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Jul 16, 2000 06:30 PM

Montreal restaurants

  • j

I would love some suggestions for dinner and/or lunch for a group of 10, including2 9 year old grandchldren. We will be in Montreal from 7/30-8/4. Toque is NOT an option--they do not offer an a la carte menu for a group of 10 and their typical tasting menus (which they were kind enough to fax me)were much to limited for the mix of foodophiles and foodophobes in my family. I'd appreciate any suggestions. Thanks. J. KantorP.S. Is it true about the bagels?

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  1. Try the always favourite Schwartz Hebrew deli
    on St. Laurent street, and of course, have the Montreal smoked meat. There probably will be a small line up, especially for a party of ten, but it is well worth it!

    1. Try this:

      SIGHTSEEING: Above, patrons do that St.
      Laurent thing, sipping a drink and people
      watching from one of the street's many cafés;
      right, one of Montreal's best culinary secrets is
      Toqué, which offers great value and québécois
      cuisine; below, things sometimes get crazy at
      Nantha's Kitchen, but the owner, seen cavorting
      for the camera with friends, always makes you
      feel at home; bottom, beer lovers can't miss Le
      Cheval Blanc, where they make exotic beers on

      Montreal by weekend

      Where to eat, drink and get wild during that perennial visit to the great city

      By Sonia Verma
      Toronto Star Staff Reporter

      Friday, 6:45 p.m., Kirsti's T.O. apartment

      Collect Kirsti in car. Friends since the age 6 (she's the one who chipped my front
      tooth in an 'accidental' monkeybar mishap), Kirsti and I weathered three years
      together as roomates at McGill before moving to T.O. and going our seperate ways.

      As we drive west, talk turns to the tired rivalry between Montreal and Toronto, which
      eventually disintigrates into a messy puddle of clichés. This, we conclude somewhere
      north of Oshawa, is because they are true. Montrealers dress better, live better and
      have infinitely more fun.

      Saturday 12:17 a.m. Montreal

      The mountain, the river, the cross. We're here, ready to take a bite out of the
      croissant-shaped island we once called home. We ditch our bags and, more
      importantly, our wheels, since Montreal has a well-greased 65-station Metro system.

      With four major summer festivals - Jazz, Just For Laughs, Francofolies and World Film
      - there is always something going on. (This weekend Gay Pride week kicks off with an
      expected attendance of half a million for the Pride Parade on Aug. 6.)

      Saturday 1:15 a.m. rue St. Denis

      Nobody comes here for a good night's sleep. We head to the heart of the Latin
      Quarter, a vibrant neighbourhood straddling Rue St. Denis and Rue Sherbrooke,
      which is part student ghetto (McGill and University of Quebec at Montreal aren't far)
      and part bohemia.

      We duck into Le Cheval Blanc (809 Rue Ontario E.), a smoky, sparsely decorated
      '40s-style bar where conversation percolates in French and English. Simon, our
      bartender, brings pints of beer brewed on the premises. He insists we sample all five

      Saturday 4:37 a.m. Mile End

      After helping Simon close up shop, we pile into his blue station wagon seeking a cure
      for a severe late snack attack. Too often these evenings end in a 99 cent free-for-all at
      Pizza Madonna. Thanks to Simon, we end up at Arahova Souvlaki (256 St. Viateur W.)
      for gyros and greek salad. The Mile End area is an oasis for post-last-call asylum

      Saturday 5:47 a.m., The Old Port

      Early morning, the best time to wander through Le Vieux Montréal. This is where the
      city was founded almost 360 years ago. The sun rises over the river, spreads through
      the narrow streets and bounces shadows off the angled granite buildings. This is the
      quiet before the Old Port transforms into a summertime riot of roller-bladers and street
      performers. Before McGill students working in the cluster of cafés can practice their
      best fromage French on the tourists.

      Kirsti and I down a couple of shots of expresso before heading home. Tomorrow, she
      says, we should go jet-boating at 9 a.m. sharp!

      Saturday 1:00 p.m.

      We hit Beautys, a Montreal landmark, for breaky (smoked salmon and cream cheese
      on bagels) then wander through a city of ``petite patrie.'' Many of Montreal's
      neighbourhoods remain worlds unto themselves, many of which have served as the
      stomping grounds to a cabal of literary icons. We stroll through Michel Tremblay's
      Plateau, an area North of Sherbrooke St., east of St. Laurent Blvd, lined with
      Montreal's signature triplexes, with their death-defying staircases. Then for a quick
      slice of Montreal life, we turn up The Main, or St. Laurent, in Mordecai Richler's old
      neighbourhood, which is still home to some of the city's best clothing stores.

      We weave in and out of them, lingering in our favourite, Boutique Scandale (3639 St.
      Laurent.) Robert de Niro's wife shops here, where costume designer Georges
      Levesque makes no two dresses the same. Then on to space fb (3632 St. Laurent) for
      a look at inexpensive classic designs by Montrealer Francois Beauregard. Next is the
      obligatory lineup at Schwartz's (3895 St. Laurent) - with it's all-over linoleum and
      unforgiving fluorescent lighting - for the smoked meat sandwich that made this place

      Saturday 4:30 p.m.

      Beverage break at Le Sugar Bar (3616 St. Laurent). Kirsti orders a Guru energy drink,
      which promises to invigorate the body and mind. She decides to get her hair cut.
      Short. While Kirsti gets shorn, I cab over to Montreal's Museum of Fine Arts (1379
      Sherbrooke St. W). Despite a vibrant local art scene most Montrealers, not to say
      tourists, still shell out admission prices to art gaze at the big institutions. The
      Sherbrooke St. complex is best known for its big-ticket shows, which have ranged
      from Modigliani to a Snoopy exhibit. Through Oct. 15, the Museum is showing an
      81-painting exhibit including Cézannes, Renoirs and Picassos, on loan from the Paris
      Musée de l`orangerie.

      Saturday 6:30 p.m. Toqué, 3842 St. Denis

      Kirsti and I regroup for dinner. As McGill students, we ate less quiche and crême
      brûlée than we did falafel and Kraft Dinner. When we did eat out, our faves included
      Peruvian cuisine and wine at Restaurant Pucapuca (5400 St. Laurent), or Egyptian at
      the Nil Blue (3706 St. Denis). Tonight, we choose Toqué, an elegant québécois
      restaurant featuring chef Normand LaPrise's cuisine: maple-syrup glazed quail,
      roasted lobster sauteed in green garlic and red wine vinegar and fois gras, which
      melts on your tongue. Dinner, plus lots and lots of wine, rang in at $175.

      Saturday 9:39 p.m. Various locations.

      With one night left, we do the bar crawl at light speed, hitting Upstairs (1421 Bishop),
      a jazz-filled joint located downstairs, moving on to Else's (156 Roy E.), a perfect place
      for a not-so-quiet pint of Guinness, Copacabana's (3910 St. Laurent), just because we
      always end up here with the other half of the city.

      Sunday, 1:49 a.m. Bagel Etc. (3420 St. Laurent)

      We go for a midnight snack at Bagels Etc., where Montreal's poet-laureate Leonard
      Cohen hangs when he's in town. Servers are fountains of Leonard knowledge (ask
      about Rebecca de Mornay). With '30s decor and New York diner menu, it's open till 6
      a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. When he needs a break from the monastary, the Ladies
      Man resides across the street, on the south side of Parc de Portugal. (The second
      floor apartment with the gauzy white curtains). This is more meaningful to me - who
      used to drop the odd letter into Leonard's mailbox during my undergrad years - than
      to Kirsti, who majored in psych. We move on.

      Sunday, 2:50 am, Nantha's Kitchen (9 Duluth Ave E.)

      We arrive at Nantha's just before last call. The kitchen has long-since closed. But
      Nantha, our patron saint decked out in Thai fishermen pants and frosted pink lipstick,
      immediately brings us ice water, samosas and another round. Others arrive later. A
      visit to Nantha's is a bit like hanging out in your own living room - with a DJ who
      spins old-school hip hop till the wee hours. From the second floor, we watch the night
      sky lighten. We leave at 7:13 a.m. with Nantha promising to feed us Malaysian food
      before we leave for Toronto.

      Sunday 4:00 p.m.

      Officially we abandon plans of jet-boating, bongo drums at Mount-Royal Parc and a
      bike ride along the eight-mile path from René Lévesque Park to the Père Marquette
      Promenade. The Botanical Gardens, one of the world's largest with over 20,000 plant
      species, also falls by the wayside.

      Kirsti finds my notebook, which made its way around the table the night before.
      ``Here's the beautiful thing about Montreal,'' reads one chicken-scrawl excerpt from an
      author known only as the Ordinary Seaman, ``You can end up in a bar @ 3 a.m. that's
      filled with your friends and they'll stay open until you are dragged home kicking and
      screaming. Parties outlast you.

      ``There's always more than you can do, see, drink and take. It's a city of abundance.
      More. More. Stop. No, wait. More.''

      1 Reply
      1. re: anne

        I was searching the web in hope of finding a Space FB website, and I stumbled upon your Message Board. I am a very proud Montrealer, and I just wanted to say that i really enjoyed reading your article. I go to boarding school and tend to really miss the city, and so I printed this out to read when I get homesick. I have to say you realy pinpointed it...maybe one thing you left out is the amazing vintage shopping in Montreal...check it out on Mount Royal St....the cliches have been well established.