Montreal on the cheap
- Cathy Elton
I'm going to Montreal for a weekend in November, but need to do it very cheaply. Does anyone have suggestions for great but inexpensive restaurants - and hotels?
Santropol at Duluth and St Urbain is pretty cheap, very Montrealish and very good.
La Creperie Celtique at Maisonnueve and St Andre? (a bit east of St Hubert) is a nice lunch place, and you'll get more French food; crepes as a meal, a soup or salad starter, and a little desert.
Both are under $10 per person. I'm trying to think of a real bistro in that price range, and I just can't think of one where you're really likely to come out under about $30.
For breakfast, Beauty's is very traditional; there are others, but for cheap, good, (and a wait), its Beauties.
For dinner, I would go either with Asian (I'm really fond of My Canh in Chinatown; its on the right as you walk south from Rene Levesque. They have an outstanding Pho.)
It'd help if you defined "cheap," Cathy, and gave us some pointers about your culinary preferences.
That said, it's generally cheaper to stay in B&Bs than in hotels. Haven't checked prices recently but I'd expect a decent (nothing fancy but clean, safe and conveniently located) room to run about C$75. The Montreal tourism office can give you a listing; they have a toll-free number, which I don't have handy but will track down if you'd like. Also, a Google search on search strings like 'Montreal B&B' will turn up hits galore.
As for restos, a few come to mind:
- Café Internationale on St-Laurent in Little Italy. Great pizza, good pasta, coffee, beer, wine. Lots of cigarette smoke, however. You could also just nibble your way around the neighbourhood, which is filled with interesting bakeries, grocery stores, green grociers, cheese shops and, of course, the Jean-Talon Market (not as mind-boggling in November as in August but still an unmissable slice of Montreal life).
- Coco Rico on St-Laurent at Napoleon (I believe). Great spit-roasted chicken sandwiches and roasted potatoes.
- Schwartz's on St-Laurent, a few doors down from Coco Rico. The place for smoked meat.
- La Paryse on Ontario a block or two west of St-Denis. Best hamburgers in town.
- Frite alors! Park just north of Fairmount; Mont-Royal just east of St-Denis; St-Paul in Old Montreal, just across the street from the Old Port; I think there's one on Laurier East, too. Excellent fries (maybe the best in the city; served with you choice of flavoured mayo, etc.), steaks, sandwiches and Belgian beer.
A bit more upscale:
- Montreal's a great city for BYOB restos. You'll rarely pay more than C$40, even at the best, and there are some pretty good ones in the C$20-to-30 range. If you're interested, say so and we'll provide some suggestions. For example...
- Le Poisson Rouge. Rachel and de la Roche just north of Parc Lafontaine on the Plateau. Mostly fish, perfectly prepared and imaginatively presented. Table d'hôte (soup, first course, main course, dessert and espresso/cappucino) is under C$30, and since it's a BYOB place, there's no mark-up on wine. Not the chic-est decor, however.
- Au Bistro Gourmet, downtown on St-Marc or St-Mathieu. Haven't been there but a number of people claim it's one of the city's best bistro deals.
- Le Paris, on St-Catherine a couple of blocks west of Guy. Has been turning out dependable, reasonably priced cuisine bourgeoise for decades. '60s-chic decor.
- Delfino, on Lajoie in Outremont. Tiny resto specializing in seafood with an Italian accent. Very reasonable for the quality.
- Bernard Street (a block south of Lajoie) on either side of Park has a number of affordable restaurants: bistos, pizzerias, mouleries (specializing in mussels), Vietnamese and Thai restos, sushi bars, ice cream parlours, bakeries, etc. It's not touristy, so you'd be rubbing shoulders with the natives (though less so in November, when all the terrasses have been rolled up). It's also the location of Pierre-Yves Chaput's cheese shop, which offers a limited but exquisite selection of French and Quebec artisanal raw milk cheeses, the best in the city and therefore the best in North America. You could buy a couple, cross the street to the Premier Moisson for some bread, hit the nearby Cinq Saisons for some fruit, pick up a bottle of vino at the SAQ and then have a feast to remember in your room or, if the gods smile and it's Indian summer, on the slopes of Mount Royal (in which case, be sure to keep the wine hidden).
> La Paryse on Ontario a block or two west of
> St-Denis. Best hamburgers in town.
So, lots of people make that claim. But where can I get an American pub style burger? 8 oz of grilled, rare, juicy burger, cheese, bacon, red onions, tomatos, etc?
I've enjoyed the burgers at Ptita ptata, Mr. Steer, and La Paryse. But they're always either fried or overcooked.
My kitchen is not the full answer. But, I've off and made myself hungry...
re: John Greene
You know, it's funny but, for a food city, Montreal has a surprising number of shortcomings. There are no restaurants that would qualify for three stars (or maybe even two) in the Guide Michelin. If you want great Chinese or Indian food, you have to head for NYC or TO. Just try finding a good German halbtroken. Don't even think about looking for Meyer lemons, lobster mushrooms, stoneground grits or a decent tamale.
And then there's the elusive hambourgeois. Even some fast-food chains in the U.S. (California's In 'N' Out, for example) flip a better burger than most (any?) on offer here. But I still think La Paryse's beef-patty sandwiches, if you will, are pretty good, and the resto is the kind of off-the-beaten-track place filled with locals that appeals to visitors, especially ones on a budget.
> But where can I get an American pub style burger? 8
> oz of grilled, rare, juicy burger, cheese, bacon, red
> onions, tomatos, etc?
Don't leave out the crusty, lightly toasted bun. Montreal restos never get it right. I think they all buy their buns at Costco.
Anyway, I've come close to your ideal burger in only one Montreal dining establishment, a long-gone restaurant with a player piano on the western edge of Old Montreal (called La Cabousse, maybe?). What's more, I haven't come across it in the U.S. in recent years either. Sitting on a proper bun? Yes. Grilled and with the requisite trimmings? Yes. Rare? No. Not since U.S. beef production was taken over by mega-corporations (according to a recent N.Y. Times Magazine article, around 80% of all U.S. beef is finished and slaughtered by four companies) and salmonella contamination became a fact of life. Even here in Canada, where salmonella outbreaks are few and far between, I'll only eat rare hamburger if I've bought the meat from my butcher, had him cut it to order and chopped it myself within hours of purchase and minutes of cooking. Excuse the mixed metaphor, but if you're going to play Russian roulette, you'd better do what you can to stack the deck in your favour.
Maybe someone reading this thread will tell us where to find a truly great burger in Montreal. Meyer lemons, lobster mushrooms, grits and tamales, too!
re: Jake Klisivitch
Yes! Il Était une Fois. Once upon a time... the name seems strangely prophetic in hindsight, eh?
Besides the great food (you're right about the shakes and fries), I loved the feel of that place. Wish it were still around. I have a couple of preteen friends I'd love to take there: they'd think they'd died and gone to heaven.
I don't know how cheap you want to go but we had a number of wonderful meals at L'express bistro. The entrees were $15-$20 and the apps were $5-8. It was terrific. Definitely make reservations.