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Three Days (I Promise I've Done My Homework)

b
badschiraldi Jul 1, 2010 01:31 PM

Hi - I'm D.C. based CH coming up to eat my way through Montreal for three days in late July. After looking at a bunch of recommendations and making some inquiries about who will be open during Construction Week, I've got a tentative eating plan, but: 1) I've got some open questions and 2) I'd love some validation/critiques to make sure that we're getting the most out of the city. (Thanks by the way to all, especially Carswell and Moh for the amazing recs on the board)

First a few pieces of context:
1) We were going to make this trip to Paris, but couldn't afford it, so we're looking to double down on the french/bistro/european side of things
2) We're not shy of spending money, but we tend to be more into places that pour their money into the food rather than into the decor (in other words, we prefer cozy, nieghborhoody, and delicious to swanky)

So, here's the schedule:
Saturday the 17th: Arrive in the afternoon, dinner at Au Cinquième Pêché
- we're leaving on Tuesday Morning, and I think they are closed Sunday and Monday

Sunday the 18th:
- breakfast of bagels/pastries/wandering
- go to JTM and wander around - any ideas for good lunchtime menus around there? (the other option would be to hit a bistro like Lemeac, Laloux, or L'express for lunch before heading out there)
- Dinner at La Chronique (we'd wanted to go to La Porte, but they seem to be closed on Sunday and Monday and ACP was a higher priority)

Monday the 19th:
- breakfast is more pastry wandering (maybe in Mile End)
- Lunch either at Nizza or at a bistro
- Dinner at Montee after drinks at Dieu Du Ciel

So the question is - how are we doing? Are there places we should sub in? Au Pied du Cochon seems a little to meaty for my SO (mostly pescatarian) but I could be convinced. Other things that we wanted to get in but couldn't find space for were 3 petit bouchons, and Kitchen Galerie. But if there are other neighborhood gems with amazing food that might fit in, the only real commitment we have is Montee (Chronique is there largely because Sunday seems like a tough night).

Any thoughts would be appreciated - oh - and we are staying at Hôtel Château de L'Argoat near the Sherbrooke Metro. Thanks so much.

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La Porte Restaurant
3627 Boul Saint-Laurent, Montreal, QC H2X2V5, CA

Mile End Bar
5322 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montr, Montreal, QC , CA

Nizza
1121 Anderson, Montreal, QC H2Z 1M1, CA

Kitchen Galerie
60 Rue Jean-Talon E, Montreal, QC H2R1S5, CA

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  1. cherylmtl RE: badschiraldi Jul 1, 2010 03:15 PM

    A few points you might not be aware of - La Montee moved a month or two ago, is no longer downtown, and is renamed La Montee de Lait. Menu and concept are quite different from what they once were - but wine selection is apparently as good as ever...
    As for Au Pied de Cochon, in the summer they have amazing fresh seafood they bring in themselves - so your pescetarian SO should be fine with it.
    I haven't checked what's open during construction holiday, but off the top of my head, places like Joe Beef, Liverpool House, Bistro Bienville, Mas Cuisine, Kitchenette, and Le Chien Fumant are a few examples of smaller (although not necessarily inexpensive) neighbourhood places with good food. And there's a second Kitchen Galerie that features seafood which just opened (someone just posted about it in the last week or so). Another option might be drinks at Pop! wine bar, and dinner following at Laloux, its adjoining restaurant.

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    Joe Beef
    2491 Rue Notre-Dame W, Montreal, QC H3J1N6, CA

    Mas Cuisine
    3779 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G, CA

    Kitchen Galerie
    60 Rue Jean-Talon E, Montreal, QC H2R1S5, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: cherylmtl
      r
      RCK6 RE: cherylmtl Jul 1, 2010 06:58 PM

      I agree. I am pescatarian, and I had an amazing sea food platter when I went to Au Pied de Cochon. It was pretty fantastic. That said, there are so many wonderful restaurants in Montreal. I don't think you must go to Au Pied de Cochon.

    2. t
      thelonious777 RE: badschiraldi Jul 2, 2010 05:38 AM

      My $0.02

      - The hype surrounding Cinquieme Peche on CH is out of proportion to how it is generally perceived among Montreal foodies. It is good but I would not recommend missing out on Mas Cuisine, Kitchen Galerie, Club Chasse et Peche, Laloux or even Lemeac (and I could name quite a few more) to eat at Cinquieme Peche. It is definitely not a must-do in this city. If you were a friend, I would force you to change this one.

      - JTM is a great place to graze, especially in the summer, so you might not want to eat a full meal before going. If you want more of a sit down meal in the area, Le Petit Alep (Syrian) is always a great bet but falls outside the French/Parisian theme. Most everything in the area on St-Laurent is not worth it foodwise, except for Caffe Italia (but they only serve sandwiches really).

      - I would take La Chronique over La Porte anyday. Even though I think it is over-rated (especially by our American neighbours) a visit to APDC is a rite of passage for any foodie coming to Montreal, so I would sub it in (but would consider eating at La Chronique instead of Montee de Lait on Monday--not that either is a bad choice). Agree that APDC is not a dealbreaker (though a bit limiting) for a pescetarian.

      - I like Nizza but again think there are so many more interesting places to eat lunch that I would recommend reconsidering (Club Chasse et Peche springs prominently to mind).

      Good luck and enjoy your trip...

      Thelonious

      -----
      La Porte Restaurant
      3627 Boul Saint-Laurent, Montreal, QC H2X2V5, CA

      Mas Cuisine
      3779 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G, CA

      Nizza
      1121 Anderson, Montreal, QC H2Z 1M1, CA

      Kitchen Galerie
      60 Rue Jean-Talon E, Montreal, QC H2R1S5, CA

      9 Replies
      1. re: thelonious777
        SnackHappy RE: thelonious777 Jul 2, 2010 06:29 AM

        I have to agree with thelonious777 preferring Mas Cuisine to Au Cinquième Péché. Not that a5p isn't a great restaurant with an impressive wine list, inventive cooking and outstanding service. I don't think you'll be disappointed with it. It's just that Mas Cuisine gives you way more bang for the buck.

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        Mas Cuisine
        3779 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G, CA

        1. re: thelonious777
          b
          badschiraldi RE: thelonious777 Jul 2, 2010 07:03 AM

          Thanks so much for the input. Part of the idea behind A5P was that it was close to where we were staying so that we could sort of wander the neighborhood after driving in on Saturday night...but I'm opening up to other ideas. Maybe we'll head out to Kitchen Gallerie or Mas Cuisine that night. How is the cab ride to Verdun from around Parc La Fontaine?

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          Mas Cuisine
          3779 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G, CA

          1. re: badschiraldi
            kpzoo RE: badschiraldi Jul 2, 2010 07:16 AM

            You could just take the metro - Mas Cuisine is very close to the de L'Eglise metro stop. Otherwise the cab ride is fairly far.

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            Mas Cuisine
            3779 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G, CA

            1. re: kpzoo
              cherylmtl RE: kpzoo Jul 2, 2010 10:31 AM

              In case you were wondering, Montreal is pretty safe, and the metro is fine to take at night, so hopping the metro to Mas Cuisine might make a lot of sense. Much as I love A5P, I'd definitely take Mas Cuisine over it, and pretty much almost any other resto in Montreal these days - my last meal there was so outstanding, I'm still salivating thinking about it...

              -----
              Mas Cuisine
              3779 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G, CA

              1. re: cherylmtl
                b
                badschiraldi RE: cherylmtl Jul 2, 2010 10:39 AM

                Alright - so it comes down to this: Mas Cuisine or Kitchen Gallerie on Saturday night? I'm leaning toward Mas Cuisine, but I'm curious to hear head on evaluations. (Also, is there a decent place to grab a beer or glass of wine before dinner around Mas Cuisine)

                Thanks again for all the input.

                -----
                Mas Cuisine
                3779 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G, CA

                1. re: badschiraldi
                  cherylmtl RE: badschiraldi Jul 2, 2010 10:41 AM

                  I ate at both of them, about a week apart, a few months back, and while Kitchen Galerie was good, Mas Cuisine blows it out of the water, IMHO...Not sure about where to get beer or wine around there, though - can someone else chime in on this?

                  -----
                  Mas Cuisine
                  3779 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G, CA

                  Kitchen Galerie
                  60 Rue Jean-Talon E, Montreal, QC H2R1S5, CA

                  1. re: cherylmtl
                    u
                    unlaced RE: cherylmtl Jul 2, 2010 12:48 PM

                    Unfortunately, Verdun does not have any bars (they are banned)

                    I think this is a tough choice because, whilst I love Mas Cuisine (and Verdun for that matter), I think you might miss part of the whole Montreal-in-the-summer experience by eating there. Perhaps have a relatively early dinner and then stop off in one of the more convivial neighbourhoods for a post dinner drink?

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                    Mas Cuisine
                    3779 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G, CA

                    1. re: unlaced
                      b
                      badschiraldi RE: unlaced Jul 2, 2010 12:53 PM

                      I just made a reservation at 8 - I think we'll grab a drink somewhere within walking distance from us and then hit the metro - how long do you think the ride is from around Sherbrooke metro?

                      1. re: badschiraldi
                        u
                        unlaced RE: badschiraldi Jul 2, 2010 12:55 PM

                        You will have to switch lines, from orange to green, at either Berri UQAM or Lionel Groulx. For a Saturday night, I would schedule 30 mins all up (in case you just miss both trains)

        2. kpzoo RE: badschiraldi Jul 2, 2010 07:47 AM

          I'd strongly encourage you to have brunch at The Sparrow on Sunday. Every time I eat there I'm impressed by just how excellent it is, and everyone I've brought there feels the same. From the food to the service to the decor - everything is wonderful. They open at 10, so if you plan to go there early I suggest getting there around 9:40 am so you'll get in for the first seating - there's usually a lineup.

          http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid...

          FYI - it's located between your hotel & Jean-Talon Market.

          -----
          Jean-Talon Market
          7075 Avenue Casgrain, Montreal, QC H2S, CA

          1. b
            badschiraldi RE: badschiraldi Jul 12, 2010 04:10 PM

            So - I have a final dinner itinerary I think (at least I have reservations). Here it is:

            Saturday Dinner: Mas Cuisine
            Sunday Lunch: MJT grazing (perhaps with a stop at Sparrow for brunch if we are up early enough)
            Sunday Dinner: APDC
            Monday Lunch: L'Express (other bistros seem to be closed on Monday during the day)
            Monday Dinner: Montee

            The critical decisions were to forgo Cinquième Pêché for Mas Cuisine on Saturday night and La Chronique for APDC on Sunday night. It is in my nature to second guess myself here...any arguments for whether I should make a last minute change?

            Thanks again for all your help.

            -----
            L'Express Restaurant
            3927 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC H2W2M4, CA

            Mas Cuisine
            3779 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G, CA

            14 Replies
            1. re: badschiraldi
              r
              rcianci RE: badschiraldi Jul 12, 2010 07:29 PM

              I would have stuck with Au Cinquième Pêché. I had a superb meal there last Spring, with much more interesting ingredients and better execution than the meal I had at Laloux last night.

              But how does it stack up against Mas Cuisine? To be candid, I have not yet eaten at Mas Cuisine. However I used to eat Chef Michael Ross's cooking when he was at Brunoise and here's what I remember of it: almost nothing. Aside from the Panna Cottta, nothing sticks in my mind. This is unusual for me as I tend to remember every detail of an excellent meal.

              I fear you are going a long ways out of your way for a well prepared, reasonably priced but ultimately uninteresting dinner when you could have a much more exciting one closer to home base. Plus it's easy to find a good bar for pre-dinner drinks on Mont-Royal Ave.

              -----
              Mas Cuisine
              3779 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G, CA

              Au Cinquieme Peche
              4475 St-Denis, Montreal, QC H2J 2K8, CA

              1. re: rcianci
                cherylmtl RE: rcianci Jul 13, 2010 06:31 AM

                Actually, much as I love A5P, Mas Cuisine was better when I was there last month... but both are certainly good.

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                Mas Cuisine
                3779 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G, CA

                1. re: cherylmtl
                  r
                  rcianci RE: cherylmtl Jul 13, 2010 08:08 AM

                  I believe you and I certainly look forward to trying Mas Cuisine next time I visit, but when I look at the OP's situation in terms of comfort and convenience as well as cuisine, my advice would still be A5P.

                  -----
                  Mas Cuisine
                  3779 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G, CA

                  1. re: cherylmtl
                    carswell RE: cherylmtl Jul 13, 2010 12:02 PM

                    When were you last at a5p? Have you been since the change in ownership and redecoration?

                    Comparing the meal I had at a5p the weekend before last with the one I had at MAS at the end of May, MAS seemed like it was on auto-pilot, turning out dishes that pleased but didn't wow, that were competently prepared but lacked spark or, as rcianci says, weren't particularly memorable. What did wow was the price; if there's better QPR for this type of cuisine in the city, I'd like to know about it.

                    While not flawless (halibut cheeks cooked more than I like; brain fritters a bit less than perfectly fried), the dinner at a5p was simply on a higher plane. More interesting ingredients, more imaginative preparations, better balanced flavours (the "nage" of lobster broth and young vegetables pooled around the halibut was exquisite), better presentations. Other plusses: the smoother, more attentive, more engaging service and a far more interesting wine list and by-the-glass selections (MAS's is serviceable and fairly priced but, again, not memorable). A downside was the noise; a very loud party of eight meant everyone else in the restaurant had to raise their voices to be heard. And, of course, the bill came to about twice what we paid at MAS (though we drank more and better at a5p).

                    Had been waiting until I had more time to post a comparison of recent experiences at MAS, a5p and three or four other bistros along with some thoughts on the genre but the upshot was this: Au Cinquième Péché and Les 3 Petits Bouchons (which the OP should also consider) were clearly the best of the bunch, MAS Cuisine was the QPR winner, and L'Express and Leméac simply weren't contenders.

                    1. re: carswell
                      cherylmtl RE: carswell Jul 13, 2010 12:23 PM

                      I haven't been to a5p for a while - I certainly recall my last meal there being quite good, but was just more wowed with my recent meal at Mas - it was definitely what I would qualify as memorable - but then, any restaurant can have good and not-quite-as-good nights, and I'm guessing I hit one of the good ones. I would, however, happily eat at either, although I'd rather pay for the dinner at Mas than a5p...and, yes, just to further frustrate the op, Les 3 Petits Bouchons would also be on my short list of places worth trying. In either case, be it Mas or a5p, the meal will be more than enjoyable - you really can't lose either way.

                      1. re: cherylmtl
                        b
                        badschiraldi RE: cherylmtl Jul 13, 2010 01:04 PM

                        Ok - I'm now leaning towards staying closer to home and going to a5p on Saturday night (luckily, I have a reservation already). But I'm open to hearing whether or why I should choose 3 Petits Bouchons instead. One consideration is that my SO is sort of pescatarian (she'll eat happily raised meat, but is pretty picky about it). My sense is that either a5p or 3pb are pretty good on that score, but please contribute thoughts if you have them.

                        And thanks again for all the help. I'm getting very excited for the trip.

                      2. re: carswell
                        mainsqueeze RE: carswell Jul 13, 2010 01:08 PM

                        I have been to both A5P and MAS in the past few weeks, and I have to say that while I enjoyed both, MAS impressed me more in terms of both food and service. I had the salmon at A5P, and while it was cooked just right, I found the combination of ingredients a bit plain and boring. On the other hand, my plate of char and lobster emulsion at MAS really blew me away. The service at A5P is very knowledgeable and made excellent wine recommendations, but I found the service at MAS more welcoming and friendly. I really don't think one could regret going to either place, but if I had to choose for myself right now I would pick MAS.

                        1. re: mainsqueeze
                          carswell RE: mainsqueeze Jul 13, 2010 01:47 PM

                          Interesting. My main of char was cooked more than ideal and came garnished with fiddleheads and northern shrimp, exactly the same garnish used on my appetizer. I'd have expected the waiter to mention as much when taking the order, but no. Said waiter didn't crack a smile once during the evening, didn't offer explanations or talk beyond the recitation of the daily specials and tripped repeatedly over the (normally placed) chair leg of one of the diners at our table, apologizing only once. The desserts were well executed but, exception made for the panna cotta, nothing special (a brownie, an underpowered lemon meringue tart). While an earlier meal I had at MAS (not long after it opened) was better, this time I left thinking that if I lived or worked in the neighbourhood I'd be a regular but otherwise wouldn't often be tempted to make the schlep. That said, it's good to have counterpoint from trustworthy hounds like you, cherylmtl and SnackHappy -- a welcome reminder that even "on" places can have off nights.

                          1. re: carswell
                            mainsqueeze RE: carswell Jul 13, 2010 02:14 PM

                            I have only been to Mas that one time so I cannot vouch for consistency. That is really disappointing about the two-timing garnish. I would have taken points off for that as well.

                        2. re: carswell
                          u
                          unlaced RE: carswell Jul 13, 2010 01:58 PM

                          A post from you with a comparison of recent experiences at the bistros would be most welcome carswell! I have some international guests arriving soon and I am just umm'ing and ahh'ing over what to do, because although I have the inclination, I don't have the funds to trial each of the places before they arrive!!

                          1. re: unlaced
                            carswell RE: unlaced Jul 13, 2010 03:15 PM

                            Got lots on my plate for the next week or two, unlaced. In the meantime, you might check out an earlier if slightly outdated list of personal recommendations: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6436...

                            1. re: carswell
                              u
                              unlaced RE: carswell Jul 14, 2010 08:59 AM

                              No worries carswell, thanks for the link to your previous post!

                          2. re: carswell
                            t
                            thelonious777 RE: carswell Jul 13, 2010 06:08 PM

                            Comparing L'Express and Lemeac to Cinquieme Peche or Mas is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, so I'm not surprised they "weren't contenders". L'Express (especially) and Lemeac do not veer far from traditional bistro fare while Cinquieme Peche and Mas offer cuisine that is more modern, more market driven and less tied to a single culinary tradition. No matter what you think of the former two, it's just not the same sport.

                            I think Cinquieme Peche and Mas do make a good comparison at least in the sense that they are catering to the same niche in terms of food and ambiance. My own impression (based on multiple meals at Mas and a single meal at the new Cinquieme Peche) is quite different than yours. The cuisine at Cinquieme Peche is market driven but with a definite French backbone, so although it might be imaginative by the standards of French classicism, I don't think it is particularly imaginative by the standards of New York, San Francisco or even the new Paris. By comparison, I ate a couple of dishes at Mas I thought were cutting edge for Montreal (marinated salmon with cauliflower florets, curry, raw grapes, currants and pine nuts and a re-working of duck a l'orange that involved emulsifying a whole orange) and I would have to say that it is hands down a more innovative kitchen.

                            My experience (and hearsay) is that the food at both restaurants tends to be well executed. In any event, saying "my overcooked fish at one bothered me less than the limp vegetables at the other" isn't exactly a basis for objective comparison. Although I had some seasoning issues at Cinquieme Peche, I can't say that everything I have had at Mas has been immaculate either. Having said that, it's easier to pull off a more traditional menu than one that pushes the boundaries so that has to count for something.

                            So in my mind it's not really a close contest. In fact until Lesley Chesterman gave it a good review recently I thought the hype was one of those Chowhound things, but now I think I will give it another shot. But if you take price into consideration (and most of us do), then Mas really comes out the winner.

                            -----
                            L'Express Restaurant
                            3927 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC H2W2M4, CA

                            1. re: thelonious777
                              b
                              badschiraldi RE: thelonious777 Jul 14, 2010 08:35 AM

                              I'm so happy to have been able to seed this kind of vigorous debate and in depth comparison. This is the kind of stuff that makes CH such a resource for folks like me. I think that I am still leaning towards A5P for two reasons. First, the pleasure of just walking home from dinner sounds good after a day of driving (although I love subways - I don't love as much the late night, slightly drunken wait for the train). Second, per Thelonious777's analysis, I think that we are actually looking for a place with more of a French "backbone." One of our goals on this trip is to pretend (just a little bit) that we are in Paris.

                              As for price, while it is normally a big consideration - we are letting ourselves spend a little more freely this trip, which means we won't let it be a total deciding factor.

                              Thanks again - this is great stuff.

                    2. u
                      unlaced RE: badschiraldi Jul 20, 2010 12:50 PM

                      How was your trip badschiraldi? Inquiring minds would love to hear a report!

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