Just returned from a week of jazz fest at night and food explorations during the day--here are some highlights--
This was my 4th visit to my favorite North American city and I am still learning more. Much of what I have discovered predates my introduction to Chowhound, but I really appreciate the advice of the local hounds especially btfp whose opinions are always well- considered. Our first dinner was at Au Cyclo on A. du Parc , Hue Vietnamese food and probably the best in town. Please go-the food is expertly prepared and the service warm and engaging. And-the resto may be closing soon due to the cost of doing business in such a competitive market-the owner said they may focus on catering if things do not improve. They will stay open at least through summer's end...
We had 3 other fine dinners- Le Poisson Rouge on R. Rachel is a great Plateau BYOB, casual ,yet refined. We celebrated the first publication of one of our group with a bottle of '98 Chateauneuf that I had "smuggled" in from the States. Next, we ate a 2.5 hour meal at La Colombe, another top BYOB. The food is more refined in presentation yet still without pretension- the duck breast is especially fine. On the final night we ate at La Brunoise and closed the place down @ midnight. As has been mentioned on the list, the food is superb and the pricing is unbeatable. Service is great , the scallop/cucumber amuse-bouche worked wonders, the skate with mussels and romesco is a creative flavor pairing, and do NOT miss the pannacotta for dessert. Spent quite a while talking with co-owner Zach and they are committed to an evolving menu and low prices.
Aside from dinners, I highly recommend the following-- there are 2 salon du the that are not to be missed if tea is your thing. The best is Camellia Sinensis on R. Emery. This place carries teas that are bought direct from Chinese growers- I had a lovely conversation with the fellow in the boutique and he shared a photo album of the farms and producers in Fukien where they go each spring to purchase. Don't miss the oolongs. The other tea stop is TheSalon, Inc. on 4586 St. Denis. This is Chinese -run and has a fine selection of teapots.
The combo boulangerie/fromagerie/charcuterie at 1375 R. Laurier Est is the one stop for any food lover that should not be missed. I found Rossette de Lyon there , much to my delight . And since the baker is from southwest France, they have gateau basque which I have never seen outside of France-available on Thursdays and filled with figs and raspberries,nontraditional but fabulous!. In the same neighborhood you will find Maison Cakao and a high end olive oil boutique. If you want to learn about food [not just eat], the Jardin Botanique has a fine exhibit on rice at the Chinese garden through October.
The new wine bar Bu on St. Laurent is very fine. Presently, they are featuring flights of burgundy, rioja, and Italian wines. Not cheap but very well-chosen. The charcuterie platter is recommended and the nuts[served as a snack with olives] are warmed before they are served which really brings out the flavor and is a nice touch.
Finally, if you are a visitor ,consider staying in the Plateau away from downtown . You will be in the mix away from the tourist zone with many food and cultural discoveries awaiting. If you would like some gite suggestions for lodging, just let me know. Vive la Montreal!
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