Back from Montreal: Chez Leveque/Moishe's
We got back yesterday from our weekend in Montreal after having a wonderful time and a couple of wonderful meals.
We stayed in Old Montreal at the Marriott Springhill Suites, which is a brand new and very nice hotel but not exactly what we had in mind when we thought "suites". The rooms are clean, bright and spacious, but there's no door between the sleeping and living areas and only one television. Not that we were in the room much -- any time spent at the hotel involved a lot of pool time for our 7 year old. The hotel was filled with families, probably a result of the February vacation here in the States and a recent write-up on the hotel in the NY Times.
Saturday night we went to Chez Leveque in Outremont. If we lived in Montreal, this would become "our" restaurant, as it appeared to be for many of the patrons. Although we didn't have a reservation, the maitre d' was very nice and we were seated within five minutes.
There was no children's menu, but the little one loves mussels so she ordered Moules frites from the table d'hote menu ("with red sauce, not spicy", which elicited many smiles from our server). My husband ordered the smoked herring fillet with warm potatoes, which was delicious, and the Veal Chop, which was huge and perfectly cooked to his medium-rare specification. I had the scallops, which were very sweet and served in a saffron cream sauce. Both dishes came with pasta and tomato coulis. For dessert we shared a dish of 3 sorbets and the Tarte Sucre which came with my daughter's meal. I loved the tarte! It was sweet but not cloyingly so, and served with a bit of heavy cream on the dish.
Sunday night we weren't sure what we were in the mood for, but we ruled out many of the bistros that we wanted to try in favor of someplace less intimate. It was down to a choice between one of the Greek Psarotaverna restaurants on Parc or Moishe's. When we pulled up near Moishe's and our daughter heard the word "steak" she made a beeline for the front door so our choice was made! When we walked upstairs we could just feel the history of the place. As soon as we sat down we were brought a basket of fantastic rye bread and baguettes, a dish of vinegary cole slaw and a plate of pickles. Once again, no children's menu, but they do have half portions of the steak and chicken. Miss restaurant sophisticate wanted a rib stak, but they only offered a half portion of the filet. She ordered it medium rare and that sealed our fate -- service was friendly, good-humored and the little one got lots of attention. Can't say enough about the steak, it was just that good. My husband and I shared a rib steak and sides of fries, twice-baked potato and potato pancakes. Salads were delicious, too. For dessert we shared the assorted sorbets and a delicious milk chocolate/dark chocolate mousse/praline pastry that was surprisingly light. We even got a tip on the bakery which supplies their rye bread (like a zizel bread).
All in all, Montreal was a great family experience. On the way out of the city yesterday morning we stopped by the bakery to pick up the bread and got some wonderful yeasty cinammon and chocolate pastries for the ride home.
The bakery which supplies Moishe's with rye bread (light and dark) is Boulangerie St. Laurent. It's about a block or two before Moishe's, on the opposite side of St. Laurent. We were told to ask for "the bread they serve at Moishe's" since they have a few different types of rye. Our bread and 3 bread pastries cost $6 Cdn. It's a good thing I don't live in Montreal or I'd be a chubster!
Across from the bakery is a wonderful little gourmet shop, La Vielle Europe. Lots of imported specialty items, including smoked fish and caviar and one of the best selections of chocolate I've seen. And of course a few doors down is Schwartz's. If only we'd had time to try the smoked meat.....
Baguettes were from Le Pain d'Oree and I don't the exact locations but I believe I saw at least one as we were driving around. This was one of the best baguettes we've tasted outside of France.
As an aside, this stretch of St. Laurent was obviously the center of the old Jewish neighborhood in Montreal. There's a small cemetary monument business right on the block and the sign is written in both French "Louis Berson & Fils" and in Hebrew. I had taken a picture of it the last time I was in Montreal, about 17 years ago, and was thrilled to find it again!
I'm thrilled to read about all this too. I lived in Montreal in the late 70's and the Boulangerie St. Laurent was my favorite stop on a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning to stock up for the weekend-especially the cinnamon buns. Also remember La Vielle Europe too, which in my recollection had great salamis. Glad to know they're all still in business.