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NYC Mike

Inspired by the Montreal in Gourmet Topic

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Oops, ribo.... you might be right there! La Paryse is mighty good though - for a burger food fest.

La Banquise is at 994 Rachel at Montana. I remember driving by several times before I found it - very late. Open all night. Was the oldest in there. By a factor of 2!. Spuds are highly fried (double) right?

Toto, Que lait cru is worth going to also for sure. Great butter and a selection of Fromentier baguettes (best in town). I just like the pace at MdS which is definetly a destination for a visitor. Combination is good!

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If you turn to page 107 of the Gourmet mag, the restaurant featured in the photo (Marche de la Villette in Old Montreal) actually serves a great cheese plate of QC and French cheeses or a charcuterie plate with baguette. If the owners are in (I found that the cooking degrades when the head chef is away), they make a good crepe - something to take in for lunch.

I find it strange that La Chronique did not appear in the thread of recommendations - it is usually a no-fail meal there and the BYOW is a great idea - something that isn't shared elsewhere across Canada without an outrageous corking fee ($60 at Susur anyone?!) but my recommendation would be Le P'tit Plateau over La Colombe - my last meal there wasn't as spectacular as it used to be and Le P'tit Plateau has never failed to please.

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Great advice you've got there NYC Mike.  May I add some "contrarian" input? From a California expat.

What can you say about your lunch/dinner dates? Terrific, au courant and chef's driven.

Outstanding Montreal! Go!

But there might be another side of Montreal you might check out between the driven chefs.

A more food oriented, worked in reality that probaly more Montrealers enjoy and can afford as part of their regular life.  A side of the Unique Culture of MOntreal. A bit of Paris.

Missing from above are  the great Bistros of Montreal. AND.... a great specialty of Montreal...BYOW - BRING YOUR OWN WINE. Imagine whipping out a bottle of your sweetie's favourite Champagne (for starters) followed by that oh so irrestible french red wine that has special significance to HER.  We're talking LOVE here, right? And you can bring in two bottels to Canda for free, so that's no problem and you don't have to deal with ornery QC wine monopoly.

Quality BYOW restos will OPEN even DECANT  your wine and serve it in decent stem ware - for FREE. That's right - no corkage!!! Go figure! It's true!

There are others here that can recommend BYOW bistros and restos to you.  LAst fall I went to La Colombe corner of  Duluth and St Hubert. It's been there for probably 15 years, well worked in, very simple but oh so sophisticated in an understated professional way that's hard to find this side of the Atlantic. Classy! To reserve drop in the day before and request the table at the windowed apex of the room!  There are many other bistros even more "romantic". Just ask here.

Try some funkiness:

-Drop into Bily Kun on Mont Royal and St Denis for a Cheval Blanc "La Blanche" sur lie QC beer. Most refreshing on a hot summer night but works in winter too. Also try the weired orange flavoured Czech drink which name escapes me at the moment. The decor is "interesting".  "If it's 5 pm, we are at Bily Kun" - words from my latest California visitors.

-Also Cobalt bar on St Paul in Old Montreal a bit west of the touristy section. Live Jazz a few times a week. Even at lunch I think. Open to 3 am.  They are cobalt-montreal.com

- For Poutine & a Burger and Beer drop into La Paryse on Ontario close to St Denis. "Best in town".

- Or even funkier, visit The Mad Hatter on Drummond (?) between Maisonneuve and St Catherine for strickly late night Poutine (only) Beer & Pool working mans crawl. Shudder. But not dangereous. Hmm.

But above all - don't leave Montreal without going to L'Express on St Denis. Paris by the St Lawrence. Open to 2 pm. Perfect for any time between lunch and that late or early night restrorative after  much drink and love making. Sit at the bar and have the bar man treat you. Your wine glass restored to that just so level after every sip you take. The couple next to you eating and smoking and talking and loving  as only French people can.

And oh, since I am on a roll here. Please buy your cheese at Marche Des Saveurs at Jean Talon Market. The young staff will package your morsels of fine QC raw cheese like they were Jewels.

Also less expensive than Que Lait Cru.

Enjoy your stay in Montreal!!!

l'express is ok -- but i wouldn't call it a must. well, maybe for atmosphere -- but if you neither recognize nor care about local celebrities, it's not such a trip. i ate there 2 weeks ago with a couple of montrealers who recognized several tv personalities. .. i, in the meantime, was wondering where in hell they had found the foamy-textured "goat cheese" they had put on my entree salad. paris, indeed! however: good wine -- a chinon for 40 bucks. and fun waiters; the guy at the bar is a riot. but for food AND a groovy atmosphere what i have liked recently is le continental -- the crowd and the wine list and the freshness of the food made me go "whoa!" -- voila, an outsider's 2 cents' worth.

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Everyone goes to La Banquise for poutine. It's on Rachel near St. Hubert or Christophe Colomb or something like that.

Yep, especially good for buffering the alcool, open 24-7. Best when the bars close, I even manage to annoy the kool kids enough to get thrown out... shrugs.

Something to be said about starting the night in a fine establishment and ending up facing the tyranny of uptight emos while ordering Elvis poutine...

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Jumping on the bandwagon......I was also inspired to plan our summer holiday in Montreal after drooling over this issue. It's been a year since our last visit - too long. Here are the first questions that come to mind: We're renting an apt. in Cote des Neiges neighborhood and will be cooking since we have a kitchen. Is Marche Jean Talon within walking distance (15 min or so) from this area? If not, is there a good market nearby? From what I've read, there are many small ethnic restos here. A friend suggested East India, is it good? Any other suggestions (except Chinese, it doesn't agree with spouse). Thank you.

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We're renting an apt. in Cote des Neiges neighborhood and will be cooking since we have a kitchen.  Is Marche Jean Talon within walking distance (15 min or so) from this area? If not, is there a good market nearby?

It's not in the same neighbourhood; you will need to take your car or the metro.

AFAIRecall, there is a small market on the corner of Cote de neiges and jean brillant in the summer.

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Is Marche Jean Talon within walking distance (15 min or so) from this area? If not, is there a good market nearby?  From what I've read, there are many small ethnic restos here.  A friend suggested East India, is it good?  Any other suggestions (except Chinese, it doesn't agree with spouse).  Thank you.

Cote des Neiges is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in Montreal & a burrough I am proud to call home. Neither Jean-Talon nor Atwater Markets are within walking distance, but the metro can get you to Jean-Talon relatively quickly. Atwater market is a metro & bus ride away. As of yesterday, the corner market (CDN & Jean-Brillant) is not yet open. Partial map of CDN: Burrough of Cote des Neiges . Within a very small area, you can find Chinese, East Indian, Thai, Jamaican, Vietnamese, Mexican, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Lebanese, Israeli (Kosher), Philipino & Greek restaurants. Most of these are small family-run establishments & for the most part, very affordable. Head up CDN (to just below) Queen Mary to Exofruits, 1-stop shopping for fruits & veggies, wide variety of cheese & sliced meats. Maybe stop at Pain Dore for bread & desserts. Or cross the busy intersection & stop at Atlantique for excellent quality meats & fish & all good things German. They also make awesome sandwiches to go. If you like challah & if they still have any in the window behind the cash grab one - a bit pricey but yumm! Just a few steps past Atlantique, for croissants, cakes & pastries, some people prefer Au Duc de Lorraine over Pain Dore but the last croissant I had at Au Duc was soggy & greasy so decide for yourself.

Personal favorites of mine include Atami on CDN for Japanese & Chez Benny on Queen Mary for Israeli. I'm hoping that Carswell will also respond with resto recommendations or link you to similar discussions on these boards.

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I agree with Vinfandel for the most part except that we completely equal in the quality of cheeses as France and In terms of pastries, there is one spectacular place in Montreal.

The pastry chef at L'amandier on Laurier and Fabre is truly an artisan of pastry. A small establishment that has produced some of the best pastries i have tasted in my life. The change in ownership a couple of years ago did wonders for the excellent quality of fresh pastries. From their flaky croissants to their creme brulee, every selection has surpassed my expectations. Unfotunately for me, I live close to this store so it has been a challenge for me not to visit it more than once evey couple of weeks. Delicious!

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I agree with Vinfandel for the most part except that we completely equal in the quality of cheeses as France and In terms of pastries, there is one spectacular place in Montreal.

The pastry chef at L'amandier on Laurier and Fabre is truly an artisan of pastry. A small establishment that has produced some of the best pastries i have tasted in my life. The change in ownership a couple of years ago did wonders for the excellent quality of fresh pastries. From their flaky croissants to their creme brulee, every selection has surpassed my expectations. Unfotunately for me, I live close to this store so it has been a challenge for me not to visit it more than once evey couple of weeks. Delicious!

I feel your pain, I walk by the place every day on my way back from work. I have to fight the tiny voice every time I walk by the place. Each pastry is amazing and the cakes are to die for. I've tried the macaroons and man, oh man!!!

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Appreciate the suggestions for CDN neighborhood, thanks to all! I'm especially glad to hear there's a small market there in the summer, fresh peas and Quebec strawberries are a favorite summer walking around snack.

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My wife and I will be in Montreal for a weekend in early May to celebrate our anniversary. I've gotten ahold of the Gourmet magazine devoted to Montreal and I've also read a few threads here and elsewhere, and this is what I'm currently thinking:

We have three dinners to plan. I was thinking we'd go to Au Pied de Cochon on Friday, assuming we can get a reservation.

Then on Saturday, our anniversary, I had several restaurants in mind as possibilities: Les Chevres, Toque, Le Club Chasse & Peche, and Anise.

On Sunday (our last night), I was hoping we'd find the perfrect Montreal bistro, which might provide us with an authentically French-Canadian experience. I have the suspicion that L'Express, which I was considering at first, is not that place.

We'd like our anniversary dinner to be great food, in nice surroundings, but we don't need candles and violins, or service that aspires to Michelin stars. Nor do we wish to have the most expensive meal, although a splurge is fine if it's worth it. I'm worried the Middle Eastern overtones at Anise would please my wife less than they would please me.

If possible, we'd also like to mix up the neighborhoods in which we're eating.

Any comments? It's really dinner I'm worried about sorting out. I expect the days to be a blur of markets, chocolate and cheese. With a visit to Schwartz's thrown in somewhere.


Edited by SethG (log)

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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Let me encourage you to try Anise. It is a wonderful place for an anniversary dinner. It is a very feminine restaurant. Its décor is simple, elegant, and soothing. Racha Bassoul’s cooking is very subtle and refined, her use of spice very restrained. The house cocktail, sparkling wine with house-made violet syrup, is perfect for a romantic toast. I took my wife there last Valentine’s day and it was one of the best meals of our lives.

For Sunday, I would suggest one of the upscale BYOWs such as AL’Os, O’Thym or Les Infideles.

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I would strongly recommend Toque!

I don't think it has ever been better. I love all the other restaurants on that list, but right now Toque! is on a roll.

As for a bistro, consider Au Petit Plateau. It's a BYOW place on Marie-Anne. You'll certainly run into an SAQ while in town, so pick up a good bottle and squeeze into a table there. Of course, I also adore L'Express -- and the wine list is unbeatable.

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While I haven't been to Les Chevres, I have been to Toque! and CC&P recently, and Anise twice although not in the last six months.

Toque!: I am of two minds about this restaurant. Firstly, it serves the best food I have ever had outside of Taillevent in Paris. Seriously. The execution, the flavours, the balance were simply that good. However, the place was pure business. Service was efficient and polite, but lacked familiarity with the food. Similarly, questions about the food (which were perfectly reasonable, especially since they were using some more modernist techniques) didn't seem to be appriciated. The room was also very corporate and cold. However, the food was sublime. That being said, my experience with the service may have been an atypical one.

CC&P: Was just there this weekend. Food is excellent- straightforward, elegently presented, and delicious. Not at the level of Toque!, but that's not what the restaurant is trying to do. Desserts are good but, outside of 'adventure', a weak point on the menu. Wine list is superb with a good variety of wines and prices. Service is very knowledgeable about the food and is much warmer than at Toque!. The whole experience is very understated and the room is very masculine. Also, cheaper than Toque!.

Anise: The last time I was there was last spring so things may have changed. More formal than CC&P but by no means a stuffy environment. I've had the 9 course 'surf' menu with wine pairings both times I was there. The first visit was mind blowing while the second was only very good. The menu lacked a bit of balance and was heavy on sweet flavours. I would say the food is slightly more complex than at CC&P. Wine pairings were perfect and the service itself was very warm and very knowledgable but by no means intrusive. As said above, very feminine and very romantic.

I hope all this helps.

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Thanks for the detailed recommendations, although I fear they are just making our choice more difficult! The real answer is probably that we'll have to go back again and try more restaurants. I think we'll try for Toque! and if they can't take us we'll have to start thinking again.


"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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Toque!: I am of two minds about this restaurant. Firstly, it serves the best food I have ever had outside of Taillevent in Paris. Seriously. The execution, the flavours, the balance were simply that good. However, the place was pure business. Service was efficient and polite, but lacked familiarity with the food. Similarly, questions about the food (which were perfectly reasonable, especially since they were using some more modernist techniques) didn't seem to be appriciated. The room was also very corporate and cold. However, the food was sublime. That being said, my experience with the service may have been an atypical one.

CC&P: Was just there this weekend. Food is excellent- straightforward, elegently presented, and delicious. Not at the level of Toque!, but that's not what the restaurant is trying to do. Desserts are good but, outside of 'adventure', a weak point on the menu. Wine list is superb with a good variety of wines and prices. Service is very knowledgeable about the food and is much warmer than at Toque!. The whole experience is very understated and the room is very masculine. Also, cheaper than Toque!

Funny how impressions can differ.

I last went to Toqué! a couple of months ago. I agree about the food. Really very very good. However I found that my (numerous) questions about the food were answered knowledgeably and with interest. The waiter was more receptive to my questions than in most places. The overall room athmosphere however does not have much warmth - slightly snobish. I also found this to be the case in their old location.

I also agree about the CC&P. However I find that the portions sizes are much too small. I could almost have 2 of everything (I am not overweigth!). All right it is a slight exageration, but certainly 2 entrées and possibly 2 desserts. In which case it would probably end up being more expensive than Toqué!

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Last week I was in Montreal and thoroughly enjoyed the spots that I managed to get to.

My favourite? Overall probably Au Pied de Cochon. I would go back in a "heartbeat". Fun, neighborhood feel. Good value. Large portions...yikes, I had more duck breast on my plate than I would ordinarily serve a group! Excellent casual service from a terrific server who tolderated my poor efforts en francais. Good, varied wine by the glass offerings. If I lived in Montreal I would be a regular.

Close second but in a different category would be CCet P. Agree with the observations above about the atmosphere. Personally did not a problem with the portion size but relatively speaking they were "diminutive" if compared with Au Pied de Cochon's "Fred Flintstone" plates. We had superb friendly but professional service. Excellent wine list. Heavy hit but worth it.

L'Express provided a welcomed first meal. Sat up rubbing elbows with others at the bar. Relaxed, busy but friendly. The kind of bistro fare and atmosphere that I enjoy. We are eating a lot more cornichons...maybe not the same case with frites...here chez nous now that I have returned home.

Lunch at Cafe Fereirra was excellent. Classy, a tad more formal than what I had expected. Grilled octopus and then halibut were both outstanding. Lots of "suits" doing the business lunch thing. Good spot for people watching along Peel.

Excellent time. Looking forward to a return visit

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So we've reserved a table at Au Pied De Cochon for Friday night and Toque! for Saturday.

Do we need a reservation if we decide to try Le P'tit Plateau? I read somewhere that the restaurant is tiny. Also, I keep reading good things about L'Express, but I guess my initial impression was that it was a Montreal equivalent of Balthazar here in NYC: bustling scene, convivial atmosphere, beautiful people-- and not necessarily the best food. Are my impressions wrong? The great wine list is tempting.

I also was wondering about Wilensky's, which somehow managed to get two mentions in Gourmet. Can it really be worth a trip for a bologna sandwich on an onion bun? Seems like the charm of the place is that the owners are brusque, like New Yorkers. I get enough of that at home.


"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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So we've reserved a table at Au Pied De Cochon for Friday night and Toque! for Saturday.

Do we need a reservation if we decide to try Le P'tit Plateau?  I read somewhere that the restaurant is tiny.  Also, I keep reading good things about L'Express, but I guess my initial impression was that it was a Montreal equivalent of Balthazar here in NYC:  bustling scene, convivial atmosphere, beautiful people-- and not necessarily the best food.  Are my impressions wrong?  The great wine list is tempting.

I also was wondering about Wilensky's, which somehow managed to get two mentions in Gourmet.  Can it really be worth a trip for a bologna sandwich on an onion bun?  Seems like the charm of the place is that the owners are brusque, like New Yorkers.  I get enough of that at home.

Skip Wilensky's ... not worth it for a New Yorker. Go to La Binerie, Chez Clo or La Banquise instead, for a different take on "quaint" and "rustic" Montreal fare.

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I also was wondering about Wilensky's, which somehow managed to get two mentions in Gourmet.  Can it really be worth a trip for a bologna sandwich on an onion bun?  Seems like the charm of the place is that the owners are brusque, like New Yorkers.  I get enough of that at home.

If you are a Mordecai Richler fan and want to pretend to relive the days of Duddy Kravitz or St. Urbain Horseman then you may want to have a "special".

Personally I would not bother ... mind you I spent enough time around Baron Byng aka Fletchers Field High during my "mispent youth".

If you are looking for the dining experience I would rather go to Schwartz' or any of the many, many deli's you have in your own home town.

L'Express on the other hand was excellent. I would definitely go back again. Mind you it is French bistro. It may not be everyone. My brother raves about Chez Gauthier. When about 15 of us during another visit, half enjoyed it and the rest were bemused especially the Albertans who questioned the French fries in a "fancy French restaurant" :rolleyes: ...chacun a son gout I guess.

The wine list is good. Not extraordinarily so but quite good. I was drinking what they had available by the glass and have no complaints and since I was alone, enjoyed being up at their bar.


Edited by merlin (log)

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I'm a bigger fan of Continental than L'Express. It's not far up the street and I find the quality of the food for the price you pay to be far better. Their wine list is also outstanding, but for some reason this place just doesn't get the same 'press' as L'Express.

The ambience is a little less crowded but holds the bustling bistro feel with a good bar and lots of good looking patrons.

If you're hanging out in the Plateau go to St-Viateur or Fairmount bagle and maybe Chez Claudette for the down-home Quebecois meal. At breakfast (which you can get all day) they give you the option of replacing your hashbrowns with poutine! A little too harcore for my tastes, but once again "a chacun ses gouts."

If you're getting out of the Plateau, head to Gibeau's Orange Julep on Decarie. This place is a huge orange concrete sphere that serves this wonderful concoction called Orange Julep that's a mixture of orange juice, eggs and sugar (I think). The recipe is some sort of closely guarded family secret. In the summer (maybe by May) you can get served at your car window by girls on rollerblades and on Wednesday nights all of Montreal's vintage car owners bring their babies out for show freshly washed and polished. A real experience.

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I also was wondering about Wilensky's, which somehow managed to get two mentions in Gourmet. Can it really be worth a trip for a bologna sandwich on an onion bun? Seems like the charm of the place is that the owners are brusque, like New Yorkers. I get enough of that at home.

Yes they are brusque and the food is... awfull in a good way. I love just walking in there, taking a view of Montreal 50 years ago and step out. Going out there is not a huge loss as you can walk about the streets in that area. Just south of the clark and Viateur Corner is Laurier with many restos. Just across the street from Wilensky are fine paninos with Grazie Mille, next door is Fairmount bagel (a must for a new Yorker), then on St-Laurent North is the Mile end which offers many options. I would also venture towards St-Viateur for a a late at Club Social or a Soup at Soup Soup (or a pudding chomeur). There's tons in the area compared to getting in a car to Julep or getting the getto zone of Banquise (which is well worth when in getto mood at 4 in the morning...).

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Our trip to Montreal is one week away and I've been dilly-dallying over making our reservation for Sunday night. Lesley's suggestion that we try Le P'tit Plateau was a non-starter since they're closed Sundays. Looking over recommendations here and elsewhere, I decided to try Chez L'Epicier, an ambitious restaurant that isn't one of the three or four you always see mentioned everywhere.

I'm still open to changing it if anyone has any other strong recommendations, or has something really awful to say about Chez L'Epicier!

Here's some information about Chez L'Epicier for the curious.


"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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Well, after some more thinking I changed our reservation to A L'Os for Sunday.


"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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