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Three amazing days/nights in Montreal from NYC (long)

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Fallon May 30, 2012 12:13 PM

The wife and I just spent three glorious days/nights in Montreal-from Wed, May 23-Sat, May 26th. The weather was unseasonably warm, it hit the high 80's on Thur/Fri and we hit some regular spots and some new ones I thought I'd share with everyone. We have been visiting Montreal for the past 7-8 years, usually in April and October so we miss the hot months. As a result we have never seen the seafood menu at Au Pied de Cochon, even though we've eaten there every time we've been to Montreal. We typically stay at the InterContinental Hotel as it is perfectly situated reasonably near everything and isn't crazy expensive for a very nice hotel. This trip we stopped at Saratoga Springs on the way up from NYC for lunch for the first time and ate at The Local, a british pub with good food and I had the largest piece of fish for my fish & chips order imaginable. I wish we took pics but we didn't. Suffice it to say the fish portion was a good foot and a half long. I recommend it to anyone who likes fish and chips.

We arrived at our hotel in Montreal at 4:45pm, just missing traffic at the bridge and checked in and wandered over to our 5:30PM dinner reservation at Les 400 Coups. I wasn't sure we would make it in time and made the reservation thru Open Table and that was the only time available. It was an incredible meal. We thought about getting the five course meal as it was lobster centric but decided to try other dishes as we had never eaten here before. My wife had raw shrimp in milk for an app, I know it sounds disgusting but it worked well and she loved it. I'm not doing it justice with that description but she hates raw seafood and despises milk and loved the dish so go figure. I went with the roast suckling pig app which was delicious-hard to screw up suckling pig. She then had the Atlantic Cod dish which she liked a lot and I being a pig, had the scallops and more suckling pig, our server assured me it was prepared completely differently and he was right. Unbelievable combo. She had an organic white wine to go with her dishes and I had a blonde beer followed by a glass of Chardonnay and a glass of Pinot Noir. We shared the Green dessert which was white chocolate yogurt with pistachio and granny smith apples which blew us away. Great start to our stay.

The following day we had coffee and a croissant at La Croissanterie Figaro, followed by a bagel each at Fairmount Bagel and St. Viateur Bagel, we flip flopped from previous visits and found the Fairmount Bagel slightly better. Both were hot, straight out of the oven, much tastier than our NY Bagels. We had a late lunch at La Chronique for the first time. Very small, intimate setting, only 32 seats in the whole place. She had a shrimp app dish that she liked followed by a seared scallop dish that was spectacular. I had the seared foie gras app followed by their version of fish and chips. All of the food was great, it was a little formal but would recommend it for anyone for lunch. We then had dinner at Le Club Chasse et Peche, where we have eaten pretty much every time we have been in Montreal. They didn't disappoint, I was actually not feeling well and so I didn't drink. I had the cavatelli with snow crab, creme fraiche and basil followed by the Chasse et Peche which was kobe steak and poached lobster. She had two apps, the asparagus dish and the seared scallops, which is one of their signature dishes. I had one of her three scallops and imo it was the best scallop compared to Les 400 Coups and La Chronique. Again, just my opinion. Friday was food packed. I had a croissant at Olive et Gourmando and then we hit Marche Jean Talon. We grazed some fruit at the outdoor market and got a pound of cooked Nordic Shrimp at Les Delices de la Mer and ate that while walking around. On the spur of the moment we jumped in the subway and headed to Kazu hoping to make it before they opened at 12 Noon. We got there at one minute til, and there was a long line of people. I had read that there were only 30 seats in the joint, with 8 of them being at the bar. I'm happy to report that there are actually 32 seats and they expanded the bar seating to include 10 as we were numbers 31 and 32 and were seated where the servers put their orders down so it was crowded. Having said that, we were thrilled we got in on the first seating and we ended up being the 2nd group to leave so we were quick about it. I had the 48 hour pork dish which was amazing and cheap and she had a tofu dish which was huge and delcious.

We decided to walk off some of the food we had ingested and headed to Atwater Market. It was a healthy walk and we ended up buying some strawberries there, we noticed that the vendors at both Jean Talon and Atwater were taking Driscoll Strawberries from CA and dumping them in new containers and presenting them at Quebec strawberries, which we thought was cheesy but ended up buying some were much smaller and looked real from one of the vendors but it was still a bit early for strawberries and these weren't great. We walked back to our hotel, a 45 minute jaunt and prepared for our final meal in Montreal. I had booked seats at the bar for 6pm at Au Pied de Cochon, our favorite place to eat. We prefer sitting at the bar as you can see the cooks preparing the dishes, kind of like an open kitchen. It is a little warm there but well worth it. As I mentioned before, this time the entire left side of the menu was seafood related. They had seafood towers as well as lobsters and other delights. I ended up getting the Foie Gras Poutine for the first time followed by the ultimate lobster roll, 1 1/2 lbs of lobster meat stuffed into their bread with foie gras and cheese and lettuce. The food was excellent. As was the APDC beer. She had a crab and cucumber salad to start followed by their halibut dish which was great. We were both stuffed to the gills so alas no dessert. The non eating highlight was watching one of the chefs prepare the Pigs Head in front of us. He ripped the mouth open wide and yanked out the tongue and threw in in a frying pan. The head was already cooked but he was prepping it on a cutting board to serve. He slathered on mashed potatoes in the mouth covered it with a bed of asparagus and then put the lobster shell in the mouth of the pig as well. He shoved a asparagus spear up one nostril to boot. He also had a dipping bowl filled with au jus on the cutting board as well. The server really struggled picking up the whole contraption to serve to some lucky people in the back. Again, I wish we took pics but we didn't. Had to see it to believe it.

Next visit we may not go to Club Chasse et Peche and try Joe Beef. On a previous visit we ate at Liverpool House, which is a sister restaurant to Joe Beef and had an incredible meal there. We had the lobster fra diavolo and their version of the Plogue a Champlain which was french toast, foie gras, cheese and maple syrup and their cote de boeuf for two with lobster mashed potatoes which were incredible. Sorry for the length, but wanted to post our food experiences for other visitors. It was an amazing foodie trip this time.

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    Maximilien RE: Fallon May 30, 2012 12:31 PM

    Thanks for reporting back.

    1. kpzoo RE: Fallon May 30, 2012 12:50 PM

      Thanks for taking the time to report back in such detail. Glad you had a good trip!

      "we noticed that the vendors at both Jean Talon and Atwater were taking Driscoll Strawberries from CA and dumping them in new containers and presenting them at Quebec strawberries"

      Wow, that's disgusting. I must be very naive as I never imagined that happening. Ugh.

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        Glaff RE: Fallon May 30, 2012 01:00 PM

        Thanks for the report!

        As for the strawberries... I'm surprised too. I know some vendors are selling US strawberries in other containers to make them look fresh... but I've never seen them with a QC tag on.

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          eat2much RE: Fallon May 30, 2012 01:44 PM

          Are you sure they were labelled as Quebec strawberries? Many of the vendors at the market lead you to believe that they are farmers but rather buy all their produce at the fruit & vegetable terminals and quaintly repackage the stuff in their stalls. In other words never assume that the produce is local.

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            mangoannie RE: Fallon May 30, 2012 04:42 PM

            what an upbeat report. And I always say dont come to Montreal for fish (considering distance) and here you proved me wrong. My mouth was watering at your description of each meal. Thanks for sharing!

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              Plateaumaman RE: Fallon May 31, 2012 06:57 AM

              Excellent report and makes me quite hungry reading it. You definitely know how to select interesting dishes! I was at Liverpool House for the first time yesterday and liked it, but was debating in my mind how I probably would have preferred going to Au Pied du Cochon. I got the impression Liverpool House is more expensive and the dishes a bit more inconsistent. Maybe that relates to their drinks menu as the beer at APDC is not very expensive. I had a snow crab cocktail which was great, and asparagus with ham and foie gras sauce which didn't have much foie gras taste. You might want to consider coming back to the city for the APDC sugar shack apple season. That promises to be a lot of fun.

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                Fallon RE: Fallon May 31, 2012 07:56 AM

                Plateaumaman, we are thinking of hitting APDC Sugar Shack but it is impossible to get reservations. We asked the hostess at APDC about it as well as our server but they both said just send an email and pray. We typically don't book that far out for our Montreal trips because we want to have decent/good weather and that is one reason we haven't been to Garde Manger or Joe Beef as they are typically booked up well in advance of when we decide to go to Montreal.

                As far as the faux Quebec strawberries go, as Eat2much points out, some of the vendors at the markets are not farmers. We didn't see what we considered real Quebec strawberries at Jean Talon at all but did see at least 2-3 vendors taking strawberries out of plastic Driscoll's packaging and putting them in little baskets there. So we didn't buy strawberries at JT. When we were at Atwater we saw one vendor doing the same thing but we did find one vendor whose strawberries looked local. They were much smaller than the Driscoll's so we took a gamble and bought a small container for $4. They were fine, but a little watery and not super sweet but it is still fairly early in the season.

                Also, in previous visits we have gone to L'Express and Lemeac for lunch and we actually preferred L'Express. I know there have been a number of threads comparing the two and many people think Lemeac is fresher, trendier, better but we like the old school L'Express experience. To be fair, we have eaten at L'Express 4-5 times and only once at Lemeac. We may try Laloux time we are there.

                Lastly, I forgot to mention the wife wanted to try Les 3 Brasseurs for their six beer sampling so we did do that prior to our Club Chasse et Peche dinner. It was good and very cheap, less than $14. Previously we tried Dieu du Ciel which was excellent. The logistics didn't work for us this time as they don't open until 3pm. Also, just so one gets an idea on pricing, our dinner at Les 400 Coups, which included 4 glasses of wine and a beer and 2 apps and 2 entrees and 1 dessert came to slightly under $200. Au Pied de Cochon was the same price with less alcohol and no dessert. Chasse et Peche was $160 w/no dessert and very little wine and 2 apps in lieu of an app and an entree by the wife. La Chronique was $93 for lunch w/no alcohol or dessert. And of course lunch at The Local in Saratoga Springs was a whopping $30 for two entrees plus ice tea.

                If anyone has any ideas on how to secure an APDC Sugar Shack reservation, I'm all ears.

                14 Replies
                1. re: Fallon
                  kpzoo RE: Fallon May 31, 2012 08:03 AM

                  > Plateaumaman, we are thinking of hitting APDC Sugar Shack but it is impossible to get reservations.

                  To clarify just in case - I think Plateaumaman was talking about the new *apple-themed* menu they will do this fall during apple harvest season at the sugar shack location - so not so far off, actually. ;-) And since it's brand-new, it's much less well-known (so far) than the spring sugar-shack experience, so maybe reservations are easier to get.

                  http://www.urbanexpressions.ca/food/s...

                  1. re: kpzoo
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                    Fallon RE: kpzoo May 31, 2012 08:13 AM

                    Kpzoo, yeah we were asking about the Apple Themed version as well and were told they received 2000 emails in 20 minutes when they posted it so they doubted any availability was left. We probably will never go to the winter themed one as it is too fricking cold in Montreal from Dec-Feb for us to make the trip then.

                    1. re: Fallon
                      kpzoo RE: Fallon May 31, 2012 08:22 AM

                      No kidding - 2000 emails in 20 minutes? Craziness!

                      1. re: kpzoo
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                        Plateaumaman RE: kpzoo May 31, 2012 11:14 AM

                        That must be for the spring sugar shack, non? Which I think runs from March and April, even into May, not December to February. Maple sap runs when the air around the trees is warm but the ground is still frozen, so it is a spring event, not a winter one. (The things you learn on school excursions!).

                    2. re: kpzoo
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                      Plateaumaman RE: kpzoo May 31, 2012 08:18 AM

                      Yes, thanks kpzoo, that is what I meant. The reservations for the Sugar Shack are closed after about 12 hours on Dec. 1 each year, but for the apple feast there doesn't seem to be the same kind of frenzy, as they are accepting emails for reservations now and have been for a few months.
                      http://cabaneasucreaupieddecochon.com...
                      If you do prefer to be spontaneous due to weather etc. (which I totally relate to, btw), you could always post a query as here on Chowhound if anyone has space in their reservations during that Sept - October time period when you know you are coming. Lots of people book for big groups and then their friends cancel closer to the time of the actual outing.

                      1. re: Plateaumaman
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                        Fallon RE: Plateaumaman May 31, 2012 08:27 AM

                        Thanks for the suggestion Plateaumaman, I did shoot them an email for October seatings but am not holding my breath. We plan to be back in Montreal then and will have my wife's parents and brother and wife in tow. Six is so unwieldy compared to two when making dinner plans anywhere....

                        1. re: Fallon
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                          LeRique RE: Fallon Jun 1, 2012 08:23 AM

                          Are you sure it wasn't the meat from a 1and a half pound lobster and not 1 and a half lbs of meat? Lobster is 40$ a pound. P.S I am from Maine. Great report!

                          1. re: LeRique
                            cherylmtl RE: LeRique Jun 2, 2012 12:34 AM

                            If it's APDC, then it's likely 1 1//2 pounds of lobster meat...and in Montreal, lobster is going for under $10/lb these days.

                            1. re: cherylmtl
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                              LeRique RE: cherylmtl Jun 2, 2012 02:51 AM

                              and it takes at least 6 1lb lobsters to get 11/2 pounds of meat. so i know their portions are large but...

                            2. re: LeRique
                              SnackHappy RE: LeRique Jun 2, 2012 05:47 AM

                              I've had the lobster roll at APDC, and it's the meat from a 1 1/2lb lobster not 1 1/2lbs of lobster meat.

                              1. re: SnackHappy
                                cherylmtl RE: SnackHappy Jun 2, 2012 08:10 AM

                                I stand corrected. Taking the time to think about it, 1 1/2 pounds is an awful lot of lobster meat, even for APDC...

                                1. re: cherylmtl
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                                  eat2much RE: cherylmtl Jun 2, 2012 08:23 AM

                                  I ate a 5 1/2 pound lobster twenty years ago....still full!

                                  1. re: cherylmtl
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                                    LeRique RE: cherylmtl Jun 3, 2012 11:24 AM

                                    thanks cheryl ,the reason for my coment was only that I reently picked the meat from 7 pound and 1/4's and was astonished at how much 1 and 1/2 pounds is.The three of us ate 3 giant rolls and then had enough for 3 albeit a little smaller rolls the next day! I live in Portugal in the winter and one lobster is about 70 dollars so those of us should consider ourselves fortunate here.in the northern regions.Enjoy you're take on Montreal food. Check out Portland sometime. Rico

                                    1. re: LeRique
                                      cherylmtl RE: LeRique Jun 3, 2012 12:47 PM

                                      We are indeed spoiled when it comes to things like lobster here. Can't complain...and Portland (Maine, I assume?) is a great little city - foodwise and otherwise.

                      2. TheSnowpea RE: Fallon May 31, 2012 12:47 PM

                        I'll echo others here: thank you for this detailed report. Lots of food for thought! ;-)

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