Recently I traveled to Montreal with my mom and my godmother to tour McGill University and to have a nice relaxing girls’ weekend. My mom and my godmother both attended university in Montreal, so they know the city reasonably well. Also, my godmother is a chef, so, like me, she has a love for food. Over the course of our three-day weekend we consumed absolutely amazing food (some of which can be found on my instagram). As many of you know, I do not usually eat dairy products or wheat products simply because I have a very sensitive stomach, but on this three-day weekend I made an exception. When in Rome right? I personally think that it is very important to let yourself indulge from time to time, it is important to have balance in your life and not to restrict yourself.
Anyways, we ate at five delicious and unique restaurants. Each meal was incredible in its own way and the restaurants all had a wonderful atmosphere, which I think is equally as important as the quality of the food. Fear not, I will be listing the names of the restaurants below and will go into more detail about my experience at each.
Unfortunately the weekend we were in Montreal the rain did not give up until, I kid you not, minutes before we had to leave to return home on the Sunday. Although the weather was poor we still had a wonderful time. Since being outside wasn’t ideal, we spent a lot of time browsing in unique little stores and eating delicious food of course.
One of the things that I love most about Montreal is the energy. It is really like a little piece of Europe inside of Canada. The restaurants are always full and the people are engaging one another in conversation and eating amazing food. A lot of times what you see in restaurants is people on their phones and eating portions big enough for an entire family, it is kind of disgusting how “Americanized” some of Canada has become. Montreal though, is still very unique and stays true to its roots.
After arriving in Montreal, my godmother Tara picked up my mom and I and we headed into the city to have a nice visit with Tara’s cousin Caroline. After that we were all quite hungry (especially me!) as it was getting close to one in the afternoon and I had eaten breakfast around 5:30 that morning.
We got in the car and drove into old Montreal, which is a truly stunning part of the city. Old Montreal, if you haven’t been there before, is kind of like stepping back in time. The streets are all paved with cobble stones, the buildings are made of beautiful stone and have beautifully lit store fronts. I had decided, even before we arrived in the city, where I wanted to go for lunch. A friend of Tara’s from culinary school own’s two restaurants in Montreal. One is a café style lunch or brunch place in the heart of Old Montreal, and the other is a fine dinning dinner restaurant in a neighbourhood called Griffintown.
I had been to the café in Old Montreal, which is called Olive and Gourmando, before and have been dreaming of going back ever since. The atmosphere at O&G is amazing. Any time of the day, from opening to closing, the restaurant is completely packed and for good reason!
The food is essentially gourmet comfort food. When I was there last in the summer of 2013 I ordered a sandwich called the Cubain, which has pancetta, roasted pork, raw milk gruyère, and our delicious lime, cilantro, chipotle, and pickle mayonnaise all sandwiched between a ciabatta bun and grilled to perfection. No joke, this sandwich is heavenly.
After consuming this much anticipated sandwich I was quite content. We then headed out to roam the town until our 6 o’clock reservation at Foxy, which is Tara’s friend’s other restaurant that I mentioned earlier.
Just before six we rolled into Griffintown and admired the cute little storefront of the neighbourhood, which none of us had been to before. We got to Foxy right as the door was being unlocked to welcome in the evening’s customers. The restaurant was dimly lit, but not in a bad way, more in a cozy warm kind of way. The wood burning oven was just getting started and the cooks could be seen starting to prep ingredients for the busy night to come. We took our seats at the large communal table at the back of the restaurant, which was right near the open concept kitchen. I don’t know about you, but I love when restaurants have an open concept kitchen, it makes for a much more warm and casual feel.
The three of us ordered a variety of different starters and a few mains to share. We ordered:
- Cucumber + lime ceviche
- Apple and bacon flatbread
- Marinated house feta
- Wood oven roast chicken
- Cauliflower with yogurt sauce
Everything was absolutely delicious, but I must say that the cauliflower dish was my favourite. After the main course we wrapped up the night with a few shared desserts, the apple pie and the ginger bar with poached pear, both of which were unique and delicious with a wide variety of flavour.
On the second day we had a slow start to the morning and spent a reasonable portion of time relaxing in our hotel room. During this time we did extensive research to find the perfect brunch restaurant. Through our searches we stumbled upon a restaurant called Au Festin de Babette that specializes in brunch and, get this, gourmet hot chocolate!
We got dressed, slipped on our shoes, then headed out into the dreary Montreal morning in search of our destination. After about 20 minutes of walking we reached our destination. The outside of the café has beautiful greenery growing around the entrance and nearly covering the sign. The inside had just as much character with three cozy little rooms where you could enjoy a delicious spread of brunch foods. We opted for a seat near the window, then began to study the menu.
After a few minutes of contemplation we all decided on Le Laurier, which includes:
- yogurt with honey
- homemade muesli
- fresh berry compote,
- three mini crêpes
- a poached egg
- thin slices of bread to dip in the egg
This was definitely enough fuel to start our morning! My mom also ordered one of the gourmet hot chocolates to have with her brunch. I tried a sip and it was essentially like drinking liquid chocolate, it was so decadent.
After our meal we staying in the restaurant and chatted while we waited for the rain to subside enough for us to venture outdoors.
After another long day of walking we returned to the hotel to get prepared for our 8 o’clock dinner reservation at Le Bon Vivant. The atmosphere at Le Bon Vivant was really cozy too. It was a smaller restaurant than Foxy, but it had a beautiful open concept kitchen too.
We sat in a cozy booth right across from the kitchen, so we were able to see all the action. We decided to order a variety of different items and share like we had the previous night. We ended up ordering:
- Salade de courgettes
- Salade de betteraves
- Kalbi short ribs
- Chou-fleur frit
- Frites yakuza
Followed by and apple and a lemon tart, which we shared as well. My favourite dish at this restaurant was either the kalbi short ribs, which we perfectly marinated; the cauliflower dish (chou-fleur), which had crispy halloumi cheese, posted brussels sprouts and roasted beets; or the frites yakuza, which was basically a spin-off of poutine. The frites yakuza had cheese curds, garlic wasabi mayo and kimchi. It was very rich and resulted in my stomach being quite unhappy with me, but it was still very tasty.
We returned to the hotel very satisfied and cozied into bed to prepare for another day of food adventures.
On the last day we had another slow start and ended up doing the brunch thing again. Prior to brunch, we headed up to the plateau to purchase some of the classic Montreal bagels from Fairmount Bagel, which, might I add, is open 24 hours a day. After purchasing three dozen fresh bagels we proceeded to our brunch destination, which was recommended to us by a friend of Tara.
The Sparrow is also located on the plateau and is a very cute pub style restaurant. After settling down at our table we scanned the menu options. I decided on the Turkish Breakfast Plate which included:
- soft boiled egg,
- fig jam and sour cherry jam
This dish was very unique and I really enjoyed having a more savoury breakfast as opposed to a traditional sweet breakfast. Following brunch we wandered around the plateau for a while then around 2 o’clock we said our goodbyes and headed back home.
Despite the weather I had a truly wonderful weekend in Montreal and am dying to go back again sometime in the future.