good eats near the Bell Center
We are coming to Montreal for the weekend and staying at the Crystal. Last time we came we discovered we really needed to make reservations in advance to eat if we wanted good food. Can you please recommend some tasty places near the Bell Center? We like everything!!!!
If you are looking for the best near le Crystal/Bell Center you are probably looking for Europea (try the discovery menu!).
Le Mas des Oliviers is also a classic classic french restaurant but not at the Europea's level IMHO.
I've heard good things about La Maison Boulud in the Ritz Carlton (it's Daniel Boulud's restaurant in Montreal).
Fereira Café is also a pretty well known restaurant for portuguese.
The Dominion Tavern has an increadible decor but I find the food underwhelming.
Le Pois Penché is a bit overpriced and artificially parisian (i.e.: I'd recommend Le Mas des Oliviers or to go on the plateau if you want a better version of the style) but the venue is large and its... clean I guess? In my mind its what an american french restaurant would try to look like.
If you are a bit tired of spending my typical low budget restaurants around are :
Pizza Santa Lucia (wood oven fired pizza. The decor is old and tired but I like their pizza... its my own opinion though and pizza is like burgers, everybody has their favorite).
McKibbins and Hurley's make good pub grub and, hey, its in a pub!
Joe's Pannini is a decent hole in the wall that makes a "on the go" panini (think new york style hole in the wall).
Some people love Mr.Steer's steerburger although I don't find it exceptional (I have to mention it though because burgers are like pizza and everyone has their favorite :P)
Deville Dinerbar is a standard americanised dinner. Nothing special, a bit more expensive but not that bad (I go there once in a while.) Makes me think of Johnny Rockets in the states without the people dancing.
If you are looking for social anthropology, a typical greasy spoon is La Belle Province. They are not the best at anything they do (i.e.: someone makes a better burger, hot dog, poutine, ect) but they are dirt cheap and pretty typical of what the style of greasy spoon around here.
I second most of the above recommendations. My go-to when at the bell centre is Dominion (though I agree the food is sometimes underwhelming). You could also consider going down the hill into Griffintown, where you'll find Nora Grey (upscale Italian-ish: advance reservations are a must, i.e. make them today) and perhaps Griffintown Cafe for brunch. If you'll be a group of 4 or LESS, consider Kazu (Japanese izakaya: no resevations but it's tiny so you'll have to wait in line. Show up before 5:15 for the 5:30 seating to get in the door. Otherwise will probably be a 45 minute wait).
My best advice, however, is that if you don't have any reason to remain near the Bell centre other than to sleep at night, you should get out of downtown. Head Southeast to Old Montreal (400 Coups, le Serpent), Southwest to Little Burgundy/St. Henri (i.e. Joe Beef, Liverpool House, Vin Papillon, Patrice, etc), Northeast to the plateau (i.e au Pied de Cochon, Filet, and a million other restaurants), and further north into Mile End (Lawrence, Hotel Herman, etc etc) and Little Italy (Impasto?). For the more distant areas you can take the metro: your hotel is quite literally sitting on an orange-line station.
Fintastic: just a head's up to tell you that Griffintown lost its luster since the old management changed (I believe some of them went to found Blackstrap and the others Triple Crown Dinette).
I agree with Nora Grey, Kazu and the travel recommendations.
If you want to go at Kazu, you will want to know also that Qing Hua makes great soup dumpling, Ganadara is a good inexpensive Korean and that Cuisine Szechuan is a good Szechuan restaurant also. If you are into 3rd wave coffee don't forget to go to Myriade!
Also, one more note: now that we know you have kids in tow it will change the restaurant recommendation landscape a bit. Children are not permitted into full bars in Quebec (bars are restaurants that are permitted to serve alcohol WITHOUT ordering any food). Some places mentioned above, like Dominion Square, McKibbons, and Hurley's, are hence technically off-limits.
I'd say that coming to Montreal and remaining in the area around the bell centre is very much like going to NYC and not leaving midtown: there are a few sights to see and there are some good high-end restaurants intermixed with numerous terrible establishments, but to actually see the city it's necessary to branch out.
Old Montreal begins within a reasonable walking distance if it's not too cold (maybe 15-20 minutes with shorter strides). However, the metro is incredibly simple, fast, and affordable even with children (albeit busy during rush hours). From Fridays at 6pm till midnight Sunday kids under 11 even ride for free with an adult. Tickets are $3 a trip or, if you plan to use it more than 4 times, are $13 for the entire weekend (from 6pm friday) per adult.
Ferreira will be good for all of you. In general most restaurants will be happy with children at their early seatings, so it shouldn't be an issue except at the most upscale spots (like Europea, Toque, Club Chasse et Peche, Filet, etc). Maybe consider Pied de Cochon if they still have any space for their first seating at 5pm, as long as the kids are fairly open to try new foods and don't mind gluttony.
As others have stated, with 6 people definitely avoid Kazu, and ensure that you book any other restaurant mentioned here ASAP.
thank you very much, we are excited to try some of these options! the kids have joined us at europea and also club chasse et peche in the past. i hope that wasn't a big no no on our part! we need to find some good babysitters there ha.
in general we go anywhere in the city as we are frequent montreal- vermont home exchangers but my dad is joining us this time. he is older and less into exploring/ walking than we are.