Monday, January 9, 2012
Montreal weekend highlights
The weekend before Christmas, husband and I packed it up and headed up to Montreal for the weekend. His fall after the Barcelona/Provence trip was crazy at work, so we decided we needed to take a little trip before the holiday madness. We arrived on Thursday afternoon and left Sunday evening. We had a great time exploring the city and some of their best bars and restaurants.
It was pouring when we got there - so we checked in and headed to Dieu du Ciel! It's a microbrewery and one of the biggest beer bars in the city.
It was really pretty crowded, but we found a table near the bar. I had the Péché Mortel and the Aphrodisiaque, which were both delicious stouts. The Péché Mortel is one of the best coffee stouts in the world.
After a couple of beers, we headed over to Le Comptoir for dinner.
We had reservations to sit at the bar. We figured out over the weekend, that there are bars and there are restaurants - but they aren't necessarily the same. So when we sat at the bar, we were overlooking the kitchen - not a bar like we would think of in DC.
The food was amazing. It was all small plates, so we had a couple of different things that we shared.
We loved watching them prepare all of the dishes, we were just in awe that this whole restaurant was serviced by this 6 burner stove.
Friday we went to have hot stone massages, which were amazing. After that, we went over to Schwartz Deli, a Hebrew delicatessen that has been in business since 1928.
The place was packed, and it was about 2:30 once we got there. Smoked meats sandwich is what they're known for, so that's what we got - with a pickle and fries. We should have ordered one and shared it...
After lunch, we headed into the Latin area for a walking tour. It was interesting, but a bunch of the places we were supposed to go were closed for Christmas parties.
We found a great bar called Benelux. We were freezing by the end of the tour, so we poked in there for a couple of beers before dinner. It was slammed for Friday happy hour. We sat at the bar and made friends with some of the girls tending bar.
Then it was time for dinner...at THE place. We had reservations (again at the bar) at Au Pied de Cochon. Chef Martin Picard's innovative restaurant is definitely an adventure...
He's known for his foie gras and adventurous dishes. We started with poutine, which is a Quebec traditional dish with fries, sauce and cheese curds. Well, he includes duck fat gravy and foie gras (below). It was good but incredibly rich. Then we had bison tongue. That was completely gross and I don't ever need to have that again...and then we had the special pig trotter ragu. This was delicious! It was really very good. We rolled ourselves out of there after one of the richest dinners we've ever had.
Saturday morning we headed to Little Italy and did some market browsing.
I finally got my fresh Nutella crepe that I missed while we were in Provence.
After wandering around the Italian area for a while, we headed to Ta to have some traditional Australian pies. They were perfect to warm us up. The temperature on Saturday was about 10, wind chill of 2....
The place was tiny and adorable. Run by Australians who've moved to Montreal, it was very authentic. I had the spinach, mushroom and ricotta pie with the split pea soup - absolutely delicious.
We bundled back up and headed over to the old part of town to explore a little after lunch. We went in the Notre-Dame Basillica and took the tour. The church was built in the 1820's and was one of the pretties sanctuaries I've ever seen. The tour was very good, and we heard all about how the church was designed, it's history and current story.
The picture inside just doesn't do it justice for how amazing and beautiful it was. After the tour, we headed back out and took our own little walking tour of Old Montreal. Everything was decorated beautifully for Christmas.
You know if I'm wearing a hat....it was cold.
Long johns, jeans, long sleeve shirt, wool sweater, 2 scarves, hat, coat, gloves...still freezing...
Back to Benelux for a couple of drinks before dinner...we were done with the cold walking tour...
Reservations Saturday night were at Pintxo. A Spanish tapas style restaurant, it might have been my favorite dinner of the weekend - almost tied with Le Comptoir. It was absolutely fantastic. Another tiny kitchen with fresh and inventive dishes.
We ended up talking a bunch to our server, who was also one of the owners. He was fantastic, as was the rest of the staff.
Sunday morning we got up and hiked up Mont Royal. We stayed at the Omni Mont Royal, so were right at the base of the mountain. Since for some reason my husband needs to go to the top of any mountain wherever we are, we couldn't not venture to the top of this one. The views were beautiful once we got to the top. We ended up doing a little more walking than we'd hoped, so were ready for brunch.
The bartender friends we'd met at Benelux suggested that we go to Lawrence. We knew we'd picked the right place when they were in line when we walked in! After about a hour + wait, it was so worth it - the food was amazing!
We were over being so cold and ready to head home after brunch, so we made our way back to the airport and flew home.
It was a great weekend away, and we had a blast eating and drinking our way around the city. I look forward to going back one day. In the summer.
Posted by Lindsey Baker