It occurred to me after watching the Anthony Bourdain episode on food in Montreal, that neither Au Pied de Cochon nor Toque were mentioned in the episode. At first I thought it might be due to the gracious nature of Martin Picard and Normand Laprise, but then thought a little harder and came to the conclusion that they probably were smart enough to realize that anyone who watched the show wasn't likely to be the type of customer that they wanted.
That aside, it then occurred to me, what other places in Montreal that would have fit in to the concept of the show were missed? Or in a more direct sentence; if I were the researcher for the Bourdain team, what places would I have sent them to?
Breakfast: Lawrence. While not as iconic as Beauty's, definitely more unique and better fare. Granted they only serve it on weekends, but I'm fairly certain that Tony would probably prefer to come to Montreal on a weekend, especially if he knew in advance that he was going to end up cruising along Saint Laurent, drunk and in the back of a pickup truck. If a lunch counter/greasy spoon was required I would have suggested Bienville sur Chabanel, Rex Pizza or the Snowden Deli
Although now with some further reflection, The Binerie Mont Royal. Beans, cretons, eggs, some more pork, some more beans. To actually understand where Au Pied de Cochon comes from.
Bagels: The no-brainer alternate universe bagel place is Fairmont Bagels. Although instead of bagels, he could have gone for croissants (Mamie Clafoutis or Duc de Lorraine).
Bookstore: If there is another bookstore in Montreal that only carries cookbooks, I'm not aware of it. However, I think he instead of Jonathan Chung, talking to Marie Claude Lortie or Sarah Musgrave might have been more enlightening.
Market: While the Jean Talon Market is the 800 lb gorilla, what actually makes Montreal rock and is completely at odds with the rest of North America is the number of independent, small, local grocery stores that are mostly walking distance from where people live. Places like Segals, Sakaris and Milanos on Saint Laurent. Akhavan, Atlantic, Hawaii, Kim Phat and many others elsewhere. I don't know how I would have filmed it, nor if it would have been as "punchy." But farmer's markets are farmer's markets and in the middle of the winter the Jean Talon Market is anything but.
Cheese Shop: While Tony went to La Fromagerie Atwater, there is Hamel, La Maison du cheddar and Baie des Fromages. He also did not visit a charcuterie, nor a butcher.
Big in Japan: I didn't get this pick at all. If he wanted someplace to eat and drink late into the night, L'Express, Le Chien Fumant, Icehouse, Imadake, Nouveau Palais and Reservoir are all infinitely better both in food and drink. He did visit L'Express and Nouveau Palais (and in fact ate and drank late in the night at Nouveau Palais) so my best guess would be that there were favors being called on this one. If I had to choose, I'd actually suggest Beijing or Mon Nan in Chinatown.
Le Club Chasse et Peche: Adam Gollner might be a nice guy, and I actually really like Le Club Chasse et Peche. But Tony could have spoken to Taras Grescoe who is a way better writer about sustainable fishing at La Porte and the food would have been better while the discussion would have been just as boring, but the Travel Channel could have given lip service to sustainability.
Marven's: Again, another head scratcher. If Tony was looking for some sort of hole-in-the-wall obscure neighborhood restaurant, he could have eaten better at Amelio's, Daou (and they could have had a way more significant "Celine Dion moment" there) or Roi du Plateau than at Marven's. Although none of those places have stuffed animal heads on the walls. But they didn't show the animal heads on TV...
Brasserie Capri: A brilliant choice, obscure, old school (even though it just got sold). I would keep it in my alternate version of The Layover. But I would also have included Wilensky's and/or Pataterie Chez Philippe and/or Chez Nouri and/or Momesso's and/or the Lasalle Drive-In and/or Dic Ann's and/or the previously mentioned Binerie Mont Royal.
Dominion Square Tavern: Personally, this wasn't even a head scratcher. I immediately realized that someone somewhere was paying to play. they made no mention of it's previous history as THE gay bar in Montreal for something like 40 years, and how the renovation ripped the heart and soul out of the place. In it's place I would have suggested going to real old-school taverns that haven't changed one iota for 40 years, like The Midway, Verres Bouteilles, Inspecteur Epingle, Verres Sterilises or one of the remaining Serveuses Sexy breakfast places.
Orange Julep: Again, like the Capri I would probably leave it in my version of The Layover as well. But Dic Ann's and/or the Lasalle Drive-In would do in a pinch if it had to be replaced.
Joe Beef: Without Joe Beef Tony would not have ended up in the back of the pickup truck, does Liverpool House still exist?
L'Express: This was Adam Gollner's choice and while I still like it, and adore M. Mason (there is no better waiter in Montreal) a) they should have given him some screen time, and b) it really is getting a little bit musty there. Lemeac or Laloux could have fit in easily without anyone even so much as noticing.
Romados: Let's just say I'm very thankful that Tony and his team continues to send people to them. Because my favorite Portuguese Grilled Chicken restaurant couldn't handle the crowds. But in case you are interested in trying other better places, might I suggest Na Brasa, Chez Doval, Jano, Casa Minhota, Le Triangle Portugais, Rotisserie Portugalia, Tasca and while I haven't had a chance to eat at Boca Iberica my guess would be that it too, is better than Romados.
Brasserie T: Easily replaced with Bar F. Or if you want to keep Normand Laprise/Charles Antoine Crete involved, Toque.
Grumman 78/Nouveau Palais: Icehouse makes way better tacos, is opened as late, has a better bourbon selection, better Jukebox/DJ/iTunes Playlist and is slightly cheaper to boot!
L’Emporte Piece: Another brilliant choice. If I were to replace it I think I would not do it with someplace identical, but with something else that Montreal does wonderfully, like manakish at Andalos or Arouch. Or perhaps the swinging micro-brasserie scene, or maybe just the fries at Paul Patates. I dunno. Tony didn't actually eat there, so it might be another one of those pay to play places, in which case maybe leave that segment up to the highest bidder...
And finally, Schwartz's: All I have is three words: Smoke Meat Pete. It's closer to the airport, better smoked meat, cheaper smoked meat, the lineup is indoors, it has better music and plenty of parking.
Serious thanks and props to kpzoo for listing off all the places Tony went to here:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8251... so that I did not have to watch it a second time, the least I owe you is a beer let me know where you'd like it. Thank you.
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