Hi all, I just returned from your lovely (if rainy!) city. I think we covered a lot of ground - we planned the trip with no real idea of what to do in Montreal other than "eat"! Here's where we went, and my impressions:
Vinizza - we were staying in Little Italy and the woman who rented us her apartment recommended them. After a 10 hour drive, we wanted to stay local. We got a table without much of a wait, thankfully. We started with the calamari, which were cooked nicely but a little bland. Entrees were an anchovy and basil pizza and some very simple gnocchi in a tomato sauce. The pizza was wonderful - thin, chewy, crispy crust with just the right amount of cheese, sauce and anchovies. The gnocchi were cooked well; a few seconds longer and they would've been gummy. Overall, it was a nice place to catch a bite after a 10 hour drive.
Olive et Gourmando - I know a lot of people complain about the service, but we found the hostess to be friendly and helpful in explaining their sort of weird ordering system. They had sold out of a few things by the time we got there, but the cajun chicken sandwich and tomato sandwich were both very nice. Loved the bread and the tomatoes were really beautiful. Overall I think Montreal has some of the best bread on the continent!
Brasserie t! - My first impression was "the restaurant is in a double wide?" What a weird place for a restaurant! We had to wait a little after our reservation time, but it was well worth the wait! We had the salmon tartare, the duck terrine, the saucisson en brioche, coquilles st jacques, steak frites and the frozen nougat. The charcuterie was probably the low point but that's only in comparison - overall it was a very strong meal. A word of advice would be to come hungry; the portions are huge and a lot of the menu is very heavy.
Schwartz's - My fiancee is a huge fan of all things brisket. He loved the sandwich, I thought it was ok. I absolutely hated the pickle. I don't feel a strong need to return, but I'm glad I went. We met some very nice people sitting next to us.
La Banquise - I couldn't come to Montreal for the first time and not try poutine! It definitely vies with pupusas as my favorite drunk food. My only recommendation would be to not order apricot beer with poutine; that was definitely my mistake.
Réservoir Brasserie - Our local friend took us here for brunch on Sunday. What an amazing little find! I had this incredible dish of bacala gnocchi, octopus, squid and slow roasted tomatoes. I am gaga for this - I would eat it every morning if I could. The octopus was incredible.
Au Pied Du Cochon - This was actually our reason for visiting, and what a disappointment. I generally liked the food but the service was so amateur that I did the unspeakable and left a 10% tip. What went wrong: we were told the cromesquis were hot and to wait a minute before eating. After 30 seconds we bit in and they were still slightly frozen. Our tomato tartlet took 30 minutes to come, and we had to ask for it multiple times. They brought my fiancee the wrong beer. We had to ask them, after 30 minutes of putting our dishes on top of each other and putting our napkins up, to clear our plates. Of course, the check came within seconds and was whisked away as soon as I put my card down. We also had the plogue de champlain and the hot pot. The plogue was good but one-note and the hot pot was just too much (although I suspected that when I ordered it). Loved the boudin noir and pork belly, but the pork chop was really dry and I didn't much care for the other sausage. The service was so bad I actually skipped dessert, even after hearing such good things about the pudding chomeur.
On a side note, I think Montreal might have the best collection of microbrews outside of Seattle! We tried several and not a bad one in the bunch. We tried to go to Dieu de Ciel but it was way too hot and crowded. Thankfully we were able to try their beer elsewhere (at a bar with ostriches heads on the wall). Also we practically lived at Jean-Talon Marche every morning since it was less than 2 blocks away. We bought a quiche and heated it up in the mornings for breakfast, which was a great (and cheap) idea.
Thanks for a nice trip, Montreal! I can't wait to come back and try some of your less touristy places!
Olive et Gourmando
351 Rue Saint-Paul Ouest, Montreal, QC , CA