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toronto boy visting montreal for a week: feedback on itinerary would be great!

  • b

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?)

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  1. 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 :)


    1. 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!

      1. "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.

        1. 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.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Glaff

            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.

            1. re: blitz

              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.

          2. 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.

            6 Replies
            1. re: porker

              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,

              1. re: EaterBob

                funny you mention reservoir, my friend who went to mcgill just suggested i check out the huge mason jars of alcohol there.

                1. re: blitz

                  AFAIK, Reservoir does not serve huge mason jars of alcohol. They pretty much just serve beer.

                  1. re: SnackHappy

                    Reservoir has a small but extremely good selection of wines, and a couple of scotches as well.

                    The mason jars of alcohol are at La Distillerie which has three outlets, 300 rue Ontario Est, 2047 av. Mont-Royal and 2656 rue Masson.

                2. re: EaterBob

                  Chez Nouri on St-Laurent north of Chabanel? What's unique there? I pass every day practically and it never seemed to grab me.

                  1. re: hungryann

                    No, Chez Nouri, the lunch counter inside 10 Pine W. And he makes amazing and cheap Iranian sandwiches and soups. Perfect food for a gray and cold day like today.

              2. 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

                1. 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.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Plateaumaman

                    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.

                    1. re: mangoannie

                      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.

                      1. re: Abendschein

                        Laurier GR is not worth a visit. The food is airport chic.

                    2. re: Plateaumaman

                      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.

                      1. re: blitz

                        That's a nice analogy, tamale as solid chicken soup! I haven't had the tripe soup but the pupusas are good and also the taco plate is a good hearty lunch. I haven't been to that location - it's bigger and better from what I hear? Thanks for reporting back and happy eating!

                      2. re: Plateaumaman

                        Pho Tay Ho and Y Lan are a minute or two east of métro Beaubien, two metro stations north of Laurier. Not far, but in this bitter cold you probably would rather not walk (there is a desolate stretch with a bus garage). Y Lan is a byow, not fancy but has some very good foods such as a sizzling fish in an iron skillet. There is a large SAQ (=lcbo) just east of métro Beaubien too.

                        Pho Lien is a chain. Ordinary but dependable cheap food if you aren't in a foodie place, but you can do much better for the same price in central Mtl. I also very much like tiny Nhu Y on Jean-Talon a bit west of St-Laurent. You can easily get there by the 55 or 80 buses north. Nhu Y is also a byow.

                        As for Portuguese chicken, La poule mouillée was opened by one of the people involved in Romados; the food is similar to Romados, but it is also a sit-down restaurant. It is near Lafontaine Park, which is beautiful even in the wintertime.

                      3. thanks for all the suggestions and tips everyone! i'll most definitely report back :)

                        1. A much better lebanese option near boustan is garage beirut. It is also a very informal setting but the food is fantastic.

                          1. 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

                            Tri Express
                            1650 Av Laurier E, Montreal, QC H2J1J2, CA

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: looosia

                              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

                            2. 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.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: bigbunny

                                Also known as La Chilenita at 152 Napoléon. Good idea, bigbunny.

                              2. for mexican, near atwater market and popular with young crowd

                                1. 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.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: OliverB

                                    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!

                                    1. re: blitz

                                      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!

                                      1. re: Glaff

                                        Because there are dozens of smaller artisanal bakeries making much more interesting loafs and breads...

                                        1. re: OliverB

                                          there are not dozens - there are some good artisanal bakeries. premiere moisson is better than most small bakeries. one should also point out that some p.m locations are better than others. There aren't many good bakeries in montreal - toronto is much better for breads.

                                          1. re: BarackHObama

                                            Première Moisson is better than most anything comparable in Toronto (I don't particularly like ACE), but at Jean-Talon Market, do get to Jos la Croûte on Casgrain (tiny place) or Le Pain dans les Voiles, one very short block north on Castelnau at the corner of Drolet) Métro Jean-Talon. I find Toronto much better for OTHER types of breads, not baguettes.

                                  2. 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.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Olliv

                                      "And what about Kazu? Anyone know if they're open for the holidays?"

                                      Closed until 10 January.


                                      1. re: Olliv

                                        Many of the South Asian places on Jean-Talon W. and parallel streets are byow, not just Bombay Mahal. Check first.

                                      2. 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.

                                        la banquise
                                        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.

                                        st viateur/fairmount
                                        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?

                                        boulangerie guillaume
                                        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.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: blitz

                                          "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!

                                          1. re: blitz

                                            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.

                                            1. re: blitz

                                              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.

                                              1. re: blitz

                                                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. ;)

                                                1. re: Mr F

                                                  I have a recent nitpick with St. V giving me those thin grocery produce bags with my bagels, both at the factory and on Monkland. Chintzy.

                                                  I also slice then freeze. double-bagged they last a long time and taste pretty fresh after a toasting.

                                                  1. re: C70

                                                    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.

                                                2. re: blitz

                                                  for bagels, move them from the paper bag to the plastic bag once they've cooled. no need to freeze unless you buy a lot or consume little

                                                3. bumping a pretty old thread. i made my way back to montreal after 2 long years this december and finally knocked a few more items off my original must-eat list lol. thought i'd report back.

                                                  boustan - dropped by after doing some shopping on st catherines and had the shawarma "trio". it was definitely tastier and a bit more moist than the regular 'ol shawarmas here in toronto but it was just a shawarma at the end of the day? i did like the garlic mayo addition to the potatoes though. however, i was slightly horrified when they threw the potatoes on plastic plate into the microwave...the whole place reminded me of burrito boyz here on toronto...those kinda underground places where u stumble in for food after a night out.

                                                  la banquise - the curds still squeak! maybe it's me in my "older" age but i found it to be much saltier than i last visited.

                                                  schwartz vs. the main - i've been to schwartz a few times before but i've never done a side by side comparison with the main. i'll probably catch some flack but i thought the main's smoked meat was pretty good! for lack of a better word...the meat had a spongy/springy consistency to it and was definitely more peppery/spiced. schwartz had much more texture though. i can understand why a person might like one over the other but i can say i wouldn't have any problems skipping the line at schwartz for the main!

                                                  lemeac - we squeezed in a quick dinner before the fireworks at old port. food was very good. the place seemed kinda dead for a saturday night around 7pm. overall i found the ambiance of the place rather cold for some reason...almost corporate-like...and generally a more mature crowd. i was expecting something along the lines of le select, a french bistro we have here in toronto. i found l'express to be more like le select actually (see below).

                                                  l'express - this was definitely the stereotypical french bistro experience i was looking for! food was solid from head to toe. the place had a nice vibe/energy to it on a monday night.

                                                  l'avenue - went here on a friend's suggestion for brunch. had to wait a bit for a table. portions were huge and delicious! i especially liked the fruit skewer. i didn't order any drinks but the table beside us ordered these ginormous coffees and fruit juices. the washrooms were pretty neat with all the wall art. i think i spent more time taking pictures inside than actually using the washroom.

                                                  au pied de cochon - we tried the "dim sum" style brunch on sunday. i liked how they had the food truck serving food while people waited in line. having done dim sum many times throughout my life i can say that they have some kinks to iron out. the food was very good but i felt the logistics of rotating all the different food items was mediocre. the "pastries" cart was circulating the most. the carts with more substantial items came around less frequently...and the less popular items just continued to circulate..getting colder and even less appetizing. perhaps it was just a matter of expectations. i expected to have a chance at trying most dishes...but after about 1hr the same stuff kept circulating so we decided to leave for schwartz. i'm not convinced with this dim sum concept to be honest...i can foresee a lot of cold food going unsold and being wasted. as a side note i finally tried tourtiere. i grabbed a small frozen one from the IGA and that was nothing compared to PDC's rendition.

                                                  juilette & chocolat - we dropped by on our last day and managed to grab some goodies for the trip home. i'm not much of a sweets person so all sweets taste the same to me. no complaints here. solid stuff. we ventured out to kem coba on a friday night but it was closed..:( i did pick up some fairmount bagels to take home though. i had no idea wilkensky's was so close to the place we rented 2 years ago! thank goodness for the yelp app and ditching my blackberry.

                                                  chatime - i know i know....the furthest thing from quebecois food. we have locations in toronto too. if you like bubble tea then check this place out. it's a notch above all the rest. you can customize the amount of ice and sugar in your drink. trust me it's good.

                                                  mai xiang yuan - we have tons of dumpling places in toronto but i was recovering from an illness during our first day and wanted something cheap and cheerful (boiled lamb dumplings and fried pork dumplings). this definitely hit the spot. honourable mention goes out to the lone front of house individual who was bussing tables, serving, answering the phone, and doing the cash! that's some multitasking i tell ya.

                                                  super frites - on a whim i decided to grab one of those hot chicken sandwiches with peas and gravy smothered all over while waiting for the VIA at the train station. i've had a thing for these sandwiches ever since i tried one in quebec when i was a child. for what it was it did not disappoint! i will comment that the white meat inside must've been definitely brined or chemically tenderized as it was freakishly tender.

                                                  premiere moisson - for me this was kinda like a runner-up prize as olive and gourmando was closed at the time of our trip. we grabbed some treats for our train ride home. nothing much to say about this.

                                                  kouign amann - love love love. tried the tarte tatin and kouign amann. delicious stuff. not overly sweet. i didn't have space for the croques but boy did they look tempting with all that cheese...

                                                  thanks to all the montreal chowhounds! i've been lurking on this board in preparation for our trip lol. i will definitely return as i still have garde manger/le bremner, joe beef/liverpool house, and grumman 78 on my "new" to-eat list. i would've went but all of the above were closed for the "holiday" season.

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: blitz

                                                    Consider Damas for Syrian food. Their fattoush salad is amazing and all the other food is great too. Service is attentive and friendly.

                                                    1. re: blitz

                                                      Nice report, easy to read.

                                                      Schwartz vs Main; you may not catch much flack. I think many on this board agree to disagree, but in general, the debate seems to be tilting in the Main's favor - price wise, wait-in-line wise, and somewhat recently Celine Dion-wise.

                                                      Did you get to try Wilensky's?

                                                      Are hot chicken sandwiches not available in TO?

                                                      As you've been lurking, you know that a visit to joe beef has to be well coordinated (reserved 3-4 years in advance {;-/) )

                                                      1. re: porker

                                                        didn't get to try wilensky's unfortunately. we just ran out of time :(

                                                        i could be mistaken but hot sandwiches smothered in gravy isn't something you can find here easily. no chain as far as i know offers it...definitely not in your average mall food court. maybe a small time diner? but then again diners here are hard to come by as well...

                                                        1. re: blitz

                                                          blitz, you may be in luck it seems Swiss Chalet offers a Hot Chicken Sandwich. Will it be good? That's a different story, you could let us know.


                                                          1. re: JerkPork

                                                            thanks JerkPork! i don't frequent swiss chalet very often but i'll be sure to try it if i ever find myself in one.

                                                      2. re: blitz

                                                        Thanks! I always enjoy reading feedback this detailed. Glad you enjoyed!