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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Good Eats: A Guide to Eating In Montreal Part 1

Happy Wednesday Morning everyone! It is a very happy Wednesday for me because tomorrow at this time I’ll be at the airport waiting to board the plane to Vegas. I have a really solid list of restaurant, club, café, and store recommendations from friends who know Vegas really well (I’ve been but a few years ago) and think I have a pretty good idea of what I want to try. I’m lucky to have friends and family members who like to travel as much as I do because it makes going to visit different places that much easier. It makes traveling that much more special when someone you know can recommend to you the best place to get pizza in Chicago, the tastiest burger in Sydney, the most authentic Gnocchi in Venice… When we travel, tasting the local food is often just as important to us as seeing the sights. Food is part of our culture and thus part of the experience. Since I have tried many many many restaurants in Montreal, I often get asked for recommendations of places to eat from friends or family members who are in from out of town. When asked for a suggestion, I take my job very seriously and ensure that whoever has asked me will have a broad variety of options to choose from. I have decided to share with you a list that I recently compiled for a family friend who was coming in from out of town.  I have separated them into different categories to give an even better description
Where to Eat In Montreal Part 1

Casual Dining-

Le Boucan 1886 Notre-Dame West: break out the napkins cuz things are about to get messy! This smokehouse restaurant is every meat lover’s dream. From what I hear, they have theee best pulled pork sandwich in the city and I know, from experience, that the 5 Napkin Burger is to die for. Though you may not want to bring a vegetarian here (they have a Bacon Brownie) they do have a grilled salmon option as well as salads with your choice of chicken/shrimp/salmon for those of you who would like a healthier option. Their sides are much more creative than the usual fries/salad option and with their adorable terrace out back in the summer; this place is a must-try. The service is good, but you definitely need a reservation during the week. Overall Opinion: Great place to go with some friends on a Wednesday night. Fair prices, good beer and great food.  www.leboucan.com

Steak Frites St-Paul Various Locations: this BYOB (bring your own wine and beer) steak house is a great ‘safe bet’ restaurant. The menu is pretty simple: Steak and Fries. Though they do have some other options like salmon, mussels, and a vegetarian goat cheese salad, they are known for their steaks that come with unlimited (yes unlimited) fries.  Their deserts are just as good as their meals. Though the St-Denis location is almost impossible to get into, you shouldn’t have a problem getting into the old Montreal locations as long as you make a reservation the day before or day of. Overall Opinion: Crowd pleaser, fair prices and because it’s a bring your own wine, it saves a lot on the bill (in Montreal we don’t have a corking fee at BYOBS). www.steakfrites.ca

Sparta Rotisserie Grill 4024B Ste-Catherine Street West: another bring your own wine, I just recently discovered this gem after hearing about it from a co-worker. Because the sign is a little hard to see, I didn’t know where this place was until I looked it up online and realized it’s only a few blocks from my apartment. With its traditional Greek menu, this place is sure to satisfy and have something for everyone.  I had the braised chicken and it was the best I’ve had. The service was friendly and the dishes were authentic. It is smaller, so I would recommend reservations and is more on the casual side. Overall Opinion: I would definitely go back with friends. The prices are good and the food is great. They need a better sign as it is difficult to see, but overall great experience. www.spartarotisseriegrill.com

Trendy-

Tuck Shop 4662 Notre-Dame West: though they have since added ‘regulars’ to their menu, this restaurant used to change the menu weekly which would be written up on a blackboard, only to be wiped clean weekly and replaced with their newest creations. And creations they are. They treat food with appreciation, and aren’t scared to try new things. Their menu includes options like Grilled Octopus with Israeli Couscous and Duck Magret with Roasted Squash Pancake and Maple Glazed Turnips. Needless to say, you wouldn’t want to bring kids to this restaurant. You definitely need a reservation to get into this place, as they sometimes are booked for weeks in advance. Overall Opinion: Perfect for anyone who is daring and bold enough to try something new. Be prepared to wait though because you will do just that: wait. The preparation can be long, but overall worth the wait.

Jane 1744 Notre-Dame West: the first time I went to this restaurant, I wasn’t impressed. The service was slow, the waiters were rude and the food was so-so. Since it was recently opened, I decided to give it a few months and a second chance. Well, I wasn’t disappointed! My second visit was a complete turn-around from the first one. The service was good, the staff was much better and my pizza was delicious, though a little bit of a Bottega knock-off (we’ll get to that later). The clientele is a bit of a mixed bag, so I don’t really know who to recommend this restaurant to… but the music does get loud at night, so I don’t recommend it for children. The Mac and Cheese is delicious as well and the drinks are original and pretty awesome. Overall Opinion: Might not be my first choice of restaurant, but definitely worth a try. Reservations are required and the prices are mid/high.

IceHouse 51 Roy E: if you want some good ‘ole Texas grub, then this is your place! The menu includes favorites like Fried Chicken and Shrimp, Crab Cakes (which are said to be the best, but I’m allergic to shellfish), and Brisket and Po’Boy Sandwiches. You definitely wouldn’t want to bring a girl here on your first date, as it tends to get a little messy, but the atmosphere is fun and everyone seems to be there to have a good time. The Bourbon Lemonade is just one of the many delicious drinks that are on their drink menu to try; many of which are very refreshing in the summer. Overall Opinion: An artery cloggin’ good time!

Best Of-

Best Japanese Kazu 1862 Ste-Catherine Street West: when reading the menu at Kazu, you’ll notice one word appears more than any others and that word is FRIED. Yes, my friends, this restaurant is definitely not one to go to if you’re on the Jenny Craig diet, or any diet for that matter. A fresh take on Japanese food, this restaurant is best known for its Teriyaki Burger and its Crispy BBQ Chicken Tortilla Salad with Japanese Dressing. There is always, and I mean ALWAYS, a line up outside of this restaurant so be prepared to wait. Overall Opinion: Not for the faint of heart. May cause heart attack, but a delicious, fried heart attack. Prices are good, but you have to promise not to sue them (JK).

Best BYOB La Trattoria 1551 Notre-Dame West: I may be biased on this one, seeing as my family has eaten here pretty much every Friday night for the past 5 years, but this is a great restaurant. Their pizzas are amazing (cooked in a wood burning over) and they have a long list of pastas that are just as delicious. They also have a variety of chicken and veal options, as well as daily specials. You couldn’t find a friendlier staff, and because it is a BYOB it brings the bill down quite a bit. You may need reservations on the weekends, but not during the week. Overall Opinion: Great family restaurant with something for everyone. www.latrattoria.ca

Best… Everything  Bottega Pizzeria 65 St-Zotique Est: I can’t… I don’t… I umm… There are no words I can use except to say that the pizza at Bottega is BY FAR the best FOOD, not just pizza, FOOD I have ever tasted. I know some people don’t share my opinion, but I think they’re LOCO. I have eaten a lot of pizza in my years and I have never tasted something like this. The crust and the sauce are the works of art here, so I just get a plain pizza, though they do have other varieties. The service is good and the staff is friendly and always willing to make recommendations. You definitely need a reservation, but it’s worth it, I promise. And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, try their Nutella Pizza for desert… you won’t be disappointed. Overall Opinion: Bottega, will you marry me? http://www.bottega.ca/

And there you have it my friends… the first part to my guide to eating in Montreal. I'll do another restaurant post when I'm back from Vegas, so if ou have any suggestions let me know! Happy Wednesday!
 With Love,

S