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Sep 3, 2009 08:25 AM

Please help me select restaurants for 6 meals in Montreal

I will be going to Montreal for the first time 9/10-9/13. SO has been before and I will do a search of this Board shortly.

Appreciate all your help in the past:

Welcome any thoughts, suggestions or links to threads. If you could have lunch and dinner at only 6 restaurants (Montreal ONLY food experiences, any cuisine, 1 no red meat eater, all price ranges, good wine list unless it's a pub, within reasonable proximity of Sherbrooke Street West) where would you go?



PS I'm glad to return the favor if you need recs in NYC (Manhattan Board) or Saratoga Springs/Capital Region (TriState Board).

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  1. Do you mean three lunches and three dinners or six lunches and six dinners?

    3 Replies
    1. re: mainsqueeze

      Thanks, mainsqueeze. Apologies if I was unclear. Three lunches and three dinners.

      May also consider a "special" breakfast place, otherwise we will be saving our appetites for lunch and dinner :)

      1. re: financialdistrictresident

        Also, Sherbrooke St. West is several kilometers long and spans numerous neighbourhoods. It would be helpful if you gave an address or cross street. Cheers.

        1. re: mainsqueeze

          Thanks, mainsqueeze. Avenue Du Parc is a cross street. We're flexible on location. Just don't want to drive an hour for dinner!

    2. Just reviewed the "Restaurant Openings - 2009" thread:

      Any thoughts on the following (MUST try, skip, lunch or dinner place?). I'll also check out their websites:

      *Resident (Feb. 2009, gorgeous space, upscale diner
      )*The Sparrow (Feb. 2009) - named after the book?
      *Le St.-Urbain (Mar. 2009)
      *L'Art a Tatouille (Mar. 2009)
      *Tam Tam d'Afrique (Apr. 2009)
      *Cafe 92 - coffees, etc.

      Generally don't care to eat at new restaurants for at least 6 months but have been breaking that "rule" a lot these days. Are these newbies ready for prime time?

      Also we can get really good Greek food in NYC so probably should skip that as a cuisine possibility.

      1. Just found this great thread. Will review and get back with questions.

        1 Reply
        1. re: financialdistrictresident

          I had a wonderful lunch at Chez Leveque today, they have a terrace/patio (best for tourists as nice street and shops)on the road (blocked off) but i chose a table inside although both areas were full but as lunchtime there was turnover. The lunch menu includes several items on the regular menu but appetizer and dessert included, my meal of rabbit, le mijoté du jour (lapin a la milanaise, included terrific sauce which was later put on accompanying pasta, the veggies were bokchoy, and pureed sweet potato/yam put on porcelain soup spoon on plate so as not to mix with sauce) cost 18$. Other people besides me ordered boudin , salad with cold salmon, frog legs and there were other items like veal, tilapea etc on chalkboards. For appetizer i chose a gazpacho, fullbodied and delicious and from the choices of tempting desserts I chose a sugar pie so wonderful that i asked if it was made inhouse, it was the best sugar pie I have ever had (all desserts made inhouse) because i wanted to know who made it! This is very convenient location on Laurier near Parc avenue, close to downtown, and the restaurant is very French in ambience, menu choices and presentation so this is why I would recommend it to outoftowners but frankly I will go back again for the lunch specials --they also have a late night deal (21$ à 21h) where you choose one of dessert or appetizer whereas lunch both included. I did not look at wine list but would have a good selection, most diners were enjoying wines. The service was fantastic and waiters perfectly bilingual. Bread and coffee refills offered--both very good. I highly recommend it to tourists as you will be more in a French atmosphere with excellent food and yet very close to downtown. You can see some photos and an idea of menu choices but menu did seem different today,
          I parked for free on backstreet but there is metered parking on street. They have been in business 35 years which says they are doing something right!

        2. Hey FDR - I enjoy your posts on the Manhattan board! Glad you are getting a chance to visit our city.

          Here would be my suggestions for unique Montreal only places:

          1. Schwartz's smoked meat. A classic Montreal joint. It is in the same family of food as pastrami, but it is a bit different. You need to try it just to see how it is different. I always get a side of fries and big deli pickle.
          2. La Montee: I would normally have put this down for a dinner option, but since the three places I list for dinner don't offer lunch (well, Au Cinqiueme Peche does, but only on Fridays and I feel you need to go for the dinner to get the full experience), I put this place for lunch. I love their lunch menu. It is elegant, original, delicious. French inspired, but market driven. If you like offal, and they have their calf liver, go for it, it is great. And the dessert for $3 is a complete steal. Great wine list, the sommeliers are very helpful, and they offer a nice selection of wines by the glass.
          3. Bagels at Fairmount or St. Viateur. You may as well compare them to the NYC version and then enter into the debate!

          1. Alep: Montreal does Middle Eastern well, and Alep is the crown jewel. Get the degustation menu, and make sure it has the kibbeh nayah (seasoned raw beef, like steak tartare only much, much better). This place is unique and wonderful. Great quirky fairly-priced wine list, and the sommelier is quite passionate about wine and can discuss how the wine will go with the menu. There will be enough choices for the non-red meat eater too. Alep is a little far away from your hotel, but you can get there by metro easily, and a cab ride wouldn't cost you more than $15-20. By car, it would be about 20 minutes.
          2. Au Pied du Cochon: what can I say, it is a Montreal institution. It really is a one-of-a-kind resto, I've never seen another place quite like it in North America. Apparently, they are number one in the world for the amount of fois gras sold in a restaurant. A shrine to fat, flavour and full-on decadence, there will still be enough non-red-meat stuff to appeal to your friend. Not a light meal though, go hungry and with a hole in your stomach.
          3. Au Cinqiueme Peche: Wonderful french/belgium menu, exquisite food preparations, excellent wine list, intimate atmosphere. A gem. So very Montreal. And if you are feeling adventurous, and they are offering it, the seal meat appetizer is unique and delicious. I can assure you this is not a common offering, I daresay very few restaurants offer seal meat. But they don't always have it.

          Anyhow, those would be my suggestions. All of these places and topics have been extensively discussed on our board, and so if you do a search, you can find a lot of input from other posters as well. I hope you have a great trip!

          12 Replies
          1. re: moh

            I see from the other thread you are also possibly interested in Europea. Well, that woudl be an excellent choice as well. If so, you can go to Au Cinquieme peche for lunch on Fridays I believe, you would have to check to confirm.

            I also see Sparrow is on your list, I really love Sparrow too, very excellent Gastro-pub (but no alcohol yet..)

            1. re: moh

              Thanks for all the suggestions. Please keep them coming. I'm still reviewing threads and researching.

              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                I personally would keep la Montée in the running for dinner, it's that good.
                Location and food and service.

                1. re: superbossmom

                  A very fair point superbossmom! The only reason I shunted it to lunch is because I find the experience at lunch is so great, it is close to the dinner experience for me.

                  1. re: moh

                    I have read the threads and have questions. Thank you again for your kind assistance.

                    Moh, can't thank you enough for the Mile End Tour! Carswell's recent thread on mid-range to high-end restos was also very helpful.

                    My SO has been to Montreal before so that will be a big help. I made a reservation on for Europea. SO really enjoyed his meal there earlier this year (thanks, hungryann). Do you suggest the discovery menu, tasting menu or a la carte? The discovery menu looked the most flexible for me (not a red meat eater). Do "fine dining" restaurants in Montreal have the same policy as in NYC - everyone at the table must get the tasting menu?

                    Since Europea is downtown I want to make sure I get to experience old Montreal. Is old Montreal better for breakfast, lunch or dinner? I see La Montee is also downtown. La Montee is a strong possibility for lunch or dinner.

                    Am also interested in Djoliba or Tam Tam d'Afrique. Since Elyssa Dido (North African, LES) closed we have not had North African food. We loved their chicken charmoula, etc. We've been settling for harissa and bread at home. Maybe Alep? Need to look at the menus. Something ethnic so we don't eat all French food for 3 days. Probably not sushi, Chinese, or Greek we can get that in NYC.

                    Bagels . . .IMHO these are an ONLY in NYC food. Maybe my mind will expand before my body gets to Montreal and I will check out the bagels at Fairmount or St. Viateur :)

                    Thinking about Schwartz' (smoked meat). Maybe for a grab and go lunch? Smoked duck or chicken sounds good to me. If I've had D'Artagnan or Oscar's smoked meats and SO has been to Katz' why should we try Schwartz'?

                    I adore foie gras. Where should I eat it in Montreal? Au Pied du Cochon?

                    Is there a restaurant with amazing desserts? I find many of NYC's fine dining restaurants to be sadly lacking in dessert selections. Only exception is Falai.

                    So far: Marche (lunch) and Europea (dinner).

                    1. re: financialdistrictresident

                      One restaurant that was left off here and if you like really fun foods is DNA.... i've had 2 really great meals there in the past 3 months and would recommend it highly..... it's ranged from some of the best offal i've ever had to great charcuterie made in house.... great attention to detail with a canadian/market twist..... also great seafood at times....

                      I also love Liverpool House (as well as Joe Beef) and eat at the bar weekly. for seafood, gnochi, meat and poultry.....

                      Au pied du Cochon for excess. it's awesome. a must try.

                      L'Orignal on St.Alexis in the old port for Oysters and the best shucker in town.

                      Mas Cuisine in Verdun for a great lunch.

                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                        FDR, if you adore fois gras, then Au Pied du Cochon is a must-try. Most selection of preparations by far. I love the Plogue au Champlain, pancakes, apple, bacon, fois gras, and maple syrup - so yummy, so Quebecois, a great way to eat fois, and extremely original. You just won't see fois gras like this in many other places, and if you do see it, is is a rip-off of Martin Picard's version. They also have amazing desserts (but you have to make sure you save space. I almost never can).

                        Alep would be a great change from all the French based dining we have here. I cannot encourage you enough to go. It is great. The terbialy sauced shrimp are to die for. The fattouche salad is the only one I have ever really loved. The fish in olive sauce is savoury and delicious. Chicken in pita and pomegranate sauce - yum! really, everything on the degustation menu was delicious, And for about $35 for the grand degustation per person, well, it is a steal. Everything is served family style.

                        Europea - you'll have to get input from others, as I (sadly) have not yet been!! But it gets a lot of love on this board.

                        re African food: We have a fairly healthy immigrant population here, and so it is a pretty good place to get African food. If you are planning to try some of the Mile End Bakery tour, it would be very easy to to add on either Djoliba is right on Parc Avenue, a few blocks south of Cocoa Locale on the corner on Mont Royal. And Tam-tam D'afrique is on Mont Royal fairly near that corner too. I haven't yet tried Tam Tam, but a very good palate that is Emerilcantcook has tried it, and she said it was great. I suspect there is more choice at Tam tam than at Djoliba. I adore the food at Djoliba, but you really have to eat whatever they have that day. It usually comes down to about 2-3 choices. It is authentically African in this way.

                        My head is reeling a bit at the thought of doing African food for lunch (not light cuisine), followed by the bakery tour, followed by a big gourmet dinner. All I can say is "pace pace pace". Walk a lot. share all portions. Go lightly on starches (heh heh heh, good luck in the bakeries).

                        Re Scwartz's yes you can grab and go. If you like smoked meats a lot, then yes you need to try. Get the medium or regular, don't get the lean. Smoked duck and turkey are very yummy. But if smoked meats are not a major thing, then sure skip it. I added it because it really is a Montreal classic. But only go if smoked meat and Jewish deli is your thing.

                          1. re: financialdistrictresident

                            Djoliba closed quite a while ago and morphed into Tourtiere Australienne.
                            4520 Parc -

                        1. re: financialdistrictresident

                          P.S. Bring on the bagel debate!!! Make sure you get a fresh hot one, preferably sesame. This is the classic. Eat it while hot. It needs nothing on it , but if you must, schmear on some Liberty Cream cheese - not low fat. But when they are warm, they are heavenly even without anything on it.

                          1. re: moh

                            moh and other Montreal hounds, words cannot express my appreciation for all your suggestions and help . . . I am counting the days to visit your fine city for the first time (and before it gets too cold).

                            Looks like African might be another lunch . . .like the idea of eating at a place that cooks specialties of the day.

                            PS My mind is slowly opening re: Montreal bagels . . . :)

                          2. re: financialdistrictresident

                            Re: Europea, I had the discovery menu and my SO had the tasting menu so no problems ordering different set menus. They even included some freebies for my DH in order to offset the different timings of our courses; for eg, they gave him the foie gras cromesqui that was part of my meal but not his. The discovery menu is great and if you're willing to sit at a table for 4 hours go for it. I admit I got a little antsy after 3 hours and wanted to leave but I am glad I hung around for the 4 course dessert. If you want to be done in max 2 hours then you won't go wrong with the tasting menu.

                2. The plan so far:

                  Thursday - Marche for lunch, dinner tbd
                  Friday - Mile End Tour, African for lunch?, dinner tbd
                  Saturday - lunch tbd, Europea for dinner

                  moh, is the Mile End Tour better on a weekday or weekend?

                  What should we do for breakfasts? Sparrow? Delicious French pastries (I'll read the thread on best bakeries)?

                  PS Regarding breakfast, I am probably the only person on the Manhattan Board that thinks Clinton Street Bakery is overrated. Went once, no plans to return. Now, Shopsin's is a different story, unusual and different. Love their slutty pancakes (note to self: you must get back there soon, it has been too long). Please note we will NOT wait in long lines for overhyped pancakes, cupcakes, etc. We'll help you avoid the same when you come to Manhattan or the Capital Region. So kindly keep this in mind when making suggestions :)

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: financialdistrictresident

                    You can always try the bagels for breakfast at the St-Viateur Café on Mont-Royal. I also like L'Express for breakfast as it always feels very Parisian. We don't have a lot of overhyped pancakes around here but you should be able to find some nice crepes.

                    For foie gras I like the two foie gras tapas they serve at Pintxo, or the foie gras torchon appetizer at Le P'tit Plateau. I also think Chez Levecque is a good choice for a nice French bistro. I had a good African meal near Atwater market awhile ago, very casual and homey, nice food, inexpensive .. Gracia Afrika, 3506 Rue Notre Dame Est.

                    Where is Marche (your lunch choice)?

                    1. re: Plateaumaman

                      Thanks, Plateaumaman. SO said Marche is the touristy area. Also, just learned we may get to Montreal after lunch on Thursday, so now the dining choices become only 5. Even more challenging since Montreal has such good food :)

                        1. re: mainsqueeze

                          mainsqueeze, carswell advised in a post below that SO was thinking of now closed Marché Movenpick in Place Ville-Marie.

                    2. re: financialdistrictresident

                      Sparrow only does breakfast on weekends, I think, so keep that in mind in your scheduling.


                      re: bakery tour - I'd definitely do it on Friday so you can include Cheskies, which is a kosher bakery that'll be closed on Saturday.

                      For breakfast, consider Byblos on Laurier if you'd like something different and delicious. I recommend one of the breakfast combos - my fave is the "oriental omelette" and my hubby likes the feta omelette. They are more like Persian scrambled eggs than traditional omelettes, and they come with a basket of bread and a selection of homemade jams.


                      Enjoy your trip.

                      p.s. you won't get smoked duck or turkey without ordering one in advance at Schwartz's. Their non red meat options are: the combo (half a spice-studded smoked chicken and smoked-meat platter), or a "meh" turkey roll sandwich.

                      1. re: kpzoo

                        Thanks, kpzoo. I'll keep the Mile End Tour on Friday and make sure we get to Cheskies before sundown. Sparrow may be our Saturday breakfast. We may have to save Schwartz' for the next trip.

                      2. re: financialdistrictresident

                        Yup, Friday for the Mile End Tour. Cocoa Locale won't sell out of wares as quickly (this place is so cute, so Mile end, you have to go. Yummy cakes and cupcakes. She opens at noon, best selection will be when she opens.)

                        1. re: moh

                          Having visited cocoa locale twice i dont think it is for everyone, it is cake but to my personal taste I prefer the variety of pastries and cakes in the french Patisseries, also cupcakes are a trendy thing found in most large cities nowadays nothing special to Montreal although of course quality varies and I have been disappointed in others such as on MontRoyal. Yes her cakes are fresh, rich, original but to me are not the only recommendation for sweets in Montreal, in fact I had two guests with me each time and they didnt seem to think this place stood out, as a place to return to, albeit cute in concept, appearance. Maybe my lack of enthusiasm is coming from an era when cupcakes where made at home from scratch and also not a quebecer of origin am more attracted to the elaborate and range of items found in the patisseries. Perhaps it does come down to individual preferences. Is the Mile end tour listed somewhere on this site...?
                          This is another great listing of places and menus to try for all of us. Very helpful (:

                          1. re: wilmagrace

                            As you say, cocoa locale isn't for everyone. If you look at the Mile end bakery tour, there is a mix of French patisseries/jewish bakeries and cocoa locale for a change. It may not appeal to you, but it does appeal to quite a few people, and Reema is such a sweetie, she makes a product that is touched with love, and the shop is so quirky and cute, I find the whole experience to be a very refreshing one.

                            I would certainly comment, that you may be right, the concept is not special to Montreal. But it is very different in product and in atmosphere to many of the commercial touristy bakeries I've seen in other places such as NYC. For the 5 minutes it would take to go in and have a cupcake and interact with the delightful Reema, I think it is worth a visit. Ahh! The lemon cupcake. A thing of joy.

                            1. re: moh

                              this map is useful for grazing in that area and they have maps of other foodie areas in montreal, although not sure how up to date, anjou quebec having moved to old montreal...


                              select neighbourhood for other areas interested in

                              1. re: moh

                                . . .and if the lemon cupcake does not appeal to us perhaps we can take a quick look around and grab an espresso or coffee :)

                              2. re: wilmagrace

                                wilmagrace, moh's Mile End tour is in one of the links early in this thread. I've also posted it below:

                                I have also recently outlined a Bakery/espresso Mile End tour (Mile End is a very fun neighbourhood near downtown Montreal), so if you like that sort of thing, this is a great way to spend an afternoon:

                                The Park bus (number 80) runs very frequently, and can be caught just outside the Place Des Arts Metro. It will take you to the beginning of the Mile End Boulangerie/espresso tour.

                                In hommage to RGR's LES tour, here is a Mile End Boulangerie/espresso tour that would fit your bill:

                                Take the 80 bus to Villeneuve. Stop here at about noon on Wednesdays through Sundays, and go to Cocoa Locale. You need to get here by noon when she opens to get the best selection. Pick out one of her delectable cupcakes, best in the city. Or if you are feeding a crowd, pick up a cake.

                                Walk north on Park. If you want a bite to eat, you can turn right on Laurier and head to Toi Moi et Cafe for excellent coffee and breakfasts/lunches on the terrace. Across the street from Toi Moi et cafe is Patisserie Gascogne, go in and ogle at their magnificent display of decorated cakes, chocolate sculptures, and French pastry. They have very good croissants and chocolatines, but I would hold out til further on to try these. But I would consider buying one of their mini-quiches or sausage rolls, they do excellent quiche. The quiche is small (about 2 inches in diameter) and doesn't take a lot of stomach space.

                                Backtrack back to Parc. Continue north about 1 and a half long blocks. On the east side of the street is Caffe in Gamba, one of the newer coffee shops in town. They do really great espresso and fabulous latte, one of the better places in the city. They also sell the beans, which are really great. I love the Paladino beans.

                                Continue to head north on Parc until you get to St. Viateur. Turn right. Immediately, you will see St. Viateur Bagels to your left. Go in and buy a hot sesame bagel, consume it warm. If you want, buy some cream cheese, lox, various spreads, etc. But when they are warm, they are delicious alone, and a real Montreal experience.

                                If you are needing more caffeine, continue down St. Viateur and hit Club Social and Cafe Olympico for straight espresso shots with the locals.

                                Turn around, head back to Parc. Continue north to Bernard. Turn left. On the north side of the street, you will see Cheskies. Go. Buy the Challah. You must. Best to buy it whole, and I prefer the sweet challah that is braided. Cheskies also has good rugelah, although I find that these are not as decadent as some I've bought in NYC. Chocolate is my favorite. Note that Cheskies is closed on Fridays after sundown until Sunday am.

                                Continue West on Bernard, and you will come to Premiere Moisson, one of the better "chain" artisanal bread shops in the city. They have a fabulous selection of loaves, all delicious, and I love their lardon/fromage (ie. Cheese and chunks of bacon) fougasse (or they have olive fougasse if you don't like bacon). They have good croissant as well, but again, I would hold off here and wait for later (or try it for taste comparisons!) Also nearby is Bilboquet, which sells lovely ice cream and sorbets. I think the sorbets are the better choice, the mango sorbet is extremely flavourful, and the lychee sorbet is also a major winner. If you like cheese, go to Yannick, probably the best cheese shop in Montreal. Here you can get perfectly ripened raw milk cheeses from France and other places. This is in my opinion the only place you should buy your Epoisses. But warning, Yannick isn't cheap. But it is worth every penny.

                                Ok: Now the croissant. The rest of the trip is not so bad. You could walk from the first stop Cocoa Locale to Premiere Moisson in about 20 minutes, 30 minutes at a leisurely pace, without the stops. And there are mulitple opportunities on this trip to get very good croissant. But if you want what I consider the best croissant, you have to add on this extra leg. You will be wanting exercise at this point anyways.

                                Backtrack back to Parc. Turn south (right), backtrack back to Laurier. Turn left on Laurier. Walk all the way to Fous Desserts, which is a couple of blocks past the Laurier metro. This walk will take you about 30 minutes from the Premiere Moisson. But at the end awaits the crispiest butteriest croissant you'll ever have. Also worth tasting: the chocolate pear croissant. The almond croissant is apparently also good. And if you see them, buy the caramel au fleur de sel tart with nuts. Insanely good. This is the only part of the tour that is not in Miles End, it is in the PLateau. If you are really tired, you can take a quick cab to Fous Desserts, wouldn't cost more than $7-8. Note that Fous Desserts is closed Sundays and MOndays I believe.

                                I hate to say, I haven't even put all the places I could have on the list. Mile End is a treasure trove of great places. I haven't included gourmet food shops, a bunch of great restos of all types, etc. I have really only included the bakery and coffee shops. But I should add a chocolate stop or two:

                                Genevieve Grandbois is a shop that makes handmade chocolates. They are beautiful, delicious but pricey, it is worth buying a few pieces to try. My personal favorites are the balsamic vinegar chocolate, the piment d'Espelette chocolate and a butter crunch caramel with sea salt that is dipped in a thin coat of dark chocolate. This place is on St. Viateur, past the bagel shop on the opposite side of the the street.

                                Others wold also recommend Juliette et Chocolate, a cafe/chocolate shop on Laurier, west of Parc. Dedicated to all things chocolate, they have light meals (non-chocolate crepes), hot chocolate, cold chocolate, brownies which are very delicious and rich, chocolate decadence. I like it very much, but have a few personal favorites that are not in Mile End.

                                Have fun!

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                                moh Jun 13, 2008 09:49AM