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AlexC
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Rocks & Co,

I'm putting together a bachelor party for 15-20 people, scheduled for Labor Day 2006. The destination is Montreal and the prospect is a little overwhelming.

I'll need to come up with places for at least two group dinners and a brunch on Sunday. I would prefer to find private rooms and prix fixe menus, so we can monitor costs better and not mortify the locals. I don't really know where to begin.

Any help is welcome, even if it's simply a good place to do some research. Also, feel free to PM me with any activity suggestions.

Merci.

Alex

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Rocks & Co,

I'm putting together a bachelor party for 15-20 people, scheduled for Labor Day 2006. The destination is Montreal and the prospect is a little overwhelming.

I'll need to come up with places for at least two group dinners and a brunch on Sunday. I would prefer to find private rooms and prix fixe menus, so we can monitor costs better and not mortify the locals. I don't really know where to begin.

Any help is welcome, even if it's simply a good place to do some research. Also, feel free to PM me with any activity suggestions.

Merci.

Alex

What are the ranges of costs you're looking to monitor? There are a couple places I'd recommend, that I've gone to for both bachelor parties and just because I think they're fine food. How firm are you on prix fixe and private room? And are you thinking of fine dining or just great food and a good time? Frankly, I'd send you to the equivalent of Ray's the Steaks. Le Roi du Plateau is one of my all time favorites. Consistently good over the last ten years, almost, that I've been going there. Fantastic food off the grill, decent affordable wines, no decor to speak of, and great prices. You'd never go wrong there.

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For brunch, especially for a tired Bachelor Party bunch, you might just want to consider "Eggspectation", with a couple of locations in downtown and the old town. The one at de Maisonneuve and Montagne will probably be your best bet unless you're staying way up the Plateau. Yes, it's a chain, but they don't mess up your basic brunch selections, have a big enough floor plan to deal with your party, and have a large bar selection for hair o'the dog. Reasonable, as well.

For dinners, La Sila on Rue St. Denis used to be very reliable Italian with a good wine list and the capacity for groups.....unfortunately haven't been in a few years and I heard they changed hands, so a little investigating might be in order.

Also, you may want to try a trio of restaurants owned by the same group - Primadonna, Med Grill, and Sofia, all located on "The Main"/Rue St. Laurent and all on OpenTable.com reservations system, I think. They're presented as trendy/hip, with often something-for-everyone menus (Primadonna is Italian&Sushi!?!) and I KNOW they can handle groups, because some of the Formula One teams have group dinners there during the Canadian Grand Prix in June. Of course, don't know if the "scenery" (beautiful young ladies) is as good when the F1 drivers aren't there!

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Rocks & Co,

I'm putting together a bachelor party for 15-20 people, scheduled for Labor Day 2006. The destination is Montreal and the prospect is a little overwhelming.

I'll need to come up with places for at least two group dinners and a brunch on Sunday. I would prefer to find private rooms and prix fixe menus, so we can monitor costs better and not mortify the locals. I don't really know where to begin.

Any help is welcome, even if it's simply a good place to do some research. Also, feel free to PM me with any activity suggestions.

Merci.

Alex

I organized something similar Summer 2004 for 17 people. Our major banquet was at L'Auberge Le Saint-Gabriel, which is the oldest inn in North America and is located in the old part of town, Vielle Montréal.. The highlights of that meal were venison and ice wine. I can provide the full menu if you like. In smaller groups, we also ate at Le Brunoise, which is charming, delicious and run by youngsters. I liked that place a lot. Also Café Yoyo, which has good food and a BYOB policy. Also Toqué, the height of elegance, very expensive, worth it. Schwartz's Hebrew Deli, fantastic smoked meat and a friendly atmosphere. Au Pied de Cochon, high energy, crowded, a unique menu, a place where it is easy to meet your fellow diners. For Sunday brunch, I recommend the dining room at Hotel Sofitel, an exquisite room, great service and carefully prepared dishes.

People are quite happy to speak to you in English once they find out you're not Canadian.

I arranged group rates at Sofitel and the Marriott.

More on request.

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Schwartz's Hebrew Deli, fantastic smoked meat and a friendly atmosphere. 

Oh yes. You must make a trek to Chez Schwartz. Not great for an organized group, but grab a smoked meat sandwich Saturday afternoon if you can, to fortify yourselves for the madness ahead.

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i don't know how much privacy it affords, but au pied de cochon sure looked good the other night on the travel network when chef martin picard put anthony bourdain on a foie gras bender, including foie gras cooked in a can. i haven't been up there for a few years, but i now want to go as soon as possible to investigate this restaurant. (i see no need to rush up to far north quebec, however, where mr. bourdain sat down on the kitchen floor with an extended family of natives to devour a raw seal like a pack of cannibals, including sucking out the eyeball, although the scene did have the look of authentic cuisine. he also visited a maple syrup farmer, who eats it with everything, exhibitng how the locals get bent by the harsh winters. i have gone as far as the roads run out, a tedious drive in every respect, the food no exception.)

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Oh yes. You must make a trek to Chez Schwartz. Not great for an organized group, but grab a smoked meat sandwich Saturday afternoon if you can, to fortify yourselves for the madness ahead.

I did my batchelors party in Montreal last Memorial Day, I'd highly recommend Schwartz's deli for a late night meal, the only problem is that it will foreveer ruin you for good Pastrami (What the Canadians call Smoked Meat), It's the best I've found. Mr. Ma's Chinese restaurant is also outstanding. I recommend a stop at the Casino Montereal as well, we won enough to pay for our other stops that night!

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Schwartz's also has really good french fries and is the source for the seasoning mix which McCormick's sells as "Montreal Steak Seasoning." Yes, they sell their's, too, and it is superior to McCormick's. At Schwart'z they use this seasoning on cheap cuts of meat and they still taste good. Also, Montreal sour dills are arguably the best pickles on earth-I prefer them to Guss' in New York. Mother's is a good brand if you go into a grocery store. Last, don't discount bagels in Montreal.

An area called "Old Montreal" has a great deal of atmosphere and is well worth seeking out. On St. Catherine's street, near St. Hubert, is a place (I haven't been in about three or four years) called d'Giovanni's which has fantastic Quebec style spaghetti. This means about 20 different versions of it including the one which has mozzarella cheese melted on top of spaghetti with meat sauce and meat balls.

Unbelievably fattening! Disgustingly good.

Montreal also has French food that may be the best in North America.

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The wife and I will be driving up at the end of July for about a week. We are staying in the old city, and would like to know it there are any "must eat" places in Montreal. I already made a reservation at Brunoise, and will most likely be trying the following. Does anyone have any other suggestions or comments on these places. Thanks

Joe Beef

Au Pied de Cochon

Brunoise

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Forget all that. Go to Peel Pub, where you can get a hotdog platter for 2.95, and where they know how to serve their beer -- in giant pitchers attached to beautiful women. Then take all the money you saved and spend it on lap dances. This seemed to work for the many bachelor parties I've gone to in Montreal.

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I just returned from a four-day trip to Montreal. Stayed in a small B&B (called Boulanger Bassin) near Parc Lafontaine where amazing breakfasts were served every day by the owner--coffee, juice, fruit smoothies, freshly baked croissant or pan chocolat (he gets frozen dough from a baker friend and proofs and bakes them himself), fresh fruit, yogurt-granola-fresh berries and maple syrup, croque monsieur; fresh bagel, lox, cream cheese.

Montreal is a city of food-lovers. Zillions of restaurants, bistros, and coffee houses, and all were packed with people.

We had two great restaurant dinners--one at Au Pied du Cochon, where Jonathan had one of their amazing seafood platters (he had the smallest one-level platter with all manner of oysters, clams, scallops, mussels, periwinkles, crab, which was $45--the largest, five level which must be eaten standing up in order to reach it all, with all manner of shellfish, shrimps, crabs and lobsters goes for over $300--it could easily feed six. It was served on crushed ice with a choice of herbed butter, herb mayonnaise, and spicy mignonette. I had seared foie gras served on a buckwheat blini, with potato, cheese curds, smoky bacon and maple syrup. I couldn't quite pull the trigger on poutine with foie gras (poutine is the local kids' junk food favorite--it's french fries topped with cheese curds and brown gravy). They didn't have foie gras cooked in a can, but there was duck cooked like that. Many fascinating dishes-- many different presentations of pork, duck, foie gras and fresh seafood in equal numbers. Packed with people; long wait for a table; slow service; huge wine list--almost all French; high prices; amazing food. A definite must on Duluth Street, near St. Hubert.

Our B&B host, knowing that we appreciate good food, recommended a small place called P'tit Plateau, on a hidden away corner on Marie-Anne, a block from St. Laurent, which is a BYOB with amazing French food. We were the only non-Montrealers there. I had foie gras again--poached this time, and a beautiful veal with morels. Jonathan had cream of english pea soup and juicy, perfectly cooked rib chops of young pork. We had brought along a 2003 Kangarilla Road shiraz/viognier from home, and it was a superb accompaniment. No corkage fee. Lots of places do this.

We had the requisite smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz's, in the midst of a raucous street fair going on on St. Laurent while we were there. Delicious.

My cousin-in-law took me along to one of her favorite shopping destinations--Atwater Market, which is the old-world style market we all dream could be in our city. Good bread and beautiful pastries at the bakery, three or four butchers with all kinds of free-range poultry, local-raised beef lamb and pork, boudins and saucisses, all fresh. Charcutieres, cheese shops, vegetable and flower stands, a grocer with more primo olive oils and vinegars than Dean and Deluca, Balducci and Whole Foods combined, condiments and spices, pastas, grains (four or five different brands of Violone Nanno alone and equal numbers of several other types of risotto rice like baldo and carnaroli), just mind boggling. The fish dealer had a huge tank packed with just-delivered live lobsters--turned out the lobster season from the Magdelaine Islands in the gulf of St. Lawrence had begun. When Carol found out that we had never had Canadian lobster, which she claimed were much tastier than the ones we had eaten on the Coast of Maine--she of course had to cook some for us. We had dinner on two consecutive nights at her apartment in Habitat 67--the first was marinated, grilled lamb from Northern Quebec, eaten on the terrace while viewing a huge fireworks display going on over the river, which flows on both sides of the peninsula where Habitat 67 is located. the next night we had lobsters. Big ones. Steamed. With butter. I don't know or care if they are better than Maine lobsters. They were just fantastically succulent, fresh and delicious. Then local strawberries for dessert. I haven't stepped on the scale since I got back. I did do a lot of walking while I was there. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

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Zora--- I'm so jealous. But only for a few more days. I'm going to Montreal next week :unsure: Next time you go to Montreal you should check out the Jean-Talon market. It's bigger than Atwater. Lots of amazing produce, artisanal cheeses, etc. and next time you have to try poutine- we used to call it heart attack in a box in college but it was so worth it.

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Zora--- I'm so jealous. But only for a few more days. I'm going to Montreal next week :unsure: Next time you go to Montreal you should check out the Jean-Talon market. It's bigger than Atwater. Lots of amazing produce, artisanal cheeses, etc. and next time you have to try poutine- we used to call it heart attack in a box in college but it was so worth it.

Cousin-in-law Carol did tell me that there was another market she likes, even better than Atwater--I assume she was referring to the one you mention above. But it was Saturday, and parking was going to be less problematic at Atwater. Atwater is closer to her home, as well.

I might have tried poutine in another situation, but I didn't feel I could take the risk of despoiling a rare opportunity to eat seared foie gras. I figured that the dish I chose involved cheese curds and maple syrup, so I was getting enough gout de Montreal. Maybe next time.

We may be returning to Montreal more often, in the future. My daughter has decided that she likes Montreal even more than New York City, and I think McGill just went to the top of her potential college list.

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Cousin-in-law Carol did tell me that there was another market she likes, even better than Atwater--I assume she was referring to the one you mention above. But it was Saturday, and parking was going to be less problematic at Atwater. Atwater is closer to her home, as well.

I might have tried poutine in another situation, but I didn't feel I could take the risk of despoiling a rare opportunity to eat seared foie gras. I figured that the dish I chose involved cheese curds and maple syrup, so I was getting enough gout de Montreal. Maybe next time.

We may be returning to Montreal more often, in the future. My daughter has decided that she likes Montreal even more than New York City, and I think McGill just went to the top of her potential college list.

and some of the best kosher food in the world on Rue de Mont Real (or Mount Royal if you prefer) up the road a bit from McGill. From the middle of the mount to the top is prime (well-hidden) smoked meat heaven...one of the finest things in the world to do to a brisket...if you don't eat smoked meat in Montreal, you haven't been to Montreal.
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OK, say you only had three or four days in Montreal, say Wednesday through Saturday, in the middle of August, on a whim. And say you really wanted to check out the fine dining and arts/antiques scene, and wanted to get around easily using public transportation. Which part of town would you stay in? And where would you stay, assuming you like B&Bs and boutique hotels (for fun, let's add: private bathrooms a must, price no object)? And, of course, what restaurants would be on the must-do list (any cuisine, price no object).

I have two days to plan this thing. :) The dates are fixed. Thanks for the help.

Zora, the place you stayed sounds lovely but is booked already.

`-desperately in need of a vacation that does not involve driving,

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OK, say you only had three or four days in Montreal, say Wednesday through Saturday, in the middle of August, on a whim. And say you really wanted to check out the fine dining and arts/antiques scene, and wanted to get around easily using public transportation. Which part of town would you stay in? And where would you stay, assuming you like B&Bs and boutique hotels (for fun, let's add: private bathrooms a must, price no object)? And, of course, what restaurants would be on the must-do list (any cuisine, price no object).

I have two days to plan this thing. :) The dates are fixed. Thanks for the help.

Zora, the place you stayed sounds lovely but is booked already.

`-desperately in need of a vacation that does not involve driving,

There are a number of B&B's in the Plateau from Parc Lafontaine to Mount Royal and over to McGill--my guess is that there is some Montreal website that lists them. There are also a number of large and small hotels adjacent to McGill Univ. Both areas have good Metro access and are walking distance from the best shopping, clubs, restaurants and festival sites. Whatever you do, be sure to have a meal at Au Pied du Cochon-- it's the height of the food scene for young, hip Montreal.

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Gubeen and I have been meaning to put together a piece on our not-quite-week in Montreal last month...I spent nearly the whole time in my capacity at the Grand Prix, and she spent an equivalent amount of time exploring the food scene across the Plateau and Centre-Ville.

First, the Metro is compact, convenient, and indispensible. A three-day tourist pass runs something like CDN$17 and gets you unlimited rides...just display it to the station attendant. Note that some Metro stations have multiple entrances, of which one will always be staffed but the others may be automated and cannot be entered with a pass.

Au Pied de Cochon also came very highly recommended, but something got botched in our reservation so we were unable to partake. We did have two lovely dinners at Au Cinquième Péché, a bistro on Mont-Royal towards the top of the remarkable restaurant district. Their carrot soup, served just warm, was quite refreshing amid the hot June weather, and probably gave me the respite I needed before attacking the veal sweetbreads one night, and the duck confit baked in clay the other. Save room for dessert; they make a gorgeous chocolate "bar" on a crispy flaky base, served with a sweet pepper granita.

I think the Plateau Mont-Royal makes for a much more interesting wander than in Centre-Ville. If you wander down either Rue St Denis or Boulevard St Laurent, you'll encounter wall-to-wall restaurants for the better part of 1.5 miles, from a remarkable variety of cultures. Between the two are a surprising number of Brazilian and Turkish shops. Also, despite the concentration of tourist traps, Old Montreal is worth walking through, for both admiring the old architecture (especially the mansard roofs) and noodling around in the smaller boutiques.

Definitely, definitely take a short subway hop (and walk two blocks north) up to the Marché Jean-Talon early in your trip; it's row-after-row of outdoor produce vendors with a scattering of maple sugar items, conserves, and cheeses throw in for good measure. One of the permanent storefronts houses Qui Lait Cru, a fromagère who specializes in local Quebec cheeses, and especially in the raw-milk varieties. In the mornings, they also carry fresh breads from Boulangerie Le Fromentier (1375 Ave Laurier Est), the bakery mentioned in Gourmet's Montreal issue last winter as making possibly the best breads they've had anywhere. However, Qui Lait Cru is not an affineur...all of their cheeses are fresh from the cheesemaker's cave. If you want something with a bit of proper aging to it, you'll have to venture into one of the French neighborhoods to find the Fromentier bakery itself, on Avenue Laurier about a dozen blocks east of Rue St. Denis. Look for the wrought iron arch over the alley on your left. In the same space are three vendors: Fromentier takes the lion's share of the space, there's a cheesemonger and maître affineur across the aisle, and in the corner is an even smaller counter selling cured meats, terrines, patés and head cheeses.

Somewhere not far from that location is a shop that sells only poutine...15 or 20 variations of it. Gubeen will have to tell you more; she was directed there by both the cheesemonger and several little old ladies waiting in line. She'll also have to be the one to give you directions to the shop that sold only mushrooms of all - well, almost all - varieties, and so on.

Of course, there's Schwartz's. You'll enjoy it more if you go with a relaxed attitude and a willingness to chat with the people sitting right next to you...the tables are abutted cafeteria-style. They'll give you your choice of lean, medium, or fat when you order your smoked meat. Medium is like what most people think a good pastrami should resemble (except that smoked meat is NOT pastrami, but resembles pastrami minus the pepper), but fat is gorgeous and reminiscent of the ridiculous pastrami sandwiches I used to wolf down at Elsie's in Cambridge.

Soda-hounds like myself will enjoy the fact that the bottlers of Montreal use real sugar. It all tastes better, especially the Dr. Pepper :)

Mr. P might object, but I would highly recommend a leisurely visit to the Jardin Botanique adjacent to the Olympic stadium complex. Their rose collection is incredible, there's a garden dedicated to poisonous ornamental plants, and I seem to recall a very calming Japanese garden as well (which I didn't get to visit on this trip).

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Dave Hsu -- when you were wolfing down pastrami at Elsie's, how did you manage to keep both hands on the pinball machine? This is what kept the Mt. Auburn cleaners going!

Elsie's is long gone, but there is a place sort of like it (minus the pinball) on Brattle St. near the hospital.

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My favorites:

Au Pied de Cochon. This requires planning ahead because they are thronged. Wonderful spirit, activity, an inventive menu.

Brunoise. Young, trendy, but hospitable to fogies. Very good value.

Restaurant Yoyo. BYOB. A local joint. Great atmosphere.

Toqué. Elegant, expensive. A dining experience to be relished and remembered.

Like everybody else, I like Schwartz's. But it doesn't remind me of anyplace.

An excellent Sunday brunch is available at the Hotel Sofitel.

On the other hand, you can hardly go wrong in that town.

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My wife and I are headed up for a romantic week long vacation in Montreal the last week of August. We already have reservations for Toque and Au Pied de Cochon. Besides these two places, which have been recommended to us by many, what are the one or two "must-visit" restaurants in this wonderful food city? Anything goes here, from hole-in-the-wall to 4 stars, breakfast joint to dinner only.

Thanks so much!!

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My wife and I are headed up for a romantic week long vacation in Montreal the last week of August. We already have reservations for Toque and Au Pied de Cochon. Besides these two places, which have been recommended to us by many, what are the one or two "must-visit" restaurants in this wonderful food city? Anything goes here, from hole-in-the-wall to 4 stars, breakfast joint to dinner only.

Thanks so much!!

Le Roi du Plateau. Rue Rachel. Portuguese. Great grill. Good wine. Inexpensive. Better than hole-in-the-wall. Draws a lot of locals rather than tourists. It's the one place I go to EVERY time I've been to Montreal in the 10 years or so. The closest local place I can compare it to is Ray's the Steaks. Based on decor, both have better food than you'd expect if you first walked in blind to it. (RTS is MUCH better though).

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My wife and I are headed up for a romantic week long vacation in Montreal the last week of August. We already have reservations for Toque and Au Pied de Cochon. Besides these two places, which have been recommended to us by many, what are the one or two "must-visit" restaurants in this wonderful food city? Anything goes here, from hole-in-the-wall to 4 stars, breakfast joint to dinner only.

Thanks so much!!

You have exactly the two places I would have put at the top of my list. I can't say enough about the elegance of Toqué and the spirit of Pied. I would add Brunoise (romantic) and Schwartz's Hebrew Deli (great fun). If you're there for Sunday brunch, try the Hotel Sofitel.

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Mr P and I are now back from our "hurry up and relax" tour of Montreal. And boy did we eat some good food.

Unfortunately we also had some bad. Too tired to research, we stumbled into a thoroughly mediocre joint for a late lunch after arriving Wednesday. Not having learned our lesson, we trusted to luck and utterly struck out Thursday at lunch.

Friday, though, we finally found some clue, and took the Metro to Marche Jean-Talon, where we picked up a few Quebec cheeses, a mix of olives, salami, and the best - yes, the best - strawberries I have ever had in my life. Mr P nearly jumped out of his shoes when he ate one, they were that good. Then, back on the Metro and a schlep to Boulangerie Le Fromentier for pain et patisserie. I don't know if I'd say, as Gourmet did, that they have the best bread anywhere, but I'd die happy for having tried it. We found a picnic table in the shade of a small neighborhood park and finally had a lunch worth writing home about.

I can't say enough aboot how good Quebec cheeses are. We had Riopelle, a triple cream cow cheese, a washed-rind cow cheese, and a perfecctly aged chevre, Bouq'Emissaire, the rind of which was coated in ash. This cheese had a soft, runny, slightly strong layer of paste next to the rind and a fresh, almost sweet interior.

[note - must cajole/bribe/threaten/whatever Jill into obtaining these]

Dinner the first night was at Au Pie du Cochon - enough has been written about that. It's an experience.

The second night we ate at Au Cinquieme Peche. Our final Montreal dinner was at Brunoise.

But I'm way too tired and I have a lot to say about these two, so tune in tomorrow for a description of the best meal I've had all year. :)

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I've written and rewritten a review of Au Cinquieme Peche about a dozen times, only to learn that I'm no writer, just a hack. So here's a straightforward decription instead.

The space: 32 seats in a building corner, windows on two sides, black and white tile floor, soft yellow walls, a few ceiling fans, bare wood tables and black wood chairs, 3 stools at the bar. A large chalkboard on the back wall displays the current wines-by-the glass list.

The food I ate: a few bites of Mr P's tomato salad, with Flemish tomatoes ("picked this morning from my best friend's farm"), pancetta, Parmesan, and basil oil.

A salad of mesclun, endive, grapes, Benedictin bleu cheese [hold the walnuts], and honey-lavender vinaigrette.

Red snapper served with a compote of tomato, red pepper, black olive, and fennel three ways: braised shreds, puree, and tart tatain. :):lol:

To accompany the two courses: Gros Mamseng Cote de Gascogne 2005, which went beautifully with both dishes.

Coconut milk rice pudding with pineapple and passion fruit.

This is the best meal I've had all year. Why? I'm not sure. Maybe the unexpected. Such perfectly prepared food, like crisp-skinned fish with butter-soft flesh, in a simple setting (call it the Komi effect). Fennel tart tatain, which was pretty much what I expected: molded caramelized fennel atop a pastry disk, yet so much more than I expected. And the honey lavender dressing wasn't at all sweet, floral, or perfumy; rather it was just sweet enough to balance the bite of the cheese, and the lavender petals added more of a peppery bite than an floral finish.

If I were returning to Montreal I would go back to this restaurant above all others.

Brunoise was also fantastic, with a lovely, quiet, muted-tone setting. We had a great three course meal with one glass of wine for about 100$C, before tax and tip. The entree prices seem high at first until you realize that your appetizer and dessert are included in that price. Honestly, though, I just can't recall what we ate, other than beef tenderloin with braised veal cheeks, beacuse I'm still in awe of The Fifth Peach.

Also worth exploring: Camelia Sinensis, a charming calm spot on rue Emery, half a block off rue St-Denis and a bit uphill of Ave. Maisonneuve (I bet I spelled that wrong). Anyway, they take tea seriously here, bringing you the correct accoutrements for the type of tea you've chosen. They also have a small selection of delicious pastries and cookies. The boutique next door has teas and pots for sale.

For damn fine chocolates, go to Suite 88, 3957, rue St-Denis. They also serve excellent gelato. When they say the chocolate-chili is hot, they mean it.

And at 375, rue Roy est is Les Chocolats de Chloe, also damn fine.

[Jason Andelman, I hold you responsible for turning Mr P into a chocoholic. Until we went to your open house chocolate tasting the other week, he never gave much thought to the stuff. But he spent an hour hunting fine chocolates while I pored over my French phrasebook in Camelia Sinensis. And he reports that, good as the Montreal chocolates were, your's are better.]

ETA: a few things will help you get along fine in French-speaking Montreal: a smile, a sense of humor, and an ability to pronounce bonjour/bonsoir and parlez-vous anglais?

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[Jason Andelman, I hold you responsible for turning Mr P into a chocoholic. Until we went to your open house chocolate tasting the other week, he never gave much thought to the stuff. But he spent an hour hunting fine chocolates while I pored over my French phrasebook in Camelia Sinensis. And he reports that, good as the Montreal chocolates were, your's are better.]

Thank you for the kind words, however, I am sorry I turned your husband into a chocoholic...I guess there are worse "holics" to be ....We actually were up in Montreal this past March for a chocolate business related trip. The enrobing machine that you saw in my shop was purchased from a French company who has a sales rep in Montreal. I went up there to meet with him and to use the machine firsthand before I purchased it. Anyway, we ate at many of the same places, Au Pied du Cochon (foie gras poutine, enough said) and Brunoise. We liked Brunoise, I think we felt like we were getting a good value for very good food. We also went to Chocolats de Chloe and Suite 88. I really liked Chloe, although my only beef was that she enrobes all of her chocolates with Valrhona Manjari which is a VERY strong, intense chocolate. It kind of overpowered most of the centers. Suite 88 was good, I liked the "sleek" look of the shop and enjoyed some of the pieces we bought from them. Actually, now that I think of it, I am surprised Chloe was open in the summer. She told us that she closes for a few months in the summer because it is relatively slow. I guess business must be good. Anyway, I really like Montreal and I think it is a great getaway weekend trip. Thanks gain for the compliments on the chocolates and we hope to see you back in the shop sometime soon.

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The announcement that the Boston Globe's Joe Yonan will be joining the WaPo Food Section mentioned an article he wrote on food shopping in Montreal. Excellent read and thought it should be linked here.

Indeed, Montreal is peppered with single-themed food shops that are so focused as to seem obsessed. They offer tourists a glimpse of a European-style passion for high-quality ingredients, and the chance to take home a taste of it.
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It’s simply not as complex as those I've had at Balthazar in New York or La Coupole in Paris or Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal.

When we went to Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal this past June, we were standing in line waiting for a table, and watched the waiters set a five-level plateau at a four-top of young men. They had to stand up to eat, it was so tall. There was an abundance of iced shellfish and mollusks on the lower levels, and cooked or fried things on the upper levels, like lobster and crabs. Mama mia! It was a jaw-dropping display. When we were seated and given menus, we were astonished to see that there was an even larger, six-level plateau available--for more than $400! Jonathan settled on the single, which was a generous-enough selection of oysters, cockles, shrimp, crab, sea snails, etc. on ice. I had foie gras. We didn't rush through our meal, but even so, as we were leaving, the four-top was still working on their plateau.

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On my most recent visit to this hallowed city, I noticed a travesty had occurred. Peel Pub, a joint delightful in its dank (but the dank, Moe, the dank!) and with some of the best service this side of Vegas (see earlier comment), has moved to the other side of the street and is now some trendy, hipster bar that is far too crowded, far too noisy, and has far too many male employees. They’ve up and ruined the best bar in Montreal, and for what, money? Bah! Steer clear of this abomination.

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On my most recent visit to this hallowed city, I noticed a travesty had occurred. Peel Pub, a joint delightful in its dank (but the dank, Moe, the dank!) and with some of the best service this side of Vegas (see earlier comment), has moved to the other side of the street and is now some trendy, hipster bar that is far too crowded, far too noisy, and has far too many male employees. They’ve up and ruined the best bar in Montreal, and for what, money? Bah! Steer clear of this abomination.
I have far more memories of the Peel Pub that I really should have, given the state I was in when upon leaving the Peel. The place was legendary. Everything from the recycled leftover pitchers of draft, the $0.99 plates of spaghetti, the thick clouds of blue smoke, to watching fellow patrons pass out on top of the tables. It's a shame that the place has gone upscale. They tried to open a "replica" of the Peel in Toronto (on King St W) but they made it all fancy-schmancy and it bombed. They tried to emulate the Montreal pub's success by alllowing 18 year olds to drink only to end up losing their liquor license and going under.

ANYHOW....I'm taking Lisa to witness le grand spectacle that is a Hockey Night in Canada match between Montreal and Toronto. We're also taking in the Shins show at Metropolis the night before.

Question to the crowd is: does anyone know the hours for Au Pied de Cochon? Do you think it's possible to have dinner there in an hour if we have reservations for when doors open? I'm perfectly happy going to Dunn's for smoked meat and maybe some poutine but I promised Lisa a "proper" dinner.

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click here. (5pm)

When I went there in September, they were reasonably attentive and I think if you needed to get out in an hour, it's possible if you let them know. Though admitedly, we were in no hurry then. Are you driving there? The harder part may be trying to catch a cab from up there back to the BellCenter for the game.... go Leafs :o

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Our trip to Montreal was a success hockey-wise, but we weren't quite as fortunate when it came to food. We decided not to go to Au Pied de Cochon since there wasn't enough time before the hockey game. But we did take in the following:

Dunn's - smoked meat sandwiches and poutine. Both were average and decent quality for the price. The smoked meat is piled high and was only just the tiniest bit dry. That could have something to do with the fact that we ordered it at 1am and the place was pretty empty. The cheese on our poutine was squeaky delicious and the fries were relatively crisp. The gravy could have used more seasoning, IMO.

Brutopia - St Patty's day irish stew and roast beef sandwiches, along with several pints of Guiness. Considering that Brutopia isn't exactly known for their food, the stew was remarkably good! Lots of large chunks of tender lamb and a very rich broth. I wonder if this is part of their regular menu - I hope so. The beer here is great.

Le Banquiste - the house of poutine. This is the place that Anthony Bourdain visited on his No Reservations show. Over 20 different types of poutine are on the menu and you can create your own. We went with the Poutine Kamikaze - merguez and banana peppers along with the standard poutine. The merguez was disappointing - a little like a quasi-spicy cocktail sausage. The poutine was above average. Great cheese curds but otherwise not much different than what we had at Dunn's. I decided to try a "hot dog michigan", which turned out to be the worst hot dog ever smothered with spaghetti sauce. Really. My wife is from Michigan and has never heard of this, though my Montreal friends claim that this is everywhere in La Belle Province. Blech!

Yeah, not a culinary tour de force. We drank pretty heavily all weekend so filling comfort food was on the agenda. We'll be back in a few months and APdC will definitely be on the agenda, with the foie gras poutine on the top of the list.

For the record, the Habs won in a shootout. What a great game!

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Hello. My name is Dave, and I am a Montréal addict. In fact, I haven't left yet.

I still don't know how the locals manage to stay thin with all this food around. Must be the chain smoking. Count me in as a true believer now that the foie gras poutine at Au Pied de Cochon is the most amazing expression of poutine ever concocted. Wow.

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Oh one more thing--Katz's vs. Schwarz's. Schwarz's has better fries and pickles (but you have to pay for pickles) and the smoked meat sandwich is $4.95 versus $12 or so (and is about 2/3 as big, so good value). Katz's has beer. As for the star of the show, both are great when ordered fat/juicy. But the fact remains, that Schwarz's is brisket and Katz's is plate, which is a better cut for the treatment (more marbling and a less-crumbly texture). So Katz's is 1 and Schwarz's is 1A. But if Schwarz's did its voodoo to plate instead of brisket, it'd be the hands-down winner.

In other news, it's as-you-were for APDC, Brunoise, Banquise, and Cinquieme Peche (whose nothing-out-of-place wine list should be a model for all others). Chez Claudette for post-nap pie-ing and poutine-ing was delightful (with a waiter that could probably qualify for six passports if he tried). Also PatatiPatata for more poutine.

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In other news, it's as-you-were for APDC, Brunoise, Banquise, and Cinquieme Peche (whose nothing-out-of-place wine list should be a model for all others).

A few more memories from last weekend have made the long journey to my fingertips.

At 5e Péché: the lightest gnocchi I've ever had (courtesy of tweaking the egg/water ratio), the marrow bones now come three pieces to a serving, emulsions have found their way onto many of the entrées, and for the first time I noticed that much of their wine list is directly imported on their behalf. Somehow we ended up drinking wines that came through more normal channels - a terrific muscadet, and a wacky red Thierry Puzelat blend "Cuvée Rézin" (Puzelat also does a white blend under that cuvee).

APDC is quite a challenge. We were mostly stuffed after sampling our way through the starters. The seafood plateau is very good, but the knockouts were the pork and fowl dishes (sometimes both). The better ones are Michel-Richard-crazy. Foie gras poutine has to be the most compelling junk food ever. The guinea hen liver paté is what the "faux gras" at Central dreams of becoming someday. And, just to make sure you've had enough liver, there's another 100g of foie gras tucked in with the magret breast in the duck in a can, which is served directly from the fully-labeled can, pried open at tableside.

At La Banquise, be aware that most of the poutines with pepper in them are referring to sweet peppers, not hot.

We had to look longingly at the whole seasoned briskets for sale in the window at Schwartz's. Not because we weren't crazy enough to consider bringing one back, but because we didn't want to lug one around the rest of the afternoon.

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We're in Montreal right now (I am currently "working from home" while ensconced in the IBM office downtown). The atmosphere and attendance at the Jazzfest is being somewhat dampened by showers and thunderstorms. Yesterday we checked out the free entertainment on the streets and tonite we head to Metropolis to catch Patrick Watson and the Besnard Lakes - neither of which have much to do with jazz, yet everything to do with Montreal.

We managed to snag an early reservation at Au Pied de Cochon last night. Martin Picard was onsite and managing the construction of some of the most wonderfully decadent food I've had in a long time. We started with a platter that included pickled venison tongue, boudin, terrines, guinea hen mousse, and stout jam. The boudins (pork sausage and not to be confused with boudin blanc or boudin noir) were especially good - spicy and with a nice firm texture and snap. The stout jam was really something different. Too strong to eat on it's own, of course, but great on bread and added something special when added sparingly to a little of the terrine.

We followed that up with foie gras poutine. I loved the foie gras, the fries, and the curds but the gravy was too rich with duck fat and lacked seasoning. The overall texture was of fat, instead of the crunchiness of fries mixed in with the squeakiness of the curds.

The mains were lamb shanks confit and bison tartare (the latter served with a large cone of the best fries I've ever tasted). The lamb shank was HUGE - I only got through about half before it was apparent that the meal would get the better of me. I was so full that I couldn't bring myself to trying out any of Lisa's tartare, though I couldn't stop myself from eating the fries. They were totally like crack. Very crispy on the outside, and creamy on the inside. Somehow, each and every fry would have a few sprinkles of kosher on salt on them. Absolutely perfectly seasoned. Just amazing.

We're considering a return visit to PDC for dinner tonite, if I don't go into cardiac arrest after last night's indulgence. ;)

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My husband and I just had a great visit to Montreal. We of course visited the wonderful Schwarz's- it was so good, we went again Monday and got some sandwiches to go. I need to figure out if I can get that smoked meat delivered to my Father back in the states, I think I would win the daughter of the year award if I could.

We went to the "house of meat/pork"--Au Pied de Couchon- wow. We had the Au Pied de Couchon salad that my father-in-law loves, and it was a salad of meat (well, pork) and just enough greens to almost be an actual salad. My husband had the boudin tart with smoked foie gras, which was very good, but my Duck in the can (which includes a slab of foie gras) was beyond decadent. They open the can up and empty the contents onto your plate, it was a riot. I wanted to save my label, and they gave me a fresh one to remember my night of duck.

The next night we went to l'Express, which is wonderful French bistro. It was very good for the money and I had a perfect steak frite. The bread basket was filled with wonderful bread that really reminded me of France. We had a lovely apple tartin that was just the right balance of sweet and tart.

I found a lovely chocolate shop near our hotel, that was a great place to buy gifts: Les Chocolats de Chloe - 375 rue Roy East, Montreal

We stayed at a great b&b (called Anne Ma Soeur Anne) right on St-Denis, that had a little mini-kitchen (with free coffee, juice, and water -and croissants in bag on our door each morning).

Cheers.

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Zora mentioned Le P'tit Plateau in Montreal earlier on this board, so when I went to Montreal with my cousin last weekend, we got reservations for Saturday night. The place is fantastic. The style is southern French, and it's bring your own wine. We actually selected a chianti for our meal which went very well with everything.

For starters, we had the smoked salmon- apparently it's smoked on the premises. We also had the foie gras maison cuit au torchon - poached with toast, raisins and onion. It was fantastic.

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There were 4 people in our party so we tried several entrees. I had the Duck Magret in porto and orange sauce. We also had the Alberta lamb confit- slow cooked for 15 hrs, the medallion of red deer venison in red wine sauce, and the house specialty, the cassoulet. The cassoulet was one of the best i've ever had- it had pieces of pheasant, pork, and sausage in it.

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For dessert, we had the black chocolate mousse on praline crust- whatta crust! We also had Floating Islands- 2 poached meringues in creme anglais.

More pics here.

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Schwartz's is as good as everyone in here has said. Get the fatty version if you go, though, one of my friends ordered lean and it missed the point behind the meat, as it was dry and lacking some flavor.

APDC was a great and unique experience, but nothing like I expected. The portions were just enormous and I felt sick to my stomach after 3 bites of the overly rich foie gras poutine, which I honestly would not order if I went back despite it being tasty. The duck in a can was very good, but again, the copious amount of fat along with the slab of foie in the can just made it overwhelming. The best plate I tried was the bison ribs, cooked perfectly and not needing the tangy BBQ sauce slathered on top, as the meat carried a great flavor on its own. The fries dipped in the housemade mayo were awesome as well.

Peel Pub spaghetti with meat sauce gratinee was much sweeter than I expected, but was a good deal at $6.99 along with the $1.99 Molson Dry special that lasts all day every day. Watching the Canada/Russia world championship hockey game here was definitely a memorable experience.

Overall, the whole city had great food, but what really stuck out for me was how good the service was everywhere we went. The waiter we had at APDC was great, giving us good recommendations and telling us what to avoid as well (always appreciated and something I feel I rarely get in DC). Such a refreshing trip from a culinary perspective, although I am putting myself on a raw veggie diet for at least a week to try to cleanse myself of the absurd amount of butter and duck fat I consumed while I was there. :lol:

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Where did we dine? Take a guess:

asparagus with shaved parmesan

salad of frisee, apple, walnut, blue cheese

poutine

head cheese fritters

bison steak frites

duck magret with mushroom sauce

seared slab o' foie gras

pouding chomeur

...yes, head cheese fritters. :lol:

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I'm going to Montreal in two weeks for what has become my annual long weekend there.

This time, no vegetarian in tow; I'm looking forward to finally having a smoked meat sandwich. hey, there has to be an upside to a break up, right? five years with a vegetarian was cramping my style :-)

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