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Visiting Montreal Mid-April - Must visits please

albatruffles Feb 27, 2012 04:52 PM

Joe Beef

Les 400 Coups (Is it worth it for lunch or should it be my second dinner)
L'express (Is this a must visit, is it dated? I'd like a great bistro with some great charcuterie on par with Oyama in Vancouver)

Fairmont and St-Viateur Bagels

Are there must visits that I missed? Specialty dishes? Places you would take off the agenda?

Would like to go to one bakery/pâtisserie. Is there one that stand out amongst the rest?

Is a sugar shack meal a must?

Also, Yelp reviews in Canada are limited, what are better resources to see food pics/reviews of these places?

Thanks in advance for your help

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  1. o
    OliverB RE: albatruffles Feb 27, 2012 06:21 PM

    Get rid of L'Express, it's completely blah and even for classic (read: dated) faux Parisian bistro thing, there's better choices. Joe Beef and APDC are interchangable imho, you're going for the same type of meal two nights in a row. What I'd do instead, is stick with Joe Beef (my preferance!) one night and then do 400 Coups the second night for dinner, as it's really more of an evening outing and I think would be wasted on lunch service. If you want to add another interesting and higher end lunch option in Old Montreal, you can add Le Club Chasse et Peche to fill that spot. They have a great lunch menu and lovely courtyard that's ideal for a lavish afternoon meal and wine/cocktails on a nice day. Banquise is an overrated frat hangout and you can get unnecesarily dressed-up oversized poutines that are done better at Maam Bolduc, if you really want it. For a bakery, Figaro has the best croissants in town. I'd also recommend Kouign-Amann. It depends what you're looking for though. If you're only in town for one weekend and this is your itinerary, I'd say you've done pretty well. Don't do Schwartz's and Joe Beef on the same day because you'll die of coronary artery disease. Sugar shack is not a must meal at all, in fact it's not really about the food. It's a traditional Quebecoise family thing and geared mostly towards larger and younger groups. In most cases, the food (think maple glazed hams, pea soup, etc) is actually quite awful and assembly line. If you have a car and are curious, you can always visit one and buy some syrup and then go have a better lunch elsewhere. Chowhound, Yelp, Urbanspoon and local blogs are your best bet for reviews/photos.

    5 Replies
    1. re: OliverB
      albatruffles RE: OliverB Feb 27, 2012 08:42 PM

      I love the strong opinions, that's what I need to help decide. You've addressed my concerns with L'express and Les Coups for lunch. I won't drop APDC, so Les Coups will be Saturday night. I'll look more at Le Club Chasse et Peche for lunch. Oh yeah, I looked at their website, says no lunch until June 4th

      I'll take note of your poutine comments. Thanks for the bakery input.

      1. re: albatruffles
        mushimushi427 RE: albatruffles May 5, 2012 09:15 PM

        Hey Albatruffles, did you go to APDC, if so did the dining experience meet your expectations? We'll be in Montreal mid-May. When we were there last we could not get a reservation. Is it worth the trip?

        1. re: mushimushi427
          albatruffles RE: mushimushi427 May 7, 2012 09:58 AM

          See my reply on the overall trip below. But definitely a must. Just reserve early as it's always packed.

      2. re: OliverB
        sir_jiffy RE: OliverB Feb 29, 2012 09:29 AM

        I disagree about the Banquise. I haven't tried Maam Bolduc, but I found Banquise's offering to be more than satisfactory and is my goto Poutine place in the city. There is a "Je ne sais quoi" to the place late at night.

        1. re: sir_jiffy
          BarackHObama RE: sir_jiffy Feb 29, 2012 09:56 AM

          ya but when yo uare soberly putzing around there are better places

      3. o
        OliverB RE: albatruffles Feb 27, 2012 06:28 PM

        I'm not sure where you're visiting from so difficult to assume where your culinary interests might lean, but if I were to add an additional meal to Joe Beef and 400 Coups to keep things varied, I'd probably go with Pintxo which has a French inspired tapas menu with elements of new Basque style cuisine. Brunch at Olive et Gourmando would be another good choice.

        1 Reply
        1. re: OliverB
          albatruffles RE: OliverB Feb 27, 2012 08:50 PM

          Los Angeles. My girlfriend and I love great food, regardless. We do seem to like Italian and Sushi, but I don't want any of that on this trip. I would prefer great bistro food and local specialties.

        2. g
          Glaff RE: albatruffles Feb 27, 2012 08:22 PM

          For bakery/pâtisseries I'd recommend Pâtisserie Rhubarbe (only pastries) and Boulangerie Guillaume (only bread and baked goods).

          But if you only have time for one :

          Near Rhubarbe, there's Le Fromentier for bread and cheese and Fous Desserts for amazing croissants.

          Near Guillaume, there's Cerise sur le gâteau, Fairmount Bagels and Kem Coba.

          Kouign-Amann is a good one to try too as is Mamie Clafoutis and Les co'pains d'abord.

          I agree with Oliver about Les 400 Coups, you should go for dinner. It's one of the best restaurant in Montreal right now. Olive et Gourmando is also a must for lunch (but beware, super super super crowded).

          5 Replies
          1. re: Glaff
            albatruffles RE: Glaff Feb 27, 2012 08:52 PM

            Two votes for Les Coups. I'll take another look at Olive et Gourmando . The pics on yelp didn't really sell me.

            1. re: albatruffles
              mangoannie RE: albatruffles Feb 27, 2012 08:55 PM

              It is the only pastry shop in Old Montreal so from that point of view is handy for tourists. I have eaten there, gone for dessert, and bought their fig bread; I fail to see what others see in it other than location, and kind of cute ambiance. Also it is not open on Sundays and on Saturdays in good weather there are lineups. I dont think the terrace at Le Club Chasse et Peche would be open that early and it is located elsewhere in back of a nearby museum.

              1. re: mangoannie
                BarackHObama RE: mangoannie Feb 28, 2012 04:47 AM

                sandwiches are unique and made with excellent ingredients. montreal falls flat in the sandwich department, OetG picks up the slack

                1. re: BarackHObama
                  Glaff RE: BarackHObama Feb 28, 2012 05:29 AM

                  Yes, same with the daily salads and soups, always high quality ingredients. Aaaand the palmiers are amazing (you know the puff pastry thing that is boring at every single place in the world except there). The brownies too... and the brioches... and the turtle bar... and...

                  (That said it's pretty easy to find a good sandwich in the Old Montreal though)

                  1. re: Glaff
                    OliverB RE: Glaff Feb 28, 2012 06:05 AM

                    Their sharp, crispy mac & cheese with melted provolone, havarti, and more that I can't ID, and fused with several types of mushrooms, black truffle tapenade (black olives, truffles, capers, anchovies, olive oil) and carmelized onions in a skillet is my favourite! It's served on a wooden cutting board with a honey mustard salad with grated almonds and is worth the visit alone. In addition their salads and sandwiches are all excellent, as are the daily soups and pastries/brioches. It might not be world class, but sure makes for a damn good weekend brunch.

          2. m
            mangoannie RE: albatruffles Feb 27, 2012 08:27 PM

            I like Pinxtos but would not suggest you go there if here for a few days as I think you can get this kind of food easily in other cities.. Depending on what your interests are you could for fun try the sugar shack theme resto that will be in Old Montreal pavilion at that time, it is not a sugar shack per se but has a bit of a flavour of it so you dont lose time going out of town for sugar shack meal and the sugar shack meals are fun en famille but really heavy with maple syrup. As in sugar shacks you do not sit at private tables but join others at long tables. The site is only in french at present for la cabane but food appears more sophisticated than in the shacks. http://www.lacabane.ca/menu.html

            I know others might pan this idea but if I was coming to Quebec from outside my interest would be to learn more about Quebecois traditions and sugar shacks, maple syrup on ice are spring customs for many families but not really in your interests to go far out of city to find one and sometimes they are so busy it can take ages to get a table and service can be slow. The sap is already running and it is going to be a good year for maple syrup.

            I went once to 400 coups at lunch and I would not return for lunch.

            You can get a good poutine at PDC (would even share it) so not necessary to go further afield.
            There are many montreal food blogs which can provide the photos and reviews you want but I dont know if we are suppose to post them here..

            1 Reply
            1. re: mangoannie
              albatruffles RE: mangoannie Feb 27, 2012 08:54 PM

              Thanks for the sugar shack in-town recommendation. It may be touristy, but I am intrigued by the sugar shack options.

            2. h
              happybaker RE: albatruffles Feb 27, 2012 09:01 PM

              A big question is - where will you be staying? How far are you willing to travel?

              My husband and I stayed by Montreal's "Little Italy" and found tons to enjoy there, or a short metro ride away. (We were also by a huge farmers market with killer cheese and baked goods. Happy sigh.)

              Our fav mememto from the trip? We brought back a dozen bagels from St-Viateur, froze them and doled them out as a treat for months afterwards. Heaven!

              1 Reply
              1. re: happybaker
                albatruffles RE: happybaker Feb 27, 2012 09:52 PM

                We're staying near Victoria Square and Old Montreal. We're willing to travel far if the food is good. Good tip on freezing the bagels.

              2. o
                OliverB RE: albatruffles Feb 28, 2012 02:26 AM

                Instead of APDC, if you're able to get into Martin's APDC Cabane A Sucre for a dinner seating, you definitely wouldn't want to miss that. It's booked up for the entire season, but you may get lucky with cancellations or even call 5 days ahead and ask about a walk in while you're in town. You may get lucky. It's the only Cabane a Sucre that's not to be missed imo, and a completely unique dining experience. As for Pintxo, I don't disagree with mangoannie - but the same could be said of everything we do here. I've had better French food in NY, LA, San Fran, etc. Montreal has some very good mid-range dining options, but compared to any of these cities, our food scene is not the most sophisticated. On the low end, and in contrast to these other places, it's downright terrible. Since you're coming from LA and want to experience the bistro thing, you can always add Les Trois Petits Bouchons to your evening list. I'd definitely swap this out in place of L'Express, if you haven't already done so with another suggestion. It's nouveau French regional bistro-terroir fare. As for OeG - it's definitely not an absolute must destination, but I think they happen to do great light weekend brunches imo; if that's what he's looking for, and it's well situated in Old Montreal. Coming from California, I think you'd be wise to avoid most ethnic foods (Japanese/Sushi/Asian/Italian/Indian/MidEastern/etc) and stick with French comfort food since you'll only be in town for the weekend. You can get better everything, (including Portugese!), where you're coming from at all price levels. For fresh baked breads, I agree with the above recommendation for Boulangerie Le Fromentier on Laurier. You might want to check out one of the two markets over the weekend as well. The Fromagerie at Atwater should not be missed if you're into cheeses. Marché Jean-Talon would also be an interesting way to kill an hour or two in Little Italy on a nice afternoon. I definitely think that Club Chasse et Peche could fit somewhere on your itinerary and would not completely disregard the notion of stopping in for brunch. Given the mild weather we've been experiencing this year, it's not unheard of that their terrace might be open by Mid-April. The dining room itself is quite interesting too, and while I prefer enjoying full course dinners there, would be well suited for any lunch as well. It remains one of my favourite restaurants in the city and I think you could get a very good meal there any time of day.

                1. m
                  Maximilien RE: albatruffles Feb 28, 2012 03:47 AM

                  Either APsC or Joe Beef but not both (over indulgence).

                  If you want the french bistro experience, l'express is good for that (contrary to what other say), stick with the classics (steak-frites, ,, )

                  Other than "Les 400 Coups", "Bouillon Bilk" seems to be a good option for lunch/dinning.

                  For charcuterie, "Le Comptoir Charcuteries et Vins" is the place to go now, or maybe "La Buvette Chez Simone"; both are quite popular these days.

                  For bakeries, Boulangerie Guillaume makes the best bread , and is near Fairmount Bagels, you can walk up to Park ave. to get your coffee fix at Gamba in Café and walk on Laurier st. after that.


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Maximilien
                    OliverB RE: Maximilien Feb 28, 2012 05:20 AM

                    Why would anyone from L.A. need to order a steak-frites or tartare if only eating three meals in this city? Apart from the basics, what does L'Express do well that any bistro in Montreal doesn't do better? You can surely eat a better terrine or duck confit or any bistro salad elsewhere in the city, with the addition of more inspired menu offerings and unique 'local atmosphere' at other restaurants. I don't think L'Express is bad by any means. It has it's place, and I ocassionally find myself there for late-night (after 11pm) dining when it's convenient; I usually have a decent meal. But it's not the destination restaurant that so many make it out to be. There's really no reason for any tourist, especially one coming from a foodcentric state like CA, to go out of their way and forgo a potentially excellent and creative meal to dine at L'Express. I've never had what I'd consider to be a terrific or exceptional meal there. Reliable is the best word I'd ascribe, and when venturing away from the staples (risotto, fish, etc) and exploring the menu, bland and uninteresting would be what I've mostly experienced. Even though I'm no longer much a fan of Leméac (tired and restricted menu that doesn't change seasonally and declining in the kitchen as of late) - I'd sooner chose to eath there, Cinquième Péché, Comptoir, Justine, etc. over L'Express. You can get the same staple bistro fare at any of these places, better prepared, along with a more interesting and varied menu.

                    1. re: OliverB
                      albatruffles RE: OliverB Feb 28, 2012 09:49 AM

                      We will not be dining at L'Express. The pics looks like an ordinary bistro that's passed its prime. I'd like something more memorable than that. I look into the other choices that are open for lunch mid-April.

                      1. re: albatruffles
                        Glaff RE: albatruffles Feb 28, 2012 10:17 AM

                        If you're looking for a nice bistro, Laloux would be a good option for lunch too I think.

                        Cinquième Péché is not open for lunch.

                  2. porker RE: albatruffles Feb 28, 2012 10:18 AM

                    Only because you mention Fairmont Bagel for a snack, I'd suggest a stop in at Wilensky's Light Lunch for a snack as well
                    Fairmont is at 74 Fairmont Ave, Wilensky's is less than a block away at 34 Fairmont, so if you're in the neighborhood.....
                    Is it haute cuisine? No (grilled balogna/salami sandwich). Is it at the top of anyone's list? Not likely. But if you want a quirky 60-80 year timewarp, its worth at least a stop, at least for a snack.
                    Open mon-fri 9:00-4:00, sat 10:00-4:00, closed sun.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: porker
                      albatruffles RE: porker Feb 28, 2012 10:35 AM

                      I like places with some historical presence like Wilensky's. Good rec.

                      1. re: porker
                        BarackHObama RE: porker Feb 28, 2012 12:51 PM

                        Wilensky's isn't good at all. it's a time warp in the sense that elderly people are there.

                        1. re: BarackHObama
                          albatruffles RE: BarackHObama Feb 28, 2012 01:14 PM

                          It looks like a cool place, but my girlfriend will probably laugh after looking at the bologna sandwich.

                          1. re: albatruffles
                            happybaker RE: albatruffles Feb 28, 2012 08:04 PM

                            You are already thinking of it, I say go for it! Get the smoked meat at Schwartz's. Historic, tasty and fun.

                          2. re: BarackHObama
                            porker RE: BarackHObama Feb 28, 2012 04:32 PM

                            I kinda thought someone would say something like this.
                            Wilensky's is what it is. I like their Wilensky's Special. Do I think its worth it for a visitor to go out of their way to eat here? No, as I alluded to in my post.
                            Also, Wilensky's isn't for everyone - especially food snobs who sneer at anything that isn't au courant.
                            However, Wilensky's is a kind of place that I hope people would suggest to me.

                            1. re: porker
                              westaust RE: porker Feb 28, 2012 04:48 PM

                              I love to have a Wilensky's special once in a while (no cheese for me, a sour pickle and cherry soda on the side)

                              and there must be a reason why this place has been opened since forever!

                              1. re: westaust
                                BarackHObama RE: westaust Feb 28, 2012 05:07 PM

                                that's because they have cheap rent and nowhere else to go. i am hardly a food snob - i just see no point in sending a tourist to eat prison food. the environ isn't even so charming. it reminds me of visiting my grandmother at her apartment on kent and cote des neiges.

                                1. re: BarackHObama
                                  mangoannie RE: BarackHObama Feb 28, 2012 06:06 PM

                                  I loved my one time visit to Wilensky as these kind of places dont exist in Toronto Ottawa etc, the special was kind of tasty, the milkshake watery as not made with ice cream but I love old things, antiques, museums so its a personal thing but would I take my daughters there, no for sure would not be able to get them in the door, not a question of food snobs but they like contemporary places or more french style restos.

                                  Somebody mentioned cinquieme peche, not a bad idea for a dinner alternative........less pretentious than 400 coups, has seal on menu sometimes which could be a positive or negative for some tourists.

                                  1. re: mangoannie
                                    albatruffles RE: mangoannie Feb 28, 2012 06:48 PM

                                    seal? No thanks. Check, please.

                                  2. re: BarackHObama
                                    porker RE: BarackHObama Feb 29, 2012 04:05 AM

                                    No, I don't think its simply a matter of cheap rent. I think its more based on being included in a Mordacai Richler novel (and the movie its based on...). Kinda like NY's Katz Deli after "When Harry Met Sally". Without this "recognition", it might very well have disappeared.
                                    "prison food"....sure we all have our notions, but actually, prison food is sometimes better than a Wilensky Special. I'm not saying the Wilensky is bad, just that prison food isn't always bad, plus prison food is more varied than Wilensky's. Even so, the Wilensky Special is from a bygone era when food tastes were simpler. Perhaps a more "acceptable" Montreal institution/suggestion would be La Binerie, but again, their food is from years gone by and perhaps not quite understood by a passing "tourist" as you say.
                                    "the environ isn't even so charming...." I'm not suggesting the OP make a special trip to Wilensky's, rather the OP might find himself already there, visiting Fairmont Bagel. Wilensky's is less than a block away, on the same street. THIS, I think, merits a stop.
                                    When all is said and done, a visitor might very well remember a visit to Wilensky's as much as they do a visit to Joe Beef...
                                    "What was the name of that really old place? Caplansky's?"
                                    "I think it was something like Smolensky..."
                                    "Yeah the place from the 30s with those tiny wooden stools?"
                                    "Yeah, yeah, with those ancient panini machines and the balogna sandwiches?"
                                    "And how you HAVE to get it with mustard?"
                                    Before they know it, they'll be doing their own own SNL skit.

                                    I'm just saying.

                                    1. re: porker
                                      albatruffles RE: porker Feb 29, 2012 07:45 AM

                                      My girlfriend vetoed Wilensky's last night. She's not going to Montreal for bologna. I tried to sell it to her as charcuterie. It didn't work.

                                      1. re: albatruffles
                                        porker RE: albatruffles Feb 29, 2012 01:21 PM

                                        Just so you make a truly informed desision, its a bologna - salami mix

                                        1. re: albatruffles
                                          TheSnowpea RE: albatruffles Mar 1, 2012 05:46 AM

                                          well, think you can sell her on Comptoir Vins & Charcuterie on St-Laurent? :-)

                                          1. re: TheSnowpea
                                            albatruffles RE: TheSnowpea Mar 1, 2012 09:01 AM

                                            Yes, we pegged Comptoir for Sunday Brunch. The charcuterie plate looked amazing and it looks like they have it on the menu at this time along with a couple other cool dishes.

                            2. h
                              happybaker RE: albatruffles Feb 28, 2012 08:14 PM

                              Okay, you will be downtown, we were a touch away from there.


                              We stayed by the Jean Talon Market and had a heck of a good time. One of my favs was (gasp!) a chain bakery. http://www.aupaindore.com/en/

                              Every morning everything was fresh. And they had a light wheat bread with candied orange peel and bittersweet chocolate that I STILL crave. (A moment of silence, please. Sigh.


                              I loved the market as I could get spot on cheese, fruits and veggies, crepes so easily. And we were just a few subway stops from extra trendy areas with more fab food.

                              We also had portugese chicken (roast chicken with fries, tossed in an extra spicy sauce) that was not fancy - but oh so good.

                              And don't forget to chat up your SAQ wine merchant. They get different shipments than we do in the states and can get you in touch with some real gems to enjoy late night.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: happybaker
                                mangoannie RE: happybaker Feb 28, 2012 08:25 PM

                                there is a small pain dore downtown on peel just up from ste catherine. Its handy when you want a pastry than trek across the city.

                                1. re: happybaker
                                  albatruffles RE: happybaker Mar 2, 2012 08:21 AM

                                  SAQ? Is that the technical term for a wine merchant in Montreal?

                                  1. re: albatruffles
                                    eat2much RE: albatruffles Mar 2, 2012 08:32 AM

                                    Sadly Montreal has no wine merchants. What we do have is the provincial liquor board Societe des Alcools du Quebec which has a monopoly on the sale of wine and spirits. Check out www.saq.com for a list of products, locations, etc. Be forewarned that prices are quite high but we do tend to get some products which are hard to find elsewhere.

                                    1. re: eat2much
                                      happybaker RE: eat2much Mar 2, 2012 11:49 AM

                                      The prices were a surprise to this Californian indeed!

                                      What I discovered was, if I went for the stuff I normally buy - hugely expensive for what it was. But if I told the SAQ person what I was buying the wine for (food, event) and let him freely advise - I got introduced to wines I'd never even heard of, that were stunning. Well worth the price and unique. So be ready to try something new, and you'll have fun : )

                                    2. re: albatruffles
                                      Maximilien RE: albatruffles Mar 2, 2012 08:33 AM

                                      Yep, the SAQ is the provincial Booze monopoly.

                                  2. m
                                    marblebag RE: albatruffles Mar 1, 2012 10:55 AM

                                    For croissants: Fous Desserts, Cerise sur le Gateau, Kouign Amann.
                                    For pastries (viennoiseries): Pain Dore, Premiere Moisson, Patisserie 3M.
                                    For cakes: Rhubarbe, Fous Desserts, Cocoa Locale.
                                    For bread: Pain Dore for their 36 hours, Premiere Moisson.
                                    For macaron: La maison du macaron, Point G, Europea boutique in Old Montreal.
                                    For chocolates: Chocolats de Chloe, Genevieve Grandbois ($$$) & Fous Desserts if you prefer Valrhona. Marius & Fanny if you prefer Callebaut/Cacao Barry.

                                    Personally I don't find Guillaume and Le Formentier exciting enough. I tried one of everything at both places.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: marblebag
                                      EaterBob RE: marblebag Mar 1, 2012 11:23 AM

                                      You missed Mamie Clafoutis for croissants. Or is there some particular reason that they didn't make your list?

                                      1. re: EaterBob
                                        marblebag RE: EaterBob May 11, 2012 10:14 AM

                                        The Mamie Clafoutis croissant is better than supermarket but not at the level of the 3 I mentionned. YMMV.

                                      2. re: marblebag
                                        cherylmtl RE: marblebag Mar 1, 2012 05:26 PM

                                        The bread at both Premiere Moisson and especially Pain Dore has definitely gone down in quality. Neither are worth making a special trip for. Le Fromentier, Mamie Clafoutis and Guillaume have bread worth trying, but don't waste the time with PM or PD. Same with viennoisseries at Pain Dore - really nothing special anymore.

                                        1. re: cherylmtl
                                          Glaff RE: cherylmtl Mar 1, 2012 05:50 PM

                                          Well actually I think it's because our taste have evolved in terms of good bread. With Guillaume, Mamie, Arhoma, Le pain dans les voiles, etc... all opened in the last few years, the quality level is not the same as before. That said I still enjoy PM at Marché Jean-talon, rarely super great but always good... except the pastries that are most of the time disgusting. PD on the other hand is really outdated.

                                          1. re: Glaff
                                            happybaker RE: Glaff Mar 1, 2012 07:21 PM

                                            Yikes! Glad I went to Jean Talon when I did!

                                          2. re: cherylmtl
                                            marblebag RE: cherylmtl May 11, 2012 10:17 AM

                                            My taste level in bread may not be as developed or advanced as it is for croissants. I tried everything at Guillaume but found nothing worth the detour. I go to Rhubarbe quite often but there's nothing for me at Le Fromentier.

                                            I forgot about ArHoMa they do make really good breads.

                                        2. f
                                          Fintastic RE: albatruffles Mar 2, 2012 10:14 AM

                                          One problem in trying to recommend places for mid-April is that the weather can be all over the map. Often the temperature can range well into the 20s (celcius) - I can even recall a few hot days in recent years - but there can also occasionally be snow storms. What may seem like a good restaurant to recommend now might be very different the day (or hour) that you actually visit the establishment. Everyone has done a great job with suggestions here, but maybe the best idea is to not worry too much and just go with what seems right at the time. Aim for APDC, etc., but walking around Mile End snacking on warm St. Viateur bagels will seem like a much more pleasant idea if its a nice spring day than if its a cold, snowy abyss.

                                          As you've deduced, Yelp and tripadvisor are almost useless in Montreal - mostly populated by US tourists. Often this has led to virtually unheard of restaurants getting top reviews in the city (what is Le Grain de Sel, anyways??). There are few resources are much better - its seems that most recommendations come via word of mouth and newspaper reviews (i.e. Montreal Gazette, Mirror, etc.). Urban Spoon may also be marginally better than Yelp... though that's debatable. Really, chowhound is your best resource. Most people who post here know what they're talking about. For pictures of food at each recommendation you can just search google images.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Fintastic
                                            Peaches to Poutine RE: Fintastic Mar 2, 2012 10:58 AM

                                            Agreed. I would rely more folks' suggestions here than I would on Yelp or TripAdvisor. (I would make a CH query well before leaving for my destination because it is local people and not just folks looking for the next big/hip thing.)

                                            1. re: Fintastic
                                              porker RE: Fintastic Mar 3, 2012 05:57 AM

                                              "Most people who post here know what they're talking about"
                                              Love this quote!...almost as funny as getting serviced out back of Buonnanotte!

                                            2. s
                                              sharon86 RE: albatruffles Mar 3, 2012 06:26 AM

                                              For fun & yummy brunch within walking distance from your hotel there's Le Cartet. Lines can get long on weekends, but browsing in their little gourmet food boutique at the front of the restaurant can make the time go by quickly!

                                              1. a
                                                albatruffles RE: albatruffles May 7, 2012 09:51 AM

                                                Reporting back from Montreal. This is how we ranked the restaurants we tried if it helps anybody on a future trip:

                                                1. Au Pied De Cochon Sugar Shack
                                                We email and called, finally got through the day before and they allowed us to sit at the bar. Very cool experience and a must try if you can get in. The food was great, Martin Picard was there and signed our cookbook and we walk around the shack after lunch.

                                                2 Au Pied De Cochon
                                                A must visit for any tourist. Our favorite dishes were the Champlain, Duck In A Can, Foie Gras Poutine, Sugar Pie For 2 and the Beef Tartare Hand Rolls. Also stop by Les Chocolats de Chloé next door before dinner for for a to-go bag. Chocolates and other items there are great.

                                                3. Au Kouign-Amann
                                                One of the best pastries we have ever had. Another must visit. You can ever get a whole one to take home.

                                                4. Le Comptior
                                                We wanted a charcuterie plate and this hit the spot. That's all we order and got the addictive cumin mustard to go for $5.

                                                5. Les 400 Coups
                                                Very good, but I expected a little more if this is suppose to be the best restaurant in Montreal. I never felt like this was a special occasion place.

                                                6. Joe Beef
                                                We felt a bit disappointing. The food is very heavy. Similar to APDC, but not as balanced and I don't crave many of the dishes today. The foie gras double down was just pure fat, I got about 4 tablespoons of oil on my first bite. We liked the lobster spaghetti, eel nuggets, the passion fruit soft serve and foie gras parfait. It does have a lively atmosphere, similar to APDC.

                                                7. Pâtisserie Rhubarbe
                                                Pastries are good. Would get any savory dishes.

                                                8. Fous Desserts
                                                My girlfriend loved the almond croissant.

                                                9. Ma-Am-M Bolduc
                                                Better than Banquise. Got the traditional and the Bourguignonne.

                                                10. Fairmount Bagel
                                                Much better than St. Viateur. Try to get what's hot out of the oven.

                                                11. Mamie Clafoutis
                                                Pics looked a lot better than they tasted. Tried about 5 pastries, maybe liked one.

                                                12. La Croissanterie Figaro
                                                Just went for one croissant and it was decent.

                                                13. Schwartz's
                                                A little drier than my first visit years ago. We did a medium fat sandwich, I would go with a fat next time.

                                                14. Resto La Banquise
                                                The turkey on the Galvaude was so dry and the peas were frozen. The T-Rex was better partially because the fries were freshly fried as opposed to our first dish. Too many people there to produce a good product. The pepper sauce was bad.

                                                15. St-Viateur Bagel
                                                Not as good as Fairmont. I would just do one on a visit and it would be Fairmont.

                                                Saveur did a small piece on the Liberte Coconut full-fat yogurt. I would also stop at any grocery store and snack on one of those. Better than any yogurt you have had.

                                                I put all my pics on Yelp if anybody uses that.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: albatruffles
                                                  hoorah RE: albatruffles May 7, 2012 01:03 PM

                                                  Which St-Viateur location did you go to, the bakery or cafe?

                                                  The Liberte yogurts are available at Whole Foods and other specialty grocers (in the Mid-Atlantic states, at least), I'll have to try the coconut one this week.

                                                  1. re: hoorah
                                                    albatruffles RE: hoorah May 7, 2012 02:36 PM

                                                    The bakery on 263 Rue Saint Viateur. We usually try to go to the original location or the ones with the most reviews. I went to the cafe years ago and enjoyed it. I think bagels are always better with smoked salmon.

                                                    Good to know on the yogurt, I'll check for them at the Whole Foods in Los Angeles.

                                                  2. re: albatruffles
                                                    Maximilien RE: albatruffles May 8, 2012 07:14 AM

                                                    THanks for taking the time to report back!

                                                    1. re: albatruffles
                                                      tdiddy23 RE: albatruffles May 10, 2012 06:45 PM

                                                      Great report! Thanks for taking the time

                                                      I've been to all of those except Sugar Shack (gotta try that) and am in complete agreement, you seem to be pretty spot on in your judgement.

                                                      Since I've only been to LA once, I'm curious what your overall impression is on the Montreal food scene. Clearly a place like Au Pied Du Cochon is unique. How about the more typical modern bistro fare (ie Les 400 Coups) . Is it truly a strength of MOntreal, or can you find places like this easily in Cali? Bakeries/pastries?

                                                      1. re: tdiddy23
                                                        albatruffles RE: tdiddy23 May 11, 2012 09:28 AM

                                                        APDC is very unique. If I had a craving like that in LA, I would head to Animal for their poutine and the foie gras maple biscuit. The French heritage clearly puts Montreal's bakeries on another level. Much better than LA, much better. As far as high end, we only tried 400 Coups. I think it's comparable to LA. I enjoyed the dishes at 400 Coups, but I didn't crave them. To assess the high end dining scene in Montreal would be very difficult with 5 or so dishes at one restaurant. In LA, I would recommend would casual food, I think it would lend to a more memorable trip. If anything, the city reminded us more of NYC and it's a place I would recommend people visit for food and will eventually be back in town to eat some more.

                                                    2. m
                                                      mangoannie RE: albatruffles May 7, 2012 03:49 PM

                                                      thanks for the feedback and photos. It will help me plan for visitors arriving in a couple of weeks and also to encourage me to try a couple of the pastry shops outside of my neighbourhood! I appreciate you taking the time to share your impressions.

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