We decided to play tourists in our own city for our vacation and visit some of the spots mentionned by Montreal Chowhounders. Here’s a "little" report of what we’ve done so far in two days.
Yesterday, we headed for Ile Bizard’s nature park to cool down and saw a promising spot for supper, Bistro 1843 (376 Cherrier; 514-305-1229) in the old part of town (near the big tin roofed church). When we stopped on the way back, alas, their reservation log was full. The nice young lady told us they are very small and only do one seating. A quick glance at the menu showed it was all à la carte, and riffed on French cuisine. Apps about 8-12$ and mains up to about 36$. I didn’t notice if it’s BYOB or not. We plan on going back to the nature park soon, so next time we’ll attempt to get a reservation first.
In consolation for the bistro strike out, I scored a box of chocolate-covered blueberries (about 9$) from les pères trappistes de Mistassini across the street at Boucherie Les Épicurieux (389 Cherrier); a nice butcher shop with all sorts of interesting spices, jellies, preserves, conserves, and prêt à manger dishes. Actually that entire mini mall looked like a foodie heaven: there was a bakery-patisserie next door and an Italian restaurant; and nearby what looked like a small outdoor farmer’s market. We were very hungry so we didn’t stay long enough to fully investigate.
We decided to go find that perennial Chowhound fave, Shahi Palace (4705 des Sources, in Pierrefonds; it’s north of the 40). Based on CherryMTL’s review last year, we ordered the chicken balti, lamb palak, chili fish and veg biryani and some nan. Wow, the balti was superlative, zippy with ginger, and the chili fish was delightful: chunks of white fish with colourful veggies. The lamb was also very nice, a bit chewy, served in a dark spinach sauce. Nan was fine, maybe not as puffy as we like but good. The heat was just right and went very well with the Alexander Keith’s White we picked up at the gas station south of the mall there, on the other side of Sources. We had lots of leftovers.
That whole section on Sources is chockablock with South Asian grocery stores, clothing, etc. that would be worth investigating at another time, and a Pushap, where of course we picked up dessert to go. BTW they’ve been doing a mango dessert (barfi?) that’s really good.
Today, we headed instead to the Plateau, because I wanted to stop by Bio Terre (http://www.bioterreepiceriesante.ca) to stock up on Q Tonic for G&Ts. It’s a nice organic food store up on Saint-Viateur near Esplanade, lots of goodies in there. It’s almost across from Café Olimpico, which meant of course we stopped for a coffee there. We both got the cold milk coffee (choice of unsweetened or sweetened – we skipped the sugar). The coffee was poured from a big brown glass jug and the milk then added. We sipped our drink and watched the hip crowd on the Olimpico terrasse and walking about. A very happening place.
That area of St-Viateur’s a nice spot to walk around; lots of shops and food spots. We looked into Soup Soupe, which had interesting soups on the menu, but we weren’t quite in the mood for them. Of course, a stop at St-Viateur Baguel was required, where we picked up a dozen (half and half)… the sesame baguels were still hot so of course, we gobbled one down. Next time I’ll try the Fairmount: the St-V baguels didn’t seem sweet enough.
Oh yeah, we also poked our heads into Épicerie Chez Latina (http://www.chezlatina.com/) and admired a very nice selection of meats, cheeses, oils, and assorted goodies – all a touch overpriced but quite appetizing (I think 17$ for a tiny jar of espelette pepper is juuuuuust a tad too much, even if I do adore espelette). I did pick up an olive oil pressed with blood oranges from California out of curiosity. Also spotted: Bouquiniste S.H. Welsh’s (used books), moved there from Saint-Laurent.
We finally decided to head to Rôtisserie Romado’s (115 Rachel Est) for lunch, since we’d never been there and heard great things. Ten bucks got us a half chicken, rice, salad and two cans of pop. We skipped the fries, because frankly, our waistlines can do without. It also came with a stale bread roll; the surprise was a custard tart tucked in with the roll. The sight of all those roasting chickens over coals was impressive. We asked for the hot sauce, which was brushed on but not very generously… Chicken was a bit dry and yet oily. The rice, the salad and the roll were completely dismissable; we mostly focused on the chicken. I’m sorry to say the chicken was perhaps not as amazing as I’d been led to believe. It wasn’t bad, but for me it’s still Chalet BBQ (yea, I know, it’s not cooked the same way). The little custard pie was shared but deemed a bit too sweet. I think I like the Chinese style ones more (even though I suspect they are related somewhere in history)
Other interesting Plateau stops:
Mycoboutique (16 Rachel Est, near St-Laurent; http://www.mycoboutique.ca/). Everything mushroomy can be found there, from books (even one on the fungal biochemistry!) and posters and mushroom sculptures, to assorted dry or fresh mushrooms, and oils. Even lessons in mushroom hunting. I mentioned Havre Aux Glaces’ mushroom ice cream and the (very enthusiastic and mellow) young guy working there told me they had some too, cèpe flavour. He gave us each a small spoonful to try… unmistakably ‘shroomy in fragrance and taste, visible bits of mushroom in it, and with the sweetness of ice cream. I am not sure I’d go out of my way, but it would make for a surprising entremets in a multicourse meal. I haven’t tried Havre’s version, so I cannot compare. I was also intrigued by the mushroom starter kits: pick the kinds you want to grow, find a log, drill some holes, insert the spore-laced plugs and voilà, lots of otherwise expensive mushrooms for a few years, up to seven even. Anyhow, we left with a mix of dry mushrooms and some black truffle oil. I’ll certainly go back there.
Le Canard Libéré (4396 Saint-Laurent; http://www.canardsdulacbrome.com), where everything Lac Brome duck-y can be found: a dizzying selection of magret, confit, whole ducks, mousses and pâtés, dried duck meat, duck livers, wings, foie gras, etc.. Also assorted fancy crackers, pickles, vinegars, preserves, with a strong slant on Quebec products. A nice big space, well set up. You can also eat there at the little café (also some spots on the sidewalk). We decided to buy some frozen all-duck sausage to try later.
After other non-foodie stops (Zone, Valet de Coeur, etc.) we were so bushed, we decided to retreat home, to the wilds of NDG ☺
As usual, there’s tons to see and do on the Plateau; it’s nice to play tourist there on occasion.