I am finally back to the blog and back from a whirlwind weekend in Montreal. It started with being bumped from my flight and missing a much anticipated dinner at Au Pied du Cochon, but was well worth it in the end. Montreal itself is amazing. It holds an old world charm but has all the modern amenities of a medium sized city and the food, oh the food. I am going to try to hit the highlights!
St. Viateur Bagels, we had walked about an hour and a half. This tiny bagel shop was located in the residential neighborhood of Mile End. We could see the crowd bustling at the door. These were not tourists, but residents hustling for their Saturday morning bagel fix and now we know why.... The bagels were delicious. They were smaller and thinner than a NY bagel and had a slightly sweet taste to the dough. The real flavor came from their cooking. They are cooked in a real fire pizza like oven. They come out warm, smoky, and toasted. We sampled and devoured three a sesame, a poppy seed, and a cinnamon raisin. Each had its own flavor. Nothing artificial just the flavor of the bread and the seeds or raisins. Amazing. This was a little out of the way, but well worth the walk.
Grange. It was described as kitschy back woods ambience and great tapas style French/ Quebecois cuisine. For a chilly rainy night this seemed to be a great place to cozy up by a fire. Upon arrival, I saw that the reviews had belied the restaurant's hip vibe. It was located in the apparently very trendy West Old Montreal. This strip of old store fronts housed restaurant after restaurant with a SoHo like feel. Inside were plenty of younger people definitely dressed to go out for a Saturday night. The interior was less kitschy and more like a cabin styled loft. Dance music played and we wound our way past the bar and fireplaces to a cozy back table overlooking the street. The menu was arranged tapas style with small tasting plates for every palate. We were delighted to have a chance to sample so many things and to enjoy this trendy and creative take on French cuisine. The restaurant is known for their wine list. We chose a bottle of Bordeaux to complement our dinner. To start the waiter helped me pronounce and recommended the Sucettes de rosette de Lyon which were meat (basically like coppa) lollipops featuring fig paste and pistachio nuts. These were cleverly served on popsicle sticks which made them hard to resist and easy to eat. Additionally we tried the Fois gras served in small cubes on top of gingerbread cubes with onion chutney. These melted in your mouth. The ginger and gingerbread added a slight sweetness to the smooth fois gras. I literally closed my eyes to eat these, Heavenly. For our main plates we chose a delicious roasted beet and goat cheese salad, another veggie dish Poutine au Sante, basically a healthy version of the famous poutine. This dish typically features French fries, gravy, and cheese curds. This play on that concept substituted the fries for crisp green beans! For meats we tried mini tartar burgers served slider style with onion confit, piave cheese and mini cornichons. We also had braised pork flank with skin, fat and all served over potatoes gratin in a cheese and sour cream sauce. Finally for dessert the pot du crème served in a cute little jar and accompanied by popcorn and shortbread cookies. The sweet/ salty caramel crème was the perfect accent to these treats. This dinner was an inventive way to sample some traditional French favorites.
Schwartz's Deli. This cute little shop in St. Laurent didn't disappoint. When we arrived and when we left, there was a line out the door. Service is brusk and the tables and counter were crowded, but they can get away with it because the food is that good. I far cry from gourmet, the smoked meat was authentic, flavorful, and simple. It was served sliced with mustard on rye bread. To complement our meal, we had a side of cole slaw and a large homemade pickle. The meat was so moist and tender, with a full smoky flavor. It was a brisket cut like pastrami or corned beef but sliced thick and not brined. I have eaten at Carnegie Deli, Katz's, and 2nd Ave. Deli in New York and this exceeded my expectations. A great sandwich and worth the crowd.