Montreal - and a little of Quebec City, Part 2: where to eat
Let me preface this post by saying that I have never had a bad meal in the entire province. Some have been better than others, of course, but food in Quebec is generally amazing in my experience. To anyone familiar with Montreal and Quebec City, this list will be very obvious, but to those who aren't, these are the places I consider essential.
Breakfast in Montreal:
I've had very good breakfasts at L'Avenue in the Plateau and the (sadly) now-closed L'Anecdote. The afore-mentioned Auberge de la Fontaine has a really wonderful included breakfast. My favorites, however, are Beauty's Luncheonette in the Plateau and The Greenspot very near Marche Atwater. They are both diners and both have wonderful food and great atmosphere. At Beauty's, I most highly recommend the fresh-squeezed orange juice - a large glass is huge - the Beauty's Special bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese, onion and tomato and the odd-sounding, just delicious Mish-Mash omelette. After breakfast, go for a nice walk in the park. The Greenspot is just around the corner from Marche Atwater, and I've only gone for the hearty, inexpensive, excellent breakfast. I had a combination plate of scrambled eggs, home fries, baked beans, griddled smoked meat, fruit and toast, good coffee - under $7. I intend to go back for other meals, classic diner food with a distinctly Quebec tone. The perfect spot to fuel up before a trip to the market.
Lunch in Montreal:
My first lunch in Montreal is always at L'Express. It is the perfect, classic French bistro of your imagination. The menu is full of beautiful bistro classics, but for my first lunch of the trip, it's always the soup of the day, kidneys in mustard sauce and the baba au rhum with a lovely glass of red wine from the extensive, well-priced list.
Other favorite lunch spots include La Banquise, with a rather dizzying array of varieties of poutine, my favorites being the original and the Galvaude with chicken and peas, and a good selection of Quebec beers. It's open 24 hours a day and is pretty essential for a visit to Montreal.
Schwartz's for the deservedly famous smoked meat sandwich, which you must eat there, is a must. I do get the full-fat version. Your cardiologist may protest.
Dinner in Montreal:
Joe Beef / Liverpool House / Le Vin Papillon / Vin Mon Lapin: The Joe Beef group of restaurants is sublime. Fred Morin, David McMillan and Allison Cunningham have created probably my favorite restaurants in the world, with a whole bunch of the best people you could ever hope to find. You probably won't get a reservation at Joe Beef, but that's OK. You almost certainly can get one at Liverpool House right next door and with what I believe is essentially the same menu. These are not fancy places, although the food and drink is of the highest level I can imagine - people looking for a swanky experience may not like it. Their loss. Ask the lovely people here what you want to eat and drink, focus on the specials of the day, and enjoy one of the best dining experiences you'll ever have anywhere. Le Vin Papillon, directly down the street, and Vin Mon Lapin near the Marche Jean Talon don't accept reservations and are both brilliant.
Au Pied de Cochon is one of the greatest restaurants, bar none, in North America. Chef Martin Picard is a genius and a visionary. The very pork-and-foie gras centered menu is all wonderful, but I've also had lots of superb meals of fish, seafood, salads (yes!) and fruits. The foie gras cromesquis are a somewhat dangerous (incendiary molten fat) but delicious revelation. Do go easy on the excellent bread. Again ask what you want to eat and drink, being aware that portions are stupendous.
Toque: Chef Normand Laprise's flagship has one of the top two tasting menus of my life - the other being Le Bernardin. The whole menu is beautiful, but you do want to splurge for the tasting menu - if you can manage, with the wine pairings, which are extraordinary.
Dinner: Quebec City
Le Continental - the oldest of old-school, tableside flambe French classics. You owe it to yourself to do this at least once. Yes, the butter comes in little balls in a two-piece silver dish with ice below to keep it cool. Do get the featured filet mignon. It is glorious. Everything is classic.
Beauty's Luncheonette: http://beautys.ca/
The Greenspot: https://www.facebook.com/GreenSpot1947/
Auberge de la Fontaine: http://www.aubergedelafontaine.com/
Joe Beef: http://www.joebeef.ca/
Au Pied de Cochon: https://aupieddecochon.ca/en/
Le Continental: http://www.restaurantlecontinental.com/