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Aug 16, 2013 06:31 PM

36 hours in Montreal


I'm turning 40 on Sep 9, and heading up to Montreal to celebrate arriving around 8pm Friday Sep 6 and leaving Sunday Sep 8 after lunch.

I'd like to eat at Au Pied du Cochon, Joe Beef and Schwartz's.

1. I have no reservations to the first 2.aby chance 2 people can show up to the bar and eat?

2. Are either worth going to?

3. I'm staying between 1600 and 1900 Rue Sherbrooke West (my wife will not tell me the hotel!)...any good breakfast/etc places in that area?

Any other small/local restaurant I may not read about that I shouldn't miss.

Thanks for any help. I'm looking for a food Experience I can't and wouldn't find exactly back here in the Boston area...

Mark Adamowicz
Sutton, Ma

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  1. Having no reservation might leads to deceptions; but if you accept the challenge, why not !!! try either near opening time or later in the evening.

    I suggest having a list of plan B (C, D, E, ...) restaurant selection with phone numbers that you can go to if you cannot get in Joe Beef or Au Pied de Cochon.

    It might be easier with restaurants near aPdC with St-Denis and Mont-Royal (or st-laurent blvd) streets nearby, some (popular) backups: La Salle A Manger, 3 Petits Bouchons, Au Cinquième Péché, ...

    Schwartz's is easy to go to, just do it before/after the lunch rush (or wait in line).

    Some other suggestions:
    Hotel Herman, Lawrence (especially for brunch, dinner is also good), the new Barbounya turkish tapas, Nora Gray (italian), ...

    for suggestions near Joe Beef and downtown, I will leave that to my fellow CHowers

    24 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      Unfortunately I think I'm less ambitious than Max. These are two of the three busiest restaurants in Montreal and both take reservations for their bars: Last I checked, JB was booked solid a month in advance and longer for weekends. While you might be able to walk into spot at the bar at APDC if you show up quite late (after 10:30pm), it doesn't seem worth the risk given that you already know your travel dates. If you call now you might be able to pick up a reservation at both of these places, which seems like an easier option. Max is right that APDC has many other options nearby if you fail to get a table, but Joe Beef is much further from everything. If you don't get a table there or at it's sister restaurants, it could be a bit of a hike to find anything else to eat... especially late in the evening.

      Both restaurants are worth going to. I was just thinking that APDC as a concept is starting to feel a bit dated, but my meal there two weeks ago was as good (or better!) than any I can remember. There's no where else in the world quite like it, so I think it fits your criteria. However, it's also one of the heaviest restaurants on the planet. JB and Schwartz's aren't exactly light eating either, so you might find trying to do all 3 in just over 24 hours is both psychologically and physically unpleasant. As lighter alternatives you could also consider Lawrence or le Filet.

      Breakfast options will certainly mean brunch on the weekend (which is often served a bit late in Montreal). In that area there aren't a ton of chowhound favourites. You might consider trying the bakery O Plaisir Gourmande just down the street. For more upscale options there are the good hotel restaurants at the Ritz and Sofitel on Sherbrooke and Loews on de la Montagne: Maison Boulud, Renoir, and la Societe respectively.

      1. re: Maximilien

        If you end up on Notre-Dame street and can't get a table at either Joe Beef, Liverpool House or Vin Papillon (all the same owners), a 10-15 minute walk will get you to Le H4C which is a fabulous new restaurant. A really good plan B.

        1. re: Lowrent


          I did get reservations to Joe Beef Friday night (9:45pm) and APDC Saturday night (8:30pm)

          Asssuming I can still move after dinner at APDC Saturday, where is a good place to have a post meal drink. I assume I will make my way to the top of Mont Royal to see a nice niht view of the city.

          Same question about walking between Old Montreal, through Chinatown toward Schwartz's on Saturday afternoon. Good place to grab a really good beer en route?


          Mark Adamowicz

          1. re: markadamowicz

            ....and a place for poutine!

            Mark Adamowicz

            1. re: markadamowicz

              La Banquise for poutine. While there are plenty of other places that offer it, it's still my favourite.

              1. re: markadamowicz

                The best poutine you will ever see (and taste) is at Au Pied de Cochon.

              2. re: markadamowicz

                Chinatown: not too much. I've always lamented that they need a coupla good bars here...

                North of Rene Levesque, maybe not a beer, but at least stop into the Montreal Pool Room for a stim-eh all dress as a Schwartz appetizer. Their fries are pretty good too, but you don't wanna ruin your smoked meat.

                A bit of a wasteland (and an up-hill climb) until Sherbrooke.
                Theres quite a few night-club places just above Sherbrooke, more geared to 20 somethings, but there is McKibbin's Irish Pub suitable for a relaxing pint.

                Once at Prince Arthur, theres the Olde Orchard Pub (also Irish) off St. Laurent just a few doors west. Marche 27 is across the street (big on tartar, but you can stop for drinks). If you go right on Prince Arthur (pedestrian only), theres a street terrace called Vol de Nuit (nothing too special except outdoor and somewhat cheap beer).

                Continuing on The Main past Prince Arthur, theres Pink Taco (never been, but that name...well... theres that name...). Theres Maestro VIP where you CAN stop in for only a drink (tiny bar) or you can choose to have a coupla oysters (not too much as Schwartz is getting near).

                Just before Guilbault (across froom Second Cup) is iconic dive Bar Bifteque. They have a few chairs outside on the sidewalk. (Theres a newish candy store just before Bifteque worth a visit).

                A little further up, just before Pine (Pins in French...) is Big In Japan, Anthony Bourdain's favorite Montreal Japanese brasserie (Tony might like it, but I have a differing opinion - skip it unless you want overpriced everything).

                Just past Roy on right is the Spanish Library. No libations here, but worth a stop to check out their stuff (it ain't a library).

                A little past the Spanish Library are 2 charcuterie joints: Charcouterie Hongroise and La Vielle Europe. Again, no drinks, but worth a stop.

                OK, you're almost there...
                La Cabane Portugal is almost directly across the street from Schwartz. Nice, cheapish place for drinks, they have outdoor sidewalk seating as well. You can have drinks while timing the line-up at Schwartz.


                1. re: porker

                  That's a very nice walk.

                  The Addresses (and correct orthography)
                  Montreal Pool Room: 1217 St Laurent
                  McKibbin's Irish Pub: 3515 St. Laurent
                  Ye Olde Orchard Bar & Grill: 20 Prince Arthur St W
                  Marche 27: 27 Prince Arthur St W
                  Vol de Nuit: 14 Prince Arthur St E
                  Pinq Taco: 3612 St Laurent
                  Maestro SVP: 3615 St Laurent
                  Bar Bifteck St-Laurent: 3702 St Laurent
                  Librairie Espagnole: 3811 St Laurent
                  Charcuterie Hongroise: 3843 St Laurent
                  La Vieille Europe: 3855 St Laurent
                  Bar Terrasse La Cabane: 3872 St Laurent

                  Other places that might strike your fancy along the route.
                  Foodlab: 1201 St Laurent
                  - Hipster restaurant

                  Bar Salon Midway: 1219 St Laurent
                  - Dive bar, country music on weekends

                  Cleopatra Café: 1230 St Laurent
                  - Strip Club

                  Les Katacombes: 1635 St Laurent
                  - Punk bar with terrace

                  Goethe Institut: 1626 St Laurent
                  - German Culture

                  Eva B: 2015 St Laurent
                  - Costume Store

                  Librairie l'Insoumise: 2033 St Laurent
                  - Anarchist Bookstore

                  Brooke Restaurant: 8 Sherbrooke W
                  - Chichi restaurant with terrace

                  Importations Yousuf: 3445 St Laurent
                  - Junk Shop

                  Station 16 Gallery: 3529 St Laurent
                  - Street Art Gallery

                  The murals you see all can be found here:

                  Icehouse: 51 Roy E
                  - Upscale Texas Roadhouse

                  Main Deli Steak House: 3864 St Laurent
                  - Alternate (and better) Smoked Meat

                  1. re: EaterBob

                    Lovely walk. Uphill. That means that if you are staying in Old Montreal, the walk home is downhill, and simple even if you are tired.

                    Librairie/Libreria means bookshop in English. Bibliothèque/biblioteca means library.

                    I'm glad to see another fussy writer - it is important in terms of finding thing!

                      1. re: hungryann

                        Touché! (That is a known curse, by the way. Mention something concerning editing or syntax, and one is guaranteed to make a typo or blooper).

                      2. re: lagatta

                        Yes, I have been remiss.

                        Candy store
                        Freak Lunchbox: 3680 Boulevard Saint-Laurent

                        Librairie Espagnol:
                        Although they sell books and periodicals (perhaps thats all they sold at one time), it ain't no bookshop neither.

                        1. re: porker

                          I suspect it may have been one, just as Quincaillerie Dante once was a hardware store (though it always sold cookware - dunno about the hunting supplies).

                          1. re: lagatta

                            And Wilensky's was a Barbershop.

                    1. re: porker

                      FWIT, I attached a photo of the La Cabane (de Portugal)signage as well as the view of Schwartz from the Cabane sidewalk seating.
                      Note that the line to Schwartz was medium-long with about 20 people (it can triple to the end of the block). Also, it took about 20 minutes to get from the back of the line to the inside.
                      This was at about 3:00pm on a holiday Monday (Labour Day). Without trying to analyze all factors, its about a minute per person in line...give or take....
                      I dunno if this would help or hinder your birthday plans. Note also its an extremely un-scientific finding, but may serve well for ball-park purposes...

                    2. re: markadamowicz

                      > Good place to grab a really good beer en route?

                      Benelux Brewpub would be on your way. I'm not a beer-drinker but folks I know like it and they have a terrasse.

                      245 rue Sherbrooke ouest

                      1. re: markadamowicz

                        Indeed, that's a great walk. However, to be clear, arguably Montreal is more scenic and the choice of bars better in and around APdC than between Old Montreal and Schwartz's. Some visitors might be turned off by the grittiness of St-Laurent below Sherbrooke or the superficiality of St-Laurent between Sherbrooke and Pins. Not that these areas should be avoided - they are as much a part of the character of the city as anywhere else.

                        However, once up at APdC, walk up to Ave Mont-Royal, which is one of the liveliest drags in Montreal. You can check out Billy Kun or Edgar Hypertaverne for drinks. Also La Quincaillerie, which is next door to La Banquise on Rachel. There are others. Note, though, that Montreal doesn't do American style bars very well, where you can just pull up a stool to a bar and have a lively conversation with other solo drinkers and the bar staff. Barfly might be an exception.

                        Benelux is a good stop, if you decide to visit McGill University; it's very close. Consider heading to Mont-Royal during the day stopping at Benelux and McGill University on the way. I'm not sure what the walk up Mont-Royal is like at night. From there you can walk over to Schwartz's.

                        If you decide to leave Old Montreal via Blvd St-Denis, good brewpubs are L'Amere a Boire and Le Cheval Blanc.

                        Have fun!

                        1. re: foodinspace

                          La Banquise is out of the way from Chinatown to APDC. The best poutine along the way is either Montreal Pool Room or La Belle Province on St-Laurent just above Prince-Arthur.

                          Pinq Taco is a club. It won't even be open if your walk is late afternoon/6-7-ish, but in any case: avoid.

                          My picks for a beer: McKibbons or Ye Olde Orchard if you want a pub with imports and premium local beers on draft, Bifteck if you want a dive, or Reservoir microbrew on Duluth just east off St-Laurent.

                          As for the walk up Mont-Royal at night, in a word: dark. Very dark. There are no lights on the paths at night on the mountain. Bring a flashlight. But I think this is very wishful thinking anyway, if you plan on doing it after OD'ing on foie gars and pig at APDC. You will be ready for a nap, not a walk or a hike.

                          1. re: Shattered

                            Today is the day. We leave Sutton (outside of Boston) at 2:30pm and head North! Thank to each of you for the unbelievably informed advice. Chowhound never lets down.

                            I will return the favor with a full trip report.

                            You can see the images on instagram @markadamowicz
                            (and my last trip to sf/napa and Taiwan/china/hong kong)

                            Mark Adamowicz
                            Sutton, MA

                            1. re: markadamowicz

                              Watch out for the radar trap near Ludlow.

                              1. re: porker

                                OK, friends, here's the wrap up from last weekend....

                                Got to Montreal around 8:30pm on Friday and checked into the Le Meridien Versailles (whomever guessed the hotel I was staying in was right on).

                                Took a cab over to Little Burgundy (I was with my wife, my sister and my brother-in-law).

                                We were a little early and stopped into The Burgundy Lion for a drink. I had a perfect Bierbrier ale. Perfect after a long ride up.

                                We went over to Joe Beef at 9:45pm and then sat us on an outside bench in the garden while they got our table together. It was cool to see the garden and have some glasses of wine out back and see the vegetables/herbs growing. The weather was beautiful.

                                We got seated and our waiter grabbed my phone and took a picture of the blackboard and told us the specials and also did some translating.

                                Here’s what we ate:

                                Double Down
                                Cornflake Eel Nuggets
                                Leeks from the garden over house smoked ham with a soft poached egg

                                Steak Joe Beef
                                Tournedos de Cheval (horse)
                                Spaghetti Homard Lobster

                                Wine, Bourbon Cider.

                                The double down was a table favorite, I ate all the horse pretty much by myself (it has cheese, shredded lettuce, pickles and was wrapped I bacon and was perfect) and the Spaghetti Lobster was super rich and a bite each would have been good.

                                The rrestaurant lived up to the hype and I went to sleep in a near food coma.

                                Saturday morning we took the metro to Marche Atwater. I had a drink had with lots of much needed green vegetables and we got some coppa and salami and a pint of raspberries to share from one of the vendors. The market was beautiful.

                                We took the metro over to Old Montreal and after a visit to Notre Dame put our name in at Olive + Gourmando. There was a 30 minute wait so we went across the street to Marché de la Villette and had a bottle of wine.

                                Olive + Gourmando was fantastic. Crowded and lively, we got the Poached egg on your Face panini and a Blue Cheese and carmelized onion panini and a Cuban Panini. A couple Broken 7 beers and a we all split a blueberry cobbler with cream. Time to walk some lunch off.

                                Not much going on in Chinatown. Passed through without stopping for Mai Tais.

                                We roamed around the stores that lined St. Laurent for the next few hours. We stopped into a bar called the Breakfast Club and split a delicious bourbon bowl with mint. Cool bar that looked like it would be lively at night.

                                We continued on checking out the stores and very cool murals. I bought some raw cheese and bread for later at a place called La Vielle Europe. I remember going in here about 24 years ago in high school.

                                Finally, we had a late lunch at Schwatz’s. Awesome. Smoked meat sandwich, a garlicy pickle and a cherry soda for me and similar for the rest. Absolutely delicious.

                                We continued on through the Plateau area and took the Metro back to the hotel to relax, have some wine and cheese and get ready for the big dinner. Headed out to Au Pied de Cochon and was seated pretty quickly. The atmosphere was lively and he music was loud and Canadian and glorious.

                                And the man himself, Martin Picard was in the house.

                                Here’s what we had:

                                Foie Gras Cromesquis
                                Tomatos stuffed with Foie Gras

                                Half Order of Foie Gras Poutine
                                Fried Pancake with Soft Poached egg and a small pitcher of foie gras gravy to pour over

                                Fresh Pasta prepared in a half wheel of parmagino reggiano by Martin Picard in front of us.
                                Duck in a Can

                                Sugar Cake with a sparkler in it and a Happy Birthday song to me.

                                Everything was delicious, I got a picture with Martin, a shirt signed and bought his Sugar Shack book which he signed as well.
                                We did a few shots of Makers and Maple Syrup with the waiter, had some very ice wine and I had a cider.
                                This was one of the best dinners/experiences of my eating life.
                                A Celine Dion song came on at one point and we heard the employees all singing it. Very funny.

                                Had some drinks at Taverne St. Sacrement
                                Did some dancing at Le Mix (funny, like a time machine with dry ice).

                                Hell of a day.

                                Sunday – checked out of hotel.
                                Drove to St. Viateur Bagel. Bought a dozen for the road and had a few on the bench outside. Delicious. Lived up to the hype!

                                Drove to Marche Jean-Talon. More beautiful produce.
                                Had an oyster sampler with freshly grated horseradish. Perfect.
                                Samples some Ice Cider and bought a couple of bottoles. 2008 and 2011.
                                Had some duck confit poutine from one of the little stands and left with a 4 cans of Maple Syrup.

                                Quick stop at Dante’s Hardware and hit the road!

                                Thanks again to everyone who helped with all of the advice. It was a perfect weekend.

                                Mark Adamowicz
                                Sutton, MA

                                1. re: markadamowicz

                                  It reads almost as good as it probably was. Glad to hear that you had a good (to great) time.

                                  1. re: markadamowicz

                                    "Finally, we had a late lunch at Schwatz’s"
                                    Smiling, I can hear it now in a heavy Boston brogue.
                                    Happy Birthday!

                    3. Both are well worth going to. Try to see if you can get a reservation at either - often there are late reservations available (9:30 pm or later). You probably won't get in to either without a reservation (perhaps a single person might find a seat at the bar, but likely not 2, unless you want to dine at 5 pm). You're probably staying at the Meridian, which means a very short walk east to O Plaisirs Gourmands (formerly Olivier Potier) for breakfast pastries and desserts. Or head south to Cafe Myriade for excellent coffee (with some breakfast pastries).
                      If you can't get in to Joe Beef, their sister restaurant is Liverpool House (which takes reservations), and their recently-opened wine bar (which doesn't take reservations) is Vin Papillon, all 3 on the same block. You could also try Le Chien Fumant if you can't get in to Joe Beef or Liverpool House, or any of Max's suggestions below, which are all solid.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: cherylmtl

                        Hi Friends,

                        Blur of a week at work.

                        An update on reservations!

                        Sep 6: Joe Beef at 9:45pm (great since we don't get to Montreal until after 8 and we need to check into hotel)

                        Sep 7: Au Pied de Cochon at 8:30pm!

                        Ok, could use a little help organizing food rest of weekend:


                        Old Montreal
                        St. Catherine Street

                        Shwartz's will be a definitely stop but it sounds like lunch is NOT the time to show up
                        St Viateurs for bagels - not sure if I should start my day here...other breakfast options?

                        We will head up to Mont-Royal after dinner for the views.


                        Will be spending morning at Jean Talon Market/Little Italy area. It was recommended that I go to Pasticceria Alati Caserta to buy and take some lobster tails home.

                        Breakfast or lunch in this area? Should I just eat in/around the market? I will head home after lunch on Sunday.

                        I still have a little figuring our georgraphy and where I should start....


                        Mark Adamowicz
                        Sutton, MA

                        1. re: markadamowicz

                          I would skip Alati Caserta, unless you really want these lobster tails (I personally hate that kind of heavy pastry). You can find much better italian pastries at Nicola Travaglini or La Cornetteria, both nearby.

                          There's a few option for lunch or breakfast in the area, but I think you will want to eat a little bit of everything you find at the market. More interesting than eating somewhere else and visiting the market full.

                      2. 1. Congrats in advance, it only gets better and better from there.

                        2. You're staying at either the Chateau Versailles Hotel or the Meridian, if it is a traditional hotel that your wife booked. If she's got something through Airbnb, then your guess is as good as mine.

                        3. If you wait to eat at Au Pied du Cochon and Joe Beef then you should not have that much difficulty walking in and getting a table or places at the bar. And by late I mean after 22h30.

                        4. From my perspective Au Pied de Cochon is always worth going to. Joe Beef much less so.

                        5. If you're driving on the way up and/or down you should stop at the Dipsy Doodle Dairy Bar in Northfield NH. They make an awesome Lobster roll that is more than worth the detour.

                        6. I'd suggest skipping Schwartz's (and the associated wait 40 minutes in line) and suggest The Main, or Brisket as places to go for smoked meat. Both are better, and won't have a line.

                        7. I'd second Maximilien's suggestions of Hotel Herman and Lawrence. Especially as they are unlike anything you are likely to get in Boston and I'd add in Bouillon Bilk, Evoo, and Kitchen Galerie.

                        Then finally, I'd also suggest calling up APDC and/or Joe Beef a couple of times in between now than then to see if they have had any cancellations, so that you can be more secure in actually getting fed instead of waiting until 20h30 and potentially getting shut out.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: EaterBob

                          I like that we all responded at the same time with basically the same information. At least we're consistent.

                          1. re: EaterBob

                            Eater Bob, I'd never heard of Brisket, or Briskets: which is very handy for people staying downtown if it is good. Oddly, I looked at their menu and there is no mention of beer or wine, but they have a dancing pig with a pint of beer beside a beer company logo. Any other opinions here on that place?

                            I also couldn't be bothered queueing for Schwartz with the Main across the street, with its broader deli menu, but I'm not really a smoked meat buff.

                            1. re: lagatta

                              Briskets is a tourist trap, I would avoid it. Its where lots of the tour buses bring people for smoked meat.

                              If you really want Schwarts go when it isnt lunch or dinner time (I never wait more than a couple minutes) because the 40 minute wait at peak times is definitely not worth it

                              1. re: lagatta

                                Quite the contrary kpaxonite. It is mainly a lunch place for the offices in the area. They make their own smoked meat, which is surprisingly good. They have pig's knuckles, which are delicious. And they have something like 17 different types of meat for burgers.

                                More like a Magnan's wannabe, or an upscale Capri if you were to ask me.

                                Lagatta, yes they have beer. Quarts and on tap. The taps are McAuslan/RJ brands.

                                1. re: EaterBob

                                  WHAT?! Briskets (which I thought long defunct) has pig knuckles?
                                  Is this the same Briskets I remember from the 90s? The old Saul Ettinger places?
                                  I gotta check this out...

                                  Speaking of Capri...its already gone upscale.... :-(

                                  To OP, yeah, you can go to The Main across the street, but as a visitor, you'll want to visit the more iconic Schwartz. As people point out, slightly off-times will have less a chance of long lines.
                                  Maybe sit in the newly furnished :-( La Cabanne Portugal across the street and enjoy a beer while the wife waits in IS you birthday...

                                  1. re: porker

                                    Yes they do, and they are quite tasty as well. Better than those at Brasserie la Mère Clavet... $14.44 for a plate

                                    And I think it is the same as what was started (and most likely sold by) Saul Ettinger. Now it appears that it is owned by some guy named Michel Cote.

                                    And I'm not quite certain if I would call the faux bamboo terrace "going upscale."

                                    1. re: EaterBob

                                      Thanks for the tip!

                                      Capri was gutted and they installed slick gypsum walls with hi tech recessed lighting...
                                      no longer the look of a working man's hang-out, but an open invite to yuppie douchebags...