1st Timers to Montreal - Looking for "non foodie" restaurant recommendations
My husband and I are in our early 30's will be in Montreal July 4-8 for the first time to celebrate our anniversary. We are looking for restaurants wtih great food and ambiance, without being too stuffy (my husband is not the most adventurous eater - the simpler, the better). We have only one reservation so far - our anniversary dinner will be at Les 400 Coups -- but looking for other restaurant and night life recommendations. In particular, looking for outdoor dining suggestions, a great and lively French bistro, and restaurants that are good jumping off points for after dinner libations/ activities. We are not above "hole in the walls" if the food is worth it, either. As a point of reference, we are staying in Old Montreal near the Old Port, but also open to exploring new neighborhoods. Thanks in advance for your input!
Thanks for all of these incredibly helpful suggestions. It seems I struck a chord with my use of the word "foodie," it's fun to see all the responses.
We leave tomorrow and decided on F Bar, Les 400 Coups and L'Express for our dinners, and have so far decided to hit up Schwartz's and Jean Talon's farmer's market for lunch. We also hope to grab drinks outside Le-Sainte Elisabeth Pub. Please let me know if there are any breakfast, dessert or drink places we should add into the list. I love Chowhounders - you all are the best!
Ste-Elisabeth does have a nice terasse, though it can be hard to get a seat there during the summer. It is also a young, student crowd, if that makes any difference to you. If you are interested in trying different quality local brews, you should also stop by Vices et Versa. They also have a very nice terasse. It is quite close to Jean-Talon market (walking distance down St-Laurent from the market). Have fun!
I have trouble with the over emphasis and perfectionism there is on food in the media at the moment. For example, the usage of obscure ingredients in recipes and the complexity of recipes we see in media. All of the food challenge shows that take the foodie concept to an extreme.
I dislike being overcharged for food that is barely visiable on the plate, and I expect value and good food when paying for a meal. I also enjoy all good food, especially a simple hamburger and I'd rather eat meatloaf than steak anyday.
Ruthie789, Agree! (with one exception: replace steak with fish for me)
More and more often I notice that googling for "farm to table" restaurants gets me much better meal with excellent quality/price ratio. My last trip to Toronto and my recent trip to US West Coast just confirmed my strategy. I was very happy with restaurants, and haven't spent a fortune.
You can go to Chapters bookstore and look at a book in the Tourism section calle Guide Resto voir. It is written in French and if you are able to read in French, you will get great reviews on all types of Restaurants in the Montreal area. This book is based on a TV show which has visited each restaurant within. A super nice restaurant highlighted was the Dominion Square Tavern, which has been refurbished and serves English pub like food.(514-564-5056) If you are looking for a casual atmosphere, there is another small pub called Brit and chips(fish and chips) that was featured on TV, it is supposed to be very good.(514-840-1001). I like to go to little Italy, St. Laurent street and I have been to a small Italian restaurant called TRE MARIE, 514-277-9859. It has good Italian food. The little Italy area of Montreal has some expensive restaurants and some affordable ones, it is out of the downtown area, but it is a hub of restaurants. A Montreal experience for steak is Moishes 514-845-3509 also in the St. Laurent area, it is on the expensive side but has been in business forever and is well known for steak. My niece who has travelled all over the world recently went to Club Chasse et Peche (514-861-1112), she has said it was one of the best restaurants that she ever went to, and it was a consensus around the table. I really suggest you get the guidebook it has a symbolic rating system, with prices and locations. Hope you have a great time it Montreal, it is a wonderful city, and please go to Old Montreal at night as that is part of our great city ambiance. PS I am a foodie but hate to be fooled. If the prices are high, I expect good quality, and lots of food. No skimpy plates.
"This book is based on a TV show which has visited each restaurant within"
It's actually the other way 'round. The guide had been around for a long time before they spun it off into a TV show. Also, the guide has actual restaurant reviews, whereas the TV show just has a lot of gushing.
Yes you are correct the reviews and guides have been around before the show. I apologize for not correctly defining the historical timeline of the guide. As for the show it is somewhat indulgent but it gives a visual perception of the restaurant as well as the atmosphere that you it evokes. As for the gushing, I don`t rely on that I look at the plating, service and food on the show to make my own judgement. The show is a guide for me.
You are in luck, Montreal is more a "hipster/artisan" than a "stuffy/high brow" scene. You can get highbrow if you look for it but a lot of the nice places are more artisan minded.
Off the cuff:
-You'll be righ in the Jazz festival. A metric ton of free shows and thematic bar scene awaits you! http://www.montrealjazzfest.com/defau...
-A few general trick/generalisation:
You go to the plateau if you are young and hip (Mont-Royal/Sherbrooke metro).
You go to the Mile-End if you prefer a more anglophone hip crowd (Laurier metro + walk).
You go to the Gay village for a very cool "laissez faire" atmosphere (beaudry metro).
You go to the latin quarter if you are a french student (berri-UQAM
)You go to the Quartier des spectacles if you want to be part of the festivities (Place des arts metro)
You go to the corner of crescent/sainte-cahterine if you are an english student/ are from out of town [read: somewhere where everything closes very early) and want to get drunk/want to pick up people (there are places for three)
You go to Saint-Laurent from Sherbrooke to Des Pins if you have money and want to be seen on the scene where the glitz and fashionable gets seen having "fun"
You go to the old Montreal if you are a tourist
Places to try:
-L'express is your best bet for french bistro. If full, a lot of them are in the same area (Plateau).
-Go take a walk on Mont-Royal, its smack dab in the city and very safe
-Saint-Elizabeth pub has one of the nicest terasse in Montreal
-Poutine places abounds: favorite places are "La Banquise " (plateau) and Patati-Patata (plateau)
-A nice afternoon walk: start at Atwater metro and walk Saint-Catherine to Beaudry, start on Saint-Denis in the old montreal, walk to Mont-Royal station and come back on Saint-Laurent (these walks are a few hours long but will make you see a lot of what Montreal has to offer
-Go see the Atwater (metro Lionel-Groulx) and the Jean-Talon markets, 2 of the nicest open air markets in montreal
-Go to Schwartz or The Main in front if the line is too long
For good terrasse eating :
Lemeac, Levesque, 5eme Péché, Tasso Mezze, Club Chasse et Pêche (lunch only), Icehouse, Joe Beef, F Bar, Brasserie T, ...
All of the above offer good food for non-adventurous eating (at least compared to Les 400 coups which is probably the more foodie of the lot).
Good but not foodie French bistros I would suggest l'Express ( a classic with white and black tiles) or Continental (with a terrasse onto St-denis street, so 2 in 1). Continental feels a little classier, just because l'Express is more boisterous, but both are very similar in all aspects. Both are in The Plateau neighbourhood , which you should at least spend a few hours in. The Plateau is one of the easiest neighbourhood to find ''after dinner libations'', very lively, with a more francophone crowd (I'm assuming that's a plus for you if you are visiting Montreal).