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Montreal -- Where's the great food hiding?

I have been in Montreal 2x in the last 3 months. We've had some OK food but we've a little disappointed, overall. I think its because we're mostly downtown. We liked Le Taj for Indian, but I've had better. L'Avenue in Mont Royal was a nice rich brunch, but I don't thinks its a place I'd rush back to any time soon. Patisserie Moisson is good, D'or has some good breads. Firegrill (a chain restaurant) was decent and open later than others--it was serviceable. There are others that I can't think of at the moment. Basha for a fast lunch was OK, beats McDonald's I guess. Nothing special as a lot. Alexandre et Fils---barely OK, but they are open early and late. So far, most the places downtown are/seem expensive and not all that interesting or tasty. Someone recommended L'Aromate, we got there and found the menu boring, limited and expensive. The "Cuisine Mexicaine" (basically an overpriced taco stand) at the JazzFest was not good at all.

Tonight, I was thinking Casa Tapas or Pintxo, but both have mixed reviews. I'd love to find some excellent reasonably priced Italian ($50-$60 for 2 people, maybe 1 glass of wine, $80 would be the top end). We don't want to dress up as we're in and out of the Jazz Fest--so we need places that will take us casually dressed.

We're open to a good bistro (yes I already heard of L'Express, but there has to be more to life). Italian would be fine. Middle Eastern is great. Seafood is welcome. We're downtown, but we do have a car and metro tickets, so we will travel for great food--say 20 minutes any direction. Is great food really out there in Montreal? I am starting to wonder about this great reputation as a restaurant town.

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  1. Italian -
    LUCCA - delicious food! one of the best Italian restaurants in Montreal
    12 rue Dante
    Montréal, QC H2S 1J5
    (514) 278-6502‎

    Le latini:1130, rue Jeanne-Mance corner René-Lévesque
    Montreal, Québec, H2Z 1L7

    Restaurant Vegera
    228 rue Bernard Ouest


    Rumi :http://restaurantrumi.com/
    5198 Hutchison, Outremont, QC H2V 4A9
    Tel: (514) 490-1999

    Lebanese- meat/seafood/fresh fish made to order..
    La Sirène de la Mer-114 avenue Dresden Mont-Royal, QC H3P 2B6 - (514) 345-0345

    1 Reply
    1. re: Alyson777

      Latini and Milos will be more than $50 - $60 per person, let alone for two people...

    2. For tapas, Casa Tapeo seems to be getting good vibes.
      For Brunch, Réservoir or Byblos would be my choices.
      For bistro, 3 petits bouchons, Cuisine dépendance, Bouchonné, Jolifou, ...
      Middle Eastern, Petit Alep, Rumi (and the new Rumi grill)
      Italian, maybe more upscale, but the new one on Laurier (forget the name, @ the La Forchetta location) looks nice.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Maximilien

        If you mean Salute on Laurier, it was very very ordinary and not terribly reasonable either, considering. I wouldn't send anyone there - it was quite a disappointment when I went a few months back. It can't seem to decide if it's Italian, French, or Spanish, and the cuisine is a rather unfortunate mix...

        1. re: Maximilien

          For italian, I'd say Bottega for good pizza or Vinizza that is actually quite good.

          1. re: Maximilien

            There is not resto called Casa Tapeo. Tapeo is great but maybe on the higher end of their budget, and quite far from downtown. Casa Tapas is less pricey as I recall, and closer to downtown. Haven't been in a while, but when I went the food was pretty good.

            1. re: mainsqueeze

              i liked the sala rosa (a tapas place on st-joseph that was at the same place as the spanish social club?) over Casa Tapas. I felt it was a bit more friendlier and less "up class". But the sangria as Casa Tapas was so much better though

              1. re: mak2k

                Sala Rosa is on Saint-Laurent just south of Saint-Joseph.


                Club Espagnol is on Saint-Laurent between Marie-Anne and Mont-Royal.


                1. re: SnackHappy

                  thanks alot for the clarification! i really couldn't remember the place for the life of me. That could explain why my friends couldn't find it last time they asked me.

          2. Ferreira Cafe on Peel for fish. Good deals after 10 pm - about $24 for 3 courses.

            1. Thanks to all. We'll be trying some of these suggestions for sure. We had another lackluster downtown meal again tonight! But tomorrow is a new day!

              3 Replies
              1. re: Ora

                Downtown food is certainly not the highlight of what Montreal has to offer, except maybe Chinatown 2 on its western edge. Maybe you need a new rule for the rest of your trip: no more downtown eats. ;-)

                1. re: Ora

                  By the way, for mexican close to Jazz Fest, try Los CLassicos on Ste-Cath just east of St-Laurent. There's also a good sandwich place called Sur Bleury on... Bleury, south of René-Lévesque (that would be heading towards Old Montreal)

                  Schwartz's is also a definite option as it's not all that far from the jazz site.

                  I know it's not the best in the city but I really enjoy Pho Than Long for vietnamese food on Ste-Cath almost next door to Foufounes Électriques.

                  1. re: Campofiorin

                    Just wanted to mention that Sur Bleury's kitchen closes at 2 p.m. It is strictly a lunch place. But quite good.

                2. Ora, have you tried Le Club Chasse et Peche? I don't claim to know the food scene in Montreal at all, but I had an lovely meal there 3 (2?) years ago, when I last visited. I think you can still get out for about $80 for two if you order carefully (not including drinks or tax). Hopefully others can give more recent updates.

                  I also have this Chowhound thread saved in my favorites, which you might find useful: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/528662

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: cimui

                    Europea, la Montée, Vasco de Gamas, Il Cortile, chez Julien, Bistro Marinara, Orchidée de Chine, breakfast at sofitel, are just a few of my favorites downtown, make sure you hit Myriade for the best espresso ; also, a 20 minute walk will bring you on McGill street in Old Montreal where there is a wide assortment of fabulous food.

                    1. re: cimui

                      I really doubt you could eat a CC&P for $40 per person at dinner time - the cheapest main is $29. Maybe for lunch you could. Mains for $13 to $23, apps for $7 to $10.

                      1. re: mainsqueeze

                        It would be a stretch, I agree, but I think doable if Ora and her dining companion shared an appetizer.

                        For some reason, the restaurant didn't register in my memory as a very expensive one... but I think back then, the exchange rate was much more in our favor!

                        1. re: cimui

                          You could only do CC&P if Ora and her companion shared a main, for that price. Mains were (when I was there last month) around $30s and a bit higher, apps alone were $10 - $20, IIRC, and you have to have the shared veggie plate ($8?). With two mains, a shared app, and two glasses of wine, the cheapest you could get out of there for would be around $120 after tax and tip, and that's pushing things. Then again, worth every penny IMHO...

                          1. re: cherylmtl

                            Thanks for the info, Cheryl. As I noted in my first post, I was calculating based on no beverages or tax (or tip) -- but maybe that's not what Ora's looking for. It sounds like there are some wonderful Montreal restaurants that do fall safely within Ora's budget, based on some of the other discussion in this thread. Thanks for your sugestions!

                    2. I'm not going to give metro/bus directions for these, because I don't know them, but I'm sure others can chime in.

                      For Indian, head up to the corner of Jean Talon and Acadie, and try Moti Mehal.
                      You can get some of Montreal's best breads and pastries etc at Mamie Clafoutis on Van Horne, where they have a small area upstairs for eating.
                      Other suggestions are Lemeac, Laloux, Holder, 3 Petits Bouchons, Bouchonne, 5ieme Peche, maybe even Newtown on Crescent, now that Laloux's former chefs are there. Or head a bit farther afield to Au Petit Extra (maybe a 10-minute taxi ride from downtown?). La Montee, while not cheap, is downtown, and very very good. For sandwiches or light lunches downtown, try Vasco da Gama (owned by the same people as Ferreira), MB &Co, Java U, or Art Java. Picks and Buns on the western edge of downtown, Oui & Oui, Cuisine Szechuan in Chinatown West.
                      Tons of good food, you just have to know where to look for it!

                      1. most of the good restaurants are in the plateau (around Mont Royal metro). Pied de cochon is a must try, as for fast food, i personally like boustan for really good shish taouk, 5e peche is also another one i recommend if you have the budget. La Banquise is a nice experience for heart attack poutine and amigo in chinatown for the fried pork chop

                        1. It's really hard to eat well downtown. However, chinatown is a short walk from the Jazz fest grounds. If you would like suggestions for that area, let us know.

                          Also, there are some pretty good lunches to be had in Old Montreal. Titanic, Cluny Art Bar, Holder, Le Cartet, Espace Boutique Eurpoea come to mind.

                          There's not much good Italian food to be had, in my opinion. There are tons of red-sauce type places that are not really worth going to. Otherwise you'd have to go higher end. Or pizza.

                          I suggest you venture out of downtown if you really want to eat well. Tons of good mentions on this thread already. Petit Alep is a great one and near Jean-Talon market.

                          1. For the last several years, since we had the meal of our lives at James James MacGuire's Passe-Partout, my wife and I have been looking for a comparable Montreal value--a cobnination of price and quality in our favorite dining city.

                            Every summer, Every summer, a dedicated band of food/music enthusiasts from New York, Boston, and Philadelphia joins us for a trip to Montreal and the Jazz Festival. We plan long in advance for music and meals and have been lucky enough to regularly enjoy world-class entertainment and food.

                            Last week, we came upon Reservoir (9 Duluth E.) and a truly astonishing lunch experience. One of our members runs one of the U.S.' largest and most successful beer festivals: The menu of beers in this intimate brew pub dazzled him (and the rest of us as well). And, among the seven entrees we ordered that afternoon, there were seven satisfied diners.

                            Recommendations? Tough to call, as the food seems be prepared with market-fresh ingredients, but were were scallops and baby vegetables on a wonderfully imaginative parmesan biscuit and gnocchi served over a comparably fresh vegetable setting. We blew apart our plans to come back on Saturday for brunch. (A pork braised short rib that has to be eaten to be believed.)

                            Entrees were around $15. The jaw-dropper could have been an appetizer, an entree, or a dessert: Foie-gras served with a dollop of chocolate ganache accompanied by a black-olive caramel sauce I"m not even sure if it was on the menu, but it clearly was in the chef's imagination, along with one particularly memorable dessert: a strawberry-rhubarb confit served on a thin chocolate muffin with a drizzle of bacon-caramel sauce.

                            The restaurant was humming during both visits: From our experience, reservations are smart during the week and be prepared to wait in line if you show up much past noon on Saturday. And, yes, the wait staff was every bit as pleasant as the food.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: gprecourt

                              What a glowing account!

                              Can someone confirm whether Reservoir even takes reservations? I'm pretty sure they don't.

                              1. re: mainsqueeze

                                According to their site they take reservations by phone, for lunch and special events only:

                                "Réservations (514) 849-7779
                                Possibilité de réserver pour les Lunchs seulement
                                Pour événements spéciaux: Demander Joël ou Dominic
                                Aucune réservation par e-mail s.v.p."


                              2. re: gprecourt

                                Very interesting. Friends -- longtime Réservoir fans and former Chowhound posters -- were also there for brunch on Saturday and had a meal so off-putting they say they doubt they'll ever return. Horrors included burnt toast, cold eggs, bacon overdone on one end and underdone on the other, bad coffee and I forget what else, though I do recall the phrase "like it had been microwaved." Service, they said, was atrocious -- it took the better part of an hour to get their food -- which they speculated might be attributable to the place being very busy and to a large party (yours?) arriving just before they did.

                                Anyway, glad to have a different take on a place I'm reluctant to write off. Hope others report on their experiences there in the weeks to come. The more data points, the better.

                                1. re: gprecourt

                                  great posting, gprecourt. i'll have to check that place out. thanks!

                                2. I like Mas Cuisine on Wellington in Verdun. It has 25 or seats so it is small. But the food is amazing and reasonably priced IMHO.