Thanks to everyone for your recommendations. I was in Montreal last week and had some great meals, based on your recommendations. I had a conference at the Sheraton Centre-Ville, where breakfast and lunch was included, so I had a few opportunites for nice dinners. I will say that based on the food at the conference, catered by the Sheraton, I will NEVER eat there or even order room service.
My colleagues and I went to Med Grill (not a Chowhound rec) on Wednesday night, on St. Catherine St. I wasn't too impressed. The atmospere is funky, and the menu impressive, but not that well executed. I laso need to get used to the prices of drinks in Montreal. $15 for a martini? In Toronto I'd rarely pay more than $10, and that would be for premium liquor. The martini wasn't very good, and a caesar ordered by my friend was like tomato water. The food was pretty good, but not outstanding. The salad of greens, figs, pancetta and manchego cheese was nice, but there was only one fig and the manchego was actually goat cheese. The seafood and lobster risotto, promised by the server to be made with tomatoes, was actually made with cream. It was good, but I was trying to steer clear of anything unecessarily heavy. The seafood in the risotto was lovely, plump and well-cooked.
Joe Beef was outstanding. I showed up, without a reservation, and was treated to a seat at the bar. The servers were very friendly, as were the other patrons near me (I dined alone this night). John, the bartender/oyster shucker was so busy, but remained friendly and engaging. He recommended some great wines with the oysters, and made me a few sampler plates of various oysters and a clam to try. I would have loved to try more of the menu items, but the oysters were just so good. This restaurant will make me come back to Montreal.
Cafe Ferreira was a Friday night reservation - very busy and loud. It reminded me of College Street in Toronto. Service was friendly, yet hurried. I had the grilled sardines to start and my colleagues had the tomato salad, tuna tartare and the calamari. All were quite tasty and generous. I hadn't had grilled sardines before, even when in Portugal, and was at first put off by their saltiness, then came to enjoy it. I had the mixed grill as a main, but was brought a seafood platter instead. I would have eaten it, but since I'd had fish the last two nights, I was looking forward to some meat. When informed of their mistake, they removed everyone's selections from the table, and seemingly started the dishes over, so they would be hot and fresh, served together. This is good service. They could have taken it off my bill, or given us something free, but instead they just corrected their mistake courteously and professionally. The mixed grill of chorizo, quail and lamb was cooked appropriately, although I had expected something tastier. The quail was a little chewy, the sausage a little tough, and the lamb less tasty than I expected. The sides of frites and mixed greens/tomatoes were yummy.
My colleagues were impressed with their seafood and grilled cod selections.
It was very loud inside, which on a Friday night at a popular restaurant is to be expected. Hardly romantic but that wasn't what we were looking for.
I'm not sure I'd go back, only because there are so many other places in Montreal I'd like to try. I'll be revisiting and looking for your recs some time in the future.
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