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Sounds like a great trip. Did you not get to Havre aux Glaces in the Jean Talon market for a nice ice cream or gelato?

 

Re poutine, eat that every day for a month and you will *hear* your arteries hardening... best eaten from a street cart; never order McPoutine :wub:

 

Fly

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Currenly on the list:   Restaurants:     Au Pied De Cochon (been to before and had the best raw platter we've had in North America)   La Chronique (good reviews on other sites)   possibly Br

another thing - most coffee shops (and there are many of them) either use Illy or roast their own (it seems like the horrible environmental effects that seem to make this impossible in Manhattan do no

A very good meal at Les Chevres.   Not a very large restaurant, seating maybe 50 at capacity (a lot less when we were there), with a seemingly low investment in decor, but a full realization of a c

  • 5 months later...

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.

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Seth, I can't talk about the other places, but if you mention it's a special occasion to the folks at Les Chevres (is Patrice still there, hope so) AND tell them you are a MF'er, they will give you a grand treatment, at least based on my visit in 04. Seems like the recommendations are still strong.

 

Also, I liked l'Epicier a lot. Might be good for Sunday night.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I sort of fell off the planning wagon for our upcoming trip to Montreal. I started browsing around tonight in preparation for the trip and I stumbled on this really wonderful interview with Philippe de Vienne of Olives & Epices:

 

http://endlessbanquet.blogspot.com/2006/04...3440667152.html

 

This shop is regularly mentioned in all the guide books but after reading the linked interview I can't wait to check it out. I'm planning to pick up the 8 pepper blend, and maybe some Ras el Hanout (I'll look into what to do with it afterward). If anyone else has a favorite item from this shop, I'd be interested to hear about it.

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Well I did some reading and after seeing beachfan's rec of Chez L'Epicier and reading this review:

 

http://www.montrealfood.com/restos/epicier.html

 

I decided to give it a shot. I'd be open to changing if others offer convincing dissenting viewpoints! I worry a little about the multiple combinations of flavor and texture. In the right hands it will be wonderful, but that sort of thing can go badly awry....

 

Sounds good, though.

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We had a pleasant meal there a couple of years ago. It's quite casual, and it shares the space with a retail food store, as in you're in the same room as the store. The food was good, but didn't blow us away. It's not a wow place, and it's not trying to be. We enjoyed it. Emphasis on Canadian products. Good cheeses. "Stunningly decorated" (from the link you posted) is really pushing it.

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We had a pleasant meal there a couple of years ago. It's quite casual, and it shares the space with a retail food store, as in you're in the same room as the store. The food was good, but didn't blow us away. It's not a wow place, and it's not trying to be. We enjoyed it. Emphasis on Canadian products. Good cheeses. "Stunningly decorated" (from the link you posted) is really pushing it.

 

Gosh, that's totally different from the impressions I got from that review. I dunno. What to do, what to do.

 

And yes I have the Gourmet issue.

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Chevres, Chasse et Pesche, forget about the rest.

 

I take it you'd just go hungry on a Sunday, then? (Neither of those restaurants is open.)

 

Edit: I apologize, as I see it wasn't clear above that Sunday is my only remaining question mark. We're going APDC on Friday and Toque on Saturday. There are clear partisans for Les Chevres, and I'm afraid I might be making a mistake by missing it, but I figure we'll just have to go back to Montreal again.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We just got back from Montreal, where we had a wonderful time. We loved the city. We ate a ton. We were very pleased with the food we found there.

 

Right after we arrived on Friday we looked for a suitable lunch location near our hotel in Vieux Montreal. We tried to eat at both the Cluny ArtBar and Olive & Gourmando, but it being after 2 p.m., the food at both places was rather picked-over and unappealing. We ended up at Versus, the restaurant belonging to the Hotel Nelligan. The restaurant has large banquettes and enormous windows that open to make the whole restaurant feel like an open-air terrace. It was a very pleasant place to sit and have a drink, and the food wasn't bad. My wife had a salad with good chunks of seared tuna, and I had a salmon dish served with some yummy caramelized fennel. The menu is short.

 

Dinner on Friday was Au Pied de Cochon. I thought we were both prepared for the experience. But when we walked in, we were a bit taken aback by the utter lack of décor in the place. The restaurant is really rather ugly, with plain, blond wood tables, in an awkward, long room. Plus, on a warm day the brick oven up front really makes the place unpleasantly hot. While we were standing there, waiting for the hostess, we saw one couple, clearly bewildered by the menu and waiting a while for some help with it, get up and leave. Then we were given their table, and I noticed the sweating couple next to us struggling to make a dent in what looked like massive piles of meat and sauerkraut. They didn't really look happy, either. The menu was impenetrable, listing opaque items like "PDC Chop" and "Duck in a Can." I was worried.

 

But then our server arrived, and everything turned out quite well. The staff was very helpful and enthusiastic. We had an interesting small appetizer that verged on "molecular gastronomy:" fried balls of liquefied (somehow?) foie gras. The little poppers just exploded in your mouth. Not bad, but I wouldn't bother with them again. Then we had asparagus, the first of the season, and this dish was way more complex than I expected. In addition to asparagus it featured fiddleheads, a scoop of polenta, and goat cheese foam. Delicious. As for entrees, we had the lamb shank, which is confited (in duck fat), then braised until fork tender and served with a light tomato sauce. That was good, but the duck in a can turned out to be the showstopper. This dish involves duck breast, a hunk of foie gras, some lardons, thyme, some kind of stocky stuff, and I'm sure a few other things, all canned in-house at the restaurant. At the time of service, they heat up the can, bring it to your table, open it, and dump the steaming contents over bread on a plate. Sensational. This dish, to me, was the essence of the restaurant. Over-the-top in terms of richness and volume, but man. Somehow you eat it all. We ordered a tasty Cotes Du Rhone Villages to go with it for $37.

 

On Saturday we had a picnic lunch at the Jean Talon market, assembled from Hamel cheeses and a couple other things from around the market. Dinner was at Toque! We'd already noticed that space age 60s-retro decorations are quite popular around Montreal, and Toque! takes this idea to an extreme. The restaurant is in the lobby of a modern international style office building, and the furnishings feature spherical white lighting fixtures and huge striped banquettes in red, pink and purple. I liked it, my wife not so much.

 

We both were pleased with the food and the service; there was some obvious upselling going on, but we were willing participants. The server offered us a small-production sparkling wine to start with, and he used enough superlatives to describe it that I wasn't surprised at the $21 per glass that we ended up paying for it. Then he also suggested we might like to start with a raw oyster while we looked over the menu, and we did. We knew we'd be paying $5 per oyster, and the amount of money was trivial, so again we went along willingly, but in this case it seemed a little funny to be invited to buy the amuse bouche.

 

Our appetizers were, first, the foie gras, which was nice. It was seared, with a nice crust, very soft in the middle, and it was served with crispy fruit wrappers (I can't think of another way to describe them) on top of a mango puree. I thought the fruit complemented the foie gras interestingly and well. Our other appetizer was a single giant braised duck ravioli, which we both loved. It was our favorite moment of the meal. We weren't quite as thrilled with the mains, although there was nothing wrong with them. The suckling pig just wasn't as tender as we expected, and we thought the squab was just very tasty, not earth-shattering. I can't for the life of me remember what we had for dessert. We drank a 1er Cru Beaune Burgundy. Looking over this, I think I sound lukewarm on Toque!, but really we had a splendid time and we thoroughly enjoyed the very expensive meal. We left pleased.

 

On Sunday we went up to Mile End in the morning and tried the so-called bagels at both Fairmount and St. Viateur. Since these aren't really bagels that any New Yorker would recognize as such, it's hard for me to say much about whether they're really "better" than New York's. They really bear a closer resemblance to bread sticks, or even pretzels, than to New York-style bagels. Evaluating them as bread, I'd say they're not terribly good. The sesame specimens gain depth of flavor when warm from all of the toasted seeds. I also thought I could taste a little bit of honey sweetness when the bagels were warm, but barely any after they cooled. If you let Montreal bagels cool, they aren't left with much to recommend them. They're light, soft breadsticks. Most surprising to me was the light, bready texture of the bagels. I expected them to be denser, more like the older-style New York bagels. But they weren't. Sorry, Montreal partisans: as my wife said on Sunday, New York wins.

 

The smoked meat was another matter. We had lunch at Schwartz's on Sunday, and the meat was first rate. Good flavor, light smokiness. We had medium fat. The sandwich was just $4.95. We waited on line, but it moved very quickly. We had a nice conversation with the elderly couple next to us. I'd go again in a heartbeat. I'll be stopping into Katz's soon for a comparison while the memory is still fresh. I won't say that Montreal wins in this category, but it certainly holds its own.

 

Sunday's dinner was at a BYO restaurant called A L'Os, which again, we really very much enjoyed. We brought a Volnay from the SAQ. The portions at A L'Os are quite large. I started with a very generous portion of ostrich tartare, served with crunchy bread toasts and a light salad. This is apparently a traditional preparation, and I thought it was very good, with the lightly gamey meat, onions, a little mustard tang and parsley. It was too rich for me to finish it. I also had a huge veal chop, served with a nice brown sauce, mashed potatoes, french beans and asparagus. The restaurant fetishizes bottled water. They provide a menu of seven or eight different bottled waters. We found this amusing. I'd say A L'Os is a serious bistro, and it's probably more expensive than most, but I thought the standards there were very high and portions were very generous, making it a very good value.

 

On Monday before heading to the airport we had lunch at Chez L'Epicier. This restaurant is also a gourmet food shop and the goods are on display in the same rooms in which you eat. The rooms occupy the first floors of two adjacent buildings, and the walls are rough-hewn stone blocks. There are huge windows, so the restaurant is nice and bright. The place is an excellent spot for a weekday lunch, but by noon you'll find most tables filled with business lunchers. A reservation might be wise; we only got a table because we came in right after they opened. They do particularly well by their vegetables. My wife had sea bream which was served over a pesto and several root vegetables including carrots, beets, and parsnips, all of them cooked just right. My lamb "tatin" (served in a pastry crust) came with a bright, fresh squash puree.

 

Overall we left very impressed with the restaurants in town.

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