toronto boy visting montreal for a week: feedback on itinerary would be great!
hey everyone. as the title says, i'm visiting montreal for a week from dec27-jan3. i'll be staying near station laurier with my SO and some friends. some considerations...
- we're all in university still so our budget is pretty tight (lunch <$10 and dinner ~$20 per person)
- we're mostly interested in eating things not found in toronto, our tastes r very eclectic
- we're getting a weekly metro pass
- we have access to a full kitchen
i've looked through the montreal board and this is what i'm hoping to hit...not all, just some. comments/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
la banquise - poutine
schwartz - "medium" fatty smoked meat
pied du cochon - we're on a tight budget but this is our one splurge meal (we have a reservation already)
st viateur/fairmount - bagels
lemeac - cheaper food after 10pm (friend's suggestion)
romados/coco rico/rotisserie portugalia - portuguese bbq chicken and egg tarts
patati patata - burgers etc
boustan - lebanese
l'express - classic french
juilette & chocolat - dessert
le petit alep - middle eastern
premiere moisson/olive&gourmando - baked goods
la chilenita/supermarch andes - latin american food
jean talon market - fresh food
pho lien - vietnamese (we have viet food in toronto, is it worth stopping by?)
so i'm back from montreal and i gotta say we didn't have enough time or enough stomach space to visit everything!
au pied de cochon
we started with the daily salad special. i don't remember the name but it had pulled pork or pork belly in it. was really good. we were looking for some greens before pigging out on meat....so much for that right? i had the melting pot and my SO had the duck in the can. the amount of meat in each could feed a family of 4 i'm pretty sure. nonetheless it was amazing, albeit a bit rich and heavy. perfect for a cold montreal evening for sure.
sabor latino/supermarche andes
like i said in a previous post, we tried the tamale and empanada. i liked it so much we went back on our last day to get some tripe soup and beef tongue. i'm a huge fan of offal so i liked them both. nothing mind blowing here, but they were both rustic and delicious.
marche jean talon
i mentioned this before too. loved the selection of fresh and prepared foods. i really wanted to try some quebecois tourtiere but didn't get a chance to since it was closed for a few days after new years.
we did end up waiting like 20-30mins for a table and i was deathly afraid it was gonna be overrated. luckily it wasn't! this was my first time trying real quebecois poutine and it was amazing. the cheese curds were squeaky and the dish was not as heavy and greasy as i thought it'd be. this stuff definitely blows the socks off all that imitation poutine we have here in toronto.
luckily we only lived 5-10mins walking distance away from both of these so we were able to get them fresh and hot in the morning. i enjoyed both but i'm giving the edge to fairmount for the sheer variety of flavours they have. one question though. we bought some bagels from st viateur. they got rock hard by the next morning. is that normal? how do u keep them soft?
again, a 2min walk from our place. really enjoyed the convenience and freshness. wanted to go back for more but it was closed for a few days after new years :(
enough said about this place. had the smoked meat sandwich and cotts cherry coke and decided i needed to take a vacuum sealed pound of meat back to toronto.
to be honest i actually enjoyed the flaky egg tarts more than the chicken :) my SO liked them so much she brought some back to toronto. don't get me wrong, the chicken had this amazing charcoal cooked scent to it but i found some of the white meat fairly dry. perhaps this is the consistency issue someone else mentioned here on this thread. i really enjoyed the fries too...the massive pile of it lol. they just shovel it on don't they?
mmmm what's not to like about pies and cakes? my SO pointed this one out and we went twice since we wanted to try everything! we had the mochamisu, truffle, cheesecake apple crumble, and strawberry peach pie.
anyways thanks to all the montreal chowhounds for the help! i only got halfway through my list/your suggestions. but hey, there'll be plenty left to eat/do when i return to montreal one day.
"real quebecois poutine....was not as heavy and greasy as i thought it'd be."
After eating APDC, not much is - hehe
Romados is the first place I had fries w/ steak spice - amazing.
Bagels; I'm not an officianado, but I think you keep them in the paper bag until cool (room temp). Only then, you put them in a sealed plastic bag.
Happy to hear you had a good time!
Thanks for the awesome report. It's accounts like yours that always make me want to go out and re-explore my own city. ;-)
Bagels - if you don't eat them in the first few hours after taking them home, we always slice them, put them in a plastic bag, and freeze them. Reheat in a toaster or toaster oven.
Reheating the bagel is critical. Perhaps the microwave even works better for this as it seems to soften them up a bit more than the toaster. I think this is the reason that New Yorkers always think our bagels don't compare to their own: ours are not very good by the time they've left Mile End, let alone the country.
This may also be the reason that people don't always like Fairmont bagels: the shear variety means that most types can't be fresh enough to be edible. One really has to stick with the classic sesame at either St. V or Fairmont to get a true impression of quality. If they aren't still warm, they aren't going to be good.
As others have said, put the bagels in the (usually supplied) plastic bag once they've cooled off.
I freeze them whole, not sliced, and reheat in the toaster oven. Put one or two frozen bagels in and set to a *light* toast. Leave them in for a couple of minutes after the oven shuts off, to let the residual heat finish the job. If you set for a dark toast, you'll burn the outside and the centre might still be frozen.
I don't know what you mean by "variety of flavours." Bagels come in sesame, poppy and plain. Any other roundish breads you see for sale are frankenbagel abominations and not worth a second look. ;)
re: Mr F
I know what you mean C70. For the first time though just this past Saturday I asked for a freezer bag and instead of that flimsy one they gave me one with their logo on it that are only as wide as a bagel. Basically the bags they use to distribute their bagels to 3rd party stores. I don't know if they are permanently changing or if they happened to run out of the produce type bags.
Pho Lien is good but not necessarily worth the trek to CDN and back if you're only in town for a few more days. Pho Tay Ho is my favourite Vietnamese in the city (and even those who do maintain that Asian food in Mtl isn't very good, must concede that Vietnamese tends to be the exception). Try the number 38, bun cha something something. 2 metro stops from Laurier.
And what about Kazu? Anyone know if they're open for the holidays?
And no one has mentioned Indian! Bombay Mahal, or one of the other Parc Ex places, are reliable choices- spicy, tasty, affordable, filling! I find Bombay Mahal has the nicest atmosphere, and is maybe just slightly more expensive. Order many dishes and share. You can also bring your own beer or wine to Bombay Mahal, whereas the others have a paltry beer selection and maybe house wine.
Boustan is fast food straight out of the microwave; skip it - you can do far better in Toronto.
Banquise is a tourist hole and unless you want to wait in 20 mins lineups in the bitter cold for some unecessary poutine concoction - go elsewhere.
Scwartz's and St-Viateur- no comments needed.
Coco Rico is pretty good but not Portugese, it's just rotisserie chicken. Try Portugalia on Rachel instead; call 40 mins. in advance of your order for take-out. I find it more consistent than Romados, which isn't the same since the expansion last summer.
Juliette & Chocolat is a waste of time, imo. Overpriced crepes and salads and none of it is really that good. It's an okay option for local if convenient, but not a destination place.
L'Express is very generic French bistro and Montreal has so many more interesting options I'd sooner recommend - 3 Petits Bouchon, Cinquieme Peche, 400 Coups, etc.
Lemeac after-10 menu is a good deal. Nothing exceptional about this place but fairly consistent and certain menu items stand out.
Petit Alep is great- consider adding more lesser-key ethnic choices given your budget since your itinerary is a bit conventional tripadvisor 'top ten'. There are many great options other than poutine, smoked meat, chicken and deli sandwiches on a budget in Montreal. I think there's a favorite meal under $10 or $15 thread somewhere on the boards- you might want to search that. Have a juicy lunch burger at Lawrence, Ethiopian lamb and veggies at East Africa, pizza and oysters at Magpies, lots of cheap Asian in the downtown core, etc.
Premiere Moisson is a boring bakery chain. Depending on what you're looking for (fresh breads, sweets?) there are far better choices. Do a search for Mtl bakeries.
O+G is a favorite but closed over the holiday season- check the site first for hours and schedule.
Chilenita is okay if youre in the neighborhood and want empanadas; not really a destination spot though.
JTM - always a good bet, try to visit over the weekend if you can and try to get there earlier.
Pho Lien is very good and if you're craving pho then I'd say it's worth a stop - but not a must-try.
thanks for the feedback OliverB. we're gonna try to get down to le petit alep later this weekend/early next week. we've been going to marche jean talon everyday to pickup fresh fruits and vegetables. we got some fresh pasta and sauce from this pasta vendor. haven't made it yet but am itching to!
Première Moisson is faaaar from being just a boring chain. Of course it's not the best in town, but it's worth a visit. Even more from a Toronto point of view where good bread is still not easy to find. And since you go to the Marché everyday, why not try it. The Marché Jean-Talon location is probably the best one too. Try the pain choco-canneberges (bread of the month), it's really good!
Just got back to Ontario after Xmas in the Plateau. Lunch at chez doval is so cheap, as is their house wine. And just north of schwartz's, on a little street running east, is a great take=out empanada place....stock up, buy lots of xtra sauces and gorge on them late nights.
Since you're at Laurier metro, I suggest walking east on Laurier towards Papineau to Byblos for casual and budget-friendly Persian. Other places I like in that area are Tri Express if you are need of (cheap) sushi and Le Toasteur for brunch. And afterwards you can walk south east to La Distillerie (about 10-15 min walk) to get those cocktails in mason jars.
When I have friends from Vancouver or Toronto come visit, I tell them to go after Quebecois/French food because that's what the city does well. There are indeed a few Asian places that are worth going to, as Plateaumaman says, but I would agree with porker that Asian food is just better in Toronto (and Vancouver). And because, in my opinion, it is difficult to find as many and good French places in Toronto and Vancouver, I tell my friends to visit places like Au Pied du Cochon and Au Cinquieme Peche.
Also, Montreal has a lot of good Middle Eastern restos, so Le Petit Alep is right on target.
Au Cinquieme Peche
4475 St-Denis, Montreal, QC H2J 2K8, CA
1650 Av Laurier E, Montreal, QC H2J1J2, CA
General university student tips (you're not in Kansas anymore)
You can buy beer and a limited selection of wine (and wine coolers and malt beverages) at the corner stores (depenneurs) until 11:00pm
Booze and better wines at the SAQ (kinda like LCBO).
Oh, and pace yourself. Places like La Distillerie close at 3:00am -- hehe
I'm in Toronto eating often but live here so I'll try to juggle my thoughts. I've been a bit disappointed in La Banquise lately and found the poutine at Patati Patata to be much better. That said, it's still an experience and much better than the poutine in TO. Patati Patata is very small so it is a good idea to go for a snack at an odd time. Au Pied du Cochon is a fabulous choice and a good splurge. Heaps of good Portugese chicken in Toronto, non? I might try Gordon Ramsay's chicken place for fun instead, or go to Chez Doval and get some sardines for an inexpensive festive Portugese meal. L'Express is nice even for breakfast which a lot of people don't know about. Supermarché Andes has changed its name to Sabor Latina - I just had a wonderful Salvadorean tamale from there for lunch, so that's a good one. Jean-Talon is a must and try to go on a Saturday as then there are a lot of snacks available to buy as well as the groceries and produce.
I get tired of everyone saying we should bypass Asian altogether in Montreal. I grew up in Toronto's Chinatown and am perfectly happy with the Asian food here - if you know where to look. There is no bun cha like you'll find at Pho Tay Ho in TO (say that 10 times fast), for example. And even the Dumpling House is fine but not nearly as good as Qing Hua. No where quite like Cuisine Szechuan either, and no Indonesian place like Nonya. I'm just sayin'! And Pho Tay Ho and Nonya are not too far from Laurier metro. Tri Express is interesting sushi and that's near where you'll be too.
Oh, a few more thoughts for that 'hood, Lallouz for kebabs and pogo merguez, and Maria Bonita for very good Mexican.
re Laurier Gordon Ramsay: There is a late night menu posted on laurier gordon ramsay website as $21:30 at 21.30 which includes soup, salad, main course, dessert, wine or beer but on restaurant facade there is a better late night meal at 9pm with 10 choices of mains for $10 includes grilled salmon, chicken leg, ribs, etc....they now take reservations, so you could eat well there. Easy to get to from bus on Parc at Laurier
Rumi grill, offshoot of Rumi restaurant is easy to get to on st. laurent, prices are moderate so would be good middle eastern choice
I liked both of these restos, also Patati Patata serves cheap breakfast but all is inexpensive at this tiny place
Since you have your own kitchen you could also buy some patés, deli meat, quebec cheeses to snack on.
I would definitely suggest a late-night meal at Lemeac or Laurier Gordon Ramsey... although lunch at the bar at Laurier GR is certainly a great immersion into the 514. Nice change from St-Laurent/Old Port.
I'm also a big fan of brunch at Byblos although I believe you are here over the holidays in which case they are closed until about Jan 4 I believe.
thanks for the heads-up Plateaumaman! we visited the sabor latina location near jean talon market and it was great! we tried the empanada, the colombian tamale, and some of their imported soda...mmm they were both delicious. the tamale tasted like homemade chicken soup in solid form! honestly i wanted to try everything in the display cases but the stomach can only hold so much food right? any thoughts on the tripe soup? i'm a big fan of offal and might head back just for that.
A couple of other places you might like based on the above:
Chalet BBQ - if you can stand more chicken/fries... this is quintessential Montreal rotisserie chicken, done the same way since 1944. It's in the NDG neighbourhood, close to Villa Souvlaki mentioned by someone else
La Caretta - really yummy and cheap Salvadoran food
Cocoa Locale - awesome chocolate chai cupcakes & more. May be closed for holidays, call first. In the Mile End neighbourhood, in the vicinity of the bagel places
I'm not sure about Vietnamese specifically, but the times I've been, the Chinese in TO and Markham knocks the socks off Montreal. On this alone, I'd suggest skipping oriental here.
If you are in the neighborhood of Fairmont Bagels, Wilensky's Light lunch is quintessential Montreal
Either you love it or you hate it, but it is unique. Don't expect haute cuisine, but opt for the Special - a balogna/salami sandwich on egg bread and kind of panninied. Doesn't sound like much, but you don't get to eat at a 1930s diner everyday.
Check their times, I think they close at 4:00pm.
To clarify and expand; the special at Wilensky's is served between the bottoms of two onion rolls.
And for other things that are not available in Toronto:
Microbrasseries: Benelux, Brutopia, Dieu du Ciel, Helm, Reservoir, Saint Bock, Vices et Versa.
Homemade Charcuterie: Le Comptoir, Bu, DNA,
Other Poutine Places that are better than La Banquise: Pierette Patates, Chez Ma Tante, Chez Gerard, Pauls Patates, Pataterie Chez Philippe,
Other non-classifiable restaurants that are unique to Montreal: Dic Ann's on Pie IX, Chez Nouri,
And for a true taste of the "Quebecois" Terroir: Binerie Mont Royal,
Olive et Gourmando will be closed during the holidays. They are re-opening on jan 10.
But since you are near the Laurier metro, I'd suggest to try Fous Desserts for some wonderful croissants and pastries. Also on Laurier (or almost) if you go 10 minutes east : Le Fromentier, Pâtisserie Rhubarbe, Maison Cakao and a few great restaurants. Great neighbourhood for a foodie.
For the best baked goods in town (since Olive will be closed) also look for Boulangerie Guillaume and Mamie Clafoutis. Première Moisson is a chain. It's good but not a must... though if you're at Marché Jean-Talon it's worth a visit. Kem Coba and Cerise sur le Gâteau could be on your list too since it's in the same neighbourhood as St-Viateur/Fairmount.
There's a great sandwich (well sandwich in a pita) place on St-Viateur too : La Panthère Verte. It's vegan though but it's good for anyone. Probably the best falafels in town.
For middle-eastern, I prefer Kaza-Maza and Rumi over Alep, but they're all good I think.
thanks for the boulangerie guillaume suggestion Glaff. it's actually only a 2 min walk from our place! we've been going there for their croissants and chocalatines. good and convenient.
we tried looking for premiere moisson at marche jean talon but couldn't find it. we stumbled across au pain dore and tried their croissants. they were pretty good.
Glad you like it! Don't forget to try the baguette tradition and the apple buns! And the Écolier... and a bit of everything...
If you go back to the Marché, here is where Première Moisson is (the main entrance is behind that) : http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=premi%C3...
I really like the croissants at Cerise sur le gâteau too. Not far from Guillaume, on Fairmount too.
"romados/coco rico/rotisserie portugalia - portuguese bbq chicken and egg tarts"
These are very different places. Romados and Portugalia do Portuguese chicken, but Romados is more take-out and Portugalia sit-down (although plenty do take-out here as well). Coco Rico has simple rotisserie chicken and eating at a counter. The place looks amazing (do stop in on your St. Laurent sojourn), but I find the food here just OK (although their potatoes cooked in the rotiserie, basted with chicken fat is pretty good!).
Speaking of St. Laurent, depending on the weather, you might consider walking from Prince Arthur northwards to Duluth and maybe beyond. You'll pass European meat markets selling sausage sandwiches (like Slovenia and Boucherie Hongroise), cheap watering holes (like Le Bifteque and La Cabane Portuguese and a real dive just north of Duluth, Barfly), ecclectic shops (like Kitch'n Swell and Cul de Sac) and a few on your list (Schwartz/romados/coco rico/rotisserie portugalia/patati patata/supermarch andes (a bit further north than Duluth)/juilette & chocolat)
Ifn you're still hungry after Schwartz, run across the street to La Cabane for cheap beer and very good marinated octopus.
L'express: a place that I really want to love - you'd think you're in a Parisian bistro with the long bar, potted palms, mirrors, palazzo floor, and smartly dressed waiters. The food always seems to be underwhelming....maybe someone can suggest better French?
Supermarche Andes, this place I like. More of a store with a food counter and a smattering of tables, but quite good and satisfying. Maybe have everyone order something different and share.
Lemeac will probably in the low 30s without desert, but it is really good. Forget Boustan if you don't want fast food, since you are already going at petit Alep, which is amazing.
I prefer fairmount to st-viateur, and the ice cream shop next 2 fairmount is really, really good.
Have an amazing trip!
You have quite a great list here, i can tell you did your homework hehe... :)
St. Viateur for the bagles is a must, as Montreal bagels are pretty much the best you can get ;) In my honest biast opinion of course hehe...On your last day in Montreal, make sure you bring some of their bagels back to freeze, you will be happy you did :)
La Banquise is an excellent choice for poutine! & it is open 24hrs! :)
If you enjoy greek, my all time favorite place in Montreal to go, for very casual lunch is "Villa Du Souvlaki - 5347 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest" Really great Souvlaki, fries & greek salad!
Enjoy your visit! :) & please come back to let us know what you tried :)