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New Yorker seeks BEST EATS in Montreal for friend's birthday

Hey guys, I post a lot on the New York board and I'm new to the Montreal one. My husband and I and our two close friends will visit Montreal in late October. This trip is sort of a birthday gift for one of them and we intend to drink a lot and eat a lot. I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction in terms of food since Montreal has so much to offer and we basically only have 3 days in the city. We will be staying at Le Place d'Armes Hôtels & Suites and will have a rental car, so distance is not a problem and we will drive ANYWHERE for amazing food. Price is not a really big issue, but I'd say an average dinner should cost no more than $100 per person (so $400 total for all of us, plus added tip and tax) but we would bend this rule if there is truly a unique restaurant being recommended to us. One of us speaks fluent French and another can "pass" with basic phrases, so I don't think we'll have any problems getting around anyway... Will travel for food and would like to avoid touristy areas. Here is what I was thinking of planning:

- Need a place for dinner and drinks for a Friday night. We want to have French inspired and Montreal-style food only, so nothing like indian, Thai, Chinese, etc because we always go to those kinds of restaurants in NYC. Looking for a place that is nice but casual, as in I don't have to wear a fancy outfit to get in (i.e. like Per Se in New York), and a place that will not kick us out quickly so the next party can sit down. The food must be amazing and we like both fish and meat. Just to give you guys an idea, I in particular like escargot, duck, any anything with goat cheese, but I'm always willing to try something different if the opportunity presents itself.

- For Saturday night, I made reservations at Au Pied du Cochon (sp?) because we all LOVE meat and my husband is especially crazy about foie gras. I mean reeaaally freakin' crazy about it. Do you have any recommendations about what to get from the menu?

- Also, we would like to go have poutine Saturday afternoon. Again, will travel for food no matter the distance. Any ideas?

- I love the croissants I had in Paris sometime ago, and saw on tripadvisor (and an earlier Chowhound post) that Kouign Amann in Montreal is supposed to have even better ones, so we will definitely go there and buy some to go. However, they don't seem to serve breakfast. Is there any cafe/bakery where you can sit down among, let's say, old Montreal men reading their newspapers and sip your coffee and order some eggs? I love casual little neighborhood cafes where you can just sit and eat for hours if you want, just like in Paris...

- Finally, looking for nice lunch spots open on Sundays (can be any neighborhood).

Thank you!!!

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  1. for APdC, always check for the daily specials, IMO they are better than the regular menu items.

    for poutine, check for regular poutine posts, there are many.

    AFAIK, more boulangeries (bakeries) are not café or restaurants, and when going to a café or restaurant for breakfast, you might not have the best croissants.

    For the best croissants, search the board you will find a few threads about them. (my pick is Guillaume).

    There are no "french" style café in Montreal (to my knowledge), you have coffee-house like Myriade, Névé, In Gamba with good coffee, but limited food.

    I never been (not in my 'hood) to Olive and Gourmando, but it might be good for you in Old Montreal.

    For friday night : "La Porte" (more french), Lemeac, 3 Petits Bouchons, 5ème Péché, ...

    3 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      Thanks for your post. I will check out La porte, Lemeac, 3 Petits Bouchons, and 5eme Peche. Can you recommend a nice cafe that serves breakfast items such as eggs? I understand that it may not have the best croissants in town, but it would still be nice to sit down and eat and have a coffee...

      1. re: citykid426

        I think Névé do serve eggs (better contact them about that).

        http://cafeneve.com/

        1. re: Maximilien

          I do think that croissanterie figaro serves eggs.

          I may be wrong, but it was showcasted on Canal evasion during night time, and they had breakfeast there.

    2. Hiya, A few threads to help out with some of your questions:

      APDC what must I order?
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/525938

      What to get at APDC besides the canard en conserve?
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/678628

      Tons of other threads about Au Pied de Cochon if you do a search for the name or its acronym APDC.

      Updated info sought: Best Poutine in Montreal?
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/709705

      Will let others address your other questions. Have a great trip!

      -----
      Au Pied de Cochon
      536 Av Duluth E, Montreal, QC H2L1A9, CA

      19 Replies
      1. re: kpzoo

        Try these threads for croissants and coffee.

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/663304 Pastry Tour thread
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/752378 Croissant thread
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/774940 another croissant thread

        If you want to sit for a coffee and croissant (but I don't believe they do eggs) try Mamie Clafoutis or Paltoquet, IMO Paltoquet has the best croissants although I haven't tried Kouign Amann. BTW Mamie Clafoutis and Paltoquet are within 2-3 blocks of each other.

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        Mamie Clafoutis
        1291 Avenue Van Horne, Outremont, QC , CA

        1. re: ios94

          The OP seems to be looking for an old-timey place that serves croissants AND a full breakfast (i.e. eggs) - I had a hard time thinking of any. That's just not a common thing here. The old-timey places that serve eggs are more like greasy spoons and are unlikely to serve croissants. The croissant places are unlikely to have eggs, and the more upscale places that might have both are probably not going to have "old Montreal men" reading newspapers. ;-)

          If anyone can think of a place that meets all the OP's criteria on this one, I'll be interested to hear it.

          1. re: kpzoo

            Although it's more of a brasserie than a café, l'Express serves breakfast and always has its share of old guys in the room.

            I would never expect to have croissants in an "old-timey" Montreal café. The OP seems to be under the impression that Montreal is somehow part of France and not a British colonial city.

            1. re: SnackHappy

              It's fun to try and come up with places that fit certain criteria and to compare what "types" of places you see in one city or another...I've never actually been to Le Cartet but from what I've heard, it may be a good option. They do have pastries and also cooked breakfasts, and it's in the Old Port area (so I believe it would not be far from your hotel) and nice atmosphere (although maybe more young-and-trendy than old-man. For the old-man atmosphere it might be fun to stop in at Café Olimpico or Club Social (not sure if that is the official name) - more of an Italian-style café, just for a cappuccino (not an amazing one like at Caffé in Gamba or Café Myriade, but good enough for me) and some people-watching (mixture of old men and other interesting characters, and Mile-End hipsters)

              -----
              Le Cartet
              106 Rue McGill, Montreal, QC H2Y, CA

              1. re: stak

                Le Cartet is a good place to have breakfast, but it attracts more tourists, foodies and under 40 hipsters than old guys reading newspapers. Le Cartet has a contemporary atmosphere, with exposed brick and lots of light. You'll find more old guys reading newspapers at a greasy spoon (there's one called McGill Plaza Restaurant just north of Le Cartet), but the greasy spoons are going to be serving coffee shop quality bacon & eggs and not likely to be serving any of Montreal's best quality croissants. There also might be a number of old guys reading papers at Reuben's (2 locations on St Catherine W), which serves a greasy spoon-type of breakfast, but the atmopshere is certainly more "shopping mall family restaurant" than Parisian cafe. Reuben's doesn't have croissants as far as I know, but they do serve bacon & eggs, sides of their smoked meat, and Montreal-style bagels. I wouldn't go out of my way for breakfast at Reuben's, but I'd expect a fair number of locals eat breakfast there since the price is right.

                Kouign Amann ( the bakery) is really small, but I think there was a small table for 2, when I was there during the summer. I tried Kouign Amann's Kouign Amann, which was ok, but the best Kouign Amann I've found in Canada is the one that's served as dessert at La Porte.

                citykid, if you don't mind older, well-dressed business men reading newspapers in an upscale restaurant, the Sofitel's Renoir (on Sherbrooke West) serves top quality croissants and other pastries in their pastry basket, as well as good egg dishes. It's the best luxe breakfast I've had in Montreal, but it ends up costing closer to $25-30/person.

                Agree with the poster below, that Vasco da Gama serves a nice breakfast. Fairly upscale, but nice pastries and a few egg dishes.

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                Le Cartet
                106 Rue McGill, Montreal, QC H2Y, CA

                Cafe Vasco Da Gama
                1472 Rue Peel, Montreal, QC H3A1S8, CA

              2. re: SnackHappy

                Anyways, in France they practically dont eat breakfast. Those that do eat a pastry or cereal with chocolate milk or cocoa powder... Don't ask me why.

                But agreed, if you want croissant you go to a good french bakery or cafe. These types of places serve excellent coffee but rarely anything that requires the use of a kitchen or a cook.

                Similar, a breakfast joint wont normally have a baker or a selection of pastries such as croissant.

                1. re: SnackHappy

                  SnackHappy I was never, as you say, "under the impression that Montreal is somehow part of France and not a British colonial city". I'm not trying to recreate Paris here, I was just giving readers a sense of what kinds of food and places I like. Obviously, Montreal will be a unique experience and will have its own food scene that my significant other and our friends will enjoy exploring in October. There's no need for insults.

                  1. re: citykid426

                    No insult was intended. Sorry if I got a bit cantankerous. It's just that there's a general misconception amongst visitors that the province of Québec is some sort of branch office of France. It's something that Montreal Tourism cashes on heavily, and that even some of the francophone bourgeoisie buys into. There's not much anything French in this province that wasn't imported here in the latter half of the 20th century and isn't actually exotic to most ordinary quebecers. Anybody whose been to both France and the UK can see that Montreal and its people are a lot more British than French.

                    1. re: SnackHappy

                      The attitude that many people have towards food seems to me to be very French. Long lunches on terraces and all that. Or maybe that's just the way that I live.

                      1. re: The Chemist

                        I agree. Montreal is very very French in attitude compared to Toronto, for example.

                        1. re: C70

                          Juste because the educated/urban/affluent classes have recently adopted part of the French lifestyle, with some of it trickling down to the middle and working class, doesn't make us any more French. It doesn't come from some long standing French cultural tradition.

                          Yes, Montrealers are a bit more "continental" than other Canadians, but it comes from a conscious, or semi-conscious, decision to turn away from English cultural influence and towards our «cousins» in France. Whether we like it or not, we have lot more in common with Canadians and Americans than we do with the French.

                          Eating baguette and drinking café au lait doesn't make a Québecois any more French than it does a New-Yorker or an Amsterdammer. Although the illusion can be a bit more realistic since we speak more or less the same language.

                        2. re: The Chemist

                          I try to live that way in Toronto, or wherever I happen to be. ;-) It's possible, believe it or not.

                          While the approach is very French, undoubtedly, the same approach is also very Italian, very Greek and very Portuguese, and can be seen as frequently, if not more frequently, in the Italian, Greek and Portuguese parts of Montreal. So just to generalize- not to nitpick- I'd say Montreal is both more European and more Cosmopolitan compared to other Canadian cities (rather than solely very French) in its attitude towards food, and art, and life in general. This approach is one of the reasons I love visiting Montreal, as frequently, as possible.

                          1. re: prima

                            amen, prima. shitty roads and all.

                      2. re: citykid426

                        Do eggs one day and croissant the next?

                        Le Lawrence for brunch, or perhaps Byblos Le Petit Cafe for a persian omelette, sweet breads and a cafe-like ambiance?

                        For croissant hmm, i get them in several places, i just know how to spot good ones and bad ones because we're so used to eating them here. I like Marius et Fanny, La Brioche Doree and i hear Olive et Gourmando is great. Gascogne is really good too.

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                        Olive et Gourmando
                        351 Rue Saint-Paul Ouest, Montreal, QC , CA

                        Byblos Le Petit Cafe
                        1499 Av Laurier E, Montreal, QC H2J1H8, CA

                    2. re: kpzoo

                      Cafe Vasco da Gama or Croissanterie Figaro might be good choices for the OP. I believe both serve croissants/pastry and egg breakfasts. Although the pastries are probably not the best montreal has to offer. Em Cafe may also work.

                        1. re: hungryann

                          Le Boui Boui at 5121 St Laurent (just up from Laurier avenue) serves pastries and breads from Boulangerie Guillaume (one of my favourite bakeries in the city), coffee and also offer egg dishes (though not a huge range). It is not an old school place, but it is run by some people who are/used to be affiliated with Dieu de Ciel and has a nice neighbourhood charm.

                          Note, they only offer brunch on weekends!

                          -----
                          Boulangerie Guillaume
                          17 Avenue Fairmount Est, Montreal, QC H2T 2L9, CA

                            1. re: citykid426

                              (as nice as it is), just a warning, Boui-boui is a hole-in-the-wall kind of place.

                  2. Standard disclaimer: If you want to get the most out of this trip, try to maximize on the things that are done best in this city: Typically, that's nothing asian and nothing that's too fancy or too pricey. Where Montreal excels is in small, neighborhood bistros and lately in the restos following the lead of (and sometimes surpassing) APdC.

                    For poutine, I would recommend Patati Patata a million times over La Banquise, which is the standard suggestion. It's not much more than a lunch counter but this is, in my opinion, the quintessential Montreal eatery and really captures the feel of the city.

                    1. Maybe Le Filet for Friday night? Not sure how they are with rushing you out, but I had a great experience there.

                      1. Thanks to all for posting your suggestions and thanks for providing really good links on this topic! I think we will opt for Les Trois Petits Bouchons for Friday night dinner. Patati Patata on Saturday for poutine. Still researching the cafes everyone suggested...

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                        Patati Patata
                        4177 St-Laurent Blvd., Montreal, QC , CA