Hotel Herman (Montreal)

Hotel Herman: Buckwheat, chocolate, thyme
This is the final big meal report from our trip to Montreal in late October, though not the final Montreal report per se—I’ll have another very brief report next week, probably, on some pastry eating. This dinner at Hotel Herman was the last meal of our trip (unless, you count the terrible food we ate at the airport for breakfast and lunch the next day after missing our early morning flight to Minneapolis). It followed dinner at Joe Beef the night before (and brunch that morning at Olive et Gourmando). I wasn’t expecting to say that I might have liked this meal even more than our dinner at Joe Beef but that might possibly be true.  Continue reading

Olive et Gourmando (Montreal)

Olive + Gourmando: Oeuf Coquette
Back to Montreal, and this time we’re in Old Montreal. Our meal previous to this on our trip in late October was dinner at Joe Beef. The plan had been to have a lazy morning to recover from that dinner and then go to the Museum of Fine Arts in the afternoon before dinner at Hotel Herman (review coming soon). But our Montrealer friends that we dined with at Joe Beef recommended that we spend time wandering around Old Montreal instead and that we begin the day with brunch at Olive et Gourmando. I’m very glad we listened to them. The food was very good indeed and was excellent fuel for a few hours of walking around the old city. Continue reading

Joe Beef II: The Re-Beefening (Montreal)

Joe Beef: Spaghetti Homard Lobster
Actually, we barely ate any beef at this meal. We did eat very Joe Beefishly though though.

This was my second visit to Joe Beef. The first was in March of 2015—I was in Montreal for a conference and a friend who lives there made a reservation for our group of grad school friends who were all on a panel together. That meal was spectacular and was a large part of my desire to get back to Montreal soon’ish with the missus so she too could eat at Joe Beef and not just listen to me go on about it. This autumn we had the opportunity (and a reason) to do a weekend getaway by ourselves and so it was to Montreal that we decided to go. Note: neither late March nor late October are the optimal times to visit Montreal but I would suggest that there is no bad time to visit Montreal. It’s a beautiful city and if you like food in a French vein there is no better place in North America.  Continue reading

Le Comptoir (Montreal)

Le Comptoir, Montreal
Two weeks ago we were stuck at the airport in Montreal. We’d missed our early morning flight back to Minneapolis, couldn’t get another flight until much later in the day, and were distraught about missing Halloween with our boys. Now it’s Halloween every day and I’m thinking we should have just stayed there and sent for the boys and the dogs. Oh Canada! If it were only possible for me to move my entire whisky collection without having to pay colossal duty on it, I’d look seriously into moving north. Ideally, to somewhere within easy reach of Montreal, which has become one of my favourite North American cities to eat in.  Continue reading

Jean-Talon Market, Pt. 2 (Montreal)

La Boite aux Huîtres
Here is the second part of my report on Montreal’s excellent Jean-Talon Market from my recent trip to Montreal. The first part covered produce and those food establishments we did not eat at. This report focuses on the few places we did eat at. I will repeat my caveat from the first report: I am not pretending to offer anything approaching a comprehensive or educated guide to Jean-Talon Market. I’ve been there once; we wandered and ate fairly randomly; I took pictures at some places and not at most of the others (this was also random, except I took photographs everywhere we ate). I’ve probably left out many of the most iconic vendors and we probably failed to eat some of the most popular foods at the market. So it goes. I hope to be back again in Montreal in a couple of years (I really love this city) and will try again then. In the meantime please consider this (and the first part) an insufficient but sincere advertisement for Jean-Talon Market: if you go to Montreal, go there.  Continue reading

Jean-Talon Market, Pt. 1 (Montreal)

Jean-Talon: Mushrooms
We were recently in Montreal for a few days. It was a wonderful trip despite the grey weather (and a nightmarish travel day to end it after we missed our early morning nonstop flight back to Minneapolis). We hung out with some old friends who work there, walked around the city and saw a couple of really good exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts (one on Toulouse-Lautrec and another on Robert Mapplethorpe). And we ate some very good food. When it comes to food in the French vein, traditional and contemporary, there is probably no better city in North America than Montreal. There certainly isn’t a better city for bakeries and patisseries. I’m going to start my report though not with a bakery or a restaurant but with a visit we made on the morning of our second day there to the famous Jean-Talon market. In case you don’t know, Montreal has a number of public markets that combine traditional farmers’ markets with restaurants/food stands and various purveyors of cheese, pastry, meat, fish etc. And Jean-Talon is the most renowned of these markets.  Continue reading

Ruby Burma (Montreal)

Ruby Burma
What better place than French Canada to try Burmese cuisine for the first time? It’s actually a bit odd that this should be my first time trying Burmese cuisine, given the proximity of India and Burma and the longstanding ties in particular between Burma and Bengal, but there you are. After the excesses of Schwartz’s and Joe Beef on my first day in Montreal I was looking for something very different for my second dinner in town and when I learned that there was a Burmese restaurant within reach and that it seemed to have received decent reviews I proposed it to my friends and they were happy to eat there. Continue reading

Grilled Chicken and Bagels (Montreal)

Chicken at Romados
No, not at the same time.

The day after our dinner at Joe Beef a friend and I went out for some Portuguese grilled chicken for lunch. I had no idea that Montreal had a significant Portuguese presence but a number of people suggested that I try some Portuguese chicken for an unfussy weekday lunch, and Romados was the place that was most highly recommended. We’d originally planned to walk there from my hotel (about a 2.5 km walk) but it was snowing lightly and so we cabbed there and walked back. But we didn’t walk back directly. Instead we walked up to the famous St. Viateur Bagel Shop (2.2 km), where I purchased two dozen bagels for my wife who has recently become bagel-crazy, and then we walked back from there to the hotel (3.7 km). I’m making a point of noting the distances for the benefit of my friends who know how allergic I am to exercise of any kind. It turns out that if you put me in a beautiful, walkable city, I will walk. It’s the countryside that I am wasted on. Continue reading

Joe Beef (Montreal)

Joe Beef
If Schwartz’s was one of the places I knew I was going to be eating at in Montreal, Joe Beef was the other. This is literally true: I had a dinner reservation; it is, they say, the hardest reservation in town but we secured it a while ago, once participation in the conference I was attending was confirmed (dining with me were my four friends on my panel, three of whom I had gone to graduate school with and one of whom lives in Montreal). Even a few months out, and even on a Thursday night, the best we could get for a party of five was a table at 9.30. When we arrived the restaurant was packed, the party before us was dawdling, and we were not seated till 10. This gave a couple of us a chance to scan and slowly translate the menu (more on this below) while the rest waited outside (there’s not much space inside for waiting, which made me wonder what people do when it’s really cold outside). Continue reading

Schwartz’s (Montreal)

Window
I was recently in Montreal for a conference for a few days and, as you might expect, eating was high on my agenda when not at panels. I had recommendations from some Canadian foodies, including a couple who know Montreal well, but I didn’t need anyone to tell me to go to my first port of call: Schwartz’s, the iconic Jewish deli that opened in 1928. I say “deli” but by law it’s been “Schwarz’s charcuterie Hébraïque” since 1977. And they’re known primarily for one thing: smoked meat. That is what I was there for and you’d better believe that is what I got. (In fact, I am not sure that I saw anyone there who was eating anything else.) Continue reading