Stephanie’s Montreal food adventure continues! Don’t forget to check out Part One for the full story.
At the recommendation of my friend and fellow Sporker Molly, we woke up early and ventured through winding residential streets of Parisian architecture to Rue St-Viateur, walking along the Esplanade (like at home in Boston!) under the shadow of Mount Royal itself. Molly had suggested Rue St-Viateur Bagels, a chain of scrumptious shops. We had no idea what to expect, but upon walking in, we noticed that the location we had come to was a bustling bakery, cash-only (think North End (Boston) or Little Italy (NYC) -style), and very popular among locals and tourists alike. We were quite hungry, but our first bites into the bagels were nothing short of extraordinary. As a New Yorker, originally, and as someone who has suffered from the lack of great (or even tolerable) bagels in Florida and Boston, these were quite the meal. We chased them down with some rose-flavored David’s Tea from next door for a great breakfast-on-the-go.
After a full morning of sightseeing, with highlights including the Biodôme, Parque Olympique, and downtown shopping district, we stopped for a quick bite on Rue Saint- Catherine (in the McGill University area), at a bar/restaurant called Zesto Resto, whose dishes range from local popular ones (fish and chips, about ten different types of poutine, Philly Cheesesteaks) to chicken souvlaki, fajitas, and meatloaf. I had a filling and very large quesadilla (I can’t complain about those Canadian portions), and we proceeded on.
Dinner found us back on Boul Saint-Laurent, where we chose Laika, a “trendy hipster bar” according to the Internet. While the food here was out-of-this-world, the service was even more outstanding, the very amicable bartender/waiter taking his time to sit and chat with us, and explain the dishes on the all-French menu. Laika also offers an in-house DJ after dinner hours, and seemed very packed later on in the night. I enjoyed a grilled cheese with goat cheese and a fruit salad, Chelsea had a ham and cheese crêpe with gazpacho, Lisa the nachos, piled-high, and Sydney a yummy smoked trout sandwich.
Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the mysterious black door. After looking up bars in the area, Lisa navigated us to a place called Big In Japan, which actually turned out to be a long line pouring out of a sketchy black door on Boul St Laurent. This place was amazing. Upon being ushered in by a bouncer in a tuxedo, we passed through a large curtain and noticed rows upon rows of conjoined tabletops and barstools, in a labyrinthine pattern. Romantically candlelit, this speakeasy was a refreshing break from the usual bars and pubs we came across. One of the gimmicks of Big in Japan is that if you purchase a bottle of whiskey, they will keep it corked on the ceiling for up to a year with your name on it, and you and your friends can visit and drink from your personal bottle.
We spent a good chunk of the morning walking and trying to locate a brunch place we had found online, but after several failed attempts and one long walk later, we found ourselves at Rue St-Viateur once more, and immediately gravitated toward the closest breakfast option – a nice-looking diner called B&M. We ordered and ate to our hearts’ content:
Eggs benedict with avocat and chèvre (goat cheese and avocado) (Stephanie),
Eggs benedict with Canadian bacon and cheese (Chelsea),
Bagel sandwich with bacon, egg, and cheese (Sydney), and
Vegetable crêpes (Lisa). I could go on and on about the amazing dishes we ate and saw served here, but I think the photos of “the real deal” will suffice.
On the long drive home, we stopped off for some TimBits (donut holes) at Tim Horton’s right before the American border at Sydney’s suggestion, which came in such delectable flavors as birthday cake, pumpkin spice, regular glazed, and Reese’s peanut butter cup.
Our trip to Montreal was certainly unforgettable, and the people we met, especially the wait staff at the above-mentioned establishments, were so welcoming and accommodating of four non-French-speaking American girls. Between the beautiful landscape and the delightful meals, Montreal proved to be a very charming destination.
Je me souviens, Quebec. The very fitting motto of the province literally translates to, “I remember.” We will remember you — and so will our taste buds — and be back soon.
Post and Photos by Stephanie Cohen.