Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Favorite Restaurants

As I was walking around today looking for a place to eat, I thought it would be an interesting idea to poll people as to what are their favorite restaurants in Montreal.  So for the following categories what is your favorite place.  I’ve added my own favorites in parenthesis.

Beer (Biere et Companie)

Breakfast (Jardin Nelson)

Burgers (Les Belles Soeurs)

Cafe

Cajun/Creole

Caribbean

Chinese

Crepes (Jardin Nelson)

Deli

English/Irish

Fondue

French

German/Austrian/Polish

Greek (Ouzeri)

Indian (La Taj or Gandhi)

Italian

Japanese/Sushi

Lebanese

Mexican/Tex-Mex (Cafe de Matéo)

North African

Pastries

Pizza (Miss Italia)

Portugese

Poutine (Ma’ame Bolduc)

Quebecois

Ribs (Bofinger)

Salads

Sandwiches

Seafood

Steak

Thai

Vietnamese

So what are your favorites?

Little City Gems 5: Jewels of St. Henri

I took a walk into St. Henri the other day westward along Notre Dame, admiring the lovely and impressive Carré George-Étienne Cartier (which looks like a larger, grander Carré St-Louis), and was pleasantly pleased to spot a few curious and worthwhile establishments. All in the vicinity of Metro St-Henri, here are my little finds:

Ambaa Yoga
A great little yoga studio with a nice relaxed vibe that teaches classes of mediation, pilates and yoga in several styles, including ones for kids, which seems to be an additional specialty of theirs.

Recessionary note: They have a community drop-in class on Friday evenings which costs a very affordable donation of $5, taught by a featured teacher of the week.

4660 Notre Dame O.
(corner of De Courcelle)
514.996.3620

Perfide
A curious little boutique that caught my eye, full of neat and cheeky clothing designs, jewellery, accessories, books and other fun knick-knackery. Definitely worth a browse.

4217 Notre-Dame O.
514.509.0731

La Gaillarde
I walked into this shop with its deceptively non-descript store front to find a treasure trove of fripperie, and many of the local as well as local-eco designer wear and accessories we already know and love.

Recessionary note: Sundays are 2-for-1 days in the basement fripperie section.

4019 Notre-Dame O.
514.989.5134

Le Caffe Mariani (read the review)
What a great find! Facing a lovely church and an interestingly designed last-century caisse-pop building I happily stepped into this cafe. The decor is lovely and unpretentious as are the staff. I enjoyed my cafe au lait and choco-cranberry-banana bread and the general ambience of the place. I made a mental note to come back with a book and be ready to spend an afternoon eating an affordable and delicious lunch made with excellent and possibly organic ingredients. They also sell locally made fancy soaps and not-so-local olive oils and the like. Judging from the number of laptops I saw, I suspect they must have wi-fi as well.

4450 Notre Dame St. West
514-504-7458

Enjoy.

Little City Gems: 4

Suite à my last post, not to worry, the beauty of our good little city is when one thing closes, usually something else interesting will eventually spring up in its place. I came across a place over a year ago called Volver: Café Culturel. Situated in a demi sous-sol on the west side of Parc between St. Viateur and Bernard streets, this rather expansive cafe of Argentinian bent is not only home to local musical events, book launches, cultural and linguistic workshops and art vernissages, they also have a great little menu at surprisingly affordable prices. Served by one of the friendly owners I had a plate of fresh and substantial empanadas (definitely under $10 and they were good portions) and a glass of decent Argentianian red ($6-$7 for a vintage that’s usually $10 elsewhere). I had likely just seen Almodovar’s “Volver” and was thusly attracted to the passionately red sign of the cafe and anything remotely spanish-ish. Well it worked. :)

Volver Café Culturel
5604 avenue du Parc
Tel: 514.272.4419

Little City Gems 3: Ode to Bygones

A few of my favourite little shops in town (all on St. Denis street, actually) have sadly closed their doors in recent years and months and this is my ode to them.

A Japanese-style tea-house that closed a couple of years ago was O-Chai which had one location on St. Denis just above Mont-Royal and later on just below Laurier. They had a cute and cozy décor and served wonderful teas (including my favourite green matcha latté) and delicious little snacks that came in the form of samosas, sushi, noodles, scones and personal dimsum in bamboo containers, all for bargain prices. It was a perfect place to relax on a quiet Sunday afternoon, and read a good book. (Their sub-Laurier location has since been taken over by Les 3 Petits Bouchons, which is a thankfully yummy resto I would definitely recommend.)

It’s been at least a year, but I’m still getting over the closing of the Japanesey home decor, gift, paper and tea shop Carton which came to an end when the owners decided not to renew their lease and that twenty-five years was a good enough run. They were done and it was time to move onto the next part of their life adventures, whatever they were.

Madras, on the west side of St. Denis street near Duluth sold great items of clothing, run by a French man who always sported a casual and unimpressed ennui. It used to be a mix of frippe and local and NYC designer clothing shop, and gradually the fripperie section became smaller and the local designer section grew larger. They had sales often enough and I always found such neat little pieces most every time I went, all of which I still wear.

Feu Vert, to my dismay, also on St. Denis but on the east side just above Marie-Anne greeted me recently with papered up windows when I was hunting for a new year’s eve dress this past season. Deceptively kitschy looking, this tiny shop packed full of sequined, scarfy, beaded things, and dresses, tops and bottoms and accessories of all colours and textures was run by an even tinier tough-as-nails Argentinian woman. She would look down at you (somehow, from her height of under 5′) over her glasses on a chain and let her irritation flare when you chose the “wrong” style of clothing for yourself. She would never let you try on anything that was not exactly right for you and had no qualms about making realistic comments about your weight or shape. Thick skins were necessary in her shop, but boy did you ever walk out with a fantastic properly accessorized outfit at a well-bargained price.

I will miss them all dearly.

Poutine

Poutine at Resto La Banquise

Poutine at Resto La Banquise

In New Orleans we have something called a french fry po’boy. It is not supprisingly similer to Poutine with a few exceptions a french fry po’boy is served on bread and usually has melted cheese on it if it has cheese at all. The New Orleans version originated as far as I know by the need to provide cheap food for those with little cash and it needed to be filling, viola the french fry po’boy was born. I am finding conflicting reports all over the Internets as to where and why Poutine originated but I am going to go out on a limb here and say the heart of the matter was the same especially considering the Arcadian history in both Montreal and New Orleans. There is one very important difference though between the Poutine I ate at Resto La Banquise and what I have eaten back in New Orleans…Poutine is good. There it is I said it, If you take carbs and you put them on top of carb laden bread and then throw some gravy on it that is not good that is just a cheap heart attack. Poutine on the other hand is tasty really really tasty, like if I could I would go back right now and eat some more tasty. I ate the Classic version from the menu which had high quality fries that may have had a little seasoning on them with cheese curd and gravy but it isn’t just brown gravy it is something more that I can’t put my finger on but that Wikipedia calls “Chicken Velouté Sauce” so I will go with that for now. La Banquise was a wonderful local place to sample this local fare as well, not too far from the Orange line of the Metro it was pretty easy to locate and definitely a find.

I Squash You

pumpkin%20patch.JPGPA070106.JPG

One of the great things about weekends in Montreal is that you’re not far from the countryside if you want to take a day trip to get away from the concrete jungle. Fall is harvest time and for an inexpensive wholesome type of outing, a pleasant way to spend the day is in the fields picking apples or other crops. About 40 minutes north of Montreal in the Saint-Joseph-du-Lac region, there are plenty of apple orchards to choose from and especially interesting for this city slicker was the Centre d’interprétation
de la courge du Québec
where you can pick your own squash and of course, pumpkin for Hallowe’en. You select a wheelbarrow at the entrance to the fields and off you go. The selection of squash is astounding for someone who is not familiar with squash. Who knew there were so many kinds! If in doubt, the staff are very knowledgeable about their courges. I learned that the decorative squash are not for eating as they can be powerful laxatives. So the next time, you want to get back at someone, you can cook up a pot of your special squash soup…

Apple picking and wine tasting after the jump…
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Turkey time

Last weekend, I said to spouse, “I want to have a real Thanksgiving this year.” He looked at me quizzically and said, “We don’t do that here.” As if I couldn’t have figured that out over the past seven years. I said that I missed that (clearly anglo) tradition and would it be alright if I invited his folks over for dinner Monday. He reiterated the fact that Quebecers don’t really celebrate the day. Then I asked him, “Give me one reason why you would refuse a turkey dinner? I’ll make everything.” And he acquiesced. After all, I’m doing all the work. I said, “Will this be your first Thanksgiving truly celebrated in Quebec?” And he said, indeed it would be. I’m sure Quebecers are full of thanks too, so I’m a little confused as to why the holiday never caught on here. (Or is it more commonly celebrated than I’m led to believe?)

No matter, the markets had everything on sale this week to prepare for the feast. I got a nice big bird for $1.50 a pound, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, yams and everything for the secret family recipe: green bean casserole. Then I get to eat turkey sandwiches for lunch all week. Youpi!

Celebrating or not, I wish all of you a gratitude filled day. Happy Thanksgiving!

Vegan in Montreal

Hi everyone! I’m in town visiting for a few days from Los Angeles and am on the hunt for good Vegan places I should check out while here. Thanks to the Google I found veganmontreal.com which has a pretty good list of places to eat but the thing about lists is you don’t really get a feel for what is really good and what is so-so. Has anyone been to any of these places and have any thoughts on them? What about anything that didn’t make it to the list? Any and all suggestions welcome. Thanks!

Spilling the Bean

Binerie.JPG

Whenever I walk around the city, I like to look up, around, and try to pick out interesting features of buildings or signs. Something that I find to be kind of cute and funny is the big bean perched atop the sign for “La Binerie”. Located in the Plateau, La Binerie is a Montreal landmark establishment dedicated to the baked bean. I’m not sure how long the bean has been up there, since this sign replaced the older one, but it got me to wondering, what other city holds the humble bean to such high standing? How curious that we have a restaurant renowned for its baked beans. I remember growing up eating fèves au lard with maple syrup, runny eggs and sausages and loving it. Would I have enjoyed this concoction as much had I grown up elsewhere? I certainly would have been less gassy…

Eat Your Vegetables

YuanBuffet.JPG

Today I went for lunch at one of my new faves. Yuan, located at 400 Sherbrooke East, corner of St-Denis, bills itself as “Cuisine Créative Végétarienne” and it lives up to the description. Run by a Taiwanese couple, this all vegetarian asian resto features some really interesting fare. What I like about the food at Yuan is that even if you’re not normally a vegetarian, everything tastes just as good as “regular” food, so that you really don’t feel like you’re missing out on meat at all. I would be hard pressed to actually identify what some of the mock meats are made of but they are so tasty it’s crazy and to me, they’re the standouts that make me keep going back. What I like is that the mock meats actually have a meaty chewy texture to them which is not the case for most of the simulated meats I’ve tried from your typical supermarket.
Although they have service à la carte, the buffet is a real steal at $6.99 on weekdays and $9.99 on weekends. Unlike some vegetarian dishes which although wholesome, can be somewhat bland and too “granola” at times, many of the offerings at Yuan are intense with flavour as asian food should be. They have a good selection of hot stir frys, soups, salads and assorted other pickings like maki rolls or tempura sweet potato slices but you really can’t go wrong trying a bit of everything. However, the one caveat would be that the variety of dishes seems to fluctuate week to week. Having gone on several different occasions, it seems that some days feature more variety in dishes than others. For instance, the mock General Tao chicken which I loved a few weeks ago was sadly not available today. Nevertheless, I still managed to stuff myself and squeeze in some dessert. Not bad for an all veggie outing!

More about the décor after the jump…

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