Montreal in May - Must Eats for NYCers
Planning a visit in mid-May. My boyfriend has never been to Montreal and I haven't been since I was a kid. We will be there for five days and are staying near in The Plateau neighborhood.
Living in NYC, we love excellent food of all kinds. We're not planning on going ultra high-end this trip, but are interested in what I assume are "mid-range" restaurants for Montreal—Joe Beef, Au Pied de Cochon, Le Bremner, etc.
So far our list includes all of the above as well as visits to Boulangerie Guillaume and Jean Talon Market. Would love a rec (or a direction to previous threads—didn't find much in search) of other Montreal must eats. Also, we love great coffee and cocktails, so a nice coffee shop to visit and a few good bars would be appreciated too.
Your choices for mid-range sound right. I would encourage you to make reservations as soon as you can because both Joe Beef and APDC reservations for weekend evenings fill up extremely fast. Another mid-range restaurant to ponder is P'tit Plateau. I haven't been there in almost a year but apparently it's still doing a great job. It's a French restaurant with table d'hote only, which hopefully isn't off-putting. Two other places that are continuation of the Quebecois/French cuisine are La Salle a Manger and Au Cinquieme Peche, both in the Plateau. I also recommend visitors to try the various Quebecois/French restaurants in the city because in my opinion they are the best restaurants in town. (And where else would you eat such cuisine?) For something less French, a fun pub with good food is Burgundy Lion, just across the street from Joe Beef (same people).
As for bars, I personally like the wine bars in the city. I like Buvette Chez Simone on Parc, if you'd like to also explore the Mile End neighbourhood. It's an unfussy wine bar with tapas-style food. I really go there for the drinks and people watching in an unpretentious (but still chic) place.
I also like Le Comptoir Charcuteries et Vins, another wine bar in the Mile End but on St-Laurent street. Really fabulous food--the best dinner I've had in a while. It makes sense that En Route mag listed them as one of the best restos of 2011. A lot cheaper than APDC too, but the food is also Quebecois without the aversion to a vegetable or two.
For beers, I like Dieu du Ciel on Laurier. Well, I'm recommending you all these bars in the Mile End because, if you are twenty- to forty-something (and even older), this is where you find good bars in the city without the crass or cheesiness that you might find in, say, Crescent street. They brew their own beers and if the city is nice enough by the time you are here (we never know about the weather in Montreal, and especially the past few months) there is a patio for people-watching.
For boulangeries, honestly, there are so many great ones dotting the city, even the city's chain bakeries like Le Premiere Moisson does a pretty darn good job. I haven't been to Boulangerie Guillaume but I know it's highly recommended here. Also try the patisseries like Fous Desserts on Laurier in the Plateau. Have dessert at Juliette et Chocolat (various locations) for chocolate desserts in various forms. Otherwise, you must go to a bagel place, either Fairmont (on Fairmont) or St-Viateur, which has two locations on Laurier and a cafe-bakery in the Plateau on Mont-Royal. Montreal bagels are revered for a reason.
People also come to the city for smoked meat and so you will have to line up at Schwartz's on St-Laurent. I also love brunch in the city--Le Cartet in Old Montreal for something more refined, Olive et Gourmado for the baked goods, or L'Avenue in the Plateau for the eclectic, kinda-trashy-vibe-but-fun atmosphere, but amazing pancakes. The city also has great Middle Eastern offerings like Boustan on Crescent (open until 4 am for cheap takeout schwarma or falafel) and Persian such as Le Byblos Cafe on Laurier in the Plateau for easy-on-the-wallet brunch, lunch or dinner.
Another foodie trip would be for poutine, which you can find at La Banquise (24 hours). CH'ers like to dispute whether the poutine there is that good, but this place still remains an institution with various kinds of poutine to have at all times of the day (beware: after drinking hours, the line up is about 1 hour long). Another place to have poutine is a teeny tiny place called Patati Patata, which is super cheap with everything in small portions so you can try a whack load of stuff. La Paryse, which make great burgers in addition to great poutine, is in the Latin Quartier and is also good on the waller.
One good cafe is Cafe Vasco de Gama, located downtown. A bit pricier but it's a cute cafe with yummy sandwiches, and may be a spot you'd be interested in if you're in the area.
Hope this helps!
these are all good suggestions, I would just add that since you will be around old montreal during week I presume, I would go to Cluny art bar for lunch but go before noon when it fills up with eworkers in area. Not expensive but good quality sandwiches,coffee, also open for breakfast http://fonderiedarling.org/louer_e/cluny.html
On weekends there is brunch (l"arrivage) on top floor of archeology museum which is also worth visiting(there is large varied bk plate called the special that I have enjoyed)-would need to reserve. Best to ask for table in front of window or even better table out on small balcony for good view of old port area. There is cute little lobster snack bar Muvbox (not New England though) down at the waterfront close to mcgill street, beside bike path, but it doesnt open til May 19, the lobster pizza is good and can be shared for a quick snack.
You could also go for drinks and take advantage of late night deals (see sections on this) at the high end restos when meals better priced. Montrealers eat late so restos are usually still busy at those times and at lemeac there are many people who turn up just for the 10pm deal
Terraces/patios and courtyards are the big thing in spring and summer so that should be a criteria too when adding some restos to your list.
Don't forget ice cream! I suggest going to Le Havre des Glaces at Jean-Talon for wonderful ice cream (we are partial to the dark chocolate and mango flavours, as well as the burnt maple if they still have it). Le Bilboquet is also pretty good.
Have a croissant and coffee for breakfast at Fous Desserts - it really is worth it.
Check out the new Olivier Potier patisserie for breads and fancy pastries - excellent.