Montreal Itinerary - Opinions needed
Dear Montreal Chowhounders,
My wife and I are traveling from San Diego to your lovely city June 18th-23rd. This is my second visit, my wife's first. We're both ardent foodies (but my wife sadly shys away from the "scary" stuff like organ meats and whatnot).
We arrive late Sunday evening and are staying at the Marriott Chateau downtown. We'll likely check into our hotel (hungry) around 11:30pm Sunday night (and I've got an all-day long business function starting early the next morning). Because of all that, we were thinking something tasty, quick and easy (within walking distance of our hotel) would be best suited for Sunday night . . . and Boustan seems to cover all the bases. I went to L'Express last year and thought it was really charming (I know it gets dismissed on this board as being dated but San Diego has nothing like this and I'm a sucker for classic frech fare) and it's opened very late - making it another option, but it's pretty far from our hotel and it's a proper sit down meal, thus not very quick.
We've yet to make reservations for Monday night's meal - but if we can get a table La Salle Manger looks incredible. L'Express might be a back up option here given that many places are closed on Monday night.
Tuesday night we're being taken out to dinner by a friend that lives in Montreal to Milos. The flagship Montreal location looks amazing (I had their $20.12 lunch special at their Las Vegas outpostearlier this year and has some incredible grilled octopus).
Wednesday night I managed to snag a table for two at Garde Manger (that was tricky - had to call exactly 30 days before).
Thursday night we have reservations at Les 400 Coups.
The obvious omissions to this dinner itinerary are APDC and Joe Beef. I dined solo at both places last year. I know it sounds like heresy to say it, but APDC did not blow me away. I ordered pickled tongue and the buckwheat pancakes covered with fois gras and maple syrup. The entree was too rich and too sweet for my tastes and the pickled tongue was too much (I definitely think I ordered the wrong stuff and all the talk of APDC's summer seafood menu is enticing). The ambience at APDC was awesome (I dined at the kitchen bar and chatted with folks sitting next to me as we watched all this amazing food getting prepped) and I know my wife would enjoy the scene - but she would perhaps struggle to find something to eat that's not covered in foie gras. Joe Beef was really good (massive portions), but with Garde Manger booked Joe Beef seems a little redundant.
Le Chasse et Peche (apologies for mangling the spelling) looks phenomenal but it's insanely pricey (and I doubt we could book a table at this late date). Le Filet also looks really cool as does Lemeac. Brasserie T's menu does not appeal to my wife so that one's out.
Do you think we should try for APDC on Thursday and drop Les 400 Coups? How would you rate our dinner options?
For breakfast, we'd like to try the local patisseries and bakeries. I'm on a mission to find the best almond croissants. Kouign Amann is a no-brainer and Patisserie Guillame (spelling?) also looks fantastic. We'd like to do walking tours each morning up and down streets like Rue St. Denis and I'm hoping we can eat our breakfasts and lunches during that time.
For lunch, Romado's is a must-try as is some picnic goodies from Marche Jean Talon. I'm torn about Schwartz's. Frankly, we've eaten a lifetime's worth of amazing pastrami and corn beef on rye. I know Montreal's smoked meat is unique in and of itself, but we may pass on Schwartz's if we can find other options. An Indian lunch might be good (but we can get amazing indian food when we visit family in Los Angeles). My wife blanched at the thought of Poutine (sounds good to me - I may bust out the lobster poutine at Garde Manger). Do any of the proper sit down restaurants offer good lunch deals?
Thanks in advance for any feedback and opinions you can provide!
If you are looking for almond croissants I can recommend the almond chocolatine at Co'Pains d'Abord on Rachel. During one of your walking tours up you could stop at Madame Clafoutis and try here, and I'd probably check out the almond croissant at Mr. Pinchot. It's also worth comparing chocolatines and baguettes at all of these, always a great quest. Cafe Cherrier is another classic French place a bit like L'Express that could be fun for lunch one of those days while walking and their terrace is nice.
I'm surprised everyone like Romados so much - I find it to be kind of nice snack food as you'd find in any city. I'd probably head to Patati Patata instead and get a sole filet burger with their poutine, which has a sauce with a nice wine base and is a reasonable size (my kids need two orders each when they eat there, for example).
Indian lunch might be a bit out of your way. There's a new Indonesian place downtown called Gado Gado that looks very authentic and Indonesian is always hard to find in North American cities. There's an very authentic vegetarian Taiwanese called Su Shian Yang on Rachel (next to Co'pains d'abord) that has great sweet potato fries and tofu stirfry with basil, and a small buffet lunch special for $10 or so.
I'd probably opt for APDC anytime but then I've never been to Le 400 Coups. If you like classic French you'd probably also like Chez Levecque and they have a late night special like Lemeac across the street. I have friends who are often searching for the best steak tartare and martinis so we've ended up at L'Express, Chez Levecque, Marché 27, Tuck Shop and Liverpool House. I think Marché 27 is the winner so far.
i would skip APDC if you have already been there, and your wife not into that kind of food. If you like oldstyle french restos you might like Chez Levecque, they have their regulars and do have a terrace outside although on street (sectioned off). Then you can stroll along Laurier which is pleasant area in Outremont but close to downtown. There are better lunch options than smoked meat, most of the best restos have businessmens menu with special prices.
Given the rest of your itinerary, Boustan is not going to fit the bill for you, even if you are arriving tired and hungry after 11:30 at night. Instead of walking, I'd suggest that's the time to go to L'Express. The kitchen is open until 2 AM. It's a short cab ride there, and the food (as you know, is infinitely better). Even if it is sit down, you can easily be in and out of there (or any other place in 30 minutes). Canada Steakburger in your neck of the world is more upscale than Boustan.
Some other alternatives. Au pied de cochon's kitchen is open until midnight, and you probably won't need a reservation if you show up after 11 PM. Le comptoir as well as has a kitchen that is open until midnight, and is five minutes closer by cab to your hotel. After a long flight the food is significantly lighter than what you would have at APDC as well.
If you insist on walking from the hotel there is Dominion Square Tavern where the food, while not awesome and amazing, is perfectly acceptable and they make an alright cocktail as well.
For Monday, if you don't get Salle a Manger, there is Le comptoir, Bouillon Bilk, and Le Bremner as well as L'Express.
But if you are interested in things you are unlikely to find in San Diego, you might want to try Chez Nouri, 10 Pine W, a lunch counter that makes amazing Iranian soups and sandwiches. La Flammee, their specialty is flammekueche, like a pizza but not. An Alsatian specialty. More details on it here
Or L'Emporte Piece and Chez Apo. And instead of Indian for lunch, up on Jean Talon W there is a wonderful Pakistani restaurant called Halal 786 (the address is 768 Jean Talon W)
Then finally, you probably should stop in to La Vieille Europe (3855 St-Laurent) one of the owners is a humongous Chargers fan and makes the pilgrimage to San Diego at least once, if not twice a year. The store is also something you won't find elsewhere.
The rest of your choices look dead bang on. Have fun, and let us know where you end up and what you ate.
Thanks everyone for your wonderful suggestions. I managed to get an 8pm reservation for la salle a manger on Monday night and their menu looks a-ma-zing! Will definitely swap out Boustan for another late night Sunday option (the cab ride to l'express seems like a solid option). My wife and I are SO excited to visit Montreal! We'll definitely report back when we get back from our trip.
I ate at 'salle a manger' about a week ago. Beware the on-line menu was not up to date! I ordered two of their smaller plates -- they both were plenty large enough for me. I very much enjoyed the striped bass ceviche and the pulled rabbit in a steamed bun (with a glass of glass of California pinot noir for the latter and a manzanilla sherry with the former --great). I had a bite of my date's chocolate dessert including vanilla goat milk ice cream that was great.
Thanks again everyone . . . had to juggle a few things since my original post. Believe it or not, my wife freaked out (big time) about the menu at La Salle a Manger because it had horse tartare on it. Also, I threw (finacial) caution to the wind and booked a table for two at Le Club Chasse et Peche for Thursday night (had to cancel Les 400 Coups - but given the glowing feedback "CPC" has it seems like a solid upgrade). That leaves me with a Monday night open slot. To re-cap . . . I've got L'Express late night Sunday, bubkis on Monday, Milos on Tuesday, Garde Manger on Wednesday and Chasse et Peche as the finale on Thursday. Any help with ideas for Monday night would be much appreciated. We'd prefer to stay within the a 10-minute cab ride of the downtown area (actually we might walk 30 minutes from the Marriott Chateau to the Plateau/Outremont area). We like "hip" places and killer food (no need for places that are super dressy). Any type of food - but we love quebecois, french, sushi, spanish, indian . . . you name it.
For Monday , I'd suggest either Le comptoir or Bouillon Bilk. Le Comptoir makes their own charcuterie and has a spectacular wine list. Boullion Bilk, is Quebecois terroir, ie locally grown stuff artfully and deliciously prepared. If I had to choose between the two, given where else you're eating, I'd sugegst Le Comptoir
http://comptoircharcuteriesetvins.ca/ it's not like any of the other places you're eating.
It's too bad about APDC - the Plogue a Champlain (pancake) is one of my favourite dishes in the world, but everyone has different tastes.
If horse on the menu is a problem for your wife then several establishments in the city may be a problem. I won't say it's common, but pops up on menus frequently. For instance, Joe Beef seems to be on a horse bender as of late.
For Monday places there are many recent threads discussing the options. Maybe 3 Petit Bouchons would work for you; it's my favourite monday night option. If you'd prefer to eat late then Dominion Square Taverne is beautiful.
Nothing in town is particularly dressy - in fact Chasse et Peche is one of the most formal around.
It is too bad that you had to bag La Salle a Manger. I just ate there last week and it was a-ma-zing. I had a friend in town and we also ate at Les 400 Coups last week too. It was very good, but not as good (IMO) as La Salle a Manger-- great service, great menu- especially for vegetarian/pescetarian fare (horse notwithstanding).
Highly recommend the perfectly fried zucchini and eggplant at Milos, in addition to their fantastic grilled octopus.
If you're looking for an additional bistro for lunch or dinner, I've always been happy with my meals at Lemeac.