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Montreal food needs: French, steak, brunch

Will be Montreal for a bit less than 48 hours next weekend. Need to hit the following:

- good French food Sunday night before leaving Mon AM
- good steak Saturday night after arriving
- good brunch Sunday morning

All 3 need to be centrally located (staying in the hotel attached to the Bell Centre) - minimal cab ride at most, or <20 minute walk.

French food can't be more than roughly mid-price range. For context, I was looking at La Gargote in Old Montreal, but am open to anything. If the person I'm dining with would consider Joe Beef, I'd go for that providing I can get a reservation on this short of notice. Unless you folks feel I can do much better than Joe Beef?

The steakhouse has to be pretty typical, though good. My dad wants to go to Gibby's -- was there a few years ago, I didn't mind it. From what I've read on here, ya'll are pretty divided on steakhouses in Montreal and there's no real consensus favourite. Can I do significantly better than Gibby's which will also appease a non-foodie? (going with someone more adventurous than my dad for the French food, so that's not a factor when responding to the French request).

Brunch is for Sunday morning before the Argos-Als game, so we need to be able to be seated and served in decent time and still have time to travel to Olympic stadium for not much later than noon. I also don't want to wake up super early, so assume we'll be arriving at the restaurant around 10. Again, it must be centrally located. For brunch, I'm looking for a balance of portions, quality (extra points for anywhere with super-good breakfast potatoes), some greasy-spoon factor, and non-alcoholic drinks (fresh juices and coffee). Can be foody-ish, as long as a non-foodie will have something to order.

Appreciate any help you can offer!

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  1. For brunch, if you have to go to the stadium, why not consider a brunch in that neighbourhood? Le Valois could be a good option for that (and it's french so, might be interesting for you).

    1. One can never go wrong with the good old Taverne on the Square! Known for years as Westmount's first point of access to the wider province. It's also a reasonable walk from the Bell Centre. Check it out: http://taverne.ca/.

      1. But if you want a fuller French experience, you have to voyage downtown. There, Alexandre cuts the mustard in an authentically continental manner. Evening menu: http://www.chezalexandre.com/menus.cf...

        1. moishes is much better than gibby's

          1 Reply
          1. re: catroast

            Agreed. And they offer a 25$ after 9pm menu (app, main, coffee) http://www.moishes.ca/eng/ENG%20menu%...

          2. The steak house across from the Bell Centre on Rene Levesque (which used to be Queue de Cheval) is supposed to be good, although quite pricey.
            Joe Beef is very good, but not what I would call "French" food - although it is Quebecois in its own way. And it's not anywhere close to mid-price range, it's on the higher end of the spectrum. But you can check on their website and reserve via opentable, if there is anything available.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cherylmtl

              How about l'entrecote st jean(peel&demaisonneuve) for steak. It's a very different French style steak house. I've always enjoyed my dinner there, I'm a sucker for profiteroles! You could also try les mas des oliviers, old school French restaurant on bishop.

            2. You can scratch Joe Beef from your list. They're closed on Sunday. In fact there are a lot places closed on Sunday. Here's a handy dandy list of worthwhile places open on sundays and mondays.


              If you're looking for something like Joe Beef, which isn't particularly French BTW, you should consider Chien Fumant of Salle à Manger. If you end up at Salle à Manger, make sure to check the board specials.

              3 Replies
              1. re: SnackHappy

                Chien fumant and salle a manger are delicious but very far from the bell center. Downtown certainly does not have the best choices...

                1. re: Gloriaa

                  Yeah, they're not that close but it's a short and cheap cab ride to the Plateau. Considering the downtown options and the OP's interest for Joe Beef, I think they're good alternatives.

                  1. re: SnackHappy

                    Yeah, if OP is open to go to the plateau the options open up tremendously.

              2. -Good French food Sunday night before leaving Mon AM
                I'd try Brasserie T. Its roughly 20 minutes walk and the food is typical brasserie fare and very good. Other options are Chez Alexandre and Le Pois Penché but I didn't take the time to eat there so I don't know if its any good (Pois Penché looks expensive, I tried their brunch and liked it and its very french)

                good steak Saturday night after arriving
                Its not a sexy recommendation and its a bit expensive but I always liked À la Queue de Cheval for a steakhouse. Other option is Moishe's but its a bit far from bell centre.

                good brunch Sunday morning
                If I'm downtown I have 4 choices:
                Le Pois Penché have impressed me with their brunch. A few bucks more but very clean and good french flair.
                Universel and Ben & Florentine are more "commercial" but there is usually space, its clean and the prices are fair and the portions are good.
                A secret hideout I have is "Cocktail Hawai" near Guy Concordia. The decoration is _very_ garish and I won't bring any dates there but the place looks familly owned and they have good waffles and crepes. They also have lebanese specialities like Ashta (a lebanese mascarpone) and lots of choices.

                5 Replies
                1. re: CaptCrunch

                  Cocktail Hawaii is kind of fun for a minute until you realize how much you are paying for mediocre food and piss poor service.

                  For french there is also Maison Boulud at the Ritz Carlton http://www.danielnyc.com/maisonboulud...

                  1. re: catroast

                    I never said it was high flying food. The food I find not that bad... about on par with more commercial offerings last time I went there.

                    Agree with Maison Boulud.

                    1. re: CaptCrunch

                      Bouloud is expensive for brunch, $40 a head-which includes juice, coffee and2 course breakfast. It's delicious though....

                      1. re: Gloriaa

                        Bouloud would be a good choice for dinner though

                        1. re: catroast

                          for brunch you could also easily walk to Le Gros Jambon

                          It's probably the most unique brunch you'll find in the area

                2. Thanks for the feedback, folks. I'd like to hear some more options on the French side, am willing to go anywhere that's a cheap cab ride.

                  As far as brunch, I'm thinking something a bit more breakfast-y than some of the places suggested. Here's an example of a place I love - http://eatyolk.com/menu/yolk_menu.pdf

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: MunchingGrassnFish

                    Looks like what you're looking for is Eggspectations, Ben & Florentine or one of those deals.

                    As for the French place., what do you consider French? I wouldn't, for example, consider Joe Beef to be a French restaurant. It's more of a North-American, Quebecois, Montreal kind of place like Au Pied de Cochon, Kitchen Galerie, Garde-Manger and the like. If you want French you could do Maison Boulud, Le Mas des Oliviers or Laloux. With a Joe Beef budget at Laloux you could really go all-out and have a great meal.

                    1. re: MunchingGrassnFish

                      It depend what you mean by "french".

                      The purest french experience I know are probably l'express (french Brasserie, in the less expensive side) and La Mère Michel (traditional french restaurant... more expensive)


                      This is not an inclusive list. There are other very well known french restaurants... (le mas des oliviers is another one


                      However, some people might take french as a more "classic" request and suggest more modern interpretations that are more french/quebec hybrid... a lot of our well known Montreal eateries have a french core after all.

                      1. re: CaptCrunch

                        Do you like Chez la Mère Michel? I've read and heard so many awful things about that place. I thought the only person in Montreal who liked it there was Philippe Mollé.

                        1. re: SnackHappy

                          Haven't been there for a long time but last time I was there I loved the experience. Its a family thing... my father used to go there every week for 30ish years and they still carry the same items. I can't help but respect that kind of tradition... Before I started having money to pay for my own things, before that wave of the restaurants "à l'ardoise" places like à la mère michel were my referrals for good food.

                          Its very french though. I can understand why it could rub people the wrong way. Its also very "old guard" and I guess it could be seen as stuffy by some? Still my personal golden standard for service. There was that french waiter who had little anecdotes for each items we ordered, at the same time proper, reverential and full of panache. I honestly felt like Bruce Wayne.

                          I've been meaning to come back forever. I'll probably do so in the coming weeks. I'll let you know how its aged!

                          1. re: CaptCrunch

                            Review I found of la mere michel. Ok... 2007 might as well be last century but it seemed to hold up well?


                            More recent?


                    2. The breakfast place I linked (Yolk in Chicago) is a lot better than Eggspectation (have one outside the Eaton's Centre here in Toronto) and from what I can see the Florentine place. Guess I'm looking for something that covers the classics really well and has a few more interesting options...

                      For French, I'm flexible. L'Express certainly looks good, the only drawback is I don't see salmon tartar on the menu, which I'd really like. I'm also open to somewhere more Quebec/fusion/modern, by all means. Again, I point to La Gargote as an example of something that looks good to me, so suggestions along those lines.

                      On the whole, does anyone feel really strongly I'm missing out by going to Gibby's over somewhere else?

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: MunchingGrassnFish

                        Gibby's is a big mistake, but yours to make...

                        1. re: MunchingGrassnFish

                          Very good "french" options:
                          Mas des Oliviers -- menu more extensive than shown on-line -- tratitional southern French -- easy walk.
                          Laloux -- excellent relaxed Montreal bistro
                          Salle-a-manger -- great food but noisy.

                          1. re: Fritzy

                            I really liked Laloux the last couple time I've been (all within last 12 months).

                            Another adventurous option would be Bouillon Bilk which is basically a 20 minutes walk or a 6$ cab ride. http://www.bouillonbilk.com/menu_soir

                            Finally, surprised no one mentioned Lemeac http://restaurantlemeac.com/menus-2/ as a French place. The after 10pm menu is a very good deal too.

                          2. re: MunchingGrassnFish

                            For steak, i'd go to 1221 (the old Queue de Cheval) for a good steak over Gibby's even is more expensive, and on most night i'd probably go to The Keg over Gibby's - only thing i like at Gibby's is the beef wellington, a rare find in restaurants here in Montreal, so i don't know if i like it due to it's hard to find factor, or because i find it genuinely good

                            1. re: westaust

                              1221 is much more expensive than Gibby's.

                              a ribsteak is over $50

                            2. re: MunchingGrassnFish

                              I think L'avenue could be an option for breakfast. It's on Mt-Royal in the Plateau so you would need to take a cab. It gets very busy, but if you arrive before 10 you shouldn't have to wait for a table. Seating is quite cramped though.
                              There's no website but here's their urban spoon info www.urbanspoon.com/m/r/67/1433871

                            3. another option, while not a traditional steak house (in its decor), is mechant boeuf. i had a great bone in filet mignon . it's a trendier spot in old montreal. overall, it's not a bad choice. their tartars, salmon included, are pretty good.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: catroast

                                another option, while not a traditional steak house can be Magnans. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this gentrified working mans tavern (in paticular because of the gentrification and increased prices over the years), however, it is a slice of Montreal which might have appeal to a visitor. Their steaks are pretty good and you can get other options such as Jarret du Porc (Montreal style pork hocks) or pate chinois canard (shepherd's pie with duck).


                                1. re: porker

                                  I've been to Magnans recently and was unimpressed with my steak

                              2. it seems to me if you are in a rush sunday morning to get to game you are better to avoid le cartet, gros jambon and other brunch places in old montreal, service can be nonchalant and slow. I would just go to Ben and Florentine and get special meals at other times. Maybe Lemeac for the French as nice atmosphere even on Sundays when restaurants can be desserted, and not far from downtown. I cant comment on steak as it is not something I order in Montreal restaurants other than the small one at Dominion tavern.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: mangoannie

                                  The games is at the Olympique Stadium at 1PM.

                                  I'd go for an early breakfast instead of brunch.

                                2. How long/much of a cab ride from the Bell Centre-area to Moishes? Is Moishes much more expensive than Gibby's?

                                  Agreed with the person who said I'm looking more for breakfast than brunch. Any further reco's based on that?

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: MunchingGrassnFish

                                    Moishes is a bit pricier than Gibby's. Moishes and Gibby's are similar in that you will get complimentary pickle, bread and salad service. A cab ride is approximately 10 minutes and should be between $10-15. If your cab driver is foolish enough to go up St Laurent on Friday or Saturday night, it might cost more. Cabbing to Gibby's will cost you about the same. Both spots are about 2 km from your hotel. Try Nocochi for breakfast, it's no more than 10 minute walk from your hotel http://www.nocochi.com/Nocochi/menu.html

                                    In general Moishes has better service, a fresher look and more consistent food. The crowd at Moishes is a bit more refined. Gibby's can be hit or miss and it's rough around the edges in terms of its ambiance and service. Overall you won't pay much more at Moishes. Gibby's has the added benefit of being in the historic district and it can be nice to walk around - however after dinner you will find the area to be shuttered and deserted. Moishes is in what is now the clubbing district but there are a number of relics of its immigrant passed. It can be an interesting place for people watching and window shopping. You could also easily walk back to your hotel in under 30 min.

                                    1. re: catroast

                                      Thanks, I think we might have a winner with Nocochi.

                                      Remain open to ideas for French/Quebecois on Sunday - rmbr, am willing to go to the Plateau.

                                      1. re: MunchingGrassnFish

                                        For your Sunday night "French" meal, consider Restaurant Holder, which is located at the western end of Old Montreal, so a max. 25 minute walk from Bell Centre, or a $12 to $15 cab ride. Holder has a pretty decent salmon tartare, but a a lot of other nice mains as well, in addition to a fairly priced and good wine list. They are open Sunday nights.

                                        407 McGill 100-A
                                        Old-Montreal Québec
                                        Canada H2Y 2G3

                                        1. re: manaloman

                                          For Saturday night steak, what about an Argentinean steakhouse? There's a relatively new spot in Old Montreal called Atelier Argentine? I have not been myself but it looks interesting. Baroco in Old Montreal also makes a pretty good ribsteak

                                          355 Marguerite D'Youville
                                          Montréal ,QC, H2Y 2C4
                                          Tel: 514-287-3362

                                          312 Rue Saint-Paul West (corner Saint-Pierre)
                                          Montréal, Qc, Canada
                                          Open 7 days a week

                                  2. Thanks to all for their ideas. Here is the report:

                                    Nocochi around 2pm on Saturday when we got there. Had eggs with potatoes, mushrooms and toast and enjoyed it. Nice place.

                                    Gibby's Saturday night, I was happy enough with their reviews to not bother trying to change my dad's plans. I had escargot, followed by an onion-tomato marinade I enjoyed, followed by a 14oz NY with 2 scampi lobster tails, which are extremely hard to find in Toronto (and the price for the 2 at Gibby's was barely more than it'd cost to buy them at a seafood market, near as I know). My steak was a lot nicer than I remember it being the first time I ate at Gibby's.

                                    I left open the possibility of hitting Moishes $25 after-9 menu with a friend later Saturday, but I felt too stuffed to really justify it... do hope to try it next time I'm in Montreal though.

                                    Sunday morning we went to Eggspectations (reviews were better than the one i'd look at in Toronto so I figured why not). Waited about 15 min to be seated but they got us our stuff super fast. Had an omelette with a really, really tasty fruit juice they made specially.

                                    Sunday afternoon, the Argos eliminated the Als :)

                                    Sunday night I ate at Lemeac with a friend who lives in town. I had the salmon tartare and cornish hen and really enjoyed both.

                                    If I were rating, I'd probably give Nocochi a 3.5 star (they ran out of salmon gravlax, so I had to order my 2nd choice) and Eggspectations, Gibby's and Lemeac all 4's, I was quite satisfied with all 3.

                                    One thing I noticed was that at all 4, no one came by to ask how our food was after it had been served. I would have answered it was great in all cases, but found it interesting that even at 2 nice places (Gibby's and Lemeac) no one came by. I think the Lemeac server did much later in our meal, actually. Anyways, in this case there was nothing wrong with any of the food and it was nice not to be interrupted, so it worked out great :)

                                    On the whole, a very good 40ish hours of eating in Montreal. Thanks again to all for their suggestions!