Few questions about an upcoming trip
My family and I will be visiting from Boston and meeting a few other friends from Toronto in Montreal 2nd weekend in May.
Already arranged is Liverpool House for dinner on Saturday followed by cocktails at Le Lab. Saturday afternoon Jean Talon Market. Then Sunday smoked meat at Main Deli.
For Friday I came across a few posts recommending take out from APDC then heading over to Lafontaine Park to picnic in the evening. We will have our 3 year old with us, so I figure after driving for 4-5 hours from Boston the last thing I want to do is make her sit for another 2 to finish dinner. Is this still a good option and what dishes do you recommend for take out?
Also later that Friday a few of us will be breaking off to have a drink. I would love a dive bar with some cheap drinks. Bar Diana came up in a search along with Miami Bar. Are these still recommended?
Finally what is currently the best Brew Pub in the city?
For reference as far as distance is concerned we will be staying at the Grand Hyatt, so METRO, walk or short cab ride is preferable.
Just a few notes :
Liverpool House and Le Lab are not quite close to each other; suggest taking a taxi. (parking will be next to non-existant to Le Lab).
I have no clue about APdC take-out (I think I read about it once); but plan for a backup if the weather is not good.
I don't do dive bar, but on St-Laurent blvd, there are a few good places (La Cabane, ... ) or Else's one Ave. Roy.
The best brew (not really food) is Dieu Du Ciel (I will let others fill in the list with the other places).
Else's might be a good option if you have kids. Its not a dive.. its more a home away from home for the resident of a very hip neighborhood when they want to get away from the hype and bullshit. I don't remember the price level (not cheap but not expensive probably) but its no hassle.
They don't have a bar license, they have a restaurant license. Because of that you might have to order food (any will do) to get alcohol but the flip side is they might accept kids (call in advance always :D).
Liverpool is a good choice. I never did the APDC + Lafontaine park picnic but it might be a good idea! Never had the APDC takeout either so I don't know what's better in that context.
Be careful with bars, I don't have kids but proper bars/brewpubs/dives might not accept them. Something with the government license type that prohibits underage frequentations if I remember correctly. Restos are ok but bars might be a no-no with a 3 year old. Better call beforehand.
As far as dives go, I don't really remember where the cheap places downtown are. My no hassles bars downtown are 2 Irish pubs (McKibbins and Hurley's) and a hipster pub with diveish tendancies that is not really one (Grumpy's Pub). I believe a beer will run you from 6 to 8$ a pint depending on the day and hour.
I don't think Diana or Miami are open still. If you are looking for true "I'm a student and I'm broke" level dive and prices you could try Cock'n Bull Pub (corner Sainte-Catherine and Du Fort, between Guy-Concordia and Atwater metro) or Yer Mad Bistro Bar (Corner De Maisonneuve and Saint-André near Berri-UQAM metro).
I have a dive bar at Monk Metro where the beer is 5$ a pint but you don't want to go there because its out of the way and not really fun to visit for a tourist.
Best brew pub for my money is Dieu du Ciel. Close second is Vice and Versa. Third might be Saint-Bock.
Near the Grand Hyatt there I'd take a look at Bistro Bar le Courtier and Deli Turf 'n Bar for truly divey potential (its not far on foot on Sainte-Catherine) but I don't know if they still are proper dives or renovated hipster resto pubs (a lot of taverns downtown became wannabe resto pubs unfortunately. DONT EAT THERE). In the other direction (yet again on foot), Les Foufounes Électriques might not be a bad choice. Its a pretty big bar popular with students and its a mixed crowd. They feature cheap molson brand beer, "alternative" music, trashy toilets and sometime a no name band or two on the second floor. Its pretty calm on the first floor if you just want to take a beer.
People have already hit most of the points I was going to make. You'll likely be happy with Liverpool house, but the trip to Le Lab sounds unwieldy. It'll be 40 minutes or more by metro and, in my opinion, not worth the trip. It has some of the best cocktails in Montreal, but that's a lot like saying that Deep Ellum has the best poutine in Boston. The throwback flare bartender thing also just feels like a lame part of the 90s I'd rather forget.
APDC does do takeout, but I wouldn't count on Montreal being warm enough for a picnic next weekend - forecast says a high of 60F, and it will be getting dark by the time you get your food. If you can still nab a table you might be happier. I imagine your daughter would be plenty entertained - just aim for an early seating. If you're really set on Le Lab, this would be a good night as it's nearby. Right across the street from APDC is also Taverne L'Inspecteur Epingle, which is on the edge of dive.
Diana and Miami are both closed, though I think Miami has been replaced by a series of equally divey places. If you want divier consider Copacabana, Barfly, and Biftek on St. Laurent, or le petite idee fixe on Parc... There are lots around, that's for sure.
The best brew pub is, of course, Dieu de Ciel. It's not really a competition.
Matt, another popular choice for picnics in Parc Lafontaine is Ma Poule Mouillée (Portuguese chicken) . https://fr-fr.facebook.com/MaPouleMou... They don't have beer or wine, and while you can certainly find it nearby, I'd suggest packing a couple of bottles of Portuguese wine before you leave, if you are driving.
As you know, being from Boston, this has been a very hard winter, and we are a bit colder than you are, so I can't guarantee it will be picnicable in the evening early in May. Could be; it has become far more clement, but you'll have to see.
I agree. Parc Lafontaine is not too far from my place and I wouldn't picnic there yet at this time of year. An alternative to APDC takeout is their food truck but it might not be riding around that night. Worth checking on their FB page. If I was around Place des Arts with a 3 year old after a long drive I'd probably head straight to Chinatown a few blocks away and have a peking duck dinner at Le Cristal Chinois. Lots of space for little ones to move around in there and great food. That or maybe find a place in Old Montreal with acceptable food as the walk there would be spacious and scenic. Or maybe head to the musical swings (21 Swings) at St-Urbain and Jeanne-Mance and eat something around there.
Thank you so much for the advice. I think we may scrap the APDC picnic option if it drops down too low temperature wise, this truly has been a shit winter.
Brew pub is covered, but I guess Le Lab needs a bit of shifting. Any other recommendations for cocktails near Liverpool? Basically I do not need anything that spectacular, just a place that can mix a proper Old Fashioned not filled with simple syrup and fruit and if we choose to veer off menu has a bartender that wont look at me with a blank stare.
re: Matt H
Best bet near Liverpool is La Drinkerie Ste-Cunégonde and Burgondy Lion Pub
La Drinkerie is a craft cocktail bar with usually a knowledgable bartender. They'll do a proper old fashioned or a Sazerac or a Vieux Carré if you get tired.
Burgondy Lion is a spacious English Pub with a solid scotch program.
Does Drinkerie now make a decent cocktail? On my only two visits I received very mediocre drinks that should be staples at any bar.
Perhaps things have improved since those early days.
I'd almost recommend Ludger a few blocks down Notre Dame, but their cocktails (while innovative) are very expensive and the place is often full to capacity.
TLDR: Yes I think so.
I don't go there a lot even if its near where I live because its always jammed packed but the times I've been there the bartender looked legit.
I don't usually go for the mixologists because what interests me are vintage cocktails and interesting variants, not "interesting creations featuring lavender bitters, off brand obscure hipster danish vodka and rosewater scented simple syrup". For comparison,I do my old fashioned the way god and Chris McMillan intended:
I was there last march and the bartender was making old fashioned. He was using simple syrup and not hand muddling the syrup but that's not a crime. Added augustura bitters. Muddled full orange slices (I usually just muddle the peel but to each his own I guess) Completed with ice and Maker's Mark.
There is one where he diluted it with club soda but after questioning him on the choice he told me the client thought they were "too strong" (I'm always amazed how people who dont like strong drinks can order an old fashioned). He almost seemed apologetic which I understood to be a good reflex (:P).
It clashes with another experience I had at l'assomoir in the old port where the old fashioned was a diluted muddled fruit salad drowned in club soda and the bartended insisted that I should try his "premium bourbon" (Gentleman Jack... how could a bartender confuse a brand initiative from Jack Daniels with actual premum bourbon?) .
I also remember the first time I went to the drinkerie the same bartender and I had an argument over vodka. He told me he had received a new quebec premium vodka that was extraordinary. I answered him that was bullshit and that most people who insisted on a brand of vodka would not be able to find it in a blind test among other vodka brands. He proceeded to make me taste Pur Vodka.... and he was right! The heat at the end of the palate was replaced by an afternote of pepper, It was an amazing find and Pur is my sipping vodka of choice since then.
All that made me conclude they knew what they were doing. Maybe I just fell on a good bartender? He kinda looked like Joe Thornton. The two places I've found to know what they were doing where this place and big in japan bar (where we grilled the bartender into doing classic cocktails not on the menu all night and he was hitting them out of the park). Then again, I don't usually go for cocktails when I go out because I have all I need to make them at home.
I don't usually "discover" cocktails at these places either. New mixologist creations rarely spark my attention. I guess its a bit like going at modern fashion shows for amateurs of classic channel. Last place I discovered a new classic I wasn't aware about and was truly excited to try was actually the Paper Plane at Liverpool House! You can find a recipe of the cocktail on my tumblr (also known as "the place where I store my projects, to do and good finds because facebook is iritating to deal with"):
capt, i love an old fashioned as well. try stir 2 oz bourbon( you love) ang bitters 2-3 hits 1/2 oz simple syrup(not regular simple) stir with ice then strain into new glass with single large square ice cube. orange peel rub on rim and put into glass. you need large cube ice tray if your dont have one. my simple sugar is 2-1(not 1-1 ration) demiera sugar from Mauritus to water. i have tried lots of variations but to muddle sugar each time is alot of time if your have more that a couple people to serve.
I'll try next time! By the way, 2-1 syrup concentration is called "Rock Candy Syrup" :D. I use the same one so maybe I like my drinks sweeter.
Actually I'm more a gin guy than a bourbon guy but I have a good friend who loves my old fashioned with so its a pleasure for me to liquor him up when he comes by. :D
I have two gins: 1 premium gin for sipping or mixing short drinks and 1 standard gin for mixing long drinks (basically everything that has mixer in it).
My favorite "premium" gin is Victoria Gin:
My favorite "mixing" gin is Bombay Sapphire.
I did one initial big test with the following gins and keep updating and comparing with different gins that I haven't tried against the various "champions". My initial tests were 1 gin tonic (1 1/2 Gin, 14 oz Collins Glass full of ice, standard schweppes tonic) and 1 Gimlet (1 part Gin for 3/4 part Rose's Lime Cordial on the rocks).
I didn't take any notes, but the gins, if memory serves, were the following:
Worse Gin I found was Citadelle. I later tasted other gins later like Caorunn (wasn't impressed), Piger Henricus (okay). I tried G'Vine at a bar and I'll have to buy a bottle to taste it again because it made me really curious. I try to follow but I can't always because there are really a lot of new stuff coming out.
One good fin in NY was Ransom Old Tom Gin. The old tom variety of gin is very hard to find. It was supposed to be sweeter than London Dry but I find the predominant difference was a definite maltiness reminding of some flavor profiles similar to scotch strangely.
My favorite recipes are simple one. I love an ice cold gin tonic, an old school gimlet with rose's lime cordial and a classic tom collins. The recipe for collins is also pretty simple:
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice,
1 oz simple sirup
1 1/2 oz gin
Shake, pour in a 14 oz collins glass filled with ice and complete with club soda or perrier.
Another recipe I like to try that is gin based is the classic singapore sling but I don't make it often because I have to buy cherry herring in the US:
My newest test was a short cocktail made in the style of an old fashioned:
In a whiskey glass
-Put a cube of sugar
-Saturate the cube with Orange bitter (or Augustura bitter
)-Add 1 oz of water
-Muddle to make simple syrup
-Add orange zest
-Muddle orange zest
-Add 1 1/2 oz gin (a good one) and 3/4 oz cointreau
-Mix with bar spoon or swizzle stick
My next test will probably be the following:
One thing to prepare yourself for: Our liquor monopoly has an atrocious gin selection and a humiliating collection of bourbons* at even the best outlets. This means that virtually every bar has even fewer interesting bottles.
* And the situation has even improved for the past year or two.
Dive bars: Miami and Diana are both closed (I miss Miami).
Bifteck is a quintessential (mostly student) dive on St-Laurent just below Avenue des Pins.
Copacabana is further up St-Laurent at Bagg St.
3 Minots is a divey karaoke bar, again on St-Lo a little bit above Pins. (all these places on west side of street, or left facing uphill)
Vol de Nuit is on Prince-Arthur just east of St-Laurent.
Barfly on St-Lo above Duluth (west side, again). Live music most nights.
If you wanna go to a real dive with more old men than students, Vol and Barfly are the ones.
There are others but they're off the beaten path and will be pretty dead on a Friday (eg. Bar des Pins).
If you're further up in Mile End:
Petite Idée Fixe on Parc Avenue above Villeneuve (east side)
Primetime on Parc at St-Joseph (west side)
And just around the corner from the Hyatt:
Brasserie Le Courtier, 362 Sainte-Catherine West
Ya, I like my dives...
Some dives that Shattered missed...
The Bull 2170 Ste Catherine O (not near where you're staying)
Capri 2172 St Patrick (not near where you're staying)
Brasserie Cherrier 3638 St Denis (walking distance, a nice mix of cooking school students and retirees/welfare recipients)
Taverne Inspecteur Epingle 4051 St Hubert (Catter Corner from APDC, bands most nights)
Taverne Le Mont Royal 1234 Mont Royal E (walking distance from APDC)
Pub de la Place 1475 St Hubert (Probably the diviest dive bar in the city. Basement, no windows, 50 odd TVs all showing horse racing, largest set of video gambling machiness I've ever seen in one bar, PBR Tall boy specials, you get the idea...)
Aux Verres stérilisés 800 Rachel E (Again wlaking distance from APDC, and more of an institution embedded in amber than a real dive bar).
There's also L'autre bar on Laurier, but I don't like the management there. And Le Bayou on Saint Laurent, but I can never figure out when they are open.
Then Shattered, while not exactly a "dive" per se, you might enjoy Les Pas Sages on 951 Rachel E a couple of blocks west of Parc Lafontaine.
I like Shattered's first 5 suggestions in that they're relatively close together and accessible on foot - you don't like one, you can easily move on.
Perhaps start on Prince Arthur and work your way up St. Laurent.
Besides the places mentioned above, theres a couple of Irish pubs (as mentioned McGibbins (don't kill me on the spellng), Ye Olde Orchard on Prince Arthur, West of St. Laurent), and other assorted watering holes (Le Swimming, Cabane Portugal, Frappe St. Laurent, etc) interspersed - not all dive bars, but may add variety.
Theres also fun shops which may or may not be open depending what time you're bending the elbow.
IMO Barfly is the most divey and worth a visit (IF you *want* a true dive). Careful, its hard to find even though its in plain sight, the three wooden steps are viciously STEEP with no handrail, place reeks of old, stale beer, likely someone with their dog at the bar, regulars who might suspiciously glance your way, but a friendly place nonetheless - all hallmarks of a true dive bar (not just cheap drinks).
First time I was there was during winter. A guy had the back door open having a cigarette half-in half out. Its near the bathrooms, so I had a glance what was outside the door at back. It *was* winter, but the small quadrangle looked bleak, bleaker than I thought possible - broken down gas BBQ, chair with no back, shrubs which could have had a better life in the country. Guy smoking looks at me and says "Yeah, I know....kind of a Zen garden gone to shit..."
Best line I heard in awhile.
Oh yeah, maybe leave your Bruins sweater at home- hehe.
Okay, so Barfly it is. That sounds like exactly the type of place I enjoy, when looking for this sort of thing. Shattered, Eaterbob, Porker..much love to you folks for the awesome run down.
Don't worry about the Bruins sweater, I'm actually a Habs fan ; )
That leads to another question, what are the odds the NHL will decide to start the 2nd round May 3rd? That way there may be a home game in MTL on the Friday night! Now that would be awesome.
So the schedule seems set for the playoffs, so it will be a 3pm start time for the Saturday game (has NBC completely trumped HNIC or something??) I plan on watching it at Barfly that afternoon.
For Sunday everyone seems to want to do Brunch somewhere. EVOO, H4C and Prohibition caught my eye. Slightly leaning towards H4C. Any opinions?
re: Matt H
H4C and EVOO both have really interesting brunches. I'd say EVOO maybe offers slightly more unusual dishes, but I agree their serving size is a bit more reserved. They are both among my favorite brunch places in town. Keep in mind that all three places you mentioned are on the West side of downtown. Maybe good to pair with a trip to Atwater market and walk on the canal..
re: Matt H
Only game 1 of the Habs - Bs series has been announced (for tomorrow night), the rest of the series will be announced today. So don't plan around a 3pm Saturday game yet.
(The other round 2 series await the outcome of the three game 7s tonight.)
"So don't plan around a 3pm Saturday game yet."
No, but plan around a 12:30 pm Saturday game, it's not official yet but that's what RDS is reporting, down with NBC Sports and down with the Kentucky Derby, I hope it goes into triple OT and they cut to the Derby in the US as they've done in the past.
re: Matt H
So a couple changes last minute before this weekend. A couple who was supposed to meet us had a family emergency and cannot make it, so it will only be me on a solo mission Saturday night during the Habs game (My wife, daughter and her sister will be still eating at Liverpool House)
So I wouldn't mind grabbing a nice dinner alone at the bar somewhere that has the game on. Maybe for the first 2 periods, then head over to Barfly to catch the 3rd and finish up the night there afterwards. I noticed Maison Publique was mentioned as a good place to watch the game. Is that a good idea and what time should I arrive to hopefully snag a seat at the bar?
Just wanted to report back and say we had a wonderful weekend in Montreal as always. Our plans took a couple turns but ended up working out for the best.
Friday night we got in later than expected so grabbed dinner at Brasserie T since it was near our hotel. We have been here before and as always delicious and consistent.
Afterwards I went out for a cocktail at Café du Nouveau Monde. I stopped off on a whim and actually had a few perfectly made Old Fashioned's by the young lady tending the bar that evening. Pleasant surprised to say the least.
Saturday I decided to watch the game at barfly, but stopped at Main Deli prior to grab a sandwich. Excellent quality but I would say I am still a Schwartz guy after this visit. Overall though I am happy with stopping off there for my meal.
Barfly was a good time. I arrived early and grabbed a seat at the bar, the place filled up almost minutes after I arrived. Habs lost, which was a let down, but great atmosphere and friendly folks. It was fun explaining that while I was visiting from Boston, I was still a Habs fan.
Sunday morning was a quick stop at Café Différance for a Mocha. The barista pulled a perfect espresso and ended up being one of my favorite Mocha's I have tried in a while.
The afternoon was spent at Jean Talon market to gather some cheese, bread, Charcuterie, Fruit and Wine for a picnic at Parc Lafontaine. I know that I have read some negative reviews on Qui Lait Cru, but every time I visit these folks never steer me wrong and this visit was no different. Excellent selection of local Quebec cheese that we all enjoyed immensely.
Thank you again for all the input, hopefully we will be back for another visit in the near future.
re: Matt H
Have you been to Schwartz's lately? Still good, but not as good as it used to be IMO.
The Main on the other hand seems to have been rejuvenated by a new supplier. Pretty sure they don't smoke their own meat anymore, but they still put proper care into handling and serving, and the product is better than it has been in many years.