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Nov 15, 2012 06:15 AM

Montreal restaurant recommendations......

Hi All: I'll be visiting Montreal with my partner next week and are looking for restaurant recommendations. We live in DC and love smaller upscale neighborhood establishments with great atmosphere and food. Typically we try to stay away from the gigantic celebrity chef restaurants.

We're staying downtown at the Intercontinental Hotel so suggestions nearby or easy to find via public transport will be most appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Price ? Interested in wine ? food type (ethnicity) you are not interested in ?
    Since you are not interested in "celeb" chefs, skip : Joe Beef, Au Pied de Cochon, Toqué, Ferreira, ...

    I personally don't know how to qualify atmosphere ...

    Nice smaller places with a variety of styles... some are more popular than others, all requires reservation,

    Nora Gray, Hotel Herman, La Salle à Manger, Le Chien Fumant, Le Filet, Le Comptoir Charcuterie et Vins, Laloux, Graziella, Lawrence, Maison Publique (recently opened, I've not tried it yet).

    8 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      I think you guys might really enjoy Mas Cuisine and Tuck Shop. Both fit the bill for smaller restaurants producing delicious, seasonal food.

      Also, 22 minutes by public transport from where you are staying.

      1. re: waziboy

        Hi waziboy--just looked at both restaurant's websites and they're exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks so much!

        1. re: MBZinDC

          No worries, Morgan! I had a feeling these were the right choices for you.
          I'm looking forward to trying Oyamel in D.C. next month :)

          Please let us know how your dining experiences for this visit goes!

          1. re: waziboy

            You'll love Oyamel but one of my most favorite restaurants in DC is Ripple, located in the Cleveland Park neighborhood. If you are looking to really treat yourself, this is the place. Do check it out online ( From the Gallery Place/Chinatown neighborhood where Oyamel is located, all you need to do is get on the red line Metro to Cleveland Park (it's about 7 or so stops up) and it's just down the street from the Metro. The bar there is incredible and if you get there early enough, there's plenty of seating. The wines are incredible as is the food. I managed to get a Thursday reservation at Mas Cuisine and am totally looking forward to it. Thanks again, Morgan

      2. re: Maximilien

        I guess you can classify these as "celebs" but Au Pied de Cochon and Ferreira are both great experiences, not to mention Joe Beef if you can get in.

        1. re: Maximilien

          I think she mean "cheap celebrity chef knockoff". If anything, Joe beef, Au pied de cochon & Toqué are well known for bucking that trend.

          1. re: Maximilien

            Thanks for your suggestions, good wine is essential and we go out, we typically go to places that are in the $20 or $30 range for entrees. Whatever ethnic food in Montreal is considered a "must-try", we'd definitely be interested in those recommendations! Thanks again, Morgan

          2. Being a frequent visitor to Montreal, I would suggest that you explore the Plateau area. Start out by walking up St. Laurent or St. Denis from St. Catherine, or take the metro to the Mont Royal or Laurier station. There are a lot of input on places in that area on Chowhound. Verdun is an up and coming neighborhood with a number of good places, most notably Mas Cuisine, which will fit your requirements of small, upscale neighborhood establishments. Need reservation. There is also thread or two on here about Mas Cuisine and Verdun in general. There is a metro station nearby. Main street is Wellington.

            38 Replies
            1. re: JPR

              Thanks JPR for the recommendation!

              1. re: MBZinDC

                Never in my life did I ever imagine that Verdun would be recommended to a tourist as a must-visit neighbourhood.

                1. re: catroast

                  When I was growing up I never imagined that Hobokon, NJ would be what it is now. There are so many urban neighborhoods across Canada and the US that have developed in new and interesting ways. As one that grew up in an ethnically diverse area of the US, I find the Plateau and now the Verdun neighborhood to be to be culturally rich and worthwhile to visit. Montreal is fortunate to be developing the way it is now.Not to mention the food.......

              2. re: JPR

                Just a note...for a good plateau tour, I wouldn't start the walk as far south as Ste-Catherine. You'll go through some uninteresting areas and, since it's uphill, you'll probably be quite tired by the time you reach the Plateau, which really begins at Ave. des Pins. Of course this depends on an individual's condition and the weather...but, for some, they might reach Pins and then be too tired to go further...and the good restaurants are a bit further.

                1. re: foodinspace

                  Just to add, if St. Laurent (I prefer over St. Denis), it might be fun to start at Rene Levesque heading north (with the traffic). Interesting restos/bars/shops almost non-stop for quite awhile plus, you're past the steepest hill.

                  1. re: porker

                    you mean Sherbrooke right? As R-L is farther south than Ste-Catherine!

                    1. re: westaust

                      (sheepishly) yes you are correct SHERBROOKE rather than Rene Levesque.....

                      1. re: porker

                        Interesting restos/bars/shops b/w Sherbrooke and des Pins? Well, not to my taste but for some, yeah, could be interesting. I would still start at des Pins...

                        1. re: foodinspace

                          The best wine bar I know is on Park ave between Sherbrooke and Des Pins (its a wine/tapas type of place).

                          There is also a pretty good microbrewery/pub at the corner of Sherbrooke and Jeanne-Mance. (all their beer are home brewed

                          As an asside... I tend to fine Sainte-Famille a nice street to walk... but that might be only me :)

                          1. re: CaptCrunch

                            Well, I meant on St-Laurent. My fault. I wasn't specific. Benelux, the pub you're referring to, is pretty good.

                            1. re: foodinspace

                              Well, on St. Laurent, between Sherbrooke& Pins, not earth shattering, but to me, interesting:
                              Frit Alors
                              McGibbons Pub
                              ?Juliet&Juliet (chocolate place @ Prince Arthur)
                              Maestro SVP
                              Montreal Image
                              Euro Deli
                              independant clothing maker (don't know name, but Mrs Porker likey) next to Ballroom Slovenia
                              Nino kitchen supply (lotsa stuff)
                              Antique store
                              Gogo lounge
                              Bar Biftheque (good dive)
                              2nd Cup
                              Marche 4 Freres
                              Big in Japan (jury is out on this one)
                              to name a few...but who knows, perhaps not interesting to everyone...

                              1. re: porker

                                But relative to what's north of des Pins? I was just trying to point out that a visitor/foodie would probably be more intrigued by the options north of des Pins than south of des Pins. Anyway, not wanting to get into a trivial arguement here. I understand that most cities would kill for what we have even between Sherbrooke and des Pins. Is L Corridor, the small Jamaican place still there?

                                1. re: foodinspace

                                  there are many interesting window displays, even for foodies, on st laurent between sherbrooke and pins. Even though the new has taken over, there are pockets of old. I recently had a very pleasant stroll up that stretch - i had forgotten how much old actually still remains.

                                2. re: porker

                                  @porker: It's called Juliette & Chocolat, and the dive bar is Bifteck - the way you spelt it is the steakhouse chain. There's also a Thai restaurant beside Bifteck that I've heard is pretty good (it's been there a good 4-5 years now and always busy so must be doing something right).

                                  L Corridor is still around.

                                  1. re: Shattered

                                    I hope you're not talking about Red Thai ? been closed for a while I think.

                                    1. re: Maximilien

                                      Red Thai was further down. He's talking about Bouddha Bouddha. I haven't been in many, many years (feels like more than 5), but I remember it being fairly good. Prices were also not bad considering that its a BYO on St. Laurent.

                                      1. re: Fintastic

                                        being packed on the lower main is hardly a sign of a good restaurant. for some inexplicable reason chez le portugais is always packed yet probably the worst restaurant in montreal.

                                        1. re: catroast

                                          I wouldn't call Chez Le Portugais on the lower main and you obviouslt haven't eaten at Big in Japan or the $3 chow mein place (both of which are, in my consideration, on the lower main).

                                          1. re: EaterBob

                                            while i agree that big in japan is a big dud, chez le portugais might actaully be one of the worst restaurants in canada.

                                            In my opinion the lower main is everything below mt royal but what does it matter. I am surprised by your angry response. maybe it's a language thing.

                                            1. re: catroast

                                              The lower Main is centered around Ste Catherine. And I wasn't angry. Other restaurants worse (much) than Chez Le Portugais on Saint Laurent include - but are not limited to Asahi, Pizza Giovan, Copacobana, La Belle Province, Buns, Just Noodles, Madona , and Subway.

                                              1. re: EaterBob

                                                have you eaten at chez le portugais? I'd go as far to say that subway is much much better.

                                                we were served plate after plate of sludge with canned vegetables, bone dry meats, rancid cream-based sauce, over salted, disgusting, inedible and on and on and on.

                                                the inept mustached waiter was loud and obnoxious. after taking away our horrible appetizers, 30 min later he brought the exact same dishes.

                                                the entire experience was comedic and the food was worse than any i'd ever seen on kitchen nightmares or restaurant impossible.

                                                meanwhile a ruckus party was going on in the back that was full of people who actually looked homeless.

                                                chez le portugais is undoubtedly the worst of the worst. I'd go to Pizza Giovan or Belle Pro or Buns or any of those places before I'd ever set foot in that terrible excuse for a restaurant. And if you actually like it, eaterbob, then you must be crazy!

                                                1. re: catroast

                                                  I've eaten there a couple of times, and I never had an experience like yours. It isn't one of my favorite restaurants, and I would only go if invited by someone else.

                                                  However I have seen some things at Giovan, La Belle Province and Buns that are far worse than "plate of sludge with canned vegetables, bone dry meats, rancid cream-based sauce, over salted, disgusting, inedible."

                                                  To each their own.

                                                  1. re: EaterBob

                                                    to each their own indeed but while those fast food places may not offer the best renditions no one who goes there expecting anything great.

                                                    whereas chez le portugais has the outward appearance of fine dining with their dimmed lights and table clothes, their food is no better than pig slop. their reviews on yelp, tripadvisor and urbanspoon confirm this. as does their 1.5 stars review from leslie chesterman.

                                                    1. re: catroast

                                                      While you might have thought that Chez Le Portugais is "fine dining." I never for an instant thought it was anything more than a local Portuguese joint in line with Chez Doval and the late, lamented Roi du Plateau but not half as good as either one.

                                                      And I wasn't specifically talking about the food at any of the fast food restaurants, but also the hygiene of the employees and the overall sanitary conditions. The only way I would eat at any of them was if I was a blind-drunk 20 year-old girl in 8 inch heels and a micro mini skirt at 3 o'clock in the morning on a very cold February Saturday/Sunday. And then only as a way to get out of the cold and try to ditch the sleazy guy who had tried to attach himself to my arm.

                                                        1. re: Maximilien

                                                          leslie chesterman also thought that it emanated a fine dining vibe

                                          2. re: catroast

                                            They're always packed because they constantly advertise daily deal vouchers for meals.

                                            1. re: causeimhungry

                                              While we're trashing St-Laurent restaurants, can I express how disappointed/disgusted I was with Rumi-Express? (Not quite "lower Main" but...) It used to be alright but I was surprised when I walked in to see that the menu now emphasizes burgers and fries. What? What happened to the North African thing? Well, I opted for a fried eggplant pita sandwich. Just awful. It was basically a coleslaw sandwich. What little eggplant there was was soggy and tasteless. Ugh. And the fries were a mass of grease. I'll never go back.

                                              1. re: foodinspace

                                                I knew it must have gone down hill when I was confronted by their demented street hustling coupon guy

                                                1. re: foodinspace

                                                  Yeah, what happened there? Did it change owners? It changed so drastically overnight, it was like a different restaurant.

                                                  Btw, I generally agree with the crappy list -especially Just Noodles, the worst Asian restaurant of all time- with one exception: Pizza Giovan. Head and shoulders above the rest of the pizza of the street. Better ingredients, more generous toppings, and always fresh out of the oven (well over half the time no reheating is needed), which along with using tongs, allay any hygiene fears.

                                                  1. re: Shattered

                                                    they once let me knead the dough after a night at copa. i have the picture to prove it ;0

                                                    1. re: Shattered

                                                      Sorry, but I respectfully disagree, Prato makes the best pizza on Saint Laurent in between Mount Royal and Pine. Below Pine the award goes to Euro Deli.

                                                      Giovan uses industrial pre-grated cheese which is going to have cellulose, industrial peperoni and all sorts of other ingredients that make it taste so great after drinking.

                                                      1. re: catroast

                                                        a tourist asks for some advice and this is like a slugfest, anyways after all these comments I would stay away from the whole area. I think the hygiene thing is a red herring, you dont really know what goes on in many other fave areas such as chinatown since we dont have restaurant ratings based on these kinds of things and the chowhound team has made it clear offlimits.. Frankly you both have made me never want to even go there for a quick bite which is a pity as i used to enjoy the st laurent street festivals

                                                        1. re: mangoannie

                                                          There is a public archive of health code violations here

                                                          1. re: catroast

                                                            not at all what I am talking about, there are systems which post in restos a grade so easily available/visible to tourists and citizens alike. What you posted is not user friendly, 54 pages of might be useful after a bad experience to check out confirmation of suspicions. ...anyways off track of thread topic

                                                            1. re: mangoannie

                                                              Sorry to have ruined the Main for you. Honest there are some good, very good and very clean restaurants there. Bagels, etc. La Cabane, Minhota, Mysore, Euro Deli, La Porte, Moishe's, Patati Patata, Prato, Ramen-Ya, The Main, Schwartz's, just to name a few.

                                                              And I'm very aware of what happens in restaurants behind closed doors. I was working at a restaurant in Old Montreal (now closed) and on a slow night caught six rats because there was nothing else to do.

                                                              It doesn't stop me from eating at restaurants in Old Montreal or Chinatown, but just made me aware of what clues to look for before eating.

                                                              1. re: EaterBob

                                                                Seriously. You'd never eat out again in your life if you stepped in almost any kitchen for a few minutes.

                                                                I've never been to Prato cause the idea of sit down pizza seems ridiculous to me, and it's not open late. I guess eating it mostly after drinking or otherwise walking around and need a quick bite undermines my opinion, but anyway... I stand by Giovan. It's great, and I have had it sober on occasions, it's the only take out pizza on The Main that i would eat sober actually.

                                                                @ catroast: please post the pic!

                                                                1. re: Shattered

                                                                  To the OP (If you haven't come and gone...): the Main is lotsa fun. Its closest to a bohemian neighbourhood (only a street) we have. As such theres great places and rat holes. Part of the charm, no?

                                                                  @ Shattered. Yeah, you say "in almost any kitchen", but I ran a kitchen for 16 years, most of my friends are restaurant people - not all kitchens are bad. I will say that simple talk about a place shouldn't deter a person, but everyone has different thresholds of disgust...

                      2. Hi and welcome to Montreal! I have to say definitely a yes to the Tuck Shop- my meal there was wonderful. Also there's great atmosphere for breakfast at Bagels etc. for breakfast. If you feel the need to try poutine, you might want to give La Banquise a try but it is not upscale. IMO Montreal does European food well; so Italian, Portugese, French, etc are it's highlights as well as South American Food. I stay away from Asian here because I usually am disappointed but some people would definitely disagree. My suggestion would also be to just get up into Little Italy, walk around, and find something that looks good. I've never gone wrong doing that, to be honest, and there's an element of surprise to trying that. I agree with Verdun MAS- very good, and unique, but get a reservation. The good thing is that you and the other diners will have a unique and intimate meal. Also there's a tapas bar further down wellington, but be warned that not all the restaurants have been created equally in that area. 2 last suggestions. As a tourist, I would want to eat at least once in the Old Port. It's just so beautiful. I'm sure there are plenty of suggestions on this thread (I scrolled quickly) that you could research- do it just for the experience. Lastly, you might want to try out the House of Jazz because again, it is a unique Montreal experience, a decent menu, and Jazz in a speakeasy-like place. Anyway, that's my 2 cents. Have fun!