- JungMann Jul 16, 2014 10:00 AM
New Yorker planning my first trip to Montreal next week. I've read through many of the threads here and have a running list of your recommendations but need help tailoring my experience. We'll be around Plateau, Mile End, Petite Italie and perhaps Saint-Henri and Ho-Ma.
1) Casual Middle Eastern – I know Saint-Laurent has good boucheries and bakeries, but are there other neighborhoods or specific restaurants worth visiting for Syrian or Lebanese? I know there is also North African in Plateau and will try to visit La Khaima. Is shish taouk in MTL really that good? (FWIW I grew up on Middle Eastern and cook it at home)
2) 5@7 - Are there any good spots I should check out on Thursday or Friday near Plateau or worth traveling for to be near young nightlife or restaurants? Suwu, Baldwin Barmacie, Le Lab and Baracca caught my eye and though we love our cocktails in New York if Montreal is more of a beer town, I’d love recommendations for good Quebec beers.
3) Brunch - Brunch is a big, boozy tradition in New York. Is it the same in Montreal? Any good spots to check out near Notre Dame Basilica? Or just some place with great Caesars?
4) Quebecois food - I know of La Binerie Mont-Royal. Are there any better options? I'm also looking for cretons to bring back home if there is a shop or brand I should be looking for.
5) Jean Talon & Atwater – Do the vendors rotate depending on day or can I expect the market to be the same regardless if I go on a Friday afternoon or a Sunday morning?
6) Nice lunch - I have Le Quartier Général or État-Major down depending on whether we stay in Plateau or Ho-Ma. Are there other restaurants we ought to consider around this price point?
7) Nice dinner – I’m traveling with adventurous diners, but Joe Beef/Au Pied de Cochon may be out of their league. We’re looking a nice Sunday supper under $40pp + tax + tip. We are open to cuisine, but BYO would be a nice perk.
8) Picnics – If we want to picnic on Mont-Royal, do we have to sit at a picnic table in order to open our wine? NY doesn’t really have picnic tables in our parks and we’re not allowed to open wine in public either way.
Thank you all in advance.
5) Jean Talon & Atwater – Do the vendors rotate depending on day or can I expect the market to be the same regardless if I go on a Friday afternoon or a Sunday morning?
No rotation, if anything there may be a couple of vendors missing Friday afternoon. Keep in mind this is not a true Farmer's Market, it's great and I do my weekly shopping there but not all vendors are direct from their farms. Definitely go sample the cheese guy (Buckland Cheese) who was on Bourdain's Layover a couple of years ago.
8) Picnics – If we want to picnic on Mont-Royal, do we have to sit at a picnic table in order to open our wine? NY doesn’t really have picnic tables in our parks and we’re not allowed to open wine in public either way.
No, sit on the grass and have your wine as long as you don't get hammered cops won't bother you.
Bienvenue à Montréal, JungMann!
Are you staying downtown (business district) or in Mile-End - Pleateau?
Trip de bouffe's pitas are also excellent. A great picnic source. By the way, are you driving here or flying? (Alas, rail is very slow). If you are driving you might want to bring a couple of bottles of wine, as it is more expensive here. For good wines, there is a government monopoly (like in Pennsylvania, I believe?) Some outlets are much better than others. In the area where you will be, Beaubien-St-André near Little Italy (there is a shop right in Little Italy with some good wines, but a limited selection, as it is small); border of Mile-End and Outremont, Laurier just west of Avenue du Parc.
At Jean-Talon Market, there is also le Marché des Saveurs: http://www.lemarchedessaveurs.com/fr/ which sells only Québec products, including many cheeses and other treats. They also have local wines, ciders and beers. Personally, I don't think Qc wines are worth their price yet (it will take a bit more global warming; they are much better than they were a couple of decades ago) but the ciders and beers are interesting.
I've never had any problems picnicking on Mont-Royal on the grass. We bring a tablecloth so it looks "picnicky". There can always be an annoying cop, but in general, the by-law is there to deal with itinerants and rowdy (very) young crowds. Remember that our legal age is 18.
Merci, lagatta. It looks like I'm either staying in Ho-Ma or near Promenade Masson. We're trying to make the decision now if you have any opinions on the areas.
I will certainly take your advice and visit le Marchée des Saveurs. Are QC ciders dry like the French and Spanish varieties or do they tend to the sweet side like US/British cider?
I knew the SAQ had a monopoly on alcohol sales, but I assumed we could get wine or at least beer at the dépanneur to bring to the park. So long as we can still get decent wine in the $15-20 range, I'm not too worried.
Skip the grocery store wine. It's bulk-shipped, non-vintage, of indeterminate grape variety. Some may be drinkable but it's a roll of the dice. In the $15-20 range the SAQ is better, hands down. The small store at Jean-Talon Market has an excellent selection for its size.
Most ciders are on the sweet side, but there are dry ones out there. I would ask the folks at Marché des Saveurs for guidance.
re: Mr F
There is also a sale on some wines at the SAQ through next week. A wine adviser I trust heartily suggested that I buy a bottle or two of a white wine from southwestern France called Les Vignes retrouvées Saint Mont, which has $2 off during the sale, and I also had coupons for another $1.50 reduction. I agreed and found it very good.
Yes, there are some decent grocery store wines, but for the same amount of money, you are better off at the SAQ. If you are staying near Promenade Masson (in old Rosemont) there is also a decent SAQ in that neighbourhood. It is in the same borough as Little Italy, so probably closer to your other locations than Hochelaga-Maisonneuve is, though of course there are other factors in choosing a rental or b+b.
There are some "dépanneurs" that actually specialize in beers (and ciders) and have a very good selection of those, mostly local products.
1) Casual Middle Eastern:
Le Petit Alep (with one of the best wine list in Montréal)
If wanting beer: Dieu du Ciel (need to get there early for outside seating)
For cocktails (I see more and more restaurants doing cocktails now, so you might have to order some food): Hotel Herman, L’Assommoir, la Distillerie, SAT's FoodLab (do they have cocktails?)
Communion, Le Gros Jambon, Olive&Gourmando, Titanic (week days only)
4) Québécois food:
5) The Markets:
The vendors are the same, with some exceptions that some of them _might_ be only there on the weekend; Sunday morning is a good time to go (before 11am)
6) Nice lunch: (I don't usually do lunch)
BTW état major is only open for the evening
Le Valois in HoMa is nice.
7) Nice dinner:
BYOB: Monsieur B
(with tons of other suggestions, look at recent threads)
8) Picnics: There are conflicting reports if you are allowed or not to have wine/alcohol in parcs;
IMO, if you look and behave responsible and have food (other than a bag of chips) you should not have problems.
I'd recommend Damas on Parc for Syrian food. It was my favourite meal on a trip last Labour Day Weekend. Trip report:
I'd squeeze in a trip to Au Pied de Cochon or Joe Beef. Both restaurants offer foods that will appeal to adventurous and non-adventurous eaters. The seafood at APDC is fantastic during the summer. Portions are extremely generous. I'm not a huge fan of foie gras, and I've found lots of dishes to like at APDC which don't involve foie gras.
You're probably right, but I still wanted to give my 2 cents to JungMann since I've often communicated with him on other Boards. I wasn't sure if he meant out of his friends' league in terms of adventure or in terms of price. Depending on how one orders, wouldn't it be possible to get a lower-priced main and dessert at APDC for $40 before tax and tip? Orders are so generous that one main and a shared dessert would be more than enough for me.
While it wouldn't be difficult to spend more than $40/person before tax and tip at Damas, I think it would be possible to dine at Damas for $40/person before tax and tip, especially if dishes are ordered mezze-style. Even if an average meal at Damas might be more than $40/person before tax, I think it's worth mentioning, since JungMann and his friends might decide they're open to spending a little more than $40 for a good quality Syrian meal.
Prima, you do know how to tempt me. Damas is exactly the kind of place I would love to visit, but it is out of our price range. Do you have any other recommendations for good Syrian at a gentler price point?
The issue with Joe Beef and APDC is not simply the cost, but also, I don't think we will want to eat so indulgently at the end of our holiday. I thought about sharing small plates at Maison Publique, but nothing on the current menu really calls out to me.
I haven't had an opportunity to try Le Petit Alep, but it's convenient to Jean Talon Market, and it's been recommended fairly frequently over the years.
I hear you about not wanting to eat so indulgently. Both APDC and Joe Beef are on the decadent and heavy side, that seems to go with that style of cuisine. There are plenty of contemporary bistros with a lighter hand, but the prices still tend to cost more than $40/person in my experience. I find L'Express to be good value for a bistro, but the food is very traditional French bistro food which you can find easily in NYC.
There are a few good upscale places that have a late night prix fixe deal (such as Cafe Ferreira and Lemeac), which might help stretch your budget, but the food and atmosphere at both places is on the slightly formal/conservative/traditional side, rather than being casual/contemporary/innovative like Joe Beef.
Hopefully some other Chowhounds can recommend more casual places with lighter, innovative food that is easier on the budget.
Most of the food is modern British. My friends loved the brunch. I found the brunch food quite good but a little rich/heavy for my taste (our group of 6 sampled shared all the mains). It is a popular place, with a mostly young crowd. Get there early to avoid a wait.
Prima, thanks so much for the recommendations! A late night prix-fixe like Lemeac sounds perfect for our first night since I imagine we will be wandering our neighborhood and eating late. Do you know of any places closer to our new HQ in Plateau near rue St-Denis and avenue Laurier E?
Leméac is due west of there. It isn't a terribly long walk, and much of it is interesting (a bit less between St-Laurent and St-Denis, though there is an attractive baroque church on St-Dominique between Laurier and St-Joseph, where an organic market is also held at the park in front of the church). You'll be walking slightly downhill in the Outremont stretch.
There are several restaurants near Laurier métro
Monsieur B, a byow bistro. La Petite Marche, Le micro-resto La Famille come to mind.
Although Montréal is much smaller than NYC, it is also a very walkable city; there are people walking and cycling day and evening (it isn't as 24/7 as NYC though).
I've found this tool, promenable. for nearby amenities and how long it should take to walk there. http://promenable.ca/spot.php?s=6090 It is also in English; I did click on the English and while the language seemed a bit strange, it is comprehensible. I set it for métro Laurier.
I agree with lagatta that Leméac isn't a long walk from St. Denis & Laurier E. The stretch where Leméac is located on Laurier West is on the posh side (similar vibe to parts of the Upper East Side), compared to Laurier E closer to St Denis, which I would consider more eclectic and mixed.
Apart from L'Express, I haven't been to any other bistros in.near the Plateau in the past year. While I have liked the food at Laloux on previous visits, I haven't been since the most recent change in chefs (the current chef de cuisine is Jonathan Lapierre-Réhayem). While the regular dinner menu would end up costing more than $40/person, I noticed that Laloux does have a $20 2 appetizer and 1 dessert Menu Entracte after 5:30 pm at the Pop Bar part of the restaurant, http://www.laloux.com/index.php/en/po... . Maybe some Chowhounds who have visited recently and/or have tried the Pop Bar Menu Entracte can comment. Lunch is another way to enjoy somewhere like Laloux for a little less money. http://www.laloux.com/index.php/en/ou... Even though Laloux is located closer to St Denis, it's further south, so it still would be a 15+ minute walk from Laurier E & St Denis.
I'm adding the links info/menus re:the places lagatta has mentioned near Laurier metro, as a reference (also so I might remember to check them out on a future visit).
Micro Resto La Famille (closes at 7 pm weeknights, 4 pm on Sat, not open Sun or Mon, so only would work for an early dinner
While you're walking around the Plateau and nearby Mile End, if it's a nice day for an ice cream, be sure to check out Kem CoBa. http://kemcoba.com/
By the way, the name of the pastry shop in Jean Talon Market is Pâtisserie le Ryad. I realize now it's Moroccan, not Middle Eastern, but they certainly sell a nice, varied selection of sweets and pastries. Here are a couple pics from Flickr https://www.flickr.com/search/?q=pati...
I seem to recall that park and street in front of the church on St. Dominique and Laurier is fenced off for 'reamanagement'. So I am not sure there is an organic market there this summer. Have no idea how long they will be working on it and what improvements they are making. Like many construction projects in Montreal, half the time there is no one working on it when I go by during the day (even before construction holiday)!
The market is still going on; until the end of the work on Parc Lahaie, it is taking place in the small parking lot BEHIND the church.
Yes, it is strange; the park, while pretty and typical, was very run down, and the work will be an improvement, but I have no idea why it is taking so long.
I checked; the English version of this works too: http://marchefermier.ca/site/when-and... Last summer, I went there a few times returning from meeting clients or seeing friends on the Plateau, and the produce was always appealing and reasonably priced for local and organic. They had herbs and salad that would be great for a visitor not "really" cooking, alongside som good takeaway or cold food items http://marchefermier.ca/
I wrote this in a different thread, but realized it might be useful here as well. Apologies for the duplication.
For Quebecois Food
Binerie Mont Royal, 367 Mont Royal O (what you would call traditional)
Chez Ma Tante, 3180 Fleury E (possibly the oldest casse croute in town)
Les Jardins Sauvages, 17 Martin, St. Roch de l'Achigan (only uses Quebecois ingredients)
Le Renard, 330 Mont Royal E (only uses Quebecois ingredients, but slightly easier to get to)
Délires du terroir, 6406 Saint Hubert
Fous de la Gaspésie 1253 Beaubien E.
Les Iles en Ville 5335 Wellington
Boucherie Lawrence 5237 St Laurent
La Maison du Roti 1969 Mont Royal E
Welcome to the Montreal board!
Shish Taouk is not necessarily famous in Montreal for its taste but for its prevalence. It is completely integrated in Montreal culture and is a definite destination for bar hoppers who has finished with their libations. 1 shish taouk, 1 garlic potato and 1 coke is a classic after party combination. It says something that its not even the right word for the dish (purists will tell you that its not a shish taouk but a chicken shawarma) but the dish spread so fast that commerces don't have the choice to name it shish taouk and follow the original mistake. Like hot dogs or hamburgers, however, quality will vary from place to place and everybody has their favorite for proximity reason or for a specific part (favorite sandwich, favorite garlic potatoes, ect..)
As for boucheries and bakeries, you might want to try Abu Elias. Its far but its authentic. Other interesting places would be Daou and Chez Alep/Le Petit Alep duo. You might want to take a peak in Adonis Market for interesting finds. Its a supermarket chain with a middle eastern bent that is proving pretty popular (they have a nice selection of speciality cheeses, olives, nuts and deserts)
2) I don't think we have the cocktail cred in Montreal to impress someone with PDT and Dutch Kills in his backyard. We have nice cocktail bars and the scene is still evolving but nothing that will knock your socks off.
I'd try somewhere you can order local beers or a wine bar. You have a few interesting selections here. My recommendation would be Dieu du Ciel or Vices & Versa for beer/hard local cider and Pullman for Wine.
3) Sunday brunch is a tradition but I don't think it is specially boozy. Restaurants try to push mimosas to get the bill to be a bit more expensive but its not engrained. For weekend breakfast in the old montreal (its not right beside the basilica but its in the same neighborhood) you can try Olive & Gourmando (watch opening hours), Le Gros Jambon (counter space only), Le Cartet (a favorite of mine on the weekends but somebody came in during the week and they weren't impressed, so a little warning there. Try to order the special plates on the weekend) and Holder (pretty classic but spacious and solid). If you are on the plateau, you might want to take a look at the Lawrence brunch because I think its the closest thing to what you are used to.
4)Here I'll cheat and repeat one of my previous answer on this issue:
"I guess the problem with "Quebecois" cuisine is that the current standard is currently evolving at a breakneck pace.
In the 80's, at our house (we were very very middle class) the cheeses we had were mainly mozzarella, cheddar, swiss, parmesan with "fancy" cheese being a french brie or camembert.
Now the same middle class family enjoy one-upping each other with locally sourced farmer's cheese for the cheese course and swear that it was always that way (it wasn't but I let them have their delusions). (I credit Daniel Pinard for that, although he's not in vogue anymore).
The same thing goes for the restaurants and the current cultural mix. With culture leaders still going strong and a lot of different cultural influences still being introduced the Quebecois food is still being defined and will probably be for the years to come. And that is without taking into account torchbearers like Hugues Dufour or Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly who are introducing a new picture of what "Quebec food" could be in foreign countries. Foreigners used to Picard-ish influences could bring us to define ourselves differently also.
Then again, an european friend of mine once told me that he was initially very surprised how comfortable we were in mixing different cuisines from different places in a given meal (sushi for starters, shish taouk for mains and a tarte au sucre for desert might be an example). I never thought of that that way.
That being said, there is a traditional "terroir" of Quebec cuisine. The one we serve at new year's eve. Not a lot of restaurant serve it however because most families has their version of it and do it once a year. La Binerie Mont-Royal is probably your best bet as it is very affordable and traditional."
5) There are 2 types of clientèles at Jean-Talon and Atwater: week and weekend. On the weekends there will be a lot more people, including older, richer gentlemen and ladies who like to take their time and smell tomatoes so there might be a bit more stalls but the experience where choice is concerned should roughly be the same.
6)There is a lot more choice on the Plateau than at Ho-Ma. Right off the top of my head for lunch (I'll be missing a ton still):
*Aux Vivres for vegetarian)
*La Banquise for poutine
*Poule Mouillée for grilled chicken and go in the park nearby
*Romados for more grilled chicken
*Comptoir 21 for fish and chips
*Le nouveau palais for hipster greasy spoon/ comfort food
*Santropol for hipster sandwiches
*Chien fumant for great for great chalkboard bistro food
*L'express for that french flair
*Lola Rosa for vegetarian food that doesn't make you feel like a vegetarian (you don't really notice!
*Le Valois is pretty well known but its hit of miss for me. I enjoyed their breakfast/brunch but wasn't impressed with dinner. Its the neighborhood's "highest end" though.
*I love Jardin Tiki because I live 80's kitch tiki chinese buffet with red gloopy sauce but I won't send tourists there. The tiki cocktails are cheap there so you can try to get drunk to forget the taste of MSG flooding your mouth.
*The locals go to Gerry's. Its not that good. Typical diner food.
*Stay away from Les Princesses. Flee. Nudity and breakfast do not mix well. Also, I can't imagine the type of people who choose to eat there. Can you? You don't want to know.
*I used to like to eat at le sommet for breakfast. Enjoyed their smoked meat pizza too. I also used to be stuck in that neighborhood and I left as soon as I could. An option if you are desperate. I suggest to go downtown.
7) IMO Joe Beef and Au Pied de Cochon has options for non adventurous eaters. They have fish and seafood (esp in the summer) and more standard cuts for those less adventurous of us.
For the other options, it depends on your preferences:
*Toqué/Club Chasse & Pêche and Europea are nice but more expensive than $40pp
*Bouillon Bilk is an interesting choice for interesting higher end options
*O'Thym for ok french but BYOB!
*Lawrence is a great alternative in the plateau
*Lemeac for classic french
*Le Filet for fish and seafood
8) Sorry, I don't have a ton of experience on that subject. I, uh... never been arrested?
Thanks for the detailed response!
I shop at the Middle Eastern grocers in New York so I'm not sure Adonis is on the radar unless their bakery is very good. I have a weak spot for good ma'amoul.
With respect to the cocktail scene, I am not so much looking to be blown away as I am in search of a place that attracts a broadly local crowd. A Montrealer recommended Big in Japan and Barraca where I might find myself in a mostly hipster crowd, but it will still be a Montrealais experience because they'll expect me to speak French.
On Quebecois food, I realize it is a rapidly evolving cuisine, but we are only beginning to discover the classics in New York. I fell in love with my first tourtière. I am craving cretons. The soupe aux pois, well that I'm not craving as much this summer, but I'll try some if it's good! I guess La Binerie it is.
I am not staying in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve anymore, but I have to ask, what is nude breakfast? I'd do a web search, but I'm at a work computer and I'm afraid what would come up...
Well, you had a detailed set of questions so I had to try follow suit!
For Adonis, if you are satisfied with your New York offering skipping it would not be a problem. Its an interesting concept of a store but not a crucial one. The best I can do to explain it is if Whole Food decided to change their "healthy" bend to a middle eastern/international one.
I tend to know a bit less about Baracca but I agree about Big in Japan Bar (be careful, Big in Japan is an ordinary restaurant. Big in Japan Bar is a great hidden little speakeasy like bar that plays a mix of crooners, vieille chanson francaise ànd Bossa Nova). If you are looking at spots and crowds a bit more than products I might add l'Ile Noire (an established pub that specialise in scotch in the Quartier Latin) as its a nice central pub that is having a resurgence and Sainte-Elizabeth for its magnificent beergarden to my list.
The classics are hard to get now as every family will have their own heirloom recipes and will mostly cook it during christmas/new year's eve and eat it in sugar shacks. Au pied de cochon will do really exceptional modernised versions of the classic (their soupe aux pois and tourtière are exceptional and their pudding chomeur is really the ultimate variation of the dish) but you'll find the dishes less and less at the restaurant and more often re-interpreted in their sugar shack restaurant. Be careful to ask for the special at the Binerie. If you find the tourtière a bit dry, you can add ketchup (its what we do!)
Nude breakfast is exactly what it sounds like. A girl bringing you bacon and eggs in a G string. Its a theoretical concept for me as I've never been there. I honestly don't know who goes there since most of these places look like dives from the outside. The usual reaction is amusement at hearing that such a thing exist, wonder at who goes there followed by a bit of sadness at the patheticness of it all.
There was a report on the nude breakfast place a while back, and it mostly sounded sad and far from the "classiest" strip joints.
I've been to Petit Alep many times, but not this year (just didn't happen to go). It is a more casual place where one can order anything from a sandwich or small salad to a daily special or a more elaborate meal, as it shares a kitchen with the fanier Restaurant Alep next door. Due to the type of cuisine, it is friendly for vegetarians and hardcore meateaters. As was said before, there is a good wine list, fairly reasonably priced by local standards, It is just across from Jean-Talon Market, so if you are parked at the market, you don't have to look for another spot (because of the market, many streets have resident parking vignettes).
You can get good frozen tourtières at le Marché des Saveurs at the market, if you have a way of getting those back home (or just want to let it thaw slowly in an isothermic bag, and have it once back in NYC). They usually have a caribou tourtière, or a venison tourtière, and there is also a vegetarian tourte with mushrooms.
Le Filet would also be a lighter alternative to APDC.
You've really done your homework. I won't try to catch up on the other points, but just #2. Montreal is definitely more of a beer town than a cocktail town. However, it's also more of a wine town than it is a beer town, so let that guide you.
BIJ-Bar (not restaurant) and Barraca are both viable options, though I think the hipsteriest hipsters have long ago moved on to greener pastures, so to speak. At the moment the most interesting cocktails are coming out of a few new restaurants (Manitoba, Tripes & Caviar, Mais, off the top of my head), and a couple of bars (La Mal Necessaire, The Emerald aka 5295 Parc).
The best wine bars continue to be Hotel Herman and Vin Papillon, but both require you to order food (which is exceptionally good itself).
In fact, Vin Papillon, Herman, and Manitoba might be good bets for your #7 request. Prices are in your range, give-or-take, and while they may not offer truly Quebecois cuisine they do have what I'd consider new-nouveau-Quebecois dishes.
Funny you mention Le Mal Necessaire. I was scouting the premises last week (along with Bar B1).
I'll get around it eventually. However, I find 20$ for the pineapple and coconut drinks at LMN a bit expensive to me (when you think that its about 8$ at Jardin Tiki). Ok, there is probably a ton more booze in the LMN version but still its expensive for essentially a flashy fruit glass. I'm a bit bummed they don't try to revisit Tiki classics like the Pina Colada, Daiquiri, Hurricane, Mohito, Zombie or Mai Tai. If only to put their seal on it...
I had a special night where I ordered all the cocktails on Jardin Tiki's menu (it was my birthday... yeah... I celebrated my birthday by getting smashed in Jardin Tiki. Even brought vintage hawaillan shirts bough at rokokonut! ) and they weren't that bad. I missed the fact that they had no proper volcanoes but aside from the mint horror who tasted like listerine (and you could argue green crème de menthe drinks are vintage too so you can't even disparage that last element) they were interesting, varied and inexpensive. Favorite were the Bolo (the pineapple thing) and the Aku Aku (the one who came in a fake coconut).
The main critic I might assign Jardin Tiki's cocktail is that they weren't that strong. There is no way I could order a whole menu of cocktail at the original Don the Beachcomber or Trader Vic and not be completely smashed. I made a few original cocktails at home for friends according to what I could source as being the original recipes and one thing in common was that they were all punch in the gut strong (the original hurricane has 4 ounces of rhum!). At one point when doing the prep me and my friends had to stop drinking Daiquiris because they tasted like juice and were basically 2 oz of rhum with 1/2 of fresh lime juice and 3/4 simple sirup.
As for LMN, I'll go there eventually. Its just a shame that the proper tiki drinks are overpriced and low in number. I'm not the type of guy being influenced by the fact that Jardin Tiki is a cheap chinese buffet and LMN is a hot new hip bar manned by a well known barman. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding!
I don't know if our brunches tend to be boozy affairs - I guess it depends if the place serves alcohol at brunch and what you order. :-)
I highly recommend Lawrence (in Mile End) for weekend brunch:
They have Bloody Marys and a few other drinks at brunch.
Also recommend Probhition's brunch (in NDG) and I see they have a Bloddy Caesar:
With regards to picnics, I'd say that Parc Jeanne-Mance or Parc Lafontaine have a better picnic scene than Parc Mont-Royal. They seem to have more of a happy-go-lucky/enjoy the summer/crack open a beer kind of vibe. Jeanne-Mance is right across the street (Ave du Parc) from Mont-Royal.
If we end up watching the fireworks on Saturday from Kondiaronk Belvedere, I will certainly try to explore another picnic location than Mont-Royal.
Our other option for fireworks (unless anybody knows better vantage points) is the Village Éphémère but it seems rather a dead zone for things to do later. I know of the terrasses near the Old Port, but I fear the area is a bit more buttoned up than we want for Saturday night.
I found your love of tourtière and cretons interesting so I took the liberty of making a list of quebec classics and translating french recipes in english for you to try if you want.
Keep in mind however:
*This list is not meant to be exhaustive
*Its a list of classics, so there will be a million different versions
*When faced between a more fancy version and a version that felt more authentic, I chose authenticity
*"Authentic" is my own feeling based on my own memory. Your distance will vary.
*When available, I included a martin picard variation. if you enjoy, you should look for his cookbooks
*Yep, I used my tumblr account... its faster for me to update
*You might have the same exact recipe at home, or a variation. It happens! I preferred not to take any chance (maybe there could be interesting differences?). Those are classics from my childhood but maybe they are classic from the childhood of someone born in New England too.
Traditional Quebec Pea Soup
Martin Picard foie gras pea soup
Martin Picard Quebec Cretons
Tourtière (one variation amongst thousands
Quebec Sheperd's pie
Martin Picard Shepherd's pie
Martin Picard Meatball stew
Pork Trotters Stew
Pineapple and maple syrup ham
Martin Picard baked beans
Martin Picard homemade ketchup
Chicken Pot Pie
Martin Picard unemployed pudding
Grandfathers in syrup
Sucre à la crème
There are not a ton of restaurants who will serve the classics.
*Saint-Hubert makes a chicken pot pie,
*There is a restaurant called Mâche near Berri-UQAM metro who offer quebec shepherd pie, meatball stew and unemployed pudding
*i've heard that La Banquise has an interesting shepherd's pie
*La Binerie Mont-Royal will probably feature the most classics
*Sometimes Le Pied de Cochon offers variations on classics
*Marché Atwater and Marché Jean-talon are good places to find prepared versions of those recipes.
*You might find some of the menus in different restaurants so keep your eyes pealed!
Thanks. The two who introduced me to Quebecois cuisine were both born in New England to French Canadian parents, but weren't really cooks themselves so it took a lot of research for me to find a foolproof tourtière recipe. Then it was another shot in the dark to find the condiments for tourtière. Still working on my cretons and am looking forward to tasting some while visiting. I will now be staying in the Plateau very close to Boucherie Lawrence so I think there's also cotecchino in my future.
Tourtière is a very weird thing.
My mother was a baby boomer. Her tourtière was adapted from the Jehane Benoit book, the Julia Child of french canadian homemakers. Her book was meant to be more an encyclopedia than a traditional cookbook so you'd get an explanation of what "blanching" was if you didn't know.
I have a pretty early version from my aunt:
I believe there are english versions floating around too but I don't know how close it is to the french version:
Now that was your "tuesday" Tourtière. Of course, the new year tourtière one was from a designated cook in the family (an aunt or the grandmother) who was holder of the "familly heirloom". There are stories of aunts giving purposefully the wrong recipe during the christmas holidays to make sure they are the one who make the best one year in year out.
You also have your modern versions. TV Cooks will each have their variations (we used to have Soeur Angèle, Daniel Pinard, Distasio,,, now we have Ricardo) as well as chefs (Martin Picard has a pretty gothic version with brain).
That's not talking about regional variations. If you meet someone from "Saguenay/Lac St-Jean", he'll gladly tell you that you never ate the real thing if you never tried "la tourtière du lac", which is, of course, a whole new variant.
Finally, to top it off, you can go back in history and learn that "Tourtière" was never a specific recipe or ingredient but designated actually the dish in which the pie was made.In that regard, the original recipe might well have been closer to our current Cipaille (which is -actually- a derivative from the word "Sea Pie") in which you use the meat that is available for the filling.
I've heard great things about boucherie Lawrence! I hope you will try the restaurant too!
That sounds great. I'd feature venison, bison or caribou if I can find it. I also use the finely-chopped mushroom in vegetarian tourtière.
I made duck tourtière (and a vegetarian version for vegetarian guests) for "les fêtes" this winter. I first braised my duck with a small bottle of cider, though I've also used white wine.
* Baldwin Barmacie - Great atmosphere and ambiance. The bar had an apothecary look to it, though the theme did not really extend to the menu which focused on relatively easy cocktails. That is not to say it was all style over substance -- my Caesar was terrific and a Campari spritzer was fine -- but I perhaps expected more inventiveness for a bar that looks so serious about its craft.
* Bar Waverly - This was a great introduction to the neighborhood. The bar was light and airy with floor-to-ceiling windows and absolutely teeming during 5à7 with young neighborhood folks. Service was not exactly quick, but the friendliness of the servers made up for it.
* Dieu du Ciel - I love local breweries, and this one did not disappoint. But as much as I enjoyed the beers, I especially loved their cider (Cid Rosé). It was a good balance between sweet and dry without the yeasty flavors that some people find off-putting. The place was always full regardless of what time of day we showed up, but luckily we were staying only a few blocks away so it was always easy to come back later if we didn't feel like waiting.
* Cartel - We stopped by on our way to dinner at Leméac, but were informed after trying to pay for the beer we had on the terrasse that one could not drink without also having dinner. Luckily their fish tacos turned out to be expertly done. A perfect balance between crisp battered fish and silken avocado. My companion did not like her dish, but she may also have just been cross that we weren't told until the end that we needed to order dinner for the privilege of a cold beer on a humid night on the terrasse.
* Bagels - The hype is right. I would take a Fairmount bagel over a doughy, heavy NY bagel any day. I tried St. Viateur for comparison, but Fairmount's still wins. I have a dozen sesame and all-dressed in my freezer and will probably get another dozen brought over next week!
* TA Pies - My current avatar is actually an Australian meat pie -- so deep does my love go for these pastries. The ones on offer at TA Pies were some of the best; I might say even better than those at the Pie Face chain that has expanded from Australia to NYC.
* Monsieur B - The restaurant was nice enough and service was great, but the food was just okay. Our order of foie gras was not properly dressed and still had the veins and membrane attached. The lychee compote served on the side was mealy and inartfully cut into large chunks that threw the dish off balance. My companion, however, enjoyed her steak tartare and the fries served on the side were actually the best we had during our entire trip (and as tourists, we ate A LOT of fries with and without gravy). My fish with barbecue beef samosas sounded somewhat outmoded and confused, and indeed it was -- a filet in Asian-inspired sauce with two samosas at a distance and a streak of creme fraiche on the side of my plate. I'm still not sure what was meant to go with what, but luckily the individual pieces tasted fine though my fish was a tad overdone.
* Marché Jean Talon - I was very surprised to find myself ordering lumpia in French during my visit to the market. I was even more surprised that they were better than my grandmother's! But of course I should not have doubted the delightful surprises in store at the market. I stopped at Pâtisserie le Ryad for the recommended sweets and did notice the distinctive floral perfume to their baklava that I associate with North African cooking. My walnut ma'amoul tasted a bit stale, but in fairness, I didn't eat it until later in the day. Marché des Saveurs, though, was the highlight of the trip. I wanted to buy everything. I appreciated how they curated their local items, identifying maple syrup by region and they remain the only store where I could find cretons (which were delicious), along with their surprising selection of wapiti and game. Their potato donuts are also highly addictive. Marché des Saveurs is definitely on my list of go-to destinations for all subsequent trips to Montreal.
* Romado's - Clearly a popular place as there were no seats available for nearly two hours during our visit. I liked the chicken, I enjoyed the salad dressing, I loved the price after being sticker shocked by taxes all week, but I'm not so sure I get the attraction. There wasn't much seasoning to the chicken that would set it apart, or perhaps the spices had just been absorbed into the mountain of fries under which my order was buried. My companion, however, could not speak to me for the duration of our lunch because she was too busy swooning over her Portuguese chicken poutine. It ended up being her favorite dish of our entire trip.
*L'Gros Luxe - The 90-minute wait for a table was worth it for the epic L'Gros Caesar, garnished with grilled cheese, fried pickles, spring rolls, onion rings and a burger. While the drink itself was not great, the garnishes were all very good and made for a good value meal. This was, in the end, a good Quebec interpretation of hipster cuisine. Poutine with tater tots? Yes please! The avocado fries with a honey-Sriracha aioli were also quite good.
* Trip de Bouffe - We went just prior to closing so the food we ordered did not taste very fresh. That being said, their kibbeh was expertly-made with thin walls encasing a generous filling of meat, onions and almonds. The slight kick in their spice blend was a nice surprise. The sfiha and sambousek were a little too doughy but were still satisfying. If I lived in Plateau, I could easily see myself eating at this inexpensive spot several times a week.
* Beautys Restaurant - I was told this was a Montreal institution and I had to get their signature Mish-Mash. I was not disappointed. Classic diner food in an old school setting, complete with gruff, old owner sitting on a stool in guard of the door. The home fries were also very good with some good crunch and caramelized bits.
There were several other places we had meant to visit but we did not realize that so many businesses would be closed at the end of July. Suffice it to say we had never heard of a "construction holiday" before and none of the restaurant websites we visited made any announcement that they were closing for an extended period. Luckily all the requisite poutine and smoked meat places were open so I suppose we'll just have to visit again once vacation season ends to enjoy your more off-the-beaten-path recommendations. Thanks again for all your hospitality and help, Montreal.
Thanks for your great trip report (Trip de bouffe, but not in the doper sense!)
Hope you enjoyed your visit overall. Indeed, I don't think there is anything similar to the construction holiday anywhere else in North America http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Construc...
There are benefits to visiting during this period, as there is far less traffic, so it is easier to park a car or get around on a bicycle. Campsites and such are full, though. And when the exchange rate is decent, many families also holiday by the sea in nearby New England.
There are at least four other places where you can buy cretons at JTM: Porc Meilleur, La Boucherie du marché, Saveurs Charlevoix and Les Cochons tout ronds. The latter two have products from specific Quebec regions: Charlevoix (a lovely region) northeast of Quebec City, and les Îles-de-la-Madeleine (Magdalene Islands in English) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Cochons tout ronds feature Basque Cretons, with a dash of Espelette pepper, though the Saveurs du Québec variety is probably the most typical of a quality product (there are a lot of dreadful supermarket cretons as well, as is the fate of very popular foods). http://www.cochonstoutronds.com
Not to mention végé-cretons, which you can find at the natural food shops at JTM, if you have any veggie friends. And there are duck rillettes at Boucherie du marché.
I checked all the boucheries at JTM and couldn't find cretons in any of their cold cases (aside from a couple containers of creton de canard, which I think are rillettes?). Maybe I should have asked. It's a shame I gave up on the long line at Les Cochons Tout Ronds and missed out on their Basque Cretons. I had sampled foie gras seasoned with piment d'Esplette at Bonsecours and loved the unexpected catch in my throat. I would have happily endured the line but I think my companion was already a bit frustrated after I spent a good 40 minutes debating what items from Canards du Lack Brome and Les Saveurs du Marché could make it through border customs. Next time I travel with friends more enthusiastic about international charcuterie!
We've had Montreal bagels for a few years from Mile End Deli though the lines and crowds dissuaded me when I could just as easily get New York's best lox and a bagel one more subway stop away.
As it is, so much was left undone on my agenda that I may come in this weekend with friends who are driving up if I can find fair lodging. Will businesses and restaurants still be closed for holiday at this time of year? I recall the doorsign at Damas (or perhaps Chien Fumant) said they would be closed through 4 August.
I walked past Damas yesterday evening (on my way to PA supermarket) and it was full of diners. http://www.restaurant-damas.com/
Their Facebook page says that they are open this evening from 5:30 pm to 10. Since it seemed full on a Wednesday, I surmise that you'd need a reservation on the weekend. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Damas-... You can reserve at their website with Open Table.
Construction holiday winds up this weekend.