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My trip to Montreal - L'Express, Au Pied de Cochon, Buona Notte

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My trip to Montreal - L'Express, Au Pied de Cochon, Buona Notte

jacinthe | Jul 27, 2005 04:22 PM

My restaurant choices are going to echo a lot of previous reviews on the board, but, that’s how it goes, mm?

We drove up to Montreal from Boston, and arrived in a quite timely 5 hours. I wish we’d researched places to stop at on our drive up, but we didn’t, unfortunately.

Our first meal in Montreal was at L’Express. A more traditional French bistro in feel, I liked that they put out a jar of cornichons with the appetizers. Between the three of us, we split the rillettes and tabouleh/asparagus appetizers. Rillettes were good, served in a little ramekin with not nearly enough toasted slices of baguette (good thing there was a lot of bread available!), and the tabouleh was good too, if not what I consider traditionally French. As entrees, one girl got the grilled salmon, another got the pot au feu (which I tasted a bit of – it was served unlike any pot au feu I’d seen before, with a large boiled chicken leg, a nice hearty piece of bone marrow, a large piece of beef, and a good quarter of a head of boiled cabbage – the versions I’ve experienced have been more stylized), and I got the confit de canard on a salad. The salad itself was overdressed and there was just too much of it, but the duck itself was very good – crispy skin and lots of tender meat that practically fell off the bone. Dessert was unimpressive. I think we got the charlotte with raspberries. It came out about 2 minutes after we ordered it, and while good, wasn’t memorable. Service throughout was very friendly. Being a table of 3, we were seated rightnextto a party of two, which was uncomfortable, moreso for them than for us.

Breakfasts were taken care of by our B&B, and they were so large (and we ate late enough) that we didn’t really eat lunch. We did stop by St.-Viateur bagels at one point, and while the sesame bagels were very good texture-wise, they were too sweet for my palate. Another day we went to Frites Alors – ohmygosh, if ONLY they had chains that served only good French fries (I remember there used to be one in Santa Monica, but I think it’s closed? And there are certainly none that I’m aware of in Boston).

Our next dinner was at Au Pied de Cochon. I was excited to try this place, as I’d read so much about it. Since they were very tardy in seating us, we each got a complimentary glass of wine, which was a very nice gesture. I was envious of the parties ordering the seafood towers – but hey, we were there for meat. The three of us split the foie gras poutine. This was our first time ever having poutine, and I think that this was definitely the way to go, even though it was practically a heart attack on a dish. I loved it, and hated that I had to share it with my two dining companions. As an entrée, I ended up getting the onion soup (luscious flavours, but almost – gasp! – too thick a layer of cheese atop the entire thing, although this was probably a late reaction against all the yummy fat in the poutine), one of those amazing foie gras bites that does really explode in your mouth (only one, as after the poutine, I didn’t really “need” more foie gras), and then another appetizer consisting of an assortment of sausages and pate-type spreads, which was fun to eat as I always like lots of small tastes. One girl got the potee, and the other the pate/sausage assortment and fried zucchini blossoms, served impressively like frites in a rolled-up paper cone. For dessert, we were resolutely told to get the pudding chomeur (I think that’s it?), which reminded me of an English sticky toffee pudding, although the cake was of a finer texture than the sticky toffee pudding I’ve had. It was amazing. Service was very slow, but it was almost okay as the entire dining experience was so friendly and pleasant.

Our last dinner was at Buona Notte. Unfortunately for me, my friends were tired of French food (how could this be?! Incidentally, this was also the first time they’d ever had French food) and of cute little bistro-type atmospheres. Sigh. So, we went to Buona Notte on St.-Laurent, whose sleek dark feel appealed much more to them (although I was left a little cold, what with all the black and the terribly skinny waitresses who made me almost not want to eat). We ordered the fried calamari and vegetables to start, which was fine if a little bland. The fried julienned vegetables were hard to pick up as well, and this dish was whisked away from us by our waitress without her asking if we were done (as we still had a few bites left). As an entrée, I got the tagliatelli with wild mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and truffle oil. This dish was very light in terms of mushrooms and tomatoes and heavy on the oil, relying upon the latter to satisfy the customer but it didn’t quite do it for me. This same dish was ordered by one of the other girls, and the last ordered the grilled chicken with haricots vert which she enjoyed. Dessert was a chocolate-orange crème brulee which was quite decent, the chocolate and the orange balancing each other out well.

Before heading back to Boston, we did stop by the Marché Jean-Talon, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I wish we had gone there earlier in the trip, for I’d have liked to have explored the neighborhood (and restaurants!) in that area. We ended up just getting stuff from Boulangerie Premiere Moisson (sp?) for the car ride home, although if I had more time I’d have liked to have checked out the random little stalls of food. I miss permanent open-air markets like this.

All in all, I had quite a good time, even though I wish I’d been with more adventurous eaters. Another time, perhaps! Thanks also to everyone who provided some guidance.

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