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Memorable Montreal restaurants from the past


SteveW
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Speaking of fav's how about Hippopotumus on Crescent street or even Tony Roma's.It was an amazing part of town to be in before concerts and Saturday night hockey games.

Now,I do my best to stay away from this part of the city as the food is at best less than mediocre,as well as the scene.Shame on the Habs.

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Arrgh, the mental floodgates have opened!

Kefizia. Greek grill located on the second floor of a dumpy Park Ave. building a few doors south of St-Viateur. Run by a guy named Johnny, who was usually well lubricated by 9 p.m., the time we usually strolled in. You quickly learned not to order from the menu but just tell Johnny to cook whatever was best. He'd bring over a big salad, always with tomatoes and feta, sometimes with lettuce and other veggies. Then you might get a plate of fried squid. Then a grilled fish or lamb chops or, if you were lucky, sweatbreads, smoky/crispy on the outside, etherially light on the inside. With prefect thick fries, of course. Dessert might be a slice of melon or some baklava. Johnny or other patrons often sent a round of Metaxa on the house (Johnny's secret: keep it in the freezer and serve it ice cold). The bill? With a couple of beers per person or a bottle of Santa Helena: under $20. For two.

After Johnny closed the place (heard he was working at a butcher's in Laval), we began frequenting a small Greek restaurant that had just opened across the street. Mostly grilled fish. A stickler for quality, the owner was bringing in fish from NYC twice or thrice weekly and would feed to the local alley cats any fish he didn't sell in a day or two. It was inexpensive then but not for long: Milos.

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Victoria Station and Sammy's Ribs on Victoria near de la Savane, I worked at both of them maybe that;s why I miss them.

I ate there, maybe that's why I don't :biggrin:

You've come a long way baby! :wub:

These two restaurants was located in ex-railroad trolley(maybe several put together) of some kind. Went there to eat once, when it was known as Sammy's Ribs. Can't remember how the ribs tasted, or if it was any good.

-Steve

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Toman is closed!?  :shock:  I had no idea.

I haven't trudged up to the second floor to check for myself but that's what I've heard and read. From Ste-Catherine St. the building sure looks dead.

Toman closed I'm guessing around 15 months ago, shortly after the owner died. It was the son(who had some involvement with the establishment) who finally decided to close Cafe Toman.

-Steve

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Toman closed I'm guessing around  15 months ago, shortly after the owner died. It was the son(who had some involvement with the establishment) who finally decided to close Cafe Toman.

Do you know this first hand, Steve, or is it something you picked up off another board? The reason I ask is because someone posted a similar explanation on Chowhound's Montreal forum a while back but it doesn't necessarily jibe with the little I know about Toman's. First, who is the owner who died? The original pastry chef (Mr. Toman, I assume) who retired about ten years ago after training a young man to take his place? And who's the son? It's probably not the young chef; my info is that he was unrelated to anyone connected with the place. And why did they close if they had a well-trained chef in place and a devoted clientele? Did Conc. U. play a direct (forcing them out of a building it owns, not that I know that it does) or indirect (making a mess of the neighbourhood, especially with all that construction) role?

Anyway, it's a shame the cafe is no longer open. There was nothing quite like it in Montreal.

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Schneiders was a great place for a steak. It has been closed for years.

Old man Sam had some problems with the crime probe back in the 70's.

Brian Mulroney a lawyer for the commision grilled him hard but never got Sam to admit squat. When Mulroney accussed him of being the biggest loan shark in Montreal, he responed " I am just an nice old man, that likes to lend money to help people out" " You call that a loan shark, I call it a good friend"

Sam was always a great host and no he never lent me money!

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Oh God, LUX. I loved LUX. I can't even look at the locale when I drive past. Now I'm totally depressed. I ate a lot of french fries and read a lot of magazines in that place.

I also liked Baci on McGill and a restaurant previously owned by Baci's owner called La Locanda Florentine (sp?) a terrific Italian restaurant that now houses Le Taj. And I miss Outremon't L'Oleandro. That was such a civilized little restaurant.

Chopper I'm with you on the old bistro Quartier Latin. Great place, and good fun.

I also miss La Brioche Lyonnaise-- the pastry shop-- in its heyday in 1989-1990. It was such a great little patisserie. Apparently Guy Lafond sold the place last year.

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I miss lux too, the rolling paper selections the late night drinks upstairs, ya that was a great place. I also miss seeing people line up in front of what was the original shed... People were lining up for boring cheese sandwiches, I never got that...

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Toman closed I'm guessing around  15 months ago, shortly after the owner died. It was the son(who had some involvement with the establishment) who finally decided to close Cafe Toman.

Do you know this first hand, Steve, or is it something you picked up off another board? The reason I ask is because someone posted a similar explanation on Chowhound's Montreal forum a while back but it doesn't necessarily jibe with the little I know about Toman's. First, who is the owner who died? The original pastry chef (Mr. Toman, I assume) who retired about ten years ago after training a young man to take his place? And who's the son? It's probably not the young chef; my info is that he was unrelated to anyone connected with the place. And why did they close if they had a well-trained chef in place and a devoted clientele? Did Conc. U. play a direct (forcing them out of a building it owns, not that I know that it does) or indirect (making a mess of the neighbourhood, especially with all that construction) role?

Anyway, it's a shame the cafe is no longer open. There was nothing quite like it in Montreal.

Carswell, after reading this message last night from you, I decided to do a search at Chowhound for the Toman thread. According to one person, it was closed shortly after the death of father George. And added that Robert was the finest host and an excellent chef.

I heard about the closing at least 6 months ago, but can't remember from where.

-Steve

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Hello all, my first posting here. I've been happily lurking for a bit.

Steve's right about Toman. Robert, his son, had been working there since he was 15 and was dreading the new Concordia building going up and blocking the sunlight. I think he was also getting a bit tired of the biz, but by god he turned out some divine sweet stuff. I remember some gooey chocolate things. When his Dad died I think he figured the time was right to close. His Dad had some pretty entertaining tales about the old country, wish I remembered half of them.

Maeve

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  • 2 weeks later...

Most of my missing Montreal favorites were on the Decarie strip. My remembrances:

RUBY FOOS-At one time the most popular restaurant in town. Virtually impossible to get into on a Sunday evening. A great balance between Chinese and North American food. The first place I saw roast beef being served from a trolley. I loved their Yorkshire pudding. The very first place I ate escargots. Prior to that I ate nothing but meat and potatoes. After eating snails, I decided I could try anything. Since then I have. It opened horizons. Great desserts. For numerous visitors to Montreal, Ruby Foos was the first place they went. After we moved to the states we would stock up on Ruby Foos frozen food to take home with us. I and I am sure many others still miss it.

PIAZZA TOMASSO-A popular Italian restaurant whose Italian food wasn't very good. Their club sandwiches and fried onion rings are still the best I've ever had. They were there for a long, long time. Their frozen foods were also sold in supermarkets.

PIZZA PAN-Located on the other side of the Decarie strip across from Piazza Tomasso. They had wonderful pizza and appeared to be always busy, yet they didn't stay open for very long.

MISS MONTREAL-On the Decarie strip outside of Blue Bonnets Raceway. Very successful and had to be there for quite a long time. A big favorite for after movie and theater dining. The first restaurant which I was where they had a table d'hote menu as well as a la carte.

THE BONFIRE-Miss Montreal's successor on the Decarie strip. Wasn't there as long as Miss Montreal but was there for quite a while. Specialized in pretty good steaks.

CHEZ BARDET-One of Montreal's greatest restaurants ever. I ate there twice, once during Expo 67. Stranges what you remember. It was the first placed at which I ate mussels.

LEE'S GARDEN-It was on Park Avenue, next to a movie theater somewhere between St Joseph and Laurier. It was the first place at which I ate Chinese food; also shrimp and lobster.

A lot of time has passed since any of those places were open. Oh that I could eat at any of them today.

Porkpa

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