Trip report to Montreal (for any interested)
These boards are always so helpful, I wanted to report back on our annual trip to Montreal. We were there three nights and here are our food tidbits:
La Colombe (why have I wanted so long to try this place???) I'm afraid my husband and I have totally similar tastes, so we both had the magret de canard. It was served with a fig sauce that was spectacular, as well as the local vegies, also spectacularly presented and cooked. The appy was a boar aspic (reminded me of head cheese). It was actually quite good. The soup that was included was a butternut squash soup and was delicious. Our dessert was a gelatin of chocolate...flavorful and bland at the same time. The service at LaColumbe is impeccable and I stopped by the kitchen to let them know. I got a wink and a smile from the chef/owner. We did opt for the 6 pm setting, and thanks to "Jed" on this board, we did snag a table by the window -- the people watching was oustanding.
It was odd for us to eat dinner so early, but did not want to miss the fireworks in Old Montreal.
Our second night was our anniversary, so it had to be spent at Les Heritiers. Which, by the way, Carswell, has changed their menu (somewhat)!!!! They do have Reidel glassware and when they saw we had a bottle of Pommery, champagne glasses were quick to arrive. A very nice mushroom soup to start, hubby had the filet, but instead of their usual blue cheese/butter, it was served in a mushroom gravy. He loved every bit of it. I had to have their lamb chops, as I've never had any better. They are wonderful. Marquise de Chocolate for dessert and more red wine....how much better does it get?
Our last night was at Monsieur B's. We had been there a couple of years ago and remembered liking it very much. Again, both of us had magret de canard...served med/rare, as LaColombe (the only way to serve it) served again with fig...but not a gravy, but a formed patty of crushed figs, topped with pistachio nuts. Everything was delicious. The dessert was the only disappointment. Feeling too full for a cheesecake, we opted for the creme brulee (much less calories, right???). Anyway, it arrived in a dish that can only be called a vat...with much too much carmelization...to a point where it was difficult to break with a spoon (the table next to us...same problem).
However, we did also snag a table by the window, and when the a/c proved not enough, the window was opened to allow us to watch a beautiful rainstorm which stopped when it was time to leave.
Aside from a trip to Quincaillerie Dante and lunch of HUGE pizza slice in the student ghetto at Boulangerie Charcuterie and cocktails at LeLab, the only other thing I can remember is lunch at Frites Alors (had to have my fix of Belgian fries) and some cheese curds bought at Atwater, and plenty of wine (both brought into Canada and from the SAQ), we had a wonderful culinary trip!!! Can't wait until next year!!
3497 Boul Saint-Laurent, Montreal, QC H2X2T6, CA
I'm adding my trip report to shopgirl's for ease of future tourists:
My husband and I and two of our friends took a road trip from Boston (where we live) to Montreal (3 nights) onto Quebec City (2 nights) and back to Boston in August. I can’t believe how easy it was to drive to Montreal and that I’ve never been before. Like many hounds, I can’t go on vacation with out a pretty lengthy list of possible restaurants. So I did some extensive research on this board. As always my fellow hounds pulled through. I guess its possible to stumble onto a great place but being from a tourist destination myself I also know how easy it is to end up in an overpriced mediocre place. With such a short trip I just didn’t want to risk a wasted dinner. Overall, We had a lovely time and I’m certain I will return. Let me break it down for you:
Maam Bolduc- This was a great place for the first night. After the 5 hour car ride we wanted something in walking distance from our B&B with a laid back atmosphere. It was pretty empty when we got there at 8:00 pm but then again it was Tuesday night. The hand-drawn-in-crayon menu is almost panic inducing but I will save all future (non-french speaking) patrons the trouble. Just get a beer or cider and whatever kind of poutine your heart desires. There are pages of sandwich and burgers to make you feel better that you have not succumbed to having fries for dinner. But your life will be better (and your bill will be cheaper) if you just give up that charade and skip to the poutine. They have the regular variety which my friend (originally from Jersey) had and Mr and I split the poutine bourgogne. None of us have had poutine before but my Jerseyite friend grew up on cheese fries and was quite pleased with this rendition. The poutine bourgogne was outstanding. A full stomach did not stop me from practically licking the plate clean. The guys got burgers and they were fine but they took up valuable stomach space that should have been used for poutine. I got an croque monsieur which was also fine but again a waste of space. I can’t even remember what my other friend ordered. I would have loved to try a slice of tarte au sucre to finish off the meal but sadly, they were out of it. They were offering a strawberry rhubarb pie that day but heypielady doesn’t have this name for nothing so I skipped it.
Victorian Heritage B&B: I’m only giving a shout out to my B&B on chowhound because the breakfast was excellent (as promised by another hound). The croissants were some of the best croissants I’ve ever had. It was a continental breakfast but there was nothing skimpy about it. The fruit was also worth noting. It could be because its August and everything is in its prime but the peaches, the wild blueberries, the enormous bowl of cherries were also scrumptious.
Jean Talon Market: I dragged everyone here even though I knew were couldn’t really buy anything because I love markets. This one did not disappoint. We had some savory crepes for lunch there. After ogling the rows and rows of tomatoes I ordered a carmelized onion, tomato, and cheese crepe. It hit the spot.
MAS cuisine: I was on the fence about this place when I was planning our trip. Its out of the way from where we were staying (Latin Quarter) but many hounds gave it great reviews and supposedly it was less expensive then some other restaurants we were thinking about. Well, I’m glad we went here as it ended up being my favorite meal of the whole trip. This restaurant was cozy and welcoming. The service was attentive and friendly and the food was prepared well and plated beautifully. I had the fried squash blossom which I’m a sucker for and Mr. had a really wonderful pureed gazpacho bursting with freshness. The only hiccup in appetizers was my friends heirloom tomato salad. The tomatoes were just slighly underripe. For entrees the guys got the seared scallops on leeks (scallops the size of silver dollars) and the ladies got the veal cheek. The veal cheek was just amazing. One of the best things I’ve ever had. So tender and flavorful! For dessert Mr. and my friend got the chocolate brownie with caramel ice cream, my other friend got the lemon souffle and I had vanilla creme with fresh strawberries. (Another reason to go to the market, its well past strawberry season in Boston but those quebec strawberries were everywhere so I knew I was getting the good stuff). Overall, I loved this place. For my fellow Boston hounds or Montreal hounds that plan on visiting Boston, I found MAS cuisine to be very similar to Salts in Cambridge. MAS is good value but it is certainly not cheap. Its a prix fixe menu for $40, so if you are the two appetizer instead of a meal type or the no dessert type this will not be for you.
Au Pied du Cochon: My friend was dying to try this place and I was definitely game. The restaurant is much smaller than I expected but a festive atmosphere nonetheless if not a tad too bright. I’ll go out and say it. I didn’t love this place. I loved the thrill it gave us before we went but it just wasn’t my thing. The guys loved it. Part of it is I suffer from a lifelong problem of envying my husbands entree. I went in thinking “I’m ordering duck in a can” and somehow that changed to “au pied du cochon” The duck in a can looked pretty awesome. And my husband cleaned his plate. The trotters were good but so samey- every bite tastes the same...mustard...vinegar. My other friend got au pied du cochon stuffed with foie gras. It was so enormous it was kind of gross. We thought about splitting one dessert to each get that sweet forkful to finish the meal but for the second time... “sorry, we’re out of tarte au sucre.” Damn, what’s a girl gotta do to get a slice of that? The other reason I didn’t love this place is that I found the service to be too cool. The wine list there is very expensive (majority of bottles over $80) so we were up front with the waiter and said we’d like a bottle of red but something straightforward and not too expensive. When we said something “under $50” that is when the service got cool. Our waiter just didn’t seem to care what were doing and seemed pretty unwelcoming. It’s like if we weren’t going to drop $400 that night than we were just a waste of space.
Onto Quebec City:
Chez Ashton: I had this grand plan to get sandwiches at Schwartz’s for the road but I felt like I was being too bossy (foodwise) so I let it slide....and regretted it. We got in and were starving but it was already 2:30. It was also Friday afternoon so the streets were teeming with tourists. (Quebec City is to Montreal, as Florence is to Rome- tourist-density-wise) The group clamored for poutine and beer (they wanted Maam Bolduc’s again) I said how about poutine and THEN beer. We went this fast food place at the recommendation of the tourist information office and my co-worker who came to Quebec City the week before. Its fast food. This may be the REAL poutine and not the bastardized kind I had in Montreal but I like the bastard better.
Les Bossus: Maybe you have been overdoing it on your trip and you want something cheaper and something smaller? Go here and have an onion soup. Delicious. I also had the duck confit and green salad but the salad was overdressed and after the soup I just didn’t need anything else. My husband had the salmon tartare which he very much enjoyed and my friend had a steak frite which she loved. Not the true steak frite though. Her steak had a sauce on it. She made up a little bite with a little steak, a fry and the sauce: Onion soup in steak form!
Chocomusee: Outside the walls of the old city. I bought four filled chocolates here: chestnut, pain d’espice, sel de fleur, and framboise. Excellent filled chocolates worth the price. Very fresh tasting fillings. Interesting flavors, and good quality chocolate. The salty caramel was the best version of that I’ve had.
Paillard: Grabbed a croissant with ham and cheese here. Not great. My croissant was undercooked. But I could have a beer with lunch outside... always a plus.
Pain Beni: Ok my other regret... I was going to make reservations for Le Lapin Saute but I didn’t because once again, I didn’t want to be too bossy with the group(if it was just me and my husband, he doesn’t mind me being bossy when it comes to food) So we got a reservation here the day before as this late in the game, Le Lapin was full. My co-worker also stayed at Auberge Place D’Armes where this restaurant is located and attested to how good it was. Everything started fine. Waitress was friendly (as was everyone in QC) We got our drinks, the menu looked interesting, my friend started with a salad. Our bottle of wine arrived. And then.... we waited, and waited and waited.... And maybe 40-45 minutes our food arrived. Mr. got the steak tartare (Man likes his raw proteins), one friend got lamb ravioli (very nice), I got the deer osso buco with squash ravioli and my other friend got the steak. The ravioli and tartare were fine but the osso buco and the steak were just completely dried out like they had been sitting under the heat lamp for quite some time. At those prices it was just unacceptable. Did I say anything to the manager? We’re on vacation and I just won’t go back there and I didn’t want to make an awkward situation for our last night.
In the morning we grabbed croissants at Palet D’Or (right next to St. Patrick’s pub) for the road as Hotel Champlain had a pathetic breakfast compared to Victorian Heritage B&B. But they did have unlimited access to the espresso machine which was awesome.
620 Rue Saint-Joseph E, Quebec, QC G1K3B9, CA
Excellent report, i like that you're frank and not afraid to say your opinion at the risk of going against the popular foodie culture.
just a note tha tmade me laugh: "This may be the REAL poutine and not the bastardized kind I had in Montreal but I like the bastard better."
Oh lord, actually the origines of poutine is not clearly known, so nowhere can call themselves the "real" poutine. It's a matter of taste, and i know Quebec City swears by it's Aston, but having lived there i can say: i dislike Aston all together. There is better poutine elsewhere in both QC and Montreal.