After six months of being apart, Tommy and I finally met up in beautiful Montréal, Canada for a week of relaxation and of course tons of delicious food.
Since Tommy used to live in Montréal when he was younger, he wanted to visit his childhood friend, Pablo, on his way here to California, where he’ll be staying for the next few months. I was lucky to get a few days off work and I was so excited to visit a new place!
Our Airbnb was in prime location, walking distance to Old Montréal and to the main metro station.
There was even a rooftop gym and outdoor pool area, ballin’!
Our first day we explored Old Montréal, Places Jacques Cartier (Montréal City Hall), Notre Dame, the Old port, the Science Center (featuring life sized animated dinosaurs), downtown, and Mount Royal.
Our first night in Montréal we dined at Le Bremner, celebrity chef Chuck Hughes‘ second restaurant in the city and where chef de cuisine Danny Smiles, a former contestant of Top Chef Canada, works. The dimly lit underground restaurant has a funky cool vibe and serves up fun takes on classic favorites. Here you can watch an episode of Munchies featuring chef Chuck Hughes and chef de cuisine Danny Smiles.
We started off with three appetizers: the brioche, tuna, and quail. The brioche was lightly toasted and buttery smeared with creamy labneh, a type of thick yogurt with a tangy flavor, topped with chunks of meaty yet tender lobster and garnished with pea tendrils. The dish was solid but needed a slight touch of acidity to bring it all together. The tuna crudo was an interesting but successful dish paired with tahini (sesame seed paste), fried shallots, and cilantro. The last appetizer was an ode to everyone’s favorite dish, fried chicken. Their version with fried quail was stellar; crispy coating and juicy tender meat served with fresh lemon and their homemade version of ranch.
Our two main courses were also on point. One of my all time favorite foods is New England clam chowder and their version put a Canadian spin on it. The chowder had a beautiful seared piece of halibut, crunchy crust and flaky meat, with plump clams, salty bacon lardons, potato chunks, and a heavenly broth with a hint of maple syrup. So good. Our last savory course, the cavatelli, was a great non traditional pasta dish with a rich unctuous sauce of hearty lamb neck ragù and salty Pecorino cheese. Both the main courses were quite substantial but if you know Tommy and I, we’re pretty much experts at eating.
Of course we had to end the meal with something sweet and the dessert didn’t disappoint. A moist butternut squash cake with thin raw slices of apple, salted caramel, whipped cream, and hazelnuts. Simple and delicious.
The food at Le Bremner hit the spot to say the least and serves awesome food in a chill atmosphere so I’d rate them at an 8/10.
The next day we headed to Jean Talon Market, a food market with tons of produce vendors and fish and meat sellers, and then walked through Little Italy.
For our second night out, we dined at Restaurant Les 400 Coups in Old Montréal where we ate modern New Canadian cuisine.
We started off with warm velvety carrot soup garnished with sweet delicate snow crab morsels, pickled carrot rounds, and creamy house made Ricotta cheese flavored with lemon verbena.
Next, the moist yellow sturgeon sausage with hints of smoke paired beautifully with the tart elderberries and pungent mustard.
Our last appetizer, the foie gras mousse, was another winner paired with fresh red beets, a beet jelly, beet powder, black walnut, and fresh dill, an interesting combination of flavors that worked harmoniously.
Both of the main courses were also spectacular. The lovage (an herb with celery and anise flavor) linguine was impeccable; long noodles tossed in a wonderful creamy sauce with tender supple pieces of mussels, pickled turnips, and the perfect garnish of crispy crunchy chicken skin crumble. The last main course was suckling pig, always a favorite of mine. Maple golden crust with juicy meat, earthy sunchoke purée, bitter endive, and sweet and hearty stewed field peas.
Once again, no meal would be complete without something sweet. The smooth caramel cremeux was outstanding with the refreshing peach sorbet, pieces of chiffon cake, orange segments, and tartness from the sea buckthorn berries. The molasses cake was nutty and moist with raw slivers of green apple, milk chocolate cream, and a tangy malt ice cream.
Restaurant Les 400 Coups was one of our favorite dinners from our entire trip. All the dishes were well executed in terms of flavor and presentation. Restaurant Les 400 Coups hit every note from savory to sweet so my rating is an 8.5/10.
The next day we grabbed lunch at Arepera du Plateau, a cute restaurant serving up some delicious arepas. The pork and avocado arepa was bomb!
Then we passed by the old Olympic Stadium where the 1976 Olympic Games were held. We also visited the Biodome, located next door, where there are replicas of four ecosystems found in the Americas.
Our third night, we dined at Liverpool House, Joe Beef’s sister restaurant. Joe Beef is a well known Canadian restaurant in Montréal that we could have tried but the food looked extremely heavy and over the top so we opted for Liverpool House (still “man food” but not as intimating as Joe Beef). Their third restaurant, Le Vin Papillon, focuses on vegetable driven dishes with some meat and seafood. All three restaurants are located right next to each other in the Little Burgundy District.
Both our appetizers were satisfying. The mini bagel had piles of the freshest gravlax I’ve ever tasted with herb cream cheese and salty salmon roe. The roasted cauliflower and brussels sprouts was an explosion of flavor with crunchy almonds and pickled shallots.
Our entrées were slightly intimidating to say the least because of their enormous portions! The spaghetti was tossed in a luscious cream sauce with an entire whole lobster! Over the top? Yes, but well executed. The steak was enormous (we couldn’t finish it) but was cooked to medium rare perfection with an amazing pepper crust served with creamed spinach.
Even though we were stuffed, we had to try at least one of the desserts and one of my all time favorite desserts just happens to be sticky toffee pudding. Moist cake literally drenched in a caramel sauce topped with candied nuts and vanilla ice cream. Can’t go wrong with that.
The food at Liverpool House is without a doubt heavy but super duper tasty (can’t imagine what Joe Beef is like), but everything was executed well so I’d rate them at an 8/10.
Since it was raining the following day, we decided to have lunch at Pho Tay Ho for some comforting bowls of noodle soup.
After lunch, we walked around Old Montréal before heading to Bota Bota Spa for an afternoon of relaxing massages.
Later that day, we had dinner at Le Filet, a seafood restaurant with some Japanese influences.
Our first dish, the fluke sashimi, was probably my least favorite dish; there was too much umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum) vinaigrette on the plate which completely overpowered the delicate white fish.
The tataki of wagyu beef was flavorful and melted in your mouth but the miso sauce was too strong in order to truly taste all the other ingredients.
The octopus was well cooked (tender) but once again the meyer lemon coulis was too sharp compared to the other components of the dish.
The squash ravioli were good and the scallops were perfectly seared but needed another element to bring everything together.
Our last savory dish was the scampi risotto which was overall cooked well but lacked some serious salt.
Both the desserts were nothing spectacular but quite tasty.
Out of all of our previous dinners, this was our least favorite meal. I felt that the majority of the dishes either lacked seasoning, a certain element of the dish was too overpowering, or the combination of flavors just didn’t work. Perhaps our expectations of Le Filet were too high since all of our previous dinners were all on point. Overall, my rating is a 7/10.
No trip in Montréal would be complete without a stop at Schwartz’s Deli for their famous smoked meat sandwich, basically a pastrami sandwich. We stopped there for a quick lunch and the cashier told us they sell over 5,000 sandwiches a day, crazy!
After lunch we decided to see the Botanical Gardens, since it was finally sunny, which has a greenhouse, an insectarium, and a Chinese and Japanese garden.
Later that day, we went to Pablo’s house for dinner where his parents cooked us a home cooked meal with mussels, salmon, veggies, and carrot cake. A great night with great company.
The next day Tommy and I met up with his old coworker, who lives here in Montréal, who staged at Metamorfosi in Rome. We grabbed lunch at Satay Brothers for some delicious asian street food.
I loved everything about Satay Brothers from the chill fun atmosphere to the fiery delicious food. Definitely recommend coming here for a great meal.
Our last night in Montréal just happened to be Halloween! Since neither of us had costumes, we just used makeup to achieve a spooky look. Tommy was Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas and I went for a glamorous dead person inspired by one of my favorite makeup gurus Desi Perkins (she absolutely slays at makeup). My look didn’t come out as well as hers but practice makes perfect right?
We started the night off at Pablo’s house with a bunch of his friends for some drinks before heading out to a few house parties! Overall it was a great night, nothing too crazy, just fun times with a solid group!
We couldn’t leave Montréal without trying one of their pride and joys, the Montréal bagel. Their bagels are wood fired, and much smaller, thinner, sweeter, and denser compared to a New York style bagel. There are two iconic shops in the city, the St. Viateur Bagel Shop and Fairmount Bagel. We first stopped at St. Viateur Bagel Shop where they only sell whole bagels (if you want cream cheese on it you have to buy it separately and make it yourself). I tried an all dressed (everything) bagel and instantly I could tell that the dough is denser and sweeter than the New York style bagels that I’m used to.
At Farimount Bagel you can get a bagel with either cream cheese or with cream cheese and salmon. Obviously I had to go all out so I got an onion bagel with salmon and cream cheese. On point!
Montréal has an amazing food scene, quite similar to San Francisco which I’m used to, with tons of diversity. There were so many other restaurants and cafés that I wanted to try but just didn’t have the time! Some restaurants that I wanted to checkout were Bouillon Bilk (fine dining New Canadian), Kazu (Japanese fusion), Damas (Middle eastern), Le Vin Papillon (Joe Beef’s sister restaurant), and Maison Publique (gastropub). If you ever find yourself in Montréal, you’ll love the eclectic vibe and you surely won’t be disappointed by their awesome food scene!