Montreal / Quebec City - 5 days - several questions
I'm in the end stages of planning a 5 day visit to Montreal & Quebec City (3 days in the former, 2 in the latter). We were just in Montreal last summer, so to calibrate I can tell you what we liked and not:
- Au Pied de Cochon - epic meal, mostly centered around a gigantic seafood platter.
- Les 400 Coups - another really good meal - this was before Jette and Demers left.
- Lawrence - nice brunch, not exceptional, but don't know that we got a full feel for the place from what we ordered.
- Le Filet - disappointing. Had about a half-dozen dishes, nearly all of them the seafood was overwhelmed by the sauces.
- Schwartz's, St. Viateur - Institutions worthy of the title.
So here are my questions:
- Is the summer seafood thing still going on at APDC or is it already over? I just took a look at the online menu and didn't see the seafood platters listed, which would be a crushing disappointment.
- Other recommendations of the same ilk as 400 Coups? i.e., contemporary in style with local, seasonal ingredients, in a place that has a not overly fussy vibe? I've currently got Au Cinquieme Peche, Chez l'Epicier, Hotel Herman, Tripes & Caviar and Tuck Shop on my list. Tripes & Caviar really intrigues me, but may be a bit extreme for the rest of the family.
- Classic French bistro: Lemeac or L'Express or does one not particularly stand out over the other?
- Maison Publique? Should I put this in the contemporary category, the classic bistro category, or another, and would you pick it over any of the other places I've mentioned?
- Portuguese: our last visit to Montreal I was intrigued to see several Portuguese restaurants. Did a little research and turned up Helena and Ferreira as apparent front-runners (and also interested in Ferreira sibling Taverne F). Are any (or others) so good that you'd recommend over the other places above?
- (I should note: so far not been able to get a reservation at any of the Joe Beef places; based on our disappointing experience at Le Filet, have crossed Le Club Chasse et Peche off our list, which seems oft-recommended)
- In Quebec City, our current game plan is to do one night at either Legende or Chez Boulay, and the other night at L'Affaire est Ketchup or Patente et Machin. For lunches, was considering Aux Anciens Canadiens (about which opinion seems to be mixed) and Le Lapin Saute. Other suggestions welcomed.
- Is there anything good for lunch on the way between Portland Maine and Quebec City (i.e. along Route 73 and 173)?
I'll try my best, but won't try to comment on Quebec. It's unfortunate about the Filet experience, as I very much enjoy their dishes, though I admit that they may be somewhat masked by sauces and seasonings. This is something to which I'm often oblivious.
- APDC may still have some seafood around, but by this time of year things are often getting a bit past their prime. I'd call, as the website is often not current.
- Classic Bistro: I've always had a soft spot for L'Express. Their dishes are sometimes not be as good as Lemeac's, but something about the place feels right. However, over Lemeac I might also choose Laloux, 5ieme Peche, or Trois Petits Bouchons.
- A 400 Coups substitute: I'd say that none of the spots you've listed are quite as high-end, but Tuck-Shop or Hotel Herman might be a (smaller) substitute. T&C is good, but definitely far less refined (watch the recent Vice Munchies episode for an idea, if you haven't already). If you'd like a place that is perhaps more family-friendly and also not at risk of over-seasoning dishes, consider Manitoba. It wasn't my favourite meal in recent memory but they use many local and seasonal ingredients and really let these speak for themselves. Great price-point and interiors, to boot!
- Maison Publique: Also a restaurant I've enjoyed, but not on every visit. Tends to be a tad heavy on the salt, but has an all-Canadian wine list and some interesting re-creations of classic British dishes using local products. I'd say it's closer to PDC than 400 Coup, but somewhere between a pub and a bistro.
- Joe Beefy places: They are on vacation for the next 1.5 weeks, if that's when you're coming. Otherwise look on Bookenda if Liverpool House has some space. If not, you could show up early to Vin Papillon (you'd probably even be better off).
As a substitute to 400 Coups, I think H4C Place St-Henri would fit the bill, at least for the savoury part of the meal. I haven't sampled their desserts, but the rest is quite tasty and the marriage of elements on the plate is always interesting. And since nothing can compare with Demers' desserts, why not go to his pastry shop to end the meal?
I like Leméac better than L'express. In my opinion the experience with the atmosphere and the service is better at L'express. The food is better at Leméac.
I also think you would enjoy H4C although i never to 400 coups. I also really liked Mercuri, take a look at their menu. It is pricy, the portions are small but the food is delicious local seasonal fine cooking with an italian twist, the service is great and the place is gorgeous. I think i actually likes better than H4C.
You may also like Bouillon Bilk. According to me, it is very good food but that is it. At the price i'm paying i would expect a little more. Every one seems to love it. May be it is only me.
I recently tried the brunch at Les Affamés and it is Excellent! It is a good thing they take reservations, you need to reserve, they are always full. Available only on saturday and sunday
If not, Regine Café is good to. Make sure you order something with ham if not, you could be disappointed.
Portugese restaurant: did you think about Portuscalle. It is the same chef owner as Helena. Great place too.
I haven't tried Le club chasse et pêche yet, but i have only heard thing about that place. It is next on my list.
If you are looking for a good place for breakfast in quebec city, i would recommend Le café du monde in the old port. The place is gorgeous overlooking the st-laurent river and the south shore.
In Québec City, i also really like Nina Pizza. The pizzas are great and they have nice cold cut meat platter too.
I've heard only good about Le 47e Parallèle. I went for lunch and dind't like it that much for the price we are paying. Never went for dinner yet. One friend working close to that place loves it. May be it is just me again.
My friend went to Saint-Amour last summer and loved it. If you are looking for fine dining that could be a good choice.
We've only eaten at Schwartz' from your list (agree, although it was only "extremely delicious/to be repeated", not "life-changing") and recently (8/16) ate at Au 5ieme Péché. We had a half portion of sweetbreads as a starter and the octopus salad, both of which were fantastic, char with a mussels/smoked herring salad on top and the seal sausage with fried gnocchi poutine, which was amazing. One dessert, the dark chocolate torte with raspberries/vinegar, one of the best (balanced) I've ever had, and I'm not usually a dessert fan. So, I can heartily recommend 5ième. I think their online menu was not updated, but both brothers were there (the waiter said they stagger two-week vacations so one is always there). Very good service, but I wouldn't say fussy (and the table next to us sang happy birthday, French version).
It's a nice list, I'm going to borrow a couple of Quebec listings as we are driving there now.
Of your Montreal restos that you link with 400 Coups, the only one I've been to is Hotel Herman. It was well over a year ago and I believe the restaurant was quite new at the time. The meal was a highlight of our trip to Montreal on that visit. The concept is sharing plates and we sampled a number of things from the menu. We sat at the bar which we agreed really added to the meal as it was bustling and you could really interact with the staff and see lots of other dishes going by. A bit of a vague description I am afraid but it was awhile ago.