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Our Visit to Montreal from NYC

First of all, thank you to everyone on these boards. You all were incredibly helpful and I took many of your recs to heart while planning.

Photos (including some food) of our trip are here: http://smithratliff.com/tag/montreal/

Here's a rundown of what we ate:

Au Pied de Cochon: So, incredibly, we ate here two nights in a row. The second night we were wandering around with no dinner plans and just thought we'd take a chance to get a seat at the bar. We thought everything—foie gras poutine, pig's foot, the specials we tried, etc.—was delicious and loved the APDC house beer.

Lawrence: I wouldn't haven't known about Lawrence if it weren't you all. We had brunch here last Sunday. It reminded me of something you'd find in Manhattan or Brooklyn (in a good way). Beautiful interior and simple, delicious food.

The oyster stand at Jean-Talon (can't remember their name): We grabbed a half-dozen assorted oysters here as an afternoon snack. Most were from PEI it seemed, but they had a lot of varieties you don't frequently see it the States so it was nice to try them. (As an aside: is it legal to import oysters in Canada? Would love to find somewhere for good French oysters next time.

)

Au Kouign-Amann: Heavenly! We only had their namesake, but it was just like I remember them in France. A surprisingly hard pastry to find even in NYC, so I really enjoyed this one and was thrilled to introduce my boyfriend to them.

La Distributrice: This itsy-bitsy coffee window on Avenue Mont-Royal was the best coffee we found in Montreal and we stopped by every morning.

Schwartz's: We had to, and it didn't disappoint! We had two fatty sandwiches and shared an order of fries. Nice quick lunch, wasn't crowded at all on Monday afternoon. Probably wouldn't return, but I'm glad we went.

Baldwin Barmacie: We popped in here for a drink before dinner one night. It was probably the only weak spot of the trip. Drinks were uninspired even though the space is nice. Cocktails were one area we found very sorely lacking (in large part due to import restrictions, I'm sure).

Le Bremner: A dark horse for us. We sat at the bar and enjoyed hearing their main bartender, Brynley, tell us about the work he's doing to promote cocktails in Montreal. He actually made the best drinks we had of the trip and the food was really delicious. The young head chef (can't remember his name) came and chatted with us after our meal—very talented and humble guy. We loved the space and look forward to returning for certain.

La Binerie Mont Royal: We had beans and toast and coffee for breakfast one morning. A Montreal must, as I've been told. Cheap, good for a quick bite! (Also, very close to our apartment.)

Fous Desserts: I picked up a berry brioche roll here one afternoon as a snack. Very good, not mind blowing, but their more elaborate pastries definitely looked delicious. I think it will be hard to top those kouign-amanns though!

Joe Beef: Our last night, and a great meal all-around. The food and wine was delicious and the service was incredibly warm and sincere. Our server was about to take her first trip to NYC so we loved chatting with her. She made a superb wine recommendation and even accommodated a very special request we made. Rightly a Montreal classic!

I think that sums it up. It was a really super trip; we were charmed all-around. As I said in my first post, I hadn't visited in years and my boyfriend had never been, but I can say that he doesn't seem to feel the need to go back to Paris after spending time in Montreal. (And that's a huge compliment!)

Thanks again to everyone.

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  1. Nice! Thanks for taking the time to report back!

    1. Thanks for reporting back!

      1. Thanks for reporting back; it is appreciated!

        1. The chef at Le Bremner may have been Chuck Hugues, from Food Network's Chuch's Day off. Does that sound familiar?

          4 Replies
          1. re: mtlcowgirl

            It's very unlikely that Chuck was working - he has a chef and full team that runs operations at Bremner for the most part.

            1. re: Fintastic

              No, it definitely wasn't Chuck. This was a young guy with dark hair, who was quite starstruck when he found out where my boyfriend works (a MIchelin-starred Manhattan resto)—I don't think Chuck would've been quite as impressed, haha. We had a great experience though and I definitely would like to try Garde Manger on our next trip.

              1. re: loratliff

                Thanks for the great report. The photos on your blog are stunning, btw, and it is fun to read. I'll have to read your other posts and recipes now too.

                What did you have the second night at APDC? I am happy that the coffee is La Distributrice is good. They've tried selling a million things out of that little window, waffles, merguez, sushi, hotdogs, you name it. Coffee makes the most sense, really.

                1. re: loratliff

                  If you liked Le Bremner, I am confident that you will like Chuck's Garde Manger as well. And even though I don't know Chuck personally, I am fairly certain he would very much have been impressed with your boyfriend's restaurant background. He appears to be that sort of guy. Please post back if and when you do get to Garde Manger.

            2. "As an aside: is it legal to import oysters in Canada? Would love to find somewhere for good French oysters next time."

              It is legal to import. As Canadian oysters are plentiful, you don't see the imports very much. Maestro SVP always has imports available:
              http://www.maestrosvp.com/2010/en/ind...
              If you scroll down to Oyster Madness, you can click on their list:
              "MaestroSVP has the most varieties of oysters available.
              CLICK HERE to check our list!"
              Thats a big list (including one from France) but only a limited selection is usually available at any given time.
              Just a note on Maestro SVP: stop in for the oysters (however it can get costly), but maybe skip eating from their regular menu (it looks good on paper, but always let me down).

              1. This list is awesome! I am planning to take my boyfriend to Montreal in early July as a birthday surprise; some of these places are already on my list and others I will have to check out. Thanks for the report!

                1. Chef de Cuisine Danny Smiles from Le Bremner will be on Top Chef Canada.

                  1. Great report! Thank you for this.

                    I live here but haven't been to many of these places. I'll have to add them to my list :)