Tonight! APDC or Garde Manger?
My wonderful husband brought me to Montreal for my birthday and although it was fairly last minute managed to get reservations at both restaurants. Unfortunately both reservations are for tonight! We have 7:30 at the bar at APDC and 8:30 at GM. Which would you keep? If it helps - we're eating at Joe Beef tomorrow night, had steak at The Keg last night (we were supposed to go to Steak Frites, but decided on The Keg due to the snowstorm that hit yesterday - we were able to walk underground from our hotel)!
Also wanted to mention that we went to Bistro-Brasserie Les Souers Grises on Monday. It was empty ( really cold and a Monday), but we sat at the bar and chatted with the owner and had a great time. The pulled pork sandwich was amazing as was the Oka grilled cheese with chorizo and fig jam. Top notch ingredients and a smoker on the premises = yummy goodness. Now that I've had their smoked potato salad I'll never be able to go back to normal potato salad again. Beer and cider on tap also excellent!
We ended up going to Garde Manger and it was superb! The deciding factors were : time, the later reservation was less of a rush; distance, our hotel is close to Old Montreal; and the fact that neither of us eats foie gras.
We arrived a bit early for our reservation at GM thinking we could get a drink at the bar, but it appears that they book the bar for diners as well as the tables. They did seat us where we wanted at the bar though, we just didn't move to a table for dinner. It turned out that this was a good thing - the tables look cosy and romantic, but the music is so loud I don't think we could have carried on a conversation across a table without screaming (as the other patrons were doing), side by side at the bar we could put our heads together and be easily heard. After a while the loud (and good) music kind of faded into the background, though my husband said he didn't hear a word our server said all night! Aside from weirdly loud music the vibe is really cool here. Beautiful lighting, gorgeous old building, quaintly furnished. Very nice.
The chalkboard menu above the bar was easy to peruse while we had a drink. I had the daily creation, an Italian Mojito, which was fresh mint muddled with lime and topped with Prosecco. Delicious and something I will be recreating at home. Husband had a very competent gin martini. Their house speciality is a giant crab Caesar, which looked like fun with a giant snow crab leg sticking out of the glass.
In addition to the six or seven first courses, and six or seven main courses there were daily seafood specials - broiled clams as a starter and a seafood medley of shrimp, oysters, snow crab legs and scallops. The couple beside us had the seafood medley, which came not as a tower, but served in a wooden trough filled with ice. It looked amazing and abundant, but not what I was craving on a cold winter night. I started with the lobster poutine, which not only had lobster on the top but the poutine sauce was also infused with lobster bisque, it was delicious and rich. Husband had the tomato and cucumber salad with fried cheddar. The fried cheddar looked like croutons, but we're puffy breaded chunks of sharp white cheddar - awesome! Their bread was excellent as well - chewy with a dusting of cheese on the crisp crust served with a slightly spicy roasted red pepper butter. For dinner I had the beef short ribs (a house speciality) with cauliflower purée and Brussels sprout leaves. The meat was outstanding, with a slighlty smokey sauce and the accompaniments were perfect - the purée was silky and the leaves were garlicky and still crisp. I think they may have run short on the cauliflower purée though, as there was only a schmear on the plate and they added some potatoes that weren't listed on the menu (skin on, cracked and cooked crisp like they had been flattened with a brick on the griddle with a liberal amount of bacon drippings). Hubby had the boneless chicken thigh, with fried shrimp, mashed potatoes and a maple, cippolini sauce. Rich, rich, rich and the shrimp were lightly tempura battered for a nice contrast to the roasted chicken. The sauce was to die for. Servings are large and we couldn't finish or save room for dessert.
Absolutely no complaints on the food - a wonderful meal! Nice wine menu, though prices were high. We got a nice bottle of Washington State Shiraz. Service was well executed except for the timing. Our first courses came out just as we finished our cocktails, which was perfect, but there was a loooooong wait for our mains. Not a deal breaker though and we would highly recommend Garde Manger. Our dinner came to $242.
A note on reservations/seating - when we arrived at 8:00 pm it wasn't too crowded - with four open seats at the bar (if going as a couple I suggest sitting at the bar) and several open tables, which were apparently booked. By 9:00 people were streaming in the door and waiting for tables six deep! The bartender was serving drinks to those waiting for tables, but given that there is a very small entry way people were standing between the tables near the front door making things very crowded for those diners. I would ask to be seated away from the front doors if you can.
Okay - that turned into a lengthy review! Now I have to figure out what to eat today. It's our last day and I haven't had a bagel or smoked meat yet! Dinner tonight at Joe Beef. Happy days!
What kind ambiance do you like?
Both restaurant are quite noisy, but more so at Garde Manger.
If you are sitting are the bar in front of the kitchen at APdC, I would go there; especially if you enjoy watching cooks working their asses off.
personally, I would go to APdC (and have fish of the day! :-o )