I recently found myself in Montreal for a Girl’s Getaway aka my sister’s birthday celebration. I’m ashamed to admit that it was my first visit to the neighbor’s the north. In an attempt to “plant my flag” there, I apparently felt the need to eat my way through the weekend, and through the city. Thank you, Montreal, for the extra 5 pounds I will be bringing home as a souvenir. Just in time for beach season.
But I won’t blame myself. Montreal is a Foodie’s Heaven. It’s not all Poutine & Crepes, either (although I had my fair share of both).
Here are some of the best places I acquired my extra “baggage” in this truncated Foodie’s guide to Montreal. If you too find yourself in the biggest city in Quebec sometime soon, you MUST try at least one of these restaurants that left me powerless in the face of gluttony.
310 Rue Saint Paul Ouest, Montreal QB H2Y 2A3
Bocata was my absolute favorite, hence the #1 placement. For any New Yorkers reading this: if ABC Kitchen, Rosemary’s and The Smith had a lovechild, Bocata would be it. The three most popular items on their menu are the Thyme Roasted Milk Fed Veal Chop (with a side of homemade Gnocchi), the Roasted Black Cod and the Lobster Carbonara Tagliatelle. We ordered all three, and while unanimously delicious, the Veal Chop was the standout in my book. Endlessly tender, with a subtle but sweet glaze. Tremendously flavorful. Bocata also features small plates, with really strong wine pairings. Who doesn’t love that? Reservations seemed a little hard to come by (I think we got lucky because of the Hockey playoffs), so make sure to book ahead if possible, because Bocata is not to be missed.
Category: ambiance, girls night out
Veal chop at Bocata
2. Olive & gourmando
351 Rue Saint Paul Ouest, Montreal QB H2Y 2A3
Yes, the “g” is lowercase. Now this place seriously made me question whether or not I’d entered into a portal to a future time when Williamsburg, Brooklyn (aka the birthplace of the hipster) became overrun by the French. Featuring an incredible bakery, Olive & gourmando is an absolute MUST for breakfast, lunch or the best of both worlds, brunch. The type of brunch where you’d go to see and be seen. We ordered both the savory Cuban Panini and the Goat Cheese Panini for sharing, but the real star was the Iced Dirty Chai with a shot of Espresso. I could’ve had 5 more of them. I also saw quite a few other patrons ordering a decadent looking Mac & cheese, that I may or may not have tried to convince my sisters to go back for the next day, to no avail. Don’t make the same mistake I did, and get yourself an order.
Category: hip brunch, bakery
3. Jardin Nelson
407 Place Jacques-Cartier, Montreal QB H2Y 3B1
Jardin Nelson is located in a more touristy little enclave of Montreal, in the heart of Place Jacques- Cartier and close to the Port, and doesn’t escape the tourist trap category itself. Expensive prices as you’d expect, and the waitstaff seemed a little bored. It has it’s redeeming qualities: inventive menu (especially with their vast crepe selection) and a renowned jazz brunch. But the ingredient that got Jardin Nelson onto my short list is the truly lavish rear garden that shapes a truly memorable dining experience. It’s spectacular enough to compensate for how long you’ll wait for your overpriced omelette.
Category: overpriced brunch, ambiance, dining alfresco
4. L’Atelier d’Argentine
355 Rue Marguerite d’Youville, Montréal, QC H2Y 2C4
This Argentine steakhouse came highly recommended by our hotel’s concierge, as a really great steakhouse with a little something extra. I’m not sure if the “something extra” they were referring to was the gorgeous waitstaff for my sisters and I to drool at while we waited for our food, but that’s what happened regardless. I sort of remember eating a pretty fancy hangar steak with some sides like quinoa-crusted shrimp, but oof….the waitstaff. Definitely filing this one under “Beautiful People”.
5. Giorgio Ristorante Old Montreal
12 Rue Saint Paul Ouest, Montreal QB H2Y 2A3
I’m pretty snobby when it comes to Italian food, and I’m not sorry about it. The reason: my mother’s meatballs are unparalleled. The next best thing that even comes close would be my grandmother’s meatballs. But then I had the Spaghetti and meatballs lunch special at Ristorante Giorgio. It was sensational. The meatballs crumbled easily to the bite, just like my mother’s, and were chock full of flavor. I came pretty close to licking my plate. This was completely unexpected as I hadn’t at all expected to be blown away by the Italian fare in Montreal. Now you know: Ristorante Giorgio is well worth a pitstop, particularly for their fabulous lunch special.
Category: lunch specials, BYOB, very decent Italian
You may notice that all of the aforementioned are within the same area in Old Montreal, as unfortunately we didn’t stray further afield. The reason is because we were busy eating! While I definitely look forward to delving further into Montreal in the future, my last visit proves that you can eat world class, diverse and memorable cuisine within just a block or two in this fabulous city!
BONUS: Something you have to love about visiting Canada is the all-maple everything. Here’s some maple ice cream for your viewing (and my tasting) pleasure: