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Montreal & Quebec City


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#1 Steve R.

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 08:31 PM

Ginny and I are thinking about taking 2 weeks mid-April and driving to Montreal, then to Quebec City. Might even stop in Burlington, Vt on the way up to visit friends. Anyone on the boards who lives in either place and can give tips/insight? Others who've been there and feel like sharing where to stay, what to do, where to eat....? Neither of us have ever been and I'm just starting to peruse the internets. I assume that the weather will not be too warm (50s F ? no snow, right?). Thank you all in advance. (I just love these wide open queries, dont you?)

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#2 Sneakeater

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 08:36 PM

I've never been, but Pied de Cochon in Montreal must be one of the three or four restaurants I haven't been to that I most want to visit.
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#3 Anthony Bonner

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 08:39 PM

QUOTE(Steve R. @ Mar 15 2010, 04:31 PM) View Post
Ginny and I are thinking about taking 2 weeks mid-April and driving to Montreal, then to Quebec City. Might even stop in Burlington, Vt on the way up to visit friends. Anyone on the boards who lives in either place and can give tips/insight? Others who've been there and feel like sharing where to stay, what to do, where to eat....? Neither of us have ever been and I'm just starting to peruse the internets. I assume that the weather will not be too warm (50s F ? no snow, right?). Thank you all in advance. (I just love these wide open queries, dont you?)

there is a pretty decent Montreal thread on here. We went NYE time in '07/08 and had a great time following the recs there.

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#4 flyfish

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 08:50 PM

I guess you know you have to go to Schwartz's in Montreal for the smoked meat, right?

The weather can be a bit unpredictable (it IS Canada) but we are enjoying an early spring so temperatures should be certainly be in the 50s or better by then (had to look that up because I am such a Celsius gal).

I don't really know Quebec City very well but it's very nice and European with the cobblestone streets etc.
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#5 Adrian

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 10:08 PM

I used to live in Montreal and go back once or twice a year so the following may be out of date, but here you go:

On the high end, Toque! is the best restaurant in Montreal. The chef, Normand Laprise, pretty much started Quebec's farm to table movement. His food is fairly modern in nature - it's not austere in the way Blue Hill is and he'll pull out the occasional modernist trick. The seared foie is a highlight. However, the room itself is pretty cold and ugly in a late 1990s sort of way and the service is proficient but distant. Le Club Chasse et Peche is located in the Old Port down a quiet street off the main square. Again, it focuses on local Quebec ingredients but the prep is more classical. The chef, Claude Pelletier, is a wonderful saucier. The room has the feel of an old hunting lodge, kind of like a grown up version of a (gasp) NBC restaurant. The service is wonderful. Although there is no tasting menu listed, my best experiences there have been when I had the kitchen cook for me. Further north, La Chronique on Laurier is a wonderful high end bistro and a Montreal stalwart.

Moving to the middle, Au Pied de Cochon is a must. PDC's approach to cooking is somewhat sloppy, but it is intentionally so. For example, the famous foie-gras poutine is not about elevating poutine but about debasing foie-gras. It is rich, vulgar, and delicious. PDC is the most Quebecois restaurant I'm going to list. In the same vein as PDC is Joe Beef. Located near the Atwater Market, the restaurant serves large portions of fairly classic dishes using the best of the market. The cooking there can verge on the strange side - I had a strange, and wonderful, dish of rabbit ballontine topped with pulled pork (yes, pulled pork) with a side of steamed clams. Over on St. Denis, L'Express is the classic Montreal brasserie. Think of Balthazar but in a more authentic, less Disney way. For a high volume kitchen, it turns out some great food. The steak tartar there is the best that I've had. It's also a good brunch option.

On the lower, more casual end, La Colombe is my favorite of Montreal's BYOB restaurants. The four course fixed price menu is around $40 and there is no corkage fee on wine. The menu usually consists of a small soup to start, an option of a game terrine (venison, usuallly), escargot, or a salmon mousse, and then your choice of fish or meat main. Dessert is an option between a fruit tart and some sort of chocolate dessert. The cooking is classic and precise. It's a great value. Schwartz's has already been mentioned so I'll only add that it's easily the best smoked meat joint downtown. But Schwartz's gets enough play as it is. Less recognized is Olive and Gourmando, a small bakery/cafe in the old port. It was founded by an ex-Toque sous chef and his girlfriend an ex-Toque pastry chef. It may be my favorite spot in the city but the hours are very sporadic. In terms of bagels, Fairmount bagels are I think the best of the bunch, although that's up for debate. It's fairly close to Cafe Olympico which may not serve the city's best coffee but the coffee is very good and the old school Italian atmosphere is pretty great.

Finally, for drinks and a quick snack, Reservoir is a great brewpub that serves small composed plates. Billy Kun on Mount Royal has Quebecois jazz and some pretty great decor (ostrich heads coming out of the wall). Bu and Pop are two of the city's better wine bars. Last I was there, there wasn't much of a cocktail scene in the city, but that may have changed.

Again, there are some newish places (XO, Le St. Urbain, Mas Cuisine, L'Atelier) that I haven't checked out. Hope that helps.

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#6 Rail Paul

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 10:15 PM

duplicate

Edited by Rail Paul, 16 March 2010 - 12:04 AM.

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#7 Rail Paul

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 10:17 PM

Montreal and Quebec City are delightful places. I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time.

We've done the trip several times, both driving, and by train. There are two train choices, one direct to Montreal via Lake Champlain, which is quite nice, the other via Vermont, with a bus connection to Canada. Dee and I were just discussing a trip to Montreal a few minutes ago. It's been far too long since we've been there.

The cathedral-basilica in Montreal has incredible stained glass, and is very reminiscent of Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. In Quebec, the old church in the lower town is filled with antique ship models, donated by carvers in thanksgiving for their safe return. The farm market in the former Gare Palais, a former train station restored to Art Deco glory, is very impressive. The benchmark for farm markets is the Jean Talon in Montreal, easily accessible by subway. I think there's a thread on that.


My food notes are too old to be of benefit, but I've heard very positive reports about the Inn at Shelburne Farms, near Burlington. One of my friends had a wonderful dinner and two night stay in their inn / restaurant last Fall. He still raves about it.

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#8 Orik

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 11:08 PM

QUOTE(Sneakeater @ Mar 15 2010, 04:36 PM) View Post
I've never been, but Pied de Cochon in Montreal must be one of the three or four restaurants I haven't been to that I most want to visit.


I haven't been, but this new-ish venture of Picard's seems interesting:

http://cabaneasucreaupieddecochon.com/
sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns

#9 flyfish

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 11:11 PM

Montreal: also Wilensky's for a sandwich. Not kosher, so you can get some cheese if you like. And if you are offered a choice of "top or bottom" (that may just be hot dogs) and you like onion buns, get the top. If you don't like mustard, don't order the Special.

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“Your father is going deaf. I can’t hear a word he says!”
My mom

“I hope to set an example, you know, for children and stuff."
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#10 Steve R.

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 11:54 PM

Thank you all (including Orik's pm). I got some research to do and this is a great head start. Of course, it would be better if we could make up our minds and make a decision as to whether we're definitely going or not.... soon, I guess. I've really wanted to see these cities for quite a while.

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#11 Anthony Bonner

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Posted 16 March 2010 - 12:07 AM

QUOTE(Orik @ Mar 15 2010, 07:08 PM) View Post
QUOTE(Sneakeater @ Mar 15 2010, 04:36 PM) View Post
I've never been, but Pied de Cochon in Montreal must be one of the three or four restaurants I haven't been to that I most want to visit.


I haven't been, but this new-ish venture of Picard's seems interesting:

http://cabaneasucreaupieddecochon.com/

my gallbladder weeps at the thought.

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#12 helena

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Posted 16 March 2010 - 12:46 AM

QUOTE(flyfish @ Mar 15 2010, 04:50 PM) View Post
The weather can be a bit unpredictable (it IS Canada) but we are enjoying an early spring so temperatures should be certainly be in the 50s or better by then (had to look that up because I am such a Celsius gal).


and what would be the best time to go? Planning a motorcycle trip this year and we're quite weather conscious smile.gif
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#13 flyfish

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Posted 16 March 2010 - 02:12 AM

QUOTE(helena @ Mar 15 2010, 08:46 PM) View Post
QUOTE(flyfish @ Mar 15 2010, 04:50 PM) View Post
The weather can be a bit unpredictable (it IS Canada) but we are enjoying an early spring so temperatures should be certainly be in the 50s or better by then (had to look that up because I am such a Celsius gal).


and what would be the best time to go? Planning a motorcycle trip this year and we're quite weather conscious smile.gif

Anytime between May and October should be great. As long as you avoid ice storm season you're good.


“I used to be eye candy but now I’m more like eye pickle"
Neil Innes

“Your father is going deaf. I can’t hear a word he says!”
My mom

“I hope to set an example, you know, for children and stuff."
Captain Hammer

#14 AaronS

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 01:45 AM

Any new thoughts?

I am thinking of going in late May. I just emailed Au Pied Du Cochon, any where else a must? Is Joe Beef a must?

#15 Rail Paul

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 07:09 PM

Just updating this thread a little with information from earlier this week.

Schwartz's remains wonderful, and continues to pack 'em in. The line moves quickly, but there was still a line at 9pm.

Wonderful smoked meat. I had the medium fatty, Dee had the lean. I'd tip toward the medium, but both were great, as was the bread. Ridiculously cheap, and excellent fries or pickles. $30 for two sandwiches, fries, pickle, soda and tip.

If you're taking mass transit to Schwartz's, I'd suggest the green line metro to Saint Laurent. Walk upstairs, and take the #55 up the hill, and it will let you off at Schwartz's corner. Going back, you can walk downhill to the metro, it's about six blocks. Alternately, you can take the orange line to Sherbrooke station. Go upstairs and take the #24 bus to Saint Laurent and walk about four blocks to Schwartz's.

Frites Alors is a chain of french fry places in the Montreal area. Beer, burgers, fries. We stopped at the location on Saint Laurent, just uphill from Sherbrooke. Excellent, double cooked fries, deep fried piece on chicken on a ciabatta roll, four flavored mustards served. Pitcher of Borealis beer was $15, IIRC.

We had the opportunity to walk by Zante twice, and it was filled each time. Very large servings of Greek fish and vegetables. On the second pass, I spoke with the owner who mentioned they've been "mostly filled" in recent months following a menu freshening. 3449 St Laurent, Montreal, QC, H2X 2T6

Zante

We had the obligatory dinner at Joe Beef, and it was excellent. Perfectly cooked piece of beef. I was surprised that the majority of diners were not having beef, though. The spaghetti and lobster had many takers, as did a pork stew (pork, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, red wine, etc). Many foodies taking pictures in the front room, and some continuous tweeting.

Joe Beef is also accessible via mass transit. The airport bus (747) stops at the Lionel Groulx metro (orange and green, I believe). From there, you can walk south on Atwater about three blocks to Notre Dame Ouest. Cross the street, and continue down NDO to Joe Beef. Perhaps a ten minute walk.

On the way, you will pass Liverpool House (2501, rue Notre-Dame O Montréal, H3J1N6) which was crowded at 7.30pm, and moderately crowded at 10pm. A little research notes that it shares ownership with Joe Beef, and several published reports are very positive.

We started with a charcuterie plate with home made head cheese, prosciutto, coppa, mortadella, Jambon de Bayonne, salami and more which was the finest example of its kind in the city. We then had clams casino, home made ravioli and the grilled cheese of all grilled cheeses that were all mind-blowingly delicious. For our main courses we ate a veal scaloppini stuffed with Parma ham and topped with Mozzarella de Bufala, Osso bucco on top of a saffron risotto, and home made shrimp pasta all of whose originality and taste shined brighter then the reading rainbow.

Brew their own beer, too
Dreams come in all sizes, shapes, and colors.