Six Reasons to Eat and Drink Your Way Through Montreal
Montreal is known for its European flavor as well as for things including poutine and BeaverTails, but are you aware of all the other tasty things around town to experience?
I went on a trip with four of my girlfriends, Lola, Anita, Erin, and Vanessa, and we found some great places around this noble city. Some of the suggestions are up and coming and some have been around for a while. Regardless of their reasons for existence, we loved every moment, sip, and bite.
Here is a list of places I recommend for drinking and dining while visiting Montreal:
Don’t judge a book by its cover; Noveau Palais is not your average diner. This meek restaurant has an extraordinary secret: ITS FOOD ROCKS. Being a foodie and understanding subtlety, I quickly made up my mind this restaurant isn’t to be reckoned with. Six of us crammed ourselves into a booth for four, ordered cocktails (them) and a beer (me) and quickly scanned the menu. I saw exactly what I wanted, fried chicken with a honey mustard sauce served with a bean salad. Then the waiter came over and told us about the specials that night; charred octopus salad with avocado was all I heard, the rest sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Our food arrived on retro diner ware; there was no need to dress this food up as it spoke for itself. The octopus was tender and sweet and a great juxtaposition to the soft ripe avocado. The fried chicken was deliciously juicy and crunchy. It was love at first bite.
Baldwin Barmacie was our first bar of the trip and it set the tone for the whole week. Located in the Mile End area of Montreal, Baldwin Barmacie is an edgy bar with a ’60s party vibe. We knew instantly we were going to like this place. This bar has an outdoor patio as well as a very lively indoor area where crowds of people gather to see and be seen. There’s great music that makes you want to dance and laugh with your friends all night long. We arrived relatively early in the evening, at around 9 p.m. or so, and it was already busy. Once the patio closed, we moved inside to finish our drinks and wrap things up to move to our next destination.
This was a tapas bar with a great cocktail, beer, and wine list. We each had our heart’s desire. Personally, I couldn’t resist the beer tap that looked like a king cobra. Although I didn’t know the beer or what it tasted like, I had to order it. Our waiter told me it was a dark amber beer. Luckily I like dark beer, and when I got it I loved every drop in my glass.
We each ordered two tapas to share. The table was full of dishes that arrived with lovely little treats, but they soon were empty because the food was so scrumptious. It is a fun bar scene with what seemed to be a loyal clientele.
This restaurant is located just steps from Le Bureau and is a bit of a hot spot. Be sure to make a reservation because it was packed by 9 p.m. Since we ate earlier, we opted to have drinks and dessert to celebrate our friend Anita’s birthday. Lauren had brought props to keep the night lively, and it didn’t hurt that our waiter was very cute and was willing to play with us. He adorned a paper pipe and sexy lips to make the evening more fun. The desserts are good, but the drinks are better.
All Erin could talk about while in Montreal was getting her poutine fix. She became addicted while in Toronto and needed to eat this Canadian delicacy before leaving. On my friend Joann’s suggestion we visited Montreal Poutine. What is poutine, you ask? It’s a giant mound of french fries covered in a brown gravy and cheese curds. That is the traditional way. But you can also order it with onions and mushrooms, truffles … you get the idea. I didn’t think I would like it, but to my surprise it wasn’t bad. Make sure to order extra gravy and cheese curds.
Only a few months old and located in Old Montreal, La Champagnerie was the pièce de résistance to our trip. On a suggestion from Joann, we made a reservation and arrived right at 8:30 p.m. We were greeted enthusiastically and offered options for seating. Once seated, we were handed the menu of food, Champagne, wine, and liquor offerings. Since the place is called La Champagnerie, we of course had to order Champagne. Well, then I noticed instructions about how to saber a bottle of Champagne on the cover of the menu. Of course I asked, “Can one saber a bottle of Champagne here?” The answer: “Yes, we will teach you once you place your order.” I was in heaven. I could not wait to get that saber in my hand and lop off the top of the lovely Forget-Brimont Premier Cru Rosé Brut I ordered.
Then the fun really began. Lauren and Erin both decided to order their own bottles of Champagne to saber. After three bottles of Champagne and some serious entertainment, we will have a night to never forget.
When in Montreal, be sure to visit these fab drinking and dining establishments. You shouldn’t be disappointed.
In remembrance of a great traveler and friend, Anita MacKinnon.