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

citykid426 Sep 29, 2011 06:56 AM

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!!!

  1. j
    jarschef Sep 30, 2011 01:52 PM

    I would second Le Cartet and Olive and Gourmando. I will also add Kitchen Galerie. You need a reservation at least 1 week in advance and in my opinion it is one of the best restos in Montreal. It has plenty of foie gras on the menu They specialize in a steak for two that is out of this world. I think it fits exactly the type of restaurant you described above. I hope you go and enjoy it as much as we do!

    By the way, at Le Cartet they have goat cheese and eggs on toast and its my favorite dish there. At Kitchen Galerie they also usually have a goat cheese risotto!

    Lastly, I'd also add Lawrence for a lunch/brunch open on Sunday. As well as chein fumant for both dinner and brunch!

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

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: jarschef
      prima Sep 30, 2011 02:20 PM

      I really want to try the brunch at Lawrence on my next visit to Mtl!

    2. c
      chickenbruiser Sep 30, 2011 07:31 AM

      as someone mentioned Les Copains d'abord which make very good (not great) croissants, I quite like their brioches... no eggs but a small section to sit and have coffee. No old men but maybe some dimestore intellos.
      Patati Patata IMO is quite an annoying student hangout and crazy cramped... if you're 4 waiting for a table don't expect any lounge time.
      I prefer Maamm Bolduc for poutine in the eastern part of the plateau... definitely not a touristy area and you can pretty much set your own pace there.

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

      1. g
        Glaff Sep 29, 2011 08:45 PM

        Olive et Gourmando is a must in my opinion. Probably my favorite place in town... and probably the most popular café/restaurant in Montreal... for a good reason. Open for breakfast and for lunch. They sometimes do their famous poached eggs sandwich in the morning.

        Other bakeries where you can sit and eat (for good viennoiseries, no eggs) : De Froment et de Sève, Mamie Clafoutis (both locations), Les Co'pains d'abord, Fous Dessert, Arhoma. All great places... some a bit off center though. Oh and most Première Moisson too...

        Cluny might be another good place to try for breakfast if you're in the Old Montreal. It's a small hidden spot mostly known by people working nearby (and probably the reason why it's not mentioned here more often). Beautiful space, great food. I'd go there instead of Le Cartet. http://www.flickr.com/photos/clunyart...

        257 Rue Prince, Montreal, QC H3C2N4, CA

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

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

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

        1 Reply
        1. re: Glaff
          mangoannie Sep 30, 2011 02:31 PM

          I have enjoyed the sandwiches and salads at cluny at lunchtime when it gets busy with the computer workers but rarely recommend it as closed on weekends when most tourists visit but well worth a stop, on western edge of old montreal. They do serve breakfast weekdays starting at 8am.

        2. c
          citykid426 Sep 29, 2011 12:47 PM

          Just read about a restaurant called "Mas Cuisine" in Verdun open only Mondays thru Fridays. Can anyone compare the food experience at this place vs. 3 Petits Bouchons vs. 5ème Péché? It would be interesting to find out the difference in style of cooking, dishes, service on a Friday night, etc...

          3 Replies
          1. re: citykid426
            wilmagrace Sep 29, 2011 02:24 PM

            I think you would be happy with Figaro for breakfast as not far from downtown and although not full of old men reading papers it is a popular neighbourhood place (in Outremont, mainly french area) that reminds me of when I lived in France and frequented such places. In late October it will be too cold to enjoy the terrace, many of the other places are kind of far and often too cramped-- who likes to stand outside in line for just breakfast. I have been to Cartet a couple of times, way too crowded and noisy for my tastes. Olive et Gourmando has disappointed me when I had their pastry, sandwich, and the fig bread I bought, and service is hit and miss but the place is kind of cute and no competition in old montreal. Café Olimpico or Club Social are too rundown in look for me-I prefer nearby Pâtisserie De Gascogne. I would not go out for poutine, just share a dish of poutine with foie gras at PDC. Why fill up on poutine when you can sample more restos. In October the leaves should be spectacular up on the mountain in the middle of the city so I would go to pastry shop or take some cheeses/fruits and have breakfast at beaver lake, following the road biforks off of parc, stop at the lookout and then park further at beaver lake (really a pond). You can get coffee/tea, yogurts, at the snack bar in the pavillon. Kind of oasis in the city. There is a neighbourhood cheese store where you can stock up on a few quebec cheeses and the owner is happy to let you sample to make your choices, it is located on bernard in Outremont http://www.yannickfromagerie.ca/outremont.php?var=fromagerie

            Check opening hours as some places close on Sundays, others on Mondays.



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

            1. re: citykid426
              TheSnowpea Sep 29, 2011 06:37 PM

              I think 5e Péché is a smidge better than Mas Cuisine, and it's also easier to get to. Different styles too (Mas is more 'neighborhood'-y) I cannot comment on Trois Petits Bouchons.

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

              1. re: TheSnowpea
                cherylmtl Sep 29, 2011 06:54 PM

                I agree with Snowpea - 5e Peche is just a touch better than Mas - but both are very good. Trois Petits Bouchons is also good, but not quite in the same league. And for poutine, you can always have the foie gras poutine at Au Pied de Cochon (thereby killing two birds with one cholesterol-laden stone...)

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

            2. m
              morebubbles Sep 29, 2011 11:13 AM

              I noticed that you have poutine planned for Saturday afternoon and APDC for Saturday night. Since they're both heavy, you may wish to have the poutine on another day. I like 5ieme Peche very much, so I second that vote.

              1 Reply
              1. re: morebubbles
                citykid426 Sep 29, 2011 11:26 AM

                Yes you may be right, we might put poutine off 'til Sunday. P.S. Just saw the 5ieme Peche website and another chowhound review of this place and now I'm torn between that and Les Trois Petits Bouchons for Friday dinner. Maybe we'll go to one for dinner and the other for drinks/snacks... I wish we had more time to visit :(

              2. c
                citykid426 Sep 29, 2011 11:07 AM

                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...

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

                1. s
                  stak Sep 29, 2011 10:22 AM

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

                  1. t
                    The Chemist Sep 29, 2011 10:00 AM

                    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. kpzoo Sep 29, 2011 09:10 AM

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

                      APDC what must I order?

                      What to get at APDC besides the canard en conserve?

                      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?

                      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
                        ios94 Sep 29, 2011 09:52 AM

                        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.

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

                        1. re: ios94
                          kpzoo Sep 29, 2011 10:00 AM

                          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
                            SnackHappy Sep 29, 2011 10:08 AM

                            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
                              stak Sep 29, 2011 10:19 AM

                              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
                                prima Sep 29, 2011 12:55 PM

                                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.

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

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

                              2. re: SnackHappy
                                SourberryLily Sep 29, 2011 10:30 AM

                                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
                                  citykid426 Sep 29, 2011 10:54 AM

                                  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
                                    SnackHappy Sep 29, 2011 11:17 AM

                                    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 Chemist Sep 30, 2011 05:48 AM

                                      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
                                        C70 Sep 30, 2011 10:22 AM

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

                                        1. re: C70
                                          SnackHappy Sep 30, 2011 10:52 AM

                                          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
                                          prima Sep 30, 2011 10:37 AM

                                          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
                                            C70 Sep 30, 2011 10:39 AM

                                            amen, prima. shitty roads and all.

                                      2. re: citykid426
                                        SourberryLily Sep 29, 2011 11:18 AM

                                        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.

                                        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
                                      hungryann Sep 29, 2011 11:44 AM

                                      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
                                        kpzoo Sep 29, 2011 11:46 AM




                                        1. re: hungryann
                                          unlaced Sep 29, 2011 12:11 PM

                                          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: unlaced
                                            citykid426 Sep 29, 2011 12:15 PM

                                            Sounds prefect! Thanks.

                                            1. re: citykid426
                                              Maximilien Sep 30, 2011 03:42 AM

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

                                  2. m
                                    Maximilien Sep 29, 2011 08:44 AM

                                    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
                                      citykid426 Sep 29, 2011 09:12 AM

                                      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
                                        Maximilien Sep 29, 2011 10:28 AM

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


                                        1. re: Maximilien
                                          vanierstudent Sep 29, 2011 01:40 PM

                                          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.

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