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Jun 12, 2013 07:36 AM

Best Montreal resto for: oysters, fresh local produce, and a good cheese plate

I'm going through an oysters phase. In my university days, I never ordered them because, frankly, they were just too expensive. Now that I've been out of university for a few years, I have ordered them numerous times and understand why people are obsessed.

I also have a constant love for fresh produce that is handled well and cheese. If I could write ballads to veggies in season and to cheese, I would.

In the next few weeks, I'm looking to go out with some friends to enjoy all of the above. We will likely also get some wine with the meal. A vestige from my student days is that I hate being overcharged on wine (especially since I'm more of a beer drinker anyway). Ideally, I'd prefer not to go anywhere where bottles of wine are necessarily $50+ because the expense doesn't make sense to me (especially when the bottle costs $18 at the SAQ).

My question is this: where should we go for dinner? I was thinking Lawrence and Boullion Bilk, Club Chasse et Peche or Le Filet (none of which I have ever been to). Any other great ideas? Any of the above standout as the clear place we should go?

One other detail that may be worth noting - I am a 'non-picky' pescetarian (in other words, I don't eat animals that live outside of the water but really am not picky otherwise and actually am a very adventurous eater). Everyone else is omnivorous.

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  1. Oysters :
    Lawrence can be fun for appetizers (I think they still have a 5 à 7 with oysters, check with them)
    Le Filet is more fish oriented, so you will feel welcome there, they have "prepared" oysters (good).
    (lot) Less formal is "Icehouse" for oysters and other "pscetarians" offerings (proably fish taco, shrimp popcorn).

    Unfortunately, all your selection will have more expensive wine bottles, but one can be surprise with cheaper bottles (all have a good selection of private import wines, not necessarily more expensive).

    For cheese, I don't have a clue, I know that "Le Comptoir Charcuterie et Vins" have a cheese plate; but the food is not meat oriented.

    Good luck.

    1. Oysters:

      Btw, oysters are cheap ($14 for 33 at the grocery) if you learn to shuck 'em, which isn't hard. Then you drink them without the markup and surrounded by the conveniences of home, if you know what I mean.

      18 Replies
      1. re: Shattered

        man don't buy oysters at the grocery store. they are disgusting and old.

        the best place to buy oysters, in my opinion, is at La Mer

        One option is to go to JTM. Boite aux huitres has a nice bar with a good selection of oysters - some are a bit pricey but they often do buck a shucks.

        1. re: Shattered

          I have to agree with the second part of this post. This sounds like the perfect meal to do yourself. So good in-fact that I did it myself this past weekend.

          It can all be done at JTM. Grab Oysters from Boite aux Huitres, you can get some great ones for $2/each, and they will be much better than something you can get at a restaurant for the same price. Grab some cheese from (Qui lait cru is a favorite of mine), and splurge on a $25 bottle of Sancerre. Shucking oysters can be fun if you take turns, and you can even do an informal wine tasting to find which wines you think go best with what cheese & oyster.

          For about $150, you can feed a group of 6 including wine, which would probably be the cost for two people at any of the places you listed.

          1. re: Stax88

            It actually sounds like a really cute idea to do this at home. We'll need to invest in a shucking knife, but that may be something worth buying in general. I'll make some sauces (mignonette, cocktail sauce, plain old lemon and pepper, etc.), make a nice cheese plate and go from there. Yum.

            1. re: captain_vegetable

              a shucking knife is like $5

              make sure to practice before having people over ;)

              1. re: captain_vegetable

                More important than the oyster knife is the metal glove to wear so that you don't stab yourself.

                1. re: EaterBob

                  Unless you're a professional with time limitations I'd say a metal glove is an expensive luxury (even the cheapest seem to run CAN$100+). If there's a real safety concern there are strong woven or rubber gloves that are designed for shucking and offer some protection. However, if the oyster is wrapped properly with a dish towel and planted firmly on a solid surface it's virtually impossibly to stab yourself. I tend to use a duller oyster knife as it reduces risk or puncturing both your hand and the oyster flesh.

                  1. re: Fintastic

                    You obviously shop in different places than I do :-) I've seen gloves (albeit not stainless steel) for as little as $5
           and for $12

                    1. re: EaterBob

                      Yes, I was referring specifically to the metal chain gloves.

                    2. re: Fintastic

                      I would not recommend putting it on a solid surface because oysters are not flat on the bottom, and it may very well slip. Cradling it firmly in your hand is a better idea, imo.

                      1. re: Shattered

                        no. a towel under and used to grip the oyster is safest, like this:


                2. re: Stax88

                  Do you have a good rec for a Sancerre at that price available at SAQ?

                  1. re: kpaxonite

                    The SAQ only carries 12 Sancerre's under $30 (5 under $25).

                    1. re: kpaxonite

                      Eric Louis is one of my favorites SAQ#10689729
                      Also check out Pascal Jolivet from Pouilly Fume. Its also a Sauvignon Blanc from right next door.

                    2. re: Stax88

                      Agree with Stax88 except taking turns shucking. Bad idea. Don't let your lady friend try to shuck unless she works at an oyster bar, especially after a glass; that will just end in blood and tears.

                      Shuck 15 - about a dinner plateful - before company arrives. Maybe 20-25 tops. They're pretty filling and that should be enough once you get into the wine.

                      No need for a metal glove, a dishtowel should be fine. Or cheap leather gloves. You're supposed to hold the oyster from underneath so you have to really mess up to nail your hand. At most you'll hit your thumb that will be up around the edge, but being a thumb it should glance off or just hurt really bad without breaking the skin. The only time I've cut myself is when I had the 'webbing' between thumb and fingers up around the edge, which was my dumb. Grip it firmly underneath, with only fingertips above, around the sides out of the knife's trajectory (you also want the top to pop off easily).

                      It's really not hard once you know where to find the hinge and clean the dirt out of the it if needed before attempting. You dig in and lift, not stab. Take your time and go all around the edge if you need to. It's better than thinking you have to pop it off in one go like a pro, slicing underneath/ inside the top, and right into your hand. Also, going nice and steady prevents the shell splintering into your oyster (or worst of all, the shell breaking just past the hinge) and losing juice by tipping it. As with all things, there are videos on youtube for further instruction...

                      1. re: Shattered

                        Just an FYI - I am the 'lady friend' in my relationship and I like to think that I'm not bad with sharp objects (though I have cut myself before - rarely and never badly). ;)

                        That being said, I understand how shucking and wine don't mix and shucking will occur before alcohol comes into the picture

                        Approximately how many oysters would you say we should pick up per person (given that we will also have cheese, fruit, bread and maybe a few vegetable based apps to cut the richness a little)? 12 to be safe?

                        1. re: captain_vegetable

                          12 per person is pretty ambitious. I would suggest something closer to 6 per person. I LOVE oysters and after twelve have to slow down. Most people around me are done at 4-6.

                          Be sure to get a selection, so you can try stuff from different areas. I'm partial to oysters from the east coast and have been loving Massachusetts this year. That being said, it is always good to also have some west coast ones.

                          1. re: Stax88

                            Yeah, 12 each is plenty on it's own. More than enough with all the other snacks. p.s. I don't know alot of female sailors. Forgive me.

                            1. re: Shattered

                              Thanks and no problem. The name is actually a reference to a Sesame Street favourite of mine: