Visiting Montreal for the first time
My boyfriend and I are going to be spending Easter weekend in Montreal. We've both never been there before and we're not sure what food experiences shouldn't be missed.
We would like to splurg on one really nice dinner and have no idea where that should be. Some people have mentioned Gibby's.
We will be staying in Old Montreal, but plan on doing a lot of walking around the city.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
If they serve steak wherever you live then you can easily skip Gibby's.
In Old Montreal you'd be better off with Les remparts, Bonaparte, Chez L'Epicier, Toque, to name but a few.
Les Remparts! Definitely! We dined there in November and have already made a reservation for June when we plan another trip to Montreal! You won't be disappointed!
It all depends on your budget. Montreal's strength is french food, so I would try at least one french/quebec restaurant.
If you can pay $100USD/person, Toque is incredible, and worth every penny. If you go, get their blind menu. This is a place to have perfect food. The blind menu is 7-8 courses, so you'll be very full by the time you are done, but each course will be small. If you can accept that you are paying for quality and not quantity, you'll have a great experience. Otherwise, the price will bother you.
Several of the Montreal BYOBs (bring your own wine) restaurant are really great and very affordable. You can often have a good meal for $30-40USD/person. Poison Rouge is one such place we really liked. I also hear great things about Chez Christophe, and Le Bleu Raisin.
Another wonderful place is Au Pied de Cochon. This is a bad place to go if you are a vegetarian, because they mostly do meat and fish. But if you like meat and fish, Au Pied de Cochon is a feast.
For bakeries, try Patisserie de Gascogne for pastries and Le Passe-Partout for bread.
I second eat2much's comments on Gibby's and raise a red flag on Les Remparts (conflicting reports, including some on this board; the two meals I've had there in the last 18 months barely rose above the mediocre) and Toqué! (since its move it's become less zany, more of a place for suits; the food seems a bit more hit-or-miss, too, though still at a very high level; also, the sober new digs are a mild turnoff).
If you're intent on staying in Old Montreal, consider Chez l'épicier for modern French (www.chezlepicier.com), Chez Delmo for traditional seafood dishes and Brasserie Holder for bistro. Also, Olive et Gourmando serve up great sandwiches, salads, coffees, etc. (www.oliveetgourmando.com) and Frite Alors! excellent fries (www.fritealors.com).
Downtown, there's the chic Portuguese bistro Café Ferreira Trattoria (www.ferreiracafe.com) and the new kid on the block, Brontë (1800 Sherbrooke West), with Italo-franco-fusion cooking.
On the Plateau, Au Pied de Chochon (www.aupieddecochon.ca) is great for local colour. Many consider L'Express on St-Denis to be the quintessential Montreal bistro. Several restos on the St-Laurent strip (above Sherbrooke) are perfect if you're in the mood for good (though rarely great) food, high energy and beautiful people: Globe, Med, Petit Treehouse, etc.
Mile End, the district around Park Ave. north of Mount Royal Park is home to several fine restos. Unlike some on this board, I've have only good things to say about Anise (www.anise.ca), a magic place that I have trouble imagining anywhere but Montreal. La Chronique regularly out-Toqués Toqué! (www.lachronique.qc.ca). Unfortunately, Le Club des Pins is going through some upheaval, though you can take consolation in the fact that one of its former chefs has decamped to La Bastide (151 Bernard West, 514 271-4934), where he is dishing up some of the city's best modern French food (with Basque/Spanish overtones) at less than exhorbitant (which is not to say cheap) prices. On Van Horne, the vegetarian friendly Les Chèvres remains one of the city's most refined and creative restaurants (not cheap, either).
As others have suggested, BYO is a great affordable option. My top reccos these days are Le P'tit Plateau, Le Bleu Raisin, Les Héritiers and Christophe (sans Chez, TYVM) for French and Le Piton de la Fournaise for Indian-African (Île de la Réunion, actually). All but the last are worth taking a nice bottle or two to. The last is worth taking a fun, fruity bottle to.
Other typically Montreal foodie things you might want to do:
- bagels (St-Viateur just east of Park
)- smoked meat (despite the comments below, Schwartz's on St-Laurent remains the gold standard for 95% of Montrealers, including the participants in eGullet's recent smoked meat marathon)
- tire d'érable (maple taffy) ice cream at Le Bilboquet, on Bernard several blocks west of Park, available only this time of the year
- cheese, especially the raw milk variety.
Sorry for nattering on. And yet I'm leaving out a lot (Rosalie, Cavalli, Caprices de Nicolas, ChuChai, dim sum, Au Petit Extra, etc., etc.).
Also, beware that many restos are closed on Sunday and Monday, especially on holiday weekends. To avoid disappointment, be sure to call ahead.
Is "Christophe" and "Chez Christophe" the same restaurant? I heard great things about "Christophe" that is BYOB and serves great market french cuisine. I think the chef used to be a sous in some Michelin 3 star in France. I tried to find more info about it, but there wasn't much. Then I found info about "Chez Christophe" at 1187 Van Horne and assumed it was the same place. Is it? What's the address of BYOB Christophe that everyone seems to like so much?
re: Helen Rennie
The dining establishment at 1187 Van Horne (a couple of blocks west of the Outremont metro station) is listed in the phone book as Restaurant Christophe, but everyone, including the staff, refers to it simply as Christophe. As far as I know, there is no restaurant in Montreal called Chez Christophe.
The restaurant had a wine list until about a year ago, when it switched to the BYO formula, a daring move for a chef of Christophe Geffrey's reputation. While less fancy and cutting-edge than at the old Christophe (on Lajoie), the cooking is thought through and highly refined; in other words, it's a perfect match for fine bottles. Indeed, from a food and wine-pairing standpoint, Christophe is arguably the best BYO in town.
For more info on Christophe, the man and the restaurant, see the thread "Christophe returns!" (link below).