interne et ambiante ne dépassant pas 4°C jusqu'à sa livraison au consommateur 20 juillet 2005 10 février 2006 1200 $

            975 Rue JEAN-TALON Ouest
            Montréal Restaurant

            Nature de l'infraction Date de l'infraction Date du jugement Amende

            Avoir un endroit dont les lieux, les équipements, les matériaux et ustensiles servant à la préparation ou au conditionnement, à l'entreposage, à l'étiquetage ou au service des produits, ne sont pas propres ainsi que les autres installations ou locaux sanitaires


          2. re: Jonquilles

            do you have a link to the protegez vous sites?
            is there more details. what year?
            thank you.

            1. re: maj54us

              It looks like the fine was for the one on Jean-Talon in '07:
              Pushap Pâtisserie et Restaurant du 975, rue Jean-Talon Ouest (août 2007, 1800 $)

        1. Based on your likes, I would suggest Rumi on Hutchison
          5198 rue Hutchison
          Outremont, QC H2V 4A9
          (514) 490-1999

          or Rumi Grill on St-Laurent
          4403 St. Laurent Boulevard, Montreal, QC

          The Rumi on St-Laurent is the more "fast-food" version whereas the Hutchison location is the original restaurant. It is middle-eastern and covers moroccan, tunisian, iranian, lebanese... a lot of great vegetarian options. My friend swears by the salmon there. She gets it every time.

          14 Replies
          1. re: CookEatSleep

            I second Rumi Grill on St. Laurent (I've been several times and it was always great but I've never tried the one on Hutchison).
            I also love the salmon with green curry at Scratch Kitchen in the Copacabana bar, at 3910 St. Laurent.
            Yummy tapas at Sala Rossa: http://www.casadelpopolo.com/contents...

            1. re: stak

              hot dog i love sala rossa! or did...

              1. re: stak

                The Sala Rosa site shows their hours as 5-11pm. Are they no longer serving brunch?! Say it ain't sooo!!

                1. re: Chester Eleganté

                  The ended brunch service a few years ago.

                    1. re: chililala

                      A shame. Ya, I guess I haven't been there since '06. That buckwheat pancake plate was somethin else.

                2. re: stak

                  i did a Rumi run for a mid-afternoon lentil soup (after a santropol lunch and prior to a shambala dinner). thanks for the rec!

                3. re: CookEatSleep

                  oh, and goodness me, i'm staying at parc/mont royal, so spitting distance from either!

                  1. re: LemonLauren

                    I'd do Petit Alep/ Alep (sister restaurants, former is more casual) over Rumi Grill. Rumi's food is not bad, but it is an outsiders interpretation of the oh-so-exotic "Moyen Orient". The original restaurant might be better, but didn't try. The owners are nice and honest workers, but if you ask this "Moyen Oriental", their whole "sufi cuisine" labeling is an orientalist affectation / cooptation that is not grounded in historical tradition. Well you might say I don't care as long as the food is tasty, but the food is just fine, nothing more. I didn't try the salmon, but rest is just well made, nothing interesting and definitely lacking the spark that Alep/Petit Alep provides.

                    For Indian/Pakistani, take the bus 80 to Parc-extension. Everyone have their favorites, but Moti Mahal (Pakistani), Halal 786 (Pakistani), Maison Indian Curry (Indian), Pushap (vegetarian/Indian) usually gets raves here.

                    You are also staying very close to one of the board favorites: Cocoa Locale. i've been eating cakes from this tiny bakery ever since it opened, and you'd expect the relationship got stale like those old marriages, but no. It is always like honeymoon and she always have something interesting if you are bored (gasp!) with her classics. Recent object of devouring was a rustic lemon/ginger tart. Anyhoo, for suggestions on which cakes, there is a thread on the place.

                    1. re: emerilcantcook

                      i also saw perhaps erroneously that there is no alcohol served at rumi? that's a definite deal breaker for me. i want somewhere where i can sip a bottle of shiraz all night long after my plate is clear and enjoy the "vibe" - and am willing to say my "budget" is up to $20/mains.

                      1. re: LemonLauren

                        Not sure about Rumi (technically it should be alcohol free, but this is Montreal) but Halal is definitely a no booze zone. Moti is a BYO but their license wasn't finalized yet on my last visit. Except for the original Rumi (not the grillades), none of these establishments have a vibe to enjoy anyway, they are bare bones mom and pop places with good food.

                        1. re: emerilcantcook

                          The one on Hutchison definitely serves alcohol. Never been to the one on St. Laurent.

                      2. re: emerilcantcook

                        Great suggestions. I'd also add Bombay Mahal on Jean-Talon near l'Acadie for excellent South Indian specialties including spicy masala dosas. I also love their channa samosa. Both of these happen to be vegetarian, but they have good meat dishes too. Very inexpensive and it's a BYOB. But it's not a "stay to absorb the vibe" type of place - as someone else said, it's a mom & pop w/little atmosphere except "busy"! Try to go during off-peak hours so you don't have to wait in line.

                        1. re: kpzoo

                          so if we stray from the indo-veg focus and say i'm open to all asian infuences, med, modern and/or bistro, just nothing overly french-italian-creamy, are there any spots that have mains under $20 but also have great vibes for lingering and "making a night of it"? what about Jolifou or Pintxo?

                  2. You should definitely try le Petit Alep (191 Jean Talon East; 514-270-9361). It's closed on Mondays.
                    You should find reviews of it on this board, and believe me, it's totally worth it.
                    As an appetizer, if you're going with friends, get the Végétarienne, it's awesome! A mix of the best offerings. :)

                    1. Malhi's Indian Restaurant and Sweets on 880 Jarry West is also fantastic.

                      1. If you're into vegetarian, soups and beets, you definitely need to go to Aux Vivres, on St. Laurent, just below Villeneuve. Their vegan menu is creative and unusual and fantastic, and the their soups are always amazing!

                        1. here are my thoughts so far:

                          Drinks/snacks or DInner at Pintxo http://www.pintxo.ca/ or Sala Rossa or Club Espagnol --> thoughts? which is worth a full dinner? which is good just for passing through? which is good for vibe?

                          Dinners at Shambala for old time's sake, plus Rumi or Aux Vivres --> choices between these for vibe, affordability, food awesomeness?

                          Lunch at Santrpol for old time's sake, maybe Aux VIvres or Mimi & Coco's --> might be in Westmount to visit a friend

                          i'd like to do as much within walking distance of cote st catherine/parc/mont royal as i can. so, am i missing any thai, indian, veg friendly, bistros or other vibey and affordable haunts? thanks for everything so far!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: LemonLauren

                            I'm all about Sala over Club Espagnol, but I've never even heard of Pintxo, if you do end up going, I'd be very curious to hear about it. Rumi has great vibe, but is very not veg. friendly. I think they have one meatless main course, and possibly a fish dish...Aux Vivres is more casual, and there's no booze available...I would recommend going there for lunch, or brunch instead of dinner if you're wanting dinner to be a lingery, wine-y affair. If you're looking for Thai and veg--there's Chuch on St.Denis just above Duluth. The food is amazing, and you can bring your own wine. It's a bit pricier, but entrees are still under 20$ each. If you want a more upscale, white table cloth type experience, go next door to ChuChai, but you have to order wine off the menu, so it gets a little more pricey. Have a great trip!

                            1. re: LemonLauren

                              Sala and Club Espagnol are not in the same league as Pintxo. Pintxo is fine dining while the other two are more casual and the food at Pintxo is way better. Rumi kicks Aux Vivres butt for sure. The service at Aux Vivres is absolutely dreadful and the food is not that good save for the sandwiches and the desserts. I say go there for lunch.

                              1. re: LemonLauren

                                Pintxo is excellent, and I agree it is a step above Sala Rosa and CLub Espagnol. It doesn't have to be much more expensive either. they have a $30 degustation choice, they give you 4 pre-set pintos and one main for $30, so with wine, you can do a very nice meal there for less than 50 or 60 dollars if you choose wine and alcohol frugally. The nice thing is that their wine list has a bunch of really reasonable wines by the glass that are also very good, such as the Txacoli white, a rare wine which goes very well with the seafood dishes. Personally , I like just choosing about 4-5 small pintxo and eat that as a meal, and I found that to be plenty of food. Now Pinxto is a hip, slightly upscale atmosphere, so if you are looking for something more casual, then definitely stick to the other two choices. I enjoyed flamenco night at Sala Rosa recently, but it was really loud and raucous.

                                I would have to strongly echo the recommendation of Petit Alep as a casual beer/wine guzzling night with good food. This place is a unique gem, it really is a rarity. The food is so well spiced, and very delicious. If you are really trying to break out of the student eating mode, and if you are looking for something really special yet casual, this has to be one of the best places to go. And it won't even be that expensive. MIddle Eastern food, from the Aleppo region. Try the beef with spicy terbialy sauce, this dish is superb. They also have an excellent selection of vegetarian stuff.

                                1. re: moh

                                  True about Alep, but I have to say that their meat options are really much better than their vegetarian choices. The veggie dips and appetizers are great, and the shared appetizer platter is very nice, but stay away from the falafel, the last time I had it was extremely sour, and almost unpalatable, and also, bizarrely mushy, as if it had been mashed into the tahini sauce...

                                  Just to stand up for Aux Vivres, their service has greatly improved over the last while, since they expanded and changed ownership. It's not a fine dining atmosphere by any means, but the food is consistently excellent, and the sandwiches, made on homemade, paper thin chapatis are huge and delicious--far superior to the relatively boring mish-mashes they serve at Santropol. And if you do decide to go there for brunch, the "complet" is really great--you get a full breakfast assortment with fresh cornbread, scramble,roasted sweet potatoes and faux-bacon...it's actually my favourite breakfast in this city.

                              2. All right I'm a little confused - Does all the Pushap is the same thing? like different branches? (does the word "pushap" mean something? I saw this other restaurant names "puhap La faim du monde...)

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: cath_couturier

                                  Yes, they all have the same owners. The listing you saw for Pushap la faim du monde must be out of date. They were for a time in partnership with the veggie resto La faim du Monde on St-Denis, but the partnership didn't work out, now it's back just La Faim du Monde, which does mostly Mexican, no Indian food (and Pushap still has many Pushap branches around town). My veggie friends aren't too big on LFDM, and I looked at their menu once and it seemed very overpriced (eg. $12 burrito plate).

                                    1. re: Shattered

                                      Where are the other PUshaps? I know there was one on JEan Talon and Acadie but it's closed or burned ? Other than the one on Paré I don't know the location of the others

                                      1. re: maj54us

                                        There's one in Pierrefonds in the same strip mall as Shahi Palace.


                                        Avoid the one on Paré near Decarie for hygiene reasons.