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Another "Coming to Montreal" question

Hi Montreal hounds!

I've done a search of the Quebec boards and got some really good advice and possibilities for food during my upcoming trip to Montreal (not too many ideas for Quebec City).

It seems like most people visiting Montreal want to go out for upscale/special dining experiences. I'm traveling with some friends that wouldn't be interested in a series of high-end meals (so no APdC, Joe Beef, 400 Coups, etc).

So, I'm looking for some mid-range (price-wise) places to eat that are still delicious and interesting. We are staying @ Delta Centre-Ville, 777 University near Old Town. I'm coming from Los Angeles, one friend is coming from Tucson and the other from Southern California (the OC). We are all open to any sort of ethnic food, but would also like to get a good cross section of eating in Montreal and avoid the tourist traps.

If there is some place close by for good breakfast/coffee--that would be a priority. Olive & Gourmando in Old Montreal looks like it will fit the bill, but other suggestions are welcome.

We'll be out and about around town doing the tourist thing during the day, but we plan to hit up some shows at the African and Comedy festivals in the evening.

Some places that I thought might work for us (would welcome any comments or alternate suggestions):
-Checking out Jean-Talon mkt

-Cuisine Szechuan (even tho there is a ton of excellent Chinese food in LA)

-Schwartz's (how can I not? then I can do a mental taste test w/ the pastrami @ Langers)

-Maybe some Portuguese chicken (i don't think there is any in LA, tho the Peruvian chicken here is excellent)? Rotisserie Ramados?

-Possibly a bistro and/or brasserie: Brasserie T, F Bar, L'Express, or?

-We have a ton of Japanese options here, but maybe Kazu for isakaya?

If I'm totally off the mark here, let me know. Also, any wine bars or craft beer brew pubs would be great!

We're also going to be spending two days in Quebec City (renting a car in Montreal and driving). I didn't find many threads here on the Quebec boards. The two places that sounded interesting are: L'Affaire Est Ketchup and Le Billig. It looks like we could use some help. We will be staying @ the Delta Quebec, 690 Boul René-Lévesque E.

If there is any place worth stopping to eat on our drive from Montreal to Quebec City, I'd love that information as well!

Thank-you so much for your advise and I'll be more than happy to report back after our trip (we'll be there from the 18-24).

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  1. You have a good selection, albeit quite "standard"

    I suggest (check for summer vacation closures, and google for addresses and info) :
    La Salle A Manger
    Hotel Herman (small brother of La Salle à Manger, just opened)
    Le Chien Fumant,
    Bremner,
    Lawrence,
    3 petits bouchons,
    Brasserie Les Soeurs Grises (beer)
    Les Brasseurs de Montreal (beer)
    Dieu du Ciel (beer, no food)
    Le Comptoir Charcuterie et Vins (wine bar)
    Pastaga (wine bar)
    Pullman (wine bar),
    Buvette Chez Simone (wine bar)
    ...

    you could have a look at some ethnic food :
    Le Petit Alep (next door to Jean-Talon Market)
    Kaza Maza (syrian/middle-eastern)
    ...

    Kazu is nice, but with line-ups it can be frustrating, if that is the case, go to faubourg st-catherine food court (crappy location, and building), but ok and varied food on the 2nd floor (Ramen, Tacos, ... )

    You could also eat at the "just for laugh" food area, they have a food trucks area with some local chefs handling the food.

    Enjoy your stay!

    M.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      Thanks for the suggestions Max! I'll check into the beer & wine suggestions.

      I was looking @ Lawrence and thought it sounded delicious, but it might be too adventurous for my friends. Maybe for brunch?

      La Salle A Manger sounds great and the menu looks like it might work for the girls.

      How are the Montreal food trucks (they are hit or miss here)? I take it that the local chefs manning the trucks are unique to the event?

      1. re: LAgirl2

        (disclaimer, I'm not a huge fan of food-truckism)

        Food trucks are still not fully permitted outside of "events" (festivals, private functions, ... ), but city regulations are changing slowly.

        I think chefs from Pastaga (Martin Juneau) and Le Comptoire charcuterie (Segué Lepage); are on site in their trucks.

        There will be taco, sandwiches, fish'n'chips, Tartare, Pierogies, ... all the usual food trucks fare .

        IMO, if you are on the festival site and the weather is nice, it could be fun to grab some food, some beer and site around.
        M

        1. re: Maximilien

          On "This is why we're fat"'s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/This-i..., there are some nice photos of some of the food truck options.

          1. re: Plateaumaman

            Very very impressive food truck options - aside from the usual suspects, there are a few new ones that looked mighty yummy, and even TA and Myriade are there (in a converted container), and Nouveau Palais is there with their Winneburger truck. I had a hard time deciding where to buy my lunch on Saturday...

            1. re: cherylmtl

              Cheryl, which trucks did you end up trying, what did you get and what did you think of the food?

              1. re: LAgirl2

                I had the ancho beef tacos from Grumman (I like Grumman, although you can probably get much better tacos in LA), and hubby had a cheeseburger from Nouveau Palais, which was very good. However, I think pretty much all of the trucks there will be of the same quality - you can't go wrong no matter which you choose, and they are all parked on the same stretch of Ste-Catherine. Just decide what you want to try, and go with that truck.

                1. re: cherylmtl

                  excellent. that sounds like a really good plan. i think it sounds like a fun night out.

                  (your right, it's unlikely i'll eat tacos in Montreal. i'd rather eat "Montreal food" and get some tacos or a burrito when i get back to LA)

            2. re: Plateaumaman

              Those photos look great and the food looks really good . I think your suggestion of grabbing some food/beer @ the festival sounds like a great one.

              In LA, I tend to prefer the old school taco trucks to the new fangled "gourmet" trucks. Most of the new trucks seem more about having a novel concept vs preparing good food in a timely manner at a reasonable price.

      2. For Quebec City, during my last visit a few weekends ago, we liked our lunch at Échaudé... and enjoyed our supper at Chez Boulay (which I reviewed here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/857918

        )

        A few years ago, Pain Béni at lunch was VERY disappointing.

        4 Replies
        1. re: TheSnowpea

          I must have somehow missed your review. It sounds great and we don't really have any nordic influenced food here in LA. Plus the charcuterie boards sounds very tasty and we can always share a couple of those with wine if we aren't up for a 3 or 4 course meal.

          Thank you!

          1. re: LAgirl2

            If you're looking for Nordic influenced food, you might want to try Cafe Ellefsen. It's close to Jean-Talon market, and very good. Not expensive either.
            For Portuguese chicken, the best places are on Rachel - Romados and Portugalia, and Chez Doval is also nearby.

            1. re: cherylmtl

              I've got Romados on my list and will add Portugalia as well (if we don't fill up too much @ the market portuguese chicken sounds really good).

              Before Snopea's post, Nordic influenced food wasn't even on my radar but it sounds like something unique and very different from West Coast/Southwest food and probably worth checking out either in Montreal or Quebec City.

              1. re: LAgirl2

                I'm not certain Ellefsen is worth going out of your way. The setting is really nice, but I don't think the food is particularly exceptional or interesting. In fact, my one visit there left me rather disappointed. I found everything bland and somewhat overpriced.

        2. Two weeks ago I returned from a Montreal trip. It was my fist time there in 15 years. While I had plans like you to eat at certain restaurants, my plans were derailed by the shear number of great restaurants all around me. One thing I do suggest is make sure you get out of the downtown core and take a taxi or the bus up to Mile End and/or the Plateau neighbourhoods.

          Just ask the cab to drop you off at St. Viateur Bagel shop in Mile End. Across the street is this wonderful rotesserie chicken spot. Although you may not be hungry, order a piece just for the experience. Next door is a nice grocery story. For me, these little gems made my Montreal vacation. it was nice to get away from the throngs of tourists.

          In the Plateau, there's a Venezuelan sandwich shop. In between, lots of shopping on Saint Laurence Street at prices less than what you would be downtown. I didn't eat at any of the restaurants that I planned to eat but never had one meal.

          4 Replies
          1. re: HamiltonLake

            If the places you mention are Poulet Serrano and Latina, I think your cab driver dropped you off at the wrong St-Viateur Bagel. The original shop is at 263 St-Viateur West near Parc. The one you must have gone to the one at 158 St-Viateur that makes bagels for wholesale.

            1. re: HamiltonLake

              I wouldn't be surprised if we get "derailed" by good food all over the place (I'm hoping that's the case!).

              I'm planning on using my "rough list" as a list of possibilities depending on what we're doing that day and what neighborhood we're in. It will be a total surprise as to where and what we end up eating. But thanks to all of you, I've got solid options.

              If I was going on this trip w/ a significant other, I would have probably been booking reservations at the "must go to now" type of places (like many of the other Montreal vacation threads). But since this is a more casual trip w/ the girls, I think it will be about discovering Montreal, having a fun time and eating some good food! I agree w/ you about the need to get away from the throngs of tourists. If it was up to me, I would be making this trip in the fall sans tourists, but this is when we all could go.

              1. re: HamiltonLake

                I presume the Venezuelan place is Arerepa Du Plateau on Duluth. Tasty and fresh, but nothing too special.

                1. re: heliosphan

                  Or maybe Bocadillo on St-Laurent, which is quite good IMO.

              2. I finally have a moment to report back from my trip. First of all, as I'm sure you know, Montreal is a fantastic city. I LOVED my couple of days there and wish that I had more time to get to all of the things that I wanted to see, the places to explore and the food to taste. But, 3 days in Montreal and 2 days in Quebec (plus two days of airport travel) barely scratched the surface. It looks like a return trip will probably be in my future.

                As HamiltonLake mentioned, it's easy to get derailed. Between my friends' lack of priority on food and the endless things that we wanted to see/do in Montreal, I didn't get to much of my list (but everybody was really impressed w/ my research and list! for what that's worth--thank you all!).

                Some things that I did get to and enjoyed:

                Marche Jean Talon: Wow. Really great. Not only was it a fun thing to do, but the vendors were amazing. The quality of the produce was beautiful this time of year (and coming from California where we have amazing produce all year round, this is a huge compliment). I especially loved the stone fruit and wild berries. We picked up some Quebec cheeses @ Qui Lait (a monnoir, pied-d-vent and a chevre), a couple of baguettes from Joe la Croute, various plums/plouts to munch on later @ the hotel. All were excellent. I loved Joe la Croute and wish I could have picked up some of the olive bread as well (small selection, but everything looked excellent). At this point we needed to sit down, rest from all the walking, cool off, and have a bite to eat, so we popped into Vinizza. We had a delicious lite lunch of grilled vegetables, a "white" pizza with ham/mushrooms/artichokes/maybe other veggies and a nice crisp sauvignon blanc. It was a lovely cap to the market.

                The African music festival was really fun and they had food vendors as well. Since we had come from Jean Talon, we weren't very hungry but did try the rice & peas and plantains (one of my friends' mother is from Jamaica and was craving rice & peas). We then went to the Just for Laughs festival and as cherylmtl mentioned---there were lots of interesting choices. The trucks and stands looked great, with really interesting choices, but we couldn't eat any more (how can that be?!) and ended up just enjoying the scene and drinking some really tasty Canadian beer (a white ale, can't remember the brewery).

                BTW---we ended up going to the SAQ store on Ste. Catherine on day one (I mistakenly jotted down the address for Kazu as 862 St. Catherine instead of 1862), so needless to say we didn't eat there, but ended up @ a not-so-bad somewhat touristy spot for apps/mussels/wine). The SAQ store was fun. The sales staff was incredibly helpful, the selection was better than I was led to believe (I was told this store has a really good selection while there)---but there was a bit of sticker shock on the wine prices (double the cost per bottle in LA). But, we needed wine. I also picked up a bottle of Quebec (apple) cider that was perfect for a hot summer day.

                I think the best cup of coffee we had was on our way out of town (Montreal) to Quebec @ Muru. We had finally gotten away from the chain coffee (starbucks & 2nd cup) around our hotel. Since we got the coffee to go, we didn't get to taste the crepes or breakfast which looked very good. The staff was overly accommodating and helpful in getting all of the cream/sugar requests down. Very solid cup of drip coffee.

                Unfortunately, we didn't realize that the Roger Waters/ The Wall show was happening in Quebec on the day we arrived. Minutes after we pulled into town and got to our hotel, the police started barricading the streets. So we were blocked in from all sides. No way to drive and walking was getting worse by the minute. We managed to grab a table @ the closest available restaurant without a block long wait for a table. Not what we were expecting (oh well).

                The next day we had breakfast in old Quebec, did some driving around (Montmorency Falls) and ended up @ Vignoble Sainte-Pétronille on l'île d'Orléans for some wine tasting. I must admit, I wasn't expecting to do wine tasting in Quebec! I liked the Voile de la Mariée (the steel tank version vs the barrel aged) and picked up a bottle. I thought their ice wine was nice as well (I'm not that into sweet wines, but this wasn't overly cloying).

                At this point, I was getting a bit grumpy that we hadn't made a dent in my list. We were back in Montreal and I wanted to go to Boris Bistro for dinner. We had walked by on night #1 and the courtyard looked lovely as did the menu. While we were checking out menus online, it started pouring---major thunder storms and rain. So, the thought of an outside summer dinner was dashed. My friends nixed the idea of eating @ Boris inside, nixed Hambar, nixed Lawrence as well.

                They finally agreed to go to Holder. All-in-all it ended up being a good choice for a rainy night. Rain=comfort food. I had the chicken liver pate which was very good and the beef cheeks à la bourguignonne---which was also tasty (but had enough of about half way through). My friends had the veal steak (I had a bite and it was better than my entree) and the hangar steak w/ frites.

                So.....thank you again for all of your help and suggestions. I now need a return trip to get to all of the things that I missed (and next time w/ friends that are more food focused!).

                6 Replies
                1. re: LAgirl2

                  That's a thoughtful and interesting report. It's good to go with the flow when travelling so no worries. Research is half the fun. Thanks!

                  1. re: LAgirl2

                    Good report! Glad you enjoyed your trip!

                    Foodwise, you were better at Holder than Boris Bistro, while their terrasse is stunning, the food is only ok not much more

                    1. re: LAgirl2

                      Thanks for reporting back!

                      1. re: Maximilien

                        yes, i think going w/ the flow is best. you never know where you will be, what you'll be doing and what you'll be in the mood for. luckily Montreal has SO MUCH going on, that it was very easy to be flexible (and yes, the research was a lot of fun and i got to chat w/ you folks for a bit! :) ).

                        westaust---i liked holder, but that terrasse @ boris bistro was so magical looking when we walked by ("indoor" trees, lights, nice summer night....) that i wanted to just sit and enjoy being there for a while. but holder ended up being perfect for a stormy night (as was the food). the room was nice, the service was very good (and incredibly friendly) and the prices seemed fair for the quality of food. plus, the style of cooking and type of ingredients made my friends happy as well.

                        i am a bit sad that i didn't get to try any smoked meat or bagels (most other things i can get in LA)........oh well.....i suppose i can use that as an excuse to get back to montreal sooner vs later.

                        thanks again everybody!

                      2. re: LAgirl2

                        Enjoyed your report,,thanks; and yes we are having tropical rain episodes up in Canada, it is chaud chaud chaud! Its true not easy to go across city when you have things to see and you can have nice atmosphere and decent food without getting to lists. You did well to get two busy festivals and two cities as well. I really enjoyed my tour around Ile d Orleans tasting wines, cheeses and other farm produces and this rural oasis is so close to Quebec city.

                        1. re: mangoannie

                          we were lucky that our hotel was very close to lots of restaurants on McGill that we could walk to. the subway system in montreal is excellent and we were able to get all over easily. but, the rain made us want to stay close to home base on the last day.

                          l'île d'Orléans was very pretty and seemed like a special place. it's wonderful to have a place that seems so "country" only 15 min or so from the city. we would have stopped @ some of the produce farms but we still had a lot of fruit that we needed to eat from our visit to jean talon. i also noticed several fromageries on the route from montreal to quebec. if we had more time (and didn't already have cheese with us), i would have loved to check some of those out. it was wonderful that we got to experience both city and rural quebec in the short time that we were there.