Best of the underground city
With old man winter being back in town and all, it might be interesting to list the best options for dining in the "underground city" network of malls and office buildings downtown which is actually pretty extensive. Here's a map from 2005:
(note that now the Eatons centre and Place Ville-Marie are now connected by a tunnel under cathcart, joining the two formerly independent parts)
So here are my nominees:
-Nudo in the Eatons centre food court: Hand-pulled noodles made to order before your eyes in a shopping mall- hard to beat in my view. Very short menu (6 or so items) all noodle-centered.
-6th floor of The Bay: as much for the ambiance of the 'Canadiana-style' dining room as for the fancy-cafeteria food specials, it makes for a fun lunch. The soups are a standout - I like the thai coconut milk/chicken soup. As for mains, they have specials like 'christmas turkey dinner' or poached salmon. Only thing is you've got to go early or else they seem to just let them stand there... I went once at 1:00 and saw a whole cooked side of salmon with dill and lemon drying out under a heat lamp...
-Café Tunnel: in the tunnel between Eaton's center and Place Ville-Marie. For me not the best coffee in town, but the best I know about within the underground city. Long waits around the end of lunchtime though.
-For a fancy wallet-busting lunch, there's always Toqué, in the CDP building (still less expensive than going there for dinner - table d'hôte starts at 25$).
I'm certain there's loads more gems down there - what are your favourites?
there are quite a few experts on the underground city dining situation on this board who will fill you in. Apparently there are many great authentic ethnic food vendors but you have to show up early while the food is still fresh.
I have tried a few of the soups at Nudo in the Eaton Centre recently. My favourite is #1, chicken with sesame as the noodles are coated in a delicious tahini-like sauce and don't even need the broth which is thoughtfully served on the side so you can add it as you go along if you want. I tried the pork sauce and it was more like a mapo flavour, not quite as spicy and sour (or delicious) as the pork with preserved vegetable at their other location. I tasted the seafood soup which was okay, sweeter than the other two. I'd probably get something at Basha if I wasn't busy with hand-pulled noodles, and some kids I took to the food court were enthusiastic about the pizza at Panini Pizza Pasta but I didn't try it. Nice that there is free wifi at the food court.
Options by foodcourt:
- Médina in Les Cathédrales
- Nudo, Café Grévin in Eaton Centre, Tunnel Espresso
- Koryo in Montreal Trust
- Grillades Torino, Momoyama in Carrefour Industrielle Alliance
and the one place really worth the detour through the underground to the scotia tower/Centre Mont Royal is Akli.
I tried both Koryo and Grillades Torino lately.
Koryo's got potential but I ended up disappointed. I had the beef and chicken combo with cellophane noodles and fried potatoes. The beef was the best part, well charred and good flavor, not dry. The chicken thigh on the other hand was way too salty, lacked any kind of flavor and was barely charred. The potatoes could have definitely been good. They call them garlic potatoes but they sure are crunchier than what you'd find at bad arab fast food joints. If only they didn't drown them in sweet sauce. A savory spicy soy-sesame sauce would be much better and unique than this crappy sweet stuff you can find in any bad chinese takeout. Same with the cellophane noodles, they were completely flavorless.
Grillades Torino was great. The chicken breast filets were grilled to perfection although it could have used a little more seasoning. THe merguez were good. Sides were interesting, except for the potatoes. Portions were generous. Definitely one of the best food court fare I've had in Montreal along with Momoyama and the faubourg Bangkok back in the days