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Montreal restaurants with vegetarian options, including a special-occasion place?

Heading up I-87 to Montreal with my wife for our anniversary this weekend, commemorating the first trip we ever took together, nine years ago. Obviously, things have changed a little bit in that time, so I'm looking for some new lunch, dinner and dessert recommendations for a four-day trip. However, my wife is a vegetarian - dairy, but no fish - and I'm not.

We really liked Le Petit Alep on our last trip, so we'll probably go there again, but I'm stumped for additional options. I'm not a big fan of strictly vegetarian/vegan places, so I think Aux Vivres and Lola Rosa are out. L'Gros Luxe looks like it might have enough options for the both of us, but what else? Any other recommendations for Mediterranean? Any decent Indian options? We'd like to keep the prices reasonable, though I'd also like to find one place that would be suitable for an anniversary dinner. We'll be staying downtown, near the Bell Centre, but will have a car and have no problem taking the metro anywhere.

As for dessert, we'll definitely hit Kem CoBa for ice cream, but my wife is also a sucker for French pastry, so any pastry shop recommendations would be welcome. Meanwhile, I'm a sucker for pasteis de nata (Portuguese egg custard tarts), what's the best place to get those?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

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  1. Hey!

    There are a few good indian spots. I'm partial to shezan on saint-denis between ontario and sherbrooke.

    Aux vivres is full on vegetarian/vegan but I think you should keep Lola Rosa as an option. It doesn't feel that vegetarian even if it is. Arepas du plateau and taco and tortas has a vegetarian options. Ruby Burma is a burmese restaurant that has fun traditional vegetarian salad thar counts as a meal (it also has meat). Gado Gado is a indonesian restaurant with a couple of vegetarian option. Cuisine szechuan and kanbai (chinese) use tofu and vegetables in their preparations.

    Try kouign-amann for their eponymous pastry and their croissants. Patrice patissier has a good reputation. So is les co-pains d'abord. Best place for natas is patisserie notre-dame du rosaire on rachel.

    1 Reply
    1. re: CaptCrunch

      Unless it has changed, Aux Vivres doesn't serve beer or wine, which annoys me (whether or not I want beer or wine). Lola Rossa definitely does not have that moralistic vibe, and Ruby Burma is a BYOW.

      There is a very good vegetarian platter at Petit Alep.

      If you want a picnic on Mont-Royal (or elsewhere) Trip de bouffe has some great components.

    2. Oh! I almost forgot. The restaurant Europea offers a regular degustation menu and a vegan/vegetarian degustation menu. Its definitely a "celebration" grade restaurant. One of the two best "degustation/artsy" table in montreal (with Toqué). To be honest, I'm not vegetarian and I'm curious at what it would taste like!
      http://www.europea.ca/menu-soir

      1. The food at Gros Luxe is okay, and prices are good, but it might not be what you're looking for. Cocktails are mostly terrible (over-sweetened and over-salted, depending on the type), and the crowd is very young. It's a good place to go if you're looking for a bite and some drinks before a serious night out, but it's not really a destination.
        If it's not already booked up I'd consider Manitoba - it usually seems to have a few vegetarian options. Prices are good and atmosphere is great.

        1. Damas would be perfect for an anniversary dinner, I think. Delicious Syrian food with plenty of veggie options, and walking distance from Kem CoBa. Omnivores will be happy too. Cozy restaurant atmosphere with a nice terrasse if the weather is OK.

          http://www.restaurant-damas.com/

          1. More detailed Damas menu with prices (not sure how recent)

            http://www.restaurant-damas.com/Files...

            http://guiderestos.com/restaurants/mo...

            They have a special for 2, 85$ excl. tax & service
            http://guiderestos.com/restaurants/mo...

            1. > Any decent Indian options?

              My current fave is Flavours of India.

              http://flavourindia.com/

              Favourites: channa samosa (vegetarian), channa bhatura (vegetarian - chick peas with fluffy fried bread), balti chicken, chicken 65.

              1. Thanks for all the suggestions! Europea looks great for an anniversary dinner, I made a reservation for Monday night.

                A friend of mine who was just in Montreal raved about the Indian meal he had at Restaurant Gandhi in the old town. Any other opinions? I've also heard good things about Restaurant Darbar.

                Would love to picnic on Mont-Royal, unfortunately, it doesn't look like there's going to be good picnic weather this weekend.

                Any breakfast/brunch suggestions would be welcome as well, though I think we're going to try and hit the St. Viateur cafe at least once.

                10 Replies
                1. re: kdgchow

                  Just got back from Montreal, here's a recap:

                  Europea was terrific. My wife and I each had the $89.50 tasting menu (not the full $125 menu) and we were still well and truly stuffed. The risotto with burrata, asparagus and mushrooms I had for one of my courses was the best risotto I've ever had. My wife really liked her vegetarian courses, especially the root vegetables with beans and Raz-el-hanout hummus. I could see why. I'm an omnivore, but to me, this is what good vegetarian food should be: not stuff masquerading as meat, but vegetarian ingredients cooked to stand out for what they are. The desserts and amuse-bouches were superb as well, and the service was attentive and helpful without being overbearing. Definitely a worthy place for an anniversary dinner, or any other special occasion.

                  As for our other dinner, Le Petit Alep was as good as we remember - their lentil soup and dips are terrific and I enjoyed my Armenian sausage sandwich. We went to Gado Gado on our first night in town and enjoyed it - my pork belly steamed buns and beef rendang were very good. We tried Restaurant Darbar for an Indian place and we thought it was OK, but nothing special.

                  L'Gros Luxe was an excellent spot for brunch/lunch - avocado fries and grilled cheese sandwiches were very good, and cheap. Fun spot, but man, the service was glacial.

                  We hit Eggspectation a couple of times for breakfast, since it was so close to our hotel. It was fine, but I think my wife liked it more than I did. We also hit some Montreal classics. I had wanted to eat at Schwartz's again, but the line was so long both days I passed by and I don't have as much patience for that as I used to. Instead, I went across the street to the Main, got a table right away and an excellent smoked meat sandwich. But yellow mustard instead of spicy brown? Boooo! St. Viateur hit the spot for breakfast before we headed home to NY, and I made sure to pick up a dozen bagels from Fairmount for the trip - they're in my freezer now. And Kouign Amann's almond croissant and eponymous pastry were terrifc, even after a 7+ hour drive home.

                  Thanks again for all the suggestions!

                  1. re: kdgchow

                    IMHO smoked meat should always be served with yellow mustard. I have never seen it served with spicy brown mustard..

                    1. re: kdgchow

                      Thank you for the feedback! Glad to see your wife enjoyed her special vegetarian dinner and that you had fun in Montreal. To be honest, I'm an omnivore myself and I'm tempted to try it!!

                      1. re: kdgchow

                        Great report!
                        I just finished having an argument about Schwartz's mustard not an hour ago! It absolutely has to be terrible yellow mustard. Nothing else will do. When I lived across the street from Schwartz's I'd keep a bottle in my fridge exclusively for topping sandwiches when I'd buy a pound of medium.

                        1. re: Fintastic

                          I guess that's another difference between smoked meat an NY-style pastrami. The spicy brown deli mustard helps cut through the fattiness of the pastrami.

                          CaptCrunch: The funny thing was, I thought the best vegetarian dish at Europea was the one on my tasting menu, not my wife's: the risotto. I don't even like mushrooms that much, but if I could eat them like that all the time, I'd be happy.

                          Oh, and while I didn't get my pasteis de nata fix at the bakery you recommended, I had a perfectly acceptable version at Vasco de Gama near our hotel downtown.

                          1. re: kdgchow

                            Last time I checked(if I remember correctly), Schwartz's Deli next door(generally for take-out only of Schwartz's Deli food), has spicy brown deli mustard for sale.

                        2. re: kdgchow

                          Excellent report and nice to know the vegetarian menu at Europea is worth it. I like Gado Gado a lot, especially those steamed buns and the gado gado itself. Will have to check out those avocado fries one day.

                          1. re: kdgchow

                            Thanks for the report. This is the first time in my life I've even heard the suggestion of spicy brown mustard on smoked meat. That sounds overpowering.

                            So you mean the service at L'Gros Luxe was standoff-ish, or glacially-pace, or both? I find service at these new younger-crowd places a bit too informal if anything; but at the same time, they tend to be pretty cliquey (ie. you're practically invisible if you're not a regular - I've written off pretty much all Mile End aside from Snack n Blues for this reason), is that the vibe you got?

                            1. re: Shattered

                              Glacially-paced, it took forever to get everything: drinks, apps and mains. They were perfectly friendly, though.

                              1. re: kdgchow

                                This has been my experience as well - incredibly laid-back service: very considerate, but slow. So much so, in fact, that on my last visit I'd swear the entire staff was on a lot of something.

                        3. "H4C Place St-Henri" is doing a vegetarian week;I'm not certain if it starts this week-end or next week.

                          1 Reply
                          1. This query brings me to a question. I just now read online that Le Commensal was declaring bankruptcy a year ago and was closing some of its restaurants. Not special-occasion, but excellent vegetarian and an old favorite of mine---had hoped to include on upcoming trip to Montreal. Does anyone know if Le Commensal has closed down entirely or, if not, which branches are still open?

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: Querencia

                              None under that name. I'd suggest you try Lola Rossa on Parc.

                              1. re: Querencia

                                As far as I know, it opened under a different name but I don't know if its still the same. The places I used to go are still there, its just a different brand. I used to go to Commensal as a "healthier" (less guilt inducing?) version of fast food.

                                Other options are Lola Rossa and Aux Vivres.

                                  1. re: CaptCrunch

                                    What a sad loss. Le Commensal's cold table, aka magnificent salad bar, was wonderful. Can anyone recommend a killer salad bar in Montreal now? Many thanks.

                                    1. re: CaptCrunch

                                      Yes, Commensal is now Resto Vego.
                                      http://restovego.ca/

                                      +1 for Green Panther /Panthere Vert. Official opening of their new location next Thurs w/ free snacks, beer, and wine
                                      https://www.facebook.com/events/14652...

                                      1. re: Shattered

                                        That sounds like fun. Now if the city either finished work on the St-Laurent viaduc, or persuaded CP to let them build a level crossing, I could get down there in no more than 10 minutes...

                                        I really like their falafels. I also like the fact that they have beer and wine, whether I want any or not. I find it annoying that Aux Vivres is "dry".

                                    2. re: Querencia

                                      I'd recommend Yuan Vegetarian for Chinese - it was amazing. We did the $20pp ALCE (items ordered off the menu in waves) with a group and everything was great, with good service.

                                      2115 St-Denis
                                      http://yuanvegetarien.com/