Montreal weekend - thoughts?
Hello Montreal Hounds!
Have read the Montreal board and have selected the following (one of the diners on this trip does not eat red meat):
brunch/lunch: Lawrence, La arepera du plateau OR Ma poule mouillee
dinners: Damas, Au Cinquieme Peche
Snacks: Cafe Myriade/Cafe Neve (Saint Donuts), Juliette et Chocolat
To bring back: Fairmount bagels
Are there any good ice-cream or gelato places near any of these places? Or near the Sofitel on Sherbrooke?
I can understand lagatta's lament; the Wilensky special is basically a griddled bologna/salami sandwich on egg bread. Pure simplicity.
However, its a place which hasn't changed since forever (its not re-created, its just the way it always was).
You'll be driving in no-man's land somewhere between Belleville and Oshawa and someone'll pull out the bag of Montreal bagels, still fresh. A Wilensky Special will fall out of the bag and everyone will take turns taking a bite (its quite flat). At first the consensus will be that the Wilensky Special is anything but.
However, another 80km later, someone'll be thinking of the 1930s wooden barstools, unique counter, and homemade soft drinks which kinda suck, notes of another era, and the Special will begin to haunt.
20km later someone'll go rooting in the bagel bag, but alas there won't be any Specials left.
Days will pass and you'll be thinking your group was part of Canadian history, you'll wanna find a DVD of The Apprentice Of Duddy Kravitz, and you'll lament that the Wilensky Special is not to be had just around the corner....
Yes, I like the place for its social and cultural history factor. I deliberately use those terms, and not "nostalgia", as it is a remarkable preserved bubble from the working-class Ashkenazi Jewish neighbourhood that was the Main and Mile End of decades ago - there are also some great collage plaques farther down on the Main about this and other elements of the area's history. I've been there with a friend who does "Jewish Digest" on Radio Centre-Ville, on a Jane's Walk historical tour (there are always food-themed events among the tours).
But I find the sandwich unremarkable, other than the Seinfeld-worthy "rules" governing its facture. Much prefer the local bagels and lox!
Yes, and not too far from some of the other recommendations like Ma Poule Mouillée and Les Givrés .. it's on Mont-Royal avenue, btw, not in the town of Mont Royal. Despite the poignant poetry of porker's lovely post, I'd probably go there over Wilensky's or Juliet et Chocolat. Might as well bring back St-Viateur bagels too (or instead) and do a taste test.
And of course if at Kouign Amann, you are just a few short blocks from Trip de bouffe, a Lebanese takeaway with great pita bread, savoury pastries, spreads, sandwiches and things I'm forgetting...
In general, Montréal blocks are very long one way (roughly north-south) and very short the other, roughly east-west) direction. This stems from the French land allotment system, with deep, narrow plots of land going back from the St-Laurent, and other major rivers. Very different from the system in nearby Ontario and US states, and visible from the air.
"Schwartz's is a great deli (but it may only be good for the meats)."
- its famous for Montreal Smoked Meat (as Katz is known for pastrami), but theres debate on where to get Montreal's best smoked meat. Maybe search the boards on this.
It may not be a deli in the American sense...maybe have a look at their page
Fairmont and St. Viateur are certainly go-to bagel places.
Toque and Au Pied are nice, but very different - check out their websites.
BTW, if you happen to like hot and spicy chinese, perhaps check out the newish Kanbai II in Chinatown. 1110 Rue Clark, casual place, both Cantonese and Szechuan. They may tend to dumb it down, but tell them that you like it spicy.
Good suggestion Cheryl. If the aim is for upscale romantic dining then I'd definitely recommend that you avoid Pied de Cochon and similar establishments (i.e. Joe Beef, Salle a Manger, etc). That's not to say these places can't be romantic, but they are loud and heavy.
For fine dining in a larger space, I'd say Toque or 400 Coups.
For small and intimate maybe think about some date-night favourites like Chronique, Pintxo, Lawrence, or perhaps a nice winebar like Hotel Herman or 3 Petits Bouchons (they have great small plates).
Thanks Montreal Hounds for your help so far.
I'm wondering what is good at au cinquieme peche (dinner) and Lawrence (brunch)?
Also, I've made lists of what is good at the other places we are considering. Any advice on my lists is appreciated.
Damas – fattat mozat, vine leaves/hummus, chicken/leaves dish, mouhamarra, Moussaqa’a, chicken fatte, fattoush salad
Cafe Myriade – croissant, mocha, donuts,
La arepera du plateau – avocado salsa, passion fruit juice, lulu juice, black bean and plaintain arepa, fried plaintains with cheese, stewed chicken arepa, cassava chips, black bean soup, pabellon arepa, tres leches dessert
Ma Poule Mouillee – mini custard tart
Juliette et Chocolat – crepes, banana-salted caramel-ice cream crepe, peanut butter, chocolate and banana crepe, Fondant au chocolate, Hot Chocolate, Brownies, fondue, fondant au caramel salée, fondants au chocolat au caramel à fleur de sel
Cafe Neve – cookies (chocoloate chip, peanut butter and chocolate), donuts, cinnamon scones
Les Givres – rhubarb frozen yogourt, banana republic, strawberry rhubarb, pear vanilla sorbet, lime sorbet, apple sorbet, orange sorbet, maple sugar ice cream,
5eP has an evolving menu (like most places in Montreal these days). Although there are a few things that I've seen there repeatedly, I'm not sure that it's going to be easy to recommend any particular dish. What's always been surprising to me is that the simplest options are often particularly extraordinary. For instance, I won't typically order a beef dish at a restaurant unless it's unusual in some way, but I've been blown away with each that I've had there.
As for Lawrence, this will depend on your preferences. I've had most items on their menu in one incarnation or another, and only disliked one dish (however, this was because I wanted to see if they could prepare kidneys such that I'd enjoy them, but it turns out that no one can remedy those awful offals).
The rest are likely good choices. You can't go wrong with Myriade and Neve (though I don't know their baked stuff very well). Arepera makes an excellent, affordable meal. And Damas has become the most talked about middle-eastern restaurant in Montreal, so it shant disappoint.
I'm not as confident in your listing of Juliette et Chocolat: it's fine, but often very busy and always feels hurried to me. Their spaces are quite bright and very well touristed.. you might be happier finding another one of our wonderful bakeries for sweet snacking (Kouign Amann, Rhubarbe, etc etc).
I agree with Fintastic, Juliette and Chocolat is a tourist trap (or couples or girls night out). It's pricey, too bright, usually pretty loud and crowded, and not my idea of a cozy, comfy desert place.
Les Givres has some of the best ice cream and sorbets in town, I'd go with that hands down out of the desert options.
I'm not sure if you have left yet, but here are the notes from my wife and I:
Le Cartet - Interesting option that seems similar to O+G
St. Viateur - there is a sit down restaurant a few minutes from the take-out only store. MTL bagels are much more dense than say NY bagels and are interesting
Kouign Amann - fantastic, possibly the best breakfast food we had all trip.
Holder - Known for their tartar and a decent option for a quick drink and bite to eat
Beaver Hall - STAY AWAY, awful food even though it was recommended by the conceirge
Montreal Poutine - We were not a fan of the poutine here. It seemed overly salty
L'ASSOMMOIR - Great Martinis, but the music becomes incredibly loud after 9 pm or so.
Royal Merchant - This bar had a very american feel, but was decent. The food was average at best.
Sarah B - Hotel bar at the intercontinental with passable food
Places we wanted to try, but couldn't get to because it was MTL restaurant week:
Le Club Chasse et Peche
Random, but we drove up from NY so if you are coming from that direction you may want to stop at the Culinary Institute (Hyde Park, NY) or 132 Glen Bistro (Glens Falls, NY).
Hopefully some of this helps!