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Dec 27, 2011 07:37 AM

Layover Montreal

My comments are probably 95% positive when it comes to anything from the Bourdain empire but I was very disappointed in the Montreal episode. Having recently traveled to Montreal I was looking forward to this episode but I thought he could have put a lot more enthusiasm into this stop. He seemed to have contempt for everything he came across.

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  1. Hmm. That's not the impression I had at all. I mean, he pissed all over the touristy place with people in costume, but he liked most of the food he had.

    I thought he mostly came across worried for his health, given his chef friends there and their penchant to try and stuff him like a xmas goose.

    It makes me want to go back when it's not November, and I have grown a few extra stomachs :-D

    5 Replies
    1. re: linguafood

      It seemed to me he dismissed the entire Old Montreal part of the city as nothing more than a tourist trap and although there is a lot of catering to people who visit the city I thought it had more value than that. I was a lot more enthusiastic about Marché Jean-Talon as well. I thought it was pretty cool and his attitude seemed to be: an open produce market, whatever, at least there's cheese.
      I also thought he seemed very dismissive of the women's rowing team. If you hate something so much why are you doing a feature on it? Same for knights battling in the park. Most of what I got out of it was that Tony doesn't like tourists, produce, athletes or geeks.

      1. re: californiabeerandpizza

        Even tho he is one of the producers, I don't know if he gets full reign over what will be included in the show.

        Other shows (pre-Layover) had many scenes where he was visibly uninterested / bored / dismayed to be there and doing something he'd obviously prefer not to (Iceland, Rumania & the Greek Isles come to mind).

        1. re: californiabeerandpizza

          If you watch his shows you know he doesn't really care for veggies or tourists! That's been a consistent theme in his No Reservations shows.

          1. re: californiabeerandpizza

            Even the locals on the show were dismissing the tourist traps. The "Underground City" does sound much more interesting until you actually go there. They are's just a big vertical mall connected by a bunch of subway commuter tunnels..

            As for the produce market, if you are a fan of his shows, you know he's been to one of those in almost every city he has visited. Not to say that Jean Talon would not be impressive on its own, but in that context, he has been there...done that.

            1. re: Philly Ray

              I'm well versed in No Res and the books, it just seems pointless to feature aspects of a city you don't like. I guess when he's being dismissive of places I haven't been to I don't care but it seems he passed on a lot of good possibilities in Montreal. It's not like there aren't other options besides rowing and making fun of human statues. I remember his No Res in Montreal being much better. In fact it inspired me to go to Au Pied du Cochon.

        2. I didn't really get from the show that he didn't favour Montreal - I've always thought he had a soft spot for us/it, actually. He even comments at one point that Montreal is the only reason Canada is a worthwhile country, and that without it, Canada would be "hopeless." Ha ha. *gets back up*

          And they *must* decide the itinerary for him, no? Because otherwise, there would have been no reason for him to hang out in Old Montreal, which he did seem to hate. The restaurant he ate at - Club Chasse et Peche, gets a lot of love on the Montreal section of this board, although I myself have never eaten there.

          I have been to Marven's a few times and that dude they interviewed was my server each time! He is extremely helpful and flirtatious if one is female and under 80, but he was borderline rude to my British Dad and uncle. And the calamari wasn't THAT good. I didn't even finish it.

          Hmm. What else? I do kind of feel like anyone watching might think Montreal only has Joe Beef and Au Pied de Cochon. But that's probably something I'm getting mostly from No Reservations eps in Montreal - I actually prefer the more practical side of The Layover (if not here, try here, if not here, how about here etc.). The two things I want to do after watching the ep are: 1. Go to that traditional pub in the Sud Ouest area (where he had pig knuckle) and also to try that grilled cheese sandwich from L'Emporte Piece. I think I will do the latter tomorrow, actually.

          Funny to see some local faces - Screaming Guy at the Sunday drumming session is someone I have seen a lot. He is that. Heh.

          15 Replies
          1. re: montrealeater

            I really liked the drumming thing and overall it did make me want to visit there. The sort of divey place where they had the boiled trotters is the type of place we would like and I know where I live those places are getting fewer and farther between, so I thought that was a good highlight. I totally think the itin is already decided for him and he shows up and has no clue what he's going to do most places. That's why the horrid rowing trip was an unpleasant surprise (for him, his pals and the viewers. WTF were they thinking?) and the colonial thing, it sounds like the fixer that he met picked that joint.

            1. re: rockandroller1

              Yeah, that little rowing session DID seem decidedly incongruous. I definitely wouldn't want to be dragged off my course of pigging out and drinking to ... indulge in some strenuous exercise.

              Also, the colonial thing had nothing to do with the restaurant (Club Chasse et Peche) - I think they are located next to a museum, and in Old Montreal, so those colonially dressed types are around, but have no connection to the restaurant itself.

              The drumming takes place every Sunday when the weather is warm enough, the LARPing takes place there as well. it's basically a big chill out/get high session. Bring your sword. :)

              1. re: montrealeater

                Ok since you obviously live there, how ridiculous would the notion be for americans who are unwilling and undesirous of the cost and hassle (and fear) of flying to France to instead plan a trip to Montreal? Not that it's a subsitute for France in any way, but I had always thought it would be a good "close second" for those who don't wish to fly to Europe. But then Tony discounted that right up front, and said how it's really nothing like France. Except the signs are all in French. And the whole city is bilingual. And there's French food, but also other food. We have basically NO french food where I live, and there's no way I'm paying or flying to France at this point for our family, but a long road trip to Montreal seems way more possible. Would you say it's "an interesting city to visit but zero of the "france" experience" or "some France, some North American, and a good blend?"

                1. re: rockandroller1

                  How do you know ME has been to France?

                  I've only visited once, and thought that the city had a decidedly European flair, but not necessarily French. If you're looking for good French food you can't get in Cleveland I'd say it's well worth a road trip!

                  1. re: rockandroller1

                    Absolutely it's worth a visit!

                    I've been to France and I live in Montreal. The two are very different places, but if you're looking to visit the city in North America that feels the *least* anglo-North American, Montreal's probably the right place. And there's tons of good French/bistro/French-influenced food here. Do come over to the Quebec boards and have a peek at what we have to offer. :-)

                    1. re: rockandroller1

                      Montreal is Canadian, it's British and it's Quebecois, but it's not in any way French. Of course the French have recently colonised the Plateau neighbourhood, and you'll find lots of patisseries and bistros everywhere, but the character of the city is nothing like any French city I've been to. Quebecois are also nothing like the French even though we are separated by a common language. Montreal is its own thing. It's not even like other Quebec cities. If you want some sort of exotic European-like cachet, you'd be better off going to Quebec City, which resembles more a French provincial town.

                      It's very much noticeable in the architecture, in our institutions and the way that life is organized here that Montreal is a British colonial city, as are all major Canadian cities. The fact that half the population speaks French does not make us Frenchmen. Montreal is not Little Paris. Yes, we do like our French food here and the city is overrun with bistros but that's pretty much where the French experience in Montreal stops. It's a much better idea to come to Montreal to experience Montreal than to expect some sort of French outpost. Although, if that's what you really want, you can always drive your car to St-Pierre et Miquelon.


                      1. re: SnackHappy

                        I would second Quebec City as a "France substitute" rather than Montreal, although both are worth visiting in and of themselves.

                        1. re: lisaonthecape

                          Rockandroller1 - basically, what everyone else has said, especially Kpzoo. Montreal DOES have a huge French influence, but it has many others and really is it's own thing. You can get very good French food here, tho, that much is true. I hear you on flights to Europe, too, I HATE flying and dread it.

                          1. re: lisaonthecape

                            lisaonthecape.....totally agree with you on Quebec City,esp. when you
                            go inside the walled city to Le Vieux Carre' !!

                          2. re: SnackHappy

                            I'll second St Pierre et. Had some of the best Cuisine Francais I've ever had. And the experience is terriffic and unusual, a real French community on a couple of rocks off Newfie. And with French groceries, fromageries, boulangeries, etc. Want to go back.

                          3. re: rockandroller1

                            Thx everyone. appreciate the insight. A 10 hour drive is quite long enough, asking my toddler to do a 13 hour drive, I just dunno.

                            1. re: rockandroller1

                              Heck, 13 hours? Not bad at all! ha! I've done that many times when the kids were little. Sometimes, we'd drive a couple of hours, starting in the early evening, late afternoon. Then stop for dinner, put the kids in pj's, then tuck them into their carseats for "bed" and drive the rest of the night with them sleeping.

                              1. re: wyogal

                                I did an 11 hour trip with the little one in 2011 and it was really, really tough. He just really doesn't like to be in the car for such long stretches. But the more we stopped to break it up, the more he threw tantrums and screamed about getting back in. Maybe when he's a little older he will be better about it. He's 2. Well, he'll be 3 this year now that it's officially 2012!

                      2. re: montrealeater

                        That grilled cheese sounded fantastic.

                        1. re: linguafood

                          I tried to pick one up yesterday but they are closed until after new year. I plan to try the one shown and the few others on their menu, including a sharp cheddar and apple variety. Mmm.

                      3. I put together a little list of most of the food-related places Bourdain hit up. Lots of talk about most of these over on the Quebec board if you're planning a trip and want to research further, too.


                        St-Viateur Bagel

                        Appetite for Books

                        Jean-Talon Market

                        Épices de Cru

                        Atwater Market

                        La Fromagerie Atwater

                        Big in Japan

                        Le Club Chasse et Peche


                        Brasserie Capri

                        Dominion Square Tavern

                        Orange Julep

                        Joe Beef


                        Rotisserie Romados

                        Brasserie T

                        Grumman 78

                        Nouveau Palais

                        L’Emporte Piece


                        Edit: just noticed they're listed here as well - whoops!

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: kpzoo

                          Adding Chevrerie du Buckland, I'm glad Bourdain made a pit stop to try their award winning tomme . Their website is under construction,

                          1. re: ios94

                            Was this the guy at Jean Talon selling the one kind of cheese? That looked good...

                            1. re: montrealeater

                              Yes, that was him. They raise their own goats for their cheese. They make a few other varieties but the Tomme IMO is the winner. He was still there just last Friday but they told me that they were almost done with their stock so they probably won't be there come the new year until spring time.

                          2. re: kpzoo

                            I may be way off, but in watching the series so far have wondered if there are paid advertisements running in there.
                            ie, some places he actually visits, some he mentions as a 'you might want to try this place', followed by someone from the mentioned restaurant/cafe' talking up their menu or food style.
                            Enjoyed NR more.

                            1. re: Treadmill88

                              I would be very surprised if that was paid advertising and it isn't specifically labeled as such. I think The Layover is meant to be more of a practical-travel-and-eating-tips show than NR and the whole "if not this place then how about this one" is just about offering another option to a potential visitor (i.e. someone not familiar with the city). I actually really like the other options given - if I was going to travel to one of these cities, it would be really useful info, because I respect Bourdain's opinions, mostly.

                              1. re: montrealeater

                                How many of those secondary picks are really his personal opinion, though? My guess is that many, maybe most, of the segments in which he does not personally appear are producer/researcher picks. For example, do you really think he visited, enjoyed and personally endorses the Orange Julep (a fairly ordinary greasy spoon, signature drink aside)?

                          3. +1 for absolutely worth the visit and despite Tony dismissing the rest of the country I enjoyed my time in Quebec City more than Montreal (which I liked a lot).

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                              for many people - young professionals especially, the quebec city culinary scene is too stuffy

                            2. I thought it was very vulgar. Was going to recommend it to friends that will soon be visiting Montreal, glad I viewed it first! Very disappointing.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: eatwell

                                Was this your first ever experience of anything Bourdain? Cuz "vulgar" is kind of his thang...

                                1. re: linguafood

                                  That's exactly what I was thinking, linguafood. ;-)

                                  1. re: linguafood

                                    Oh for sure I know he is "vulgar" , I was just disappointed that it kind of(parts of it) cast Montreal in a bad light. The chefs came off looking not so much "vulgar" as just plain stupid. I guess in its defense, it wasn't meant as a tourist information video.

                                    1. re: eatwell

                                      are you really so easily offended? bourdain's fame comes from his tell-all on bad behaviour. you'd have to be living in a bubble to be surprised by the debauchery in this episode. i suppose that if you've learned anything from this episode it is that the montreal restaurant scene is run by drunks --- you should go see what the staff at your favorite restaurants are up to come closing time ;)

                                      1. re: BarackHObama

                                        I don't think it cast Mtl in bad light at all, quite the opposite actually. AB portrayed the city as cutting edge, hip, vibrant (choose your adjective) IMO.

                                        1. re: ios94

                                          Yeah, I am still not seeing how Montreal was cast in a bad light. Tony and his friends may have come off as drunken gluttons (not necessarily a bad thing!) but I didn't think he portrayed the city badly at all. He made it sound like a real foodie's place, somewhere to have a good time and eat great food. Which is sort of what it is. :)

                                          1. re: montrealeater

                                            "He made it sound like a real foodie's place, somewhere to have a good time and eat great food"

                                            I didn't get that at all and I wish I had because that's how I felt visiting Montreal. I don't think he necessarily cast it in a bad light but it could have been much better. Do you think that because of watching that episode people would be inspired to go to Montreal and eat oysters off a radio?

                                            1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                              I think I can safely say that I won't go to Montreal to eat oysters off a radio, but I'd go visit for the food. Especially the bagels and that smoked meat. Yum.

                                              1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                bourdain likes to portray his culinary idols as eclectic mad men. the inclusion of oysters on the radio plays to the eccentricities of the owners. the radio bit also speaks to the eccentricities and youthfulness of the montreal food and arts scene.I think the episode did a good job of highlighting aspects that set montreal apart from other cities. you may not have had an experience like bourdain's when you visited but as a life long montrealer involved in the arts and culinary world, i assure you that bourdain's drunken extravaganza is quite typical.