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Montreal Jazz Festival; best poutine?; Ode to Lotte Furama and Blue Merin

Bonjour and Hello, my Montreal friends! I will be traveling to Montreal for the Jazz Festival from July 2nd through July 6th.

Please give me your opinions as to the best 3 poutine places, from a Quebecois' point of view. I know, this is like asking a New Yorker which steakhouse is the best. You'll get 100 different opinions. If you can narrow it down to the top 3, that would be wonderful. Much thanks in advance.

Is there such a thing as Quebec cuisine? Is that like asking a New Yorker about "New York" cuisine? I just don't want to make the mistake of confusing French cuisine for Quebec cuisine, even if it was heavily influenced by the French. Or, put another way, is there a restaurant or type of food that is very typical or distinctive to Quebec/Montreal that I should definitely try?

And I just wanted to give a quick shout-out to Lotte Furama, which in my opinion has the best Cantonese-style dim sum in Chinatown. I guess I just have fond memories and a sentimental connection to that place, especially when they were at their old location (right on, is that Rene Levesque Boulevard?), just a little bit beyond the decorative entry gate to Chinatown. That must have been before 2001. Since then, they've moved to the smaller side street (I forget the name), but their food is just as good.

And does anyone remember an Italian restaurant on Crescent Street called Blue Merin? It was just 1 block north of St. Catherine, and it was in the basement. The best linguine frutti di mare I've ever had in my life was at Blue Merin. The linguine was PERFECTLY al dente. The last time I was there was before 2000. When I returned to Montreal in 2004-5, it was already gone. It was a little like getting your car stolen. I must have walked up and down Crescent Street about 10 times, before I resigned myself to the sad realization that it had closed. (I had done internet searches before traveling, but I would not believe it closed.)

Any other recommendations would be welcome for an occasional traveler and a longtime lover of Montreal. Thank you very much, and I'll see you up there!

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  1. I thought Lotte Furama was closed?

    2 Replies
      1. re: nooyawka

        Sadly, yes. BUT, be sure to go to Kam Fung for dim sum; my experience there superseded Lotte Furama (the quality of the food at the latter had become unreliable in the past few years).

    1. 3 best poutines in MTL : La Banquise, Patati-Patata & any other greasy spoon (for example, the one on the corner ste-catherine & st-Laurent streets).

      Québec Cuisine, yes, there is such a cuisine, the restaurant Au Pied de Cochon offer one vision of it; over the top (in a good way) and very good; places like "La Binerie Mont-Royal" offer also another point of view on Quebec cuisine; there are also more "modern" and french, most of them are "french" oriented "québécois" cuisine everywhere in town; with places like "Garde Manger", "Le Local", "La Salle à Manger", "Au 5ème pèché", "La Chronique", "La Montée", ...

      For chinese, Me think the best ones, according to reviews here, are in the "new" quartier chinois, in and around Concordia University, maybe 15/20 minutes walk from the Jazz Fest site.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Maximilien

        Montreal Pool Room on St-Laurent just below Ste-Catherine has great poutine, and I second the first 2 recs.

        Re: Chinatown 2 (Concordia area). It has some great restos (generally those slightly off the beaten path on St-Marc, St-Mathieu or Maisonneuve - Tapioca The on Maisonneuve is a personal fave), but it has some pretty boring ones, mostly on Ste-Catherine (Wok Cafe, hello!).

        I think it gets hyped a bit too much here, being the new thing.

        There are still at least as many great restaurants in the o.c. (Original Chinatown, word): Beijing, Ming Do, Keung Kee to name a few.

        Although with the addition of decent pho and Thali and more, Concordia ghetto is the better all-round destination. I'm jealous the McGill ghetto/ mid-St-Laurent area (where I hang my hat) doesn't have the same quality, actually.

        1. re: Maximilien

          I think it's more than a 15-20 minute walk from festival site to Guy-Concordia area. I've often stayed at the Sheraton on Stanley, and that's about 20 minutes.

          1. re: Peter Cherches

            Good point. It's at least 30 to 40 minutes since it's mostly on the far (west) side of Guy. St-Marc, for eg, is 5 minutes past Guy if you're weaving through the lunchtime crowd and not jaywalking. Plus that first stretch from Place-des-Arts to about Union is uphill.

            1. re: Shattered

              Thank you everyone for your input! I'm sure I'll have a great time up there as I always do. Let you know how it turns out. Have a great weekend!

              1. re: Shattered

                Friday I timed the walk from St. Laurent & Sherbrooke to Guy & Sherbrooke. About 25 minutes at a moderate pace. I'm a serious walker, but I wasn't doing aerobic or anything. So I'd 30 minutes is a better bet than 40.

                1. re: Peter Cherches

                  Hey Montreal Hounds! Thanks a lot for all your input and advice! I had a blast up there for the Jazz Fest and Montreal was hospitable and welcoming as ever. Thanks to your great city for being a real class act.

                  I wasn't able to try all of the places suggested but did find a couple of places...for poutine, I liked La Belle Province, corner of St. Catherine and St. Laurent. Repeatedly went back for the Poutine Saucisse (addition of hotdog). I did walk by the Montreal Pool Room but it looked empty so I skipped it.

                  Oh, and I just belatedly saw the Kam Fung rec. Thanks, but I'll definitely have to try it next time. I found out, sadly, that Lotte Furama is indeed closed. A neighbor said they closed before Christmas but didn't know why. I tried Ruby (Rouge) further down on Clark on the 2nd floor of an indoor mall. I ordered just 3 staples: shrimp dumplings, spareribs, and the chicken feet. I found them to be pretty below-average (spareribs looked undercooked and the chicken feet were sad-looking). Next time, I'd definitely try another place for dim sum instead.

                  I stopped by Les 3 Brasseurs in Vieux-Port and had the house special (Specialite Maison), braised pork shank, which was excellent. Very generous portions (too much actually). Their poutine was also quite generous and quite good.

                  I tried some Lebanese food at Pasha on St. Catherine on a recommendation. I had a large combo plate with a little bit of several items (grilled chicken drumstick, chicken wing in sauce, falafel with hummus, couscous, middle eastern salad, avocado salad, mango salad). It was okay, nothing to write home about. The falafel would have been much better served hot.

                  As I was walking through Vieux-Port, I tried the Restaurant du Vieux-Port, and had the cream of mushroom (soup of the day), mesclun salad, and the rib-steak, with fries, and a side of garlic spinach and wild rice. They were clearly very busy, as all of the waitstaff was hustling. I had a long wait to order, but could understand they were all doing their best. Food was very good. Steak perfectly cooked medium-rare. The cream of mushroom was good. And their prices in comparison with the other restaurants in Vieux-Port of the same caliber were reasonable. Service was prompt (as can be) and friendly. Thumbs-up to this and I'll definitely be revisiting.

                  Again, thanks for all your opinions. There's a lot here for me to try. I may very well be back before summer's end. Have a wonderful summer everyone!

              2. re: Peter Cherches

                or a 10-minute metro ride, yay metro

                1. re: Peter Cherches

                  Agreed! I live on St. Catherine and Aylmer (right next to the Bay) and go to Concordia Uni, and it's about a 17 min. walk (if you walk leisurely). To get to St. Marc, I'd add on an extra 7 min or so!