Food

DISCOVERING MONTREAL IN 8 RESTAURANTS

Here comes the second edition of eating and drinking in Montreal! I’ve spent some amazing days in Montreal, discovering the new parts of it, visiting the quarters that I love the most and more importantly eating and drinking different places…

If you haven’t read my first edition of Montreal restaurant reviews, here is your chance before we start eating vigorously at 8 more amazing restaurants.

I’ve told you before, I am telling you again with different words: One could easily argue that you can eat the Japanese food in Japan, best pasteis de nata in Portugal, best Peruvian cuisine in Peru, best onion soup in France and best English breakfast in England… but where you can find of all these in the same street? That would be Montreal!

When I’ve chosen the restaurants that to try, I’ve made my research well and more importantly I’ve made the reservations! In Montreal, in high seasons and in weekends, it’s a very good idea to make reservation beforehand, to not to have problems when you actually are there. The good news is, most of the restaurants have a great online system for reservations, and it’s very easy without any need of registration.

Our reservation are done, we are hungry, so let’s start to discover!

1. Au Pied de Cochon

Au Pied de Cochon is a very rustic restaurant which serves typical Montreal food, many people would agree that it’s one place that you should go to experience Quebec’s terroir, in heart of Montreal. I have to admit, I had a special excitement by only thinking that Anthony Bourdain ate there.

au pied de cochon
Au Pied de Cochon

I was told to go there hungry, considering the main ingredient of the restaurant is fois gras. However, the only available time that I was able to make reservation was at 5 pm and I had to have a late lunch because of the flight. So, as a big mistake, I was not hungry enough to enjoy a big meal there. That’s why we ordered only one appetizer and one main dish to share.

As an appetizer we had the “Plogue à Champlain”. It comes on a small buckwheat pancake which is covered with melted cheddar cheese. All the other ingredients are placed on top of each other; some roasted fingerling potatoes, couple of slides of bacon, and on the top seared foie gras. Final touch was drizzling some maple syrup. It was a good experience to try these flavors together.

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Plogue à Champlain

To begin with, they brought some homemade butter with sourdough bread to us – I literally watched them making the butter from scratch, and baking the bread. They were just so tasty. One could think “Oh, that’s just bread and butter!” That’s true, it’s simple yet so good! Simple pleasures of life…

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As main dish, we had “Canard en Conserve”, this is one of their signature plates. The ingredients of this plate are written on the can: ½ duck breast, 100 grams of fois gras, 60 ml of meat glaze with balsamic vinegar, 180 ml buttered cabbage, ½ head of garlic and 2 branches of thyme. All these ingredients are placed inside of the can to be cooked. It came to our table as a can, and the waiter opened it up at our table. Once it was opened, it was served put it on a plate where there is a bed of bread and melted cheese on the bottom. To be honest, I wasn’t expected it to be so well-cooked. The cabbages were so soft and tasty, and the duck breast was just on the point – pinkish inside.

Overall, it was a very good experience – afterwards, we had to take a long walk to digest our meal, but it is definitely worth it!

2. Les Enfants Terribles

Les Enfants Terribles is the highest restaurant that I have been so far, it’s 185 meters above ground! We had to change 2 elevators to arrive to the 44th floor of the tower where the restaurant is located. It’s actually the same place as observatory in Place Ville Marie, where you can climb to have a 360° view of the city and even attend some events such as yoga sessions, watching sunset…

We went there on a Friday evening, and it was very crowded – I was not surprised after seeing the amazing view, and enjoying the atmosphere of the restaurant.

I’ve already knew what I’d have the moment that I saw the menu – grilled octopus. It comes with some sauteed potatoes with huancaina and chimicurri sauce, red cabbage slaw lime and dill. The octopus was very well cooked, and had a good harmony with the side dishes and sauces.

Our second selection was tuna tartare. Tuna was seasoned with some sesame, soya, truffle and coriander. On top there were some crispy shallots, marinated baby king oyster mushrooms and lotus roots chips. The final touch was the avocado-wasabi mousseline sauce. It comes with a side dish of salad or French fries.

The wine pairing was The Palm by Whispering Angel, the iconic rose wine of Chateau d’Esclans. Me, as a lover of Whispering Angel itself, I’ve really enjoyed The Palm, it was a good pairing to these dishes with its freshness. And, we finished the evening with some sweet pleasures and a  warm chomeur’s pudding served with cold cream.

3. Tiradito

This is a bar which serves Peruvian dishes and cocktails. It has an interesting decoration and modern seating, open bar and semi-open kitchen – the food is cooked in the kitchen inside and comes to the bar for plating in front of the clients.

For the first round of drinks, we ordered pisco sour and maracuya sour and we started to check the menu – it was very rich and all the options look very appealing. We decided to start with 3 classic seafood base dishes and go from there. First one was “pulpo al olivo” which is boiled octopus with paste of black olives, and the second was “albacore tuna tiradito”, a plate which shows the Japanese influence in Peruvian cuisine, tuna fish cut as sashimi and flavored with miso, tamarin, Amarillo pepper and choclo (corn). This is one dish that I would suggest to try if you have the chance.

Continuing with the classics, we had a nice bowl of “ceviche” with the catch of the day, and lots of “leche de tigre” (tiger milk) which is the delicious marinate full of citrus juice.

For the second round of the drinks we tried “chilcano”, which has pisco, lime, ginger beer, angostura bitters, and “pisco spritz” with pisco, campari, gingerbeer, lime and Prosecco. Both were very fresh and accompanied us until the final warm plates have arrived.

From warm plates, we ordered a “papa rellena”: A crispy fried potato bomb filled with beef and sweet chili sauce inside. Finally, the last plate was “duck anticucho”, well marinated duck meat grilled on skewers – I couldn’t think a better dish to finish this delicious chapter.

I would suggest this place for a fun night-out to try different cocktails and flavors.

4. Restaurant Mochica

If you never tried Peruvian cuisine before, Mochica would be the restaurant that I would suggest to begin this delicious adventure. Unlike the Tiradito concept, with small plates and lots of cocktails with a modern atmosphere, Mochica has a more traditional decoration and big portions of local dishes. They have completely different concepts that would fulfill your evening depending on your mood. In our case, we have been craving for Peruvian cuisine for a long time, so Mochica’s familiar atmosphere, good service and more importantly delicious and generous plates completely satisfied us.

Coming to the dinner, as we arrived around 6 pm, we had a happy hour deal to drink 2 pisco sours pay 1. Cheers for that! As a starter, we ordered “oysters a la chalaca”, which is filled oysters with red onions, tomatoes, cilantro, leche de tigre and some caviar on top.

Following we had a grilled tasting plate with grilled octopus and my favorite “papa a la huancaina” which are boiled potatoes served with a delicious sauce of yellow pepper.

As main dishes, we had a plate of rice with duck leg served with vegetables and avocado and another plate of “anticucho de corazon”, heart grilled in skewers.

And the wine? When I heard that that they are serving wines from Peru, I couldn’t top myself to complement these dishes with their local wine. It was a good decision indeed. We had a glass of Malbec, and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon from Peru, both well-made and accompanied nicely our dishes.

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Peru in my glass!

After all these delicious food with enormous portions, I didn’t have almost no space for dessert, but when I saw the menu, I knew that we had no other choice: Ice cream of lucuma! Lucuma is a fruit that I’ve tried in first time in Chile, it has a very special taste and texture of it which I love. The ice cream was out of this world! We also tried 2 pisco based cocktails: Algarrobina and Peru Negro.

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Lucuma and pisco based sweet cocktails!

All in all, we had a great dining experience and were very happy with the service.

5. Hanzo Izakaya

This modern concept to the Japanese cuisine has been taking my attention since I’ve tried it last year in Madrid. There, I actually found it somewhat similar to “tapas” where you order some small portions of different plates to share. I like this style since you can try many different plates without filling your stomach too much. It also give you some intimate moments with your friends or family around the idea of “sharing”.

We have started with a plate of black gyoza with pork, shrimp and mushroom, seasoned with yuzu and chili oil. What I liked a lot in this restaurant was how they grouped the menu as raw, grilled and fried. We have choose one from each menu. From raw menu, we had “magura zuke don”: very fresh red tuna seasoned with dashi soy sauce and served with rice. From grilled menu we had “kamo yakitori” which were duck heart skewers. Finally, from fried menu we had “kani korokke”, crab croquettes which were serve with a delicious maple sauce and relish.

The cocktail menu was to lose yourself in it! I have tried “Matcha Matcha” which was a creamy cocktail with many different flavors including ginger, yuzu and olive oil – absolutely new to me and super enjoyable. We also tried “Nago Bay”, a pisco based cocktail flavored with rose, bergamot, pineapple and vanilla. It wasn’t sweet as one can imagine, but full of flavors with a harmony of aromas. I would turn back there only to try more of these different creations.

6. Escondite

I have been passing in front of Escondite many times, and it was always full of people. Since then, I wanted to eat there and we finally made it. We had a nice table of 2 in the base floor, and the decoration of the restaurant was absolutely lovely, made me feel like in a bar in Cancun. (Even though I haven’t been in any before!) The service would make most people happy, since most waiters speak French, English and Spanish.

We started with some margaritas, there was both the classic version as well as special version – “margarita media noche” (midnight margarita, with blood orange-tamarind syrup. We have tried them both, I really liked the touch of blood orange of midnight margarita. Coming to food, my suggestion in this place would be ordering as much as tacos that you can.

Tacos were just juicy, perfect level of spiciness and with layers of flavors… I don’t have so much to say about them, they were just delicious. My favorites were the shrimp and cheese taco and Korean steak taco.

7. Le Pois Penche

Another restaurant that I have been passing through a lot and thinking to come, to experience a French brasserie experience in Montreal. Inside, it was possible to see the Montreal touch to the classic style: there was a DJ in the house! I was told that it was special for Sundays and Thursdays.

My idea was to try the classic onion soup before entering, but seeing the menu and wine list I’ve changed my mind. We had a fois grais as a starter served with brioche bread, fig and almond jam. As main dish we tried both the salmon and beef tartare. There were good options for wine per glass, I’ve went for a Cremant de Bourgogne which made a good pairing with salmon tartare.

8. Reuben’s Deli and Steakhouse

In a big city like Montreal, where every day new restaurants are popping up and closing down, Reuben’s Deli and Steakhouse has been in the center of the city since 40 years. The tradition behind and the cozy atmosphere makes me feel welcomes every time I go there.

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A visit to Montreal wouldn’t be complete without trying the Montreal-style smoked meat sandwich! I definitely suggest to have it on your to-eat list, you’ll thank me later! Bonus: Make sure that you have space to try the cheesecake!

With this extended list of restaurants, I believe that I’ve covered quite a good range of food available in Montreal. Next time, I will be discovering the Chinese and Italian towns, and try to eat in one or two “must-to-go” places that I am missing in my list.

As a tradition, I am saying “à bientôt!” to this amazing city and hoping to turn back very soon.

Cheers!

Wi.Nes

All images © 2019 by Neslihan IVIT. All rights reserved.

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