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Nov 30, 2013 05:02 AM

(this) Sunday Night in Montreal

Visiting montreal for a mini-honeymoon in a few hours. We just had our wedding feast last night, so we chose a lighter meal for tonight (Le Filet). Sunday night seems like a dead night, though. Right now, have reservations at La Chronique, but worried about how wide-open it is on Opentable.

Would love any recs for Sunday eating. Doesn't need to be super fancy, though it can be - on honeymoon, price no concern. Want something delicious and bonus points if special to Montreal. I have a really lovely bottle of wine with me (a 1991 Ridge Monte Bello) so additional bonus points if I could pay corkage, though I understand some of the obvious options have killer winelists and corkage would kind of miss half the fun)

Thanks in advance!

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  1. To get you started you might want to check out this list of restos open on Sunday nights:

    (bypass the Monday list)

    Personally I love Damas for high-end Syrian and would recommend the tasting menu but it depends what kind of food you're in the mood for.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kpzoo

      That's a pretty solid list!

      You are right, although opentable gives an accurate reflexion of available tables (never had any problem with them) it can probably be a bit tough to sort through.

      I made a "7o clock, 2 person" reservation on December 7 and looking at the choices those would be my shortlist (your mileage may vary :P)

      Brasserie T
      La Chronique
      Le Chien Fumant
      Maison Boulud

      Prices can vary (Bouloud and Europea will be more expensive than Brasserie T! or Le chien fumant).

      What I might recommend if you have a nice bottle of wine is to look for a BYOB restaurant (Bring your own wine). Its a thing here. I know Quartier Général and Le Petit Plateau are BYOB but I don't know if they are open on sundays.

      1. re: kpzoo

        I tried Damas 2 weeks ago and it was delicious. I felt like trying everything else on the menu but I was stuffed, portions were quite filling.

        Forgot to note that it was on a Sunday evening. The restaurant was almost full, nice atmosphere and great service

      2. Chronique is excellent but rather quiet. The food is excellent but it wouldn't be my first choice.
        If you'd like to drink that excellent bottle your options are simultaneously good and bad in Montreal: there are specific restaurants that are licensed as BYOW and almost never have corkage fees. However, very few of these restaurants are truly upscale. There is no way to bring wine to a non-BYO restaurant.

        Of all the BYOs (many not open on Sundays) you might consider Quartier General, although it is really a nice midrange restaurant at best. It's one of my favorites but perhaps not honeymoon caliber? Maybe take a look online and decide if it matches your expectations.

        21 Replies
        1. re: Fintastic

          The Gazette has a review by Lesley Chesterman today of Brasserie T. She likes it. It should be online.

          1. re: williej

            OK, so brasserie T! would be pretty much the diametric opposite of what I am looking for in a restaurant. I can - and do - prepare all of those dishes at home. To me, a brasserie is a Wednesday restaurant I go to when I don't feel like cooking. I'm not looking for a fun restaurant, I'm looking for an excellent one, which is not quite the same...

            Damas looks interesting, but I didn't come to Montreal to eat (admittedly marvelous looking) Syrian food.

            Someone dung La Chronique but said it had excellent food - is the food not really that excellent?

            1. re: dzop

              I recommend Damas as well. Unless you eat Syrian food every day, it is a real treat!

              1. re: dzop

                "Damas looks interesting, but I didn't come to Montreal to eat (admittedly marvelous looking) Syrian food."

                OK, I'll bite, since you haven't really been too clear on this. :-) What kind of food did you come to Montreal to eat?

                FYI we have a large Middle Eastern population here and are known for our top notch Lebanese, among others.

                1. re: dzop

                  I guess I should elaborate. I've been to Chronique only twice, once for the tasting menu several years ago and once during restaurant week for a special (read: cheaper) 3-course menu. I enjoyed the tasting menu a great deal, but found the restaurant week dishes not particularly interesting. More critically, the service on my second visit was quite bizarre, as though they had the busboy/girl waiting tables. I expect this had much to do with the surge in (budget-conscious) customers, but it did not sit well with me. The room was also rather bland, although I've not been since they moved across the street earlier this year.

                  I guess the moral of my story is that the food is the obvious focus at Chronique, so if fun is not your priority you might be very happy. Without a doubt it is among a dying breed of fine-dining restaurants that offer exceptional skill and preparation. In the same category you might also consider Europea downtown, which has a rather playful tasting menu (but don't worry, you aren't required to have fun).

                  1. re: dzop

                    Also, in case you didn't read the Gazette review posted above, Brasserie T! primarily serves classic brasserie dishes but is owned by the chef of Montreal's legendary Toque! (which is closed on Sundays). I wouldn't recommend T! as a special occasion restaurant, but their preparation of even the most cliche dishes is typically a cut above. Perhaps you're a chef as well, but for the rest of us it offers meals we won't perfectly replicate at home.

                    1. re: Fintastic

                      To me "owned by the same chef" is a giant red flag; I understand the business rationale of leveraging your brand by opening a more casual, higher volume place (and that the practice of the sister brasserie is straight out of Paris), but all too often it's a money grab. The only reason I chose Le Filet - a "sister" restaurant, if I'm not mistaken - was because the menu was sufficiently interesting that it seems like something is going on in the kitchen that's worth attention.

                      As for middle eastern, my pop was raised in the Middle East. While we don't have haut middle eastern in NYC, there's a lot of solid food out in the boroughs if you know where to look. Put differently, Damas would be high on my list if I were here for 5 nights, but not for 2...

                      1. re: dzop

                        High end restaurants are really a labour of love. They are not money driven. Everyone should be able to make money at what they love to do. If that means opening up a place that is high turnover does not make them a sell out and should not be judged as a money grab. Le Filet is a great restaurant and does profit from being busy unlike toque where they might only have one sitting a night. Brasserie T is great and offers a good and varied menu. The salmon is astounding and would be hard to duplicate at home. How about Bistro Cocagne, it is a delicious French restaurant?

                        1. re: Gloriaa

                          I hear you. But I just got back from Le Filet, and while I wasn't disappointed, I wasn't blown away, either. The food seemed a bit crude - lots of use of butter and salt which, IMO, was like putting a lot of makeup on some less-than-fabulous ingredients; a red snapper that wasn't fresh, a raw hamachi that wasn't as high a grade as it should be. It was a little bit cheap and easy - throw tempura something-or-rather on top of the raw fish to keep them happy, if you get my meaning. That's not to say everything was that way; sea urchin pasta with rock shrimp and shiso was wildly creative and the rock shrimp were super sweet and almost crunchy - I've had them straight off the boat in Maine and they don't get much better. Desserts were also excellent - not super sweet, lots of textures. Lastly, I can never complain about a restaurant that has Overnoy Poulsard, a wine that folks in the US sell their first-born for, on the wine list for a very reasonable $87.

                          But the sum experience was a tiny bit corporate, which is what I'd like to avoid tomorrow night if possible.

                          1. re: dzop

                            If you can manage a reservation at au Pied de Cochon, that's probably what you're looking for. If you want to dine early or late, you may have a chance of nabbing a spot, unless they have cancellations. Otherwise, perhaps Hotel Herman?

                            1. re: cherylmtl

                              I agree. It's difficult to discern precisely what it is you're aiming for so maybe you should shoot for casual Quebecois, like a late seating at APDC. Again, I didn't entirely understand your objection to Brasserie T being fun so maybe that would be a problem with PDC as well, but it is something you won't find elsewhere. Refined it is not, so be warned they may also be dressing-up imperfect ingredients (including B-grade foie), but perhaps that's the point in this instance.

                              If corporate is to be avoided then definitely skip Europea. Do you have NYC restaurant equivalents that might capture what it is you're looking for here?

                              1. re: Fintastic

                                For NYC restaurants that I like, think: Dovetail, (the late) Corton, lunch at Bouley, mutton chop at Keens, and Il Colosseo out in Bensonhurst.

                                Restaurants I vigorously dislike include Le Bernardin, the David Chang chain, Nomad, Craft, Frannys.

                                1. re: dzop

                                  Have fun tonight. I have a feeling that whatever restaurant you choose you will be disappointed.

                                  1. re: dzop

                                    Well, I've been to only one of the restaurants you do like (Dovetail) and most of the ones you don't (several Momofukus, Nomad, Bernardin) so perhaps I won't be much help. It's too bad about the choice of Le Filet while in Montreal, as I've repeatedly noted here that it feels like a poor-man's Bernardin. It's normally one of my first recommendations but mainly because it is rather different than anything else in town.

                                    Again, when it comes to ingredients don't hope for the finest: Montreal is obviously relatively far from the ocean (vs. NYC) and is also the poorest of the US/Canadian metropolises so the market (especially for hours-fresh seafood) is very tiny. For the sake of a satisfying honeymoon, perhaps set your sights on how Quebec chefs have adapted to difficult environmental, political, and economic conditions (least of which being day-old snapper) by making delicious, dirt-cheap dishes that allow one to not freeze to death in frigid February. These are the types of things served by APDC, including the completely uncouth Pouding Chômeur (basically bready-cake baked in maple syrup then covered again in syrup). I'm afraid that hoping for the kinds of dining on offer in NYC will lead to disappointment - we just can't compete on the basis of ingredients alone. It is often claimed that people here dine out less frequently, and so these occasions tend to be oriented more towards casual fun than the culinary prowess of our chefs. Unfortunately this may be the same reason you dislike Chang, who's stated favourite restaurant is Montreal's Joe Beef - the epitome of the f&$#-you cooking movement in Quebec.
                                    I really do hope you find some things you genuinely enjoy tonight - even for the least refined palate Sunday dining can be a challenge.

                                    1. re: Fintastic

                                      Your post is well-taken. I'd distinguish between food that is unrefined because it is unrefined - peasant food, as it were - and food that is just not good but is gimmicked / scores "easy points", or where the theater is the point of the experience. Many of my favorite restaurants are out in Queens or Brooklyn, they're not serving refined food, but it's just the best expression of what it is. Terrific chicken soup is terrific chicken soup, even if it's just chicken, carrot, celery, parsnip, etc...

                                      What drives me nuts is the Warner LeRoy-ification of dining; the theory that stick people in a buzzy room, spread good PR around, and most folks don't eat out enough or cook enough to know the difference anyways. David Chang is the textbook example of this; make the dining experience as profitable for him as possible, market / PR it to convince people that what makes him money is what is desirable in a restaurant, then watch the dollars flow in. It's not a fait accompli that dining always gets better; if McDonalds can convince folks that a Big Mac is an improvement over the fresh patty their local diner gridded up for 40 years...

                                      Anyways, a roundabout way of saying that I think a big old plate of maple syrup soaked bread sounds delightful.

                                      1. re: dzop

                                        Good points. Perhaps you'll be in luck, then..

                                        1. re: dzop

                                          I don' t think it is open Sunday nights, but in my opinion Gus would be the best expression of the kind of food you describe that you like. Basic good food. Should I say that David Ferguson used to work at PdC? And I find the ambience at Gus is nice. Not a lot of tables, and good cooking. A neighbourhood type bistro.

                                          I am always struck by the fact that it is never mentioned here as one of the best places for the neighbourhood feel. Then again it probably is hard to get a table, what with it only have a maximum of 26 seats plus the bar which seats 5 or 6.

                                          1. re: dzop

                                            Obviously DC is doing something that people want. No need to be so resentful. I loved Le Bernardin and can't really wrap my head around anyone who would say they HATED it. I found the food simple and each their own. Clearly no restaurant will please everyone.

                                            1. re: Gloriaa

                                              I too loved le Bernardin and Nomad so have absolutely no suggestions. Hope you've enjoyed your night!

                          2. re: dzop

                            actually should check out hotel herman... you'll def drink some great french natural wine/bubbles. wine culture here is def superior to that of the usa including NYC... and you won't pay a lot for it

                      2. I would highly recommend Europea. It is delicious, creative, and romantic. Best of all it is open on Sunday nights.

                        1. maison publique imo if you're looking for great food but with a more laid back/vibrant vibe. chronique would be good for something quiet/romantic.

                          don't have corkages in montreal, just purely bring your own wine spots that are not allowed to sell wine themselves... which is def not what you are looking for on a honeymoon weekend.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: j_do

                            Thanks for telling us later in the thread you are from new york. Telling us in the first post would have explained your reticence about Damas and your attitude to Brasserie T!

                            I would second Europea for Sunday night.

                          2. My second night, we were winded from our several mile walk, and stuffed with bagel and choux and terrines, so we chickend out and decided to eat in our hotel at maison boulud, expecting to order a couple of apps and split a dessert.

                            The food was so good we couldn't stop ordering. Three courses later, I was extremely impressed. The meal was significantly better than one I had at the Daniel mothership in NYC just a couple of weeks ago. FWIW, the ingredients were extraordinary - the hamachi like butter, the white truffle better than the one I bought from a good Italian-foods store in NYC last week, so I think there must be great ingredients out there somewhere in Montreal. Particularly of note were the beef dish, which was rich, mushroomy but also simultaneously very refined, and a set of wonderful deserts that used apple, pear, etc., including a wonderful maple ice cream that used real maple syrup so was unapologetically mild, lacking the artificial punch of most so-called "maple".

                            I'd normally hate myself for eating at a hotel joint, but man was this good - and only marginally more expensive than Le Filet! Kudos to whichever Boulud assembly-line guy is manning that kitchen.