Thank you all for Montreal
Just back last night from Montreal. First must thank all who had suggested L'Auberge du Vieux Port. That ended up being our choice and if I wasn't sold at first arrival, I was shortly after based upon the courtesy and friendliness of the staff who practically gave us a tour of the town themselves. We liked being in the old town, although it seems quite the tourist attraction(every shop seems to be a clone of the one two steps ahead or back), and I imagine in the summer with all of the festivals in full happening that the streets would be noisy and crowded. One of the greatest perks of being in the old section was it's proximity to Chinatown; we spent a cold and drizzly couple of hours strolling around there one afternoon, stopping at a Vietnamese Pho place called Pho Bac 97 for a restorative bowl of soup. I had one with sirloin and brisket(the first incarnation of that cut of meat I was to have on the trip.).There were many Pho shops around;this one just seemed extremely clean and busy, good signs to me. On another escapade for lunch, we went to the highly touted Schwartz's for the famed smoked meat (brisket again),sandwich. We ordered ours medium fat, and I don't even want to know what the full fat is. This is plenty fatty, let me tell you. And succulently spicy and warm and decadent and oh my, so good. Sides of fries (not impressive), hot peppers, pickle, slaw and cherry coke to help slide it all down. This was by far my husband's favorite meal, maybe anywhere, but we both thought it cold have been improved upon by some outstanding seeded rye bread that we do have here in Cleveland. At the other end of the spectrum, we dined at the noted Toque, both of us indulging in the Chef's tasting menu. Chef Normand Laprise is apparently known for his rotating foie gras presentations and had I thought his could really be that much better than anyone else's I would have just gone for the foie gras dinner. A mistake. The tasting menu was nice but not everything worked, and the foie gras was truly the best I've had and we were just swooning all over the place wanting more. The courses after the foie gras paled in comparison and the dessert was nothing to get excited about. An opener of a single, perfect, briny Vancouver oyster with a little pickled onion and vanilla-dill oil was also outstanding.
Also had a good old time style dinner at Gibby's for steak and seafood. I can't remember the last time I was served what was once the de riguer sorbet course!
Also: smoked salmon at Beauty's ( very good but I prefer the moistness of nova), a decent Italian meal at Le Muscadin,(recommended by our concierge; would like to try Da Vinci next trip). Outstanding coffee everywhere (I'm already pining for my morning bowl of cafe au lait), and the biggest surprise for me was the Montreal bagel. See, I don't care much for bagels and we do have outstanding ones here from Bialy's. I think they taste okay but they sit like lead and I usually scoop out the insides. Well not only do I like Montreal bagels, I schlepped home two dozen of them. Light and crispy and wood baked.I felt good, not leaden. Vive la difference. We spent a good half hour watching and talking to the bakers at San Viateur in amazement. What an easy, pleasant getaway. We're already looking forward to our next visit.