3 Days (including a Sunday) - help refine my list?
We will have three days in Montreal next month. I've not been to Montreal since I was 5 years old, so arrive as pretty much a blank slate (though I've done plenty of homework). Generally speaking, I tend to prefer the modern to the stodgily traditional, but balance that against seeking out genuine local flavors.
One of our 3 days is a Sunday and I note that many places close Sun/Mon - so suggestions for a good Sunday dinner option (and good Sunday brunch) are particularly welcomed.
Am working on reservations at Au Pied de Cochon and/or Joe Beef, but my prime alternates, in rough order of preference (based on nothing other than reading menus and comments) include:
(* is for those open Sunday)
- APDC (if we can get in) *
- Joe Beef
- Les 400 Coups
- Le Filet
- Garde Manger *
- Maison Publique * (with no reservations policy, what is the likely wait?)
- Au Cinquieme Peche
- Liverpool House (opinion seems decidedly mixed, at least in comparison to sibling Joe Beef)
- Lemeac (?)*
- L'Express (?)*
- Foodlab (intrigued but still probably unlikely to make our short list)
- Maison Publique
- Le Chien Fumant
Any recommendations on what should be added, subtracted or moved up or down on the list are welcomed.
During the days we will also be hitting Schwartz's (smoked meat), St. Viateur (bagels - or should we go to Fairmount? or both?), possibly La Banquise (poutine), Jean Talon Market - any other "stations of the cross" we shouldn't miss?
I get the sense from this board anyway that wine and beer are a better bet than cocktails, and have Buvette Chez Simone, Pullman and Hotel Herman on our list as well. Any further advice welcomed (including geographical, i.e., have a drink at "x" before having dinner at "y").
Wow. You've got a serious list there. I'll say outright that you'd have a tough time finding any stodgy places in Montreal, and there are certainly none included in your selection. The closest you'll come is L'Express, but it can be forgiven given it's traditionalism. It looks like you may have just read my most recent post, so there isn't too much more for me to say. But when has that ever stopped me...?
My main recommendation would be to do either Joe Beef or APDC, and not both. Joe Beef has (many of) their tables listed on opentable which is active during the hours that they're open (i.e. it won't list any tables if you check in the morning). It should tell you if they have space or not. If you can't get in or would prefer APDC obviously has the advantage of being open on Sundays. Both are great, as I'm sure you're aware. Most things on both menus are quite heavy and in some ways similar in style, which is why I'd not advise trying to eat at both on a 3 day trip. Leave a message on the APDC answering machine and they will certainly return your call. Also, don't dismiss Liverpool House outright. It is essentially the same restaurant as JB, and anyone who likes one but not the other may have simply had a bad experience (or a good experience, depending on one's opinion). JB's only advantage, I would say, is the back terrasse, but Liverpool House is much more spacious inside. When I can't get a spot outside I actually aim for LP, where one can actually find a few Montrealers on the weekend and not only tourists. It can also be reserved without requiring a month's planning.
Lemeac and L'Express are both very traditional French bistros. Each has good elements: Lemeac the discounted after 10 menu, and L'Express the great deals on wine. If you're craving some Parisian charm either is a solid choice, but neither is innovative nor my top picks. In fact, I typically suggest Laloux over these choices, but any of the 3 would suffice. Cinquieme Peche might also fall into this category, although it makes a serious effort to create innovative French dishes from very non-traditional ingredients (namely Canadian specialties like duck, lobster, and seal).
Buvette Chez Simone is a great, affordable choice for pre-dinner drinks that's close to Filet, 5ieme Peche, Lemeac, etc. I prefer it to the aging Pullman. To the best of my knowledge Hotel Herman does not permit one to just have wine/drinks as they only have a restaurant license. However, if you can manage to get seats they do offer many small plates that might warm up your appetite. It is very close to Lawrence, which does dinner at least as well as brunch. Foodlab could be reserved on opentable for the Friday of your trip and might also work for snacks and drinks on your way to dinner (perhaps at nearby 400 Coups?).
Which leads me to 400 Coups. It is exceptionally good, especially the desserts, although back-to-back visits here and le Filet in May left me feeling far more impressed with the latter. The style is quite different: Filet requiring sharing of small, primarily fish dishes among the table (which works far better here than any other restaurant using this approach), and 4C having a more typical 3/5/7 course approach. Prices are similar, though I've found my bill tends to end up lower at Filet (as does my colesterol count). I don't actually know why I'm contrasting these as I might even recommend trying both. They're my favourites at the moment.
Garde I dislike, and is easily bested by JB or APDC in the same category.
Like Liverpool House, Maison Publique also gets mixed reviews. I enjoyed my only meal there, although it too was quite heavy. Arriving right at 6pm should get you a table immediately, but much later and you risk waiting for quite a while (especially on a weekend). I won't hazard a guess, but I'd think at least 30 mins. It wouldn't be my first choice, but good for some interesting twists on traditional British cooking.
Let us know how your reservations work out and we might better recommend options for drinks before/after your meals. Good luck!
note about l'express; I've had a great fish last week at lunch (from the day's special)
Lemeac has a great terrasse.
Le Filet also has a terrasse (unless it is used as a drunken driver parking space :-) ), but I've not eaten outside there yet.
La Buvette has a terrasse, but it is small, does not take reservation, and fills up quite very quickly.
As for itineraries :
1. Have a drink (wine) and a small bite at Le Comptoir; then go over to Herman for small bite and some more wine, then stop for ice-cream at Kem Coba.
2. Get a drink at one of the many terrasse on Mont-Royal Avenue, and then either go to "La Salle à Manger" or "Le Chien Fumant" then finish up with some cocktails at "Le Lab"
3. Food Lab for drinks and small bites on the terrasse, then over to Bouillon Bilk or Brasserie T (or F Bar)
We're also planning a 3-day trip next month, and plan on hitting most of the same places lol.
Regarding APDC, I've already emailed them a reservation request and they got back to me in about 2 days. Although the website says they will confirm by telephone, all communication (and there was some negotiation and options with the reservation time - as we have a slightly larger group) was done via email with no issues.
Frod, I'd love to hear your comments after your trip. Once you eat in Montreal -particularly at the places on your list - it will be very difficult to eat back in Miami. Montreal is my home town and I miss it desperately every time I am out to eat at a restaurant in South Florida. Bon Appetit!
This is true - it's a place that receives virtually no discussion here or elsewhere. I've only been for lunch, but my feeling is that it is the kind of upscale restaurant that can be found in high-end hotels in most North American cities. Although it's advertised to feature local quebecois cuisine, their current menu doesn't exactly seem to match that claim. If you're looking for more uniquely Quebecois fine dining I'd probably recommend Toque or Europea, although these are a bit more expensive.