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Posts Tagged ‘Brunch’

It’s been a while since I’ve done a restaurant review. My husband and I have started to notice that we might have been patronizing the more mediocre restos in the area. Uh-oh. More research required!

Fortunately, this one isn’t one of them and we’ve been here many times in the past several weeks.

Holder does a satisfying weekend brunch. My Eggs Benedict came with a cute cake of Potatoes Dauphinoise and a nice fruit salad. On another occasion, their fish and chips were very nice – served hot, not too oily, and very tender and juicy on the inside.

For dinner, it’s important to get reservations or be told there aren’t any tables until after 9pm. It’s a bustling place with a sort of masculine energy during the week, as at least 60%-70% of the evening diners are groups of businessmen and the volume level is quite loud despite the lack of music. The bar has prominently displayed bottles and is well-stocked, seeming to have just about every whiskey imaginable.

The vegetable soup is fairly good, with rustic hunks of vegetables nestled in a tomato soup, which my husband says is like a minestrone without the noodles. The French onion soup is also very good, with a crusty top and dark broth soup that’s mostly onion. Tender fried calamari with just enough breading are also a good bet. I can heartily recommend the shepherd’s pie, which is a sophisticated mold of a very rich dish. Also, the unusually thick piece of calves liver. You get the idea – Holder is a keeper. The chocolate crémeux, coffee ice cream, cocoa and coffee sauce for dessert didn’t hurt, either.

Service is fairly good, though it is a busy restaurant. Pricing is reasonable for what it is.

Metro: Square Victoria

407 Rue McGill, #100A and Rue Saint-Paul Ouest

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Expensive but chic brunch and lunch place in Old Montreal. Complex ordering system – a waiter reserves your table but you order at the sandwich counter, then once you’re seated the waiter serves you through dessert, after which you pay at the register (or at the cash, as the Montrealers call it). My favourites include the herbivore salad with cashew dressing (of Jake Gyllenhaal fame – apparently he saw the owner eating it while he was filming Source Code nearby and she eventually put it on the menu), which seems to be a seasonal dish, and the toasted Cuban sandwich. The “poached egg on your face” sandwich is also good, but only available until it’s sold out around lunch time. Small bakery counter for takeout. Pleasantly eclectic. Prepare to wait at least 15 minutes for a table, crammed like sardines by the door, or get takeout and eat it at a nearby cafe.

351 Rue St. Paul O. at Rue St. Pierre

metro: Place d’Armes

See my September 2009 review here.

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Buried on the second floor of an unassuming little mall in Chinatown lies a bustling, no-frills dimsum resto. Dimsum is served everyday. The rapid turnover is impressive, even at 1pm on a Sunday with a crowded waiting area, and once seated it is easy to get a cart server’s attention. Dish selection is decent, and our favourite is the fragrant lotus-wrapped sticky rice.  The quality of the food is fine, but nothing special. It’s best to get a table close to where the carts are coming out, or you might get cold food; we were once served cold deep fried taro-wrapped pork. When you want to pay, you have to wave down a waiter – clad in black – and they calculate your bill.  The tab for 5 dimsum dishes was an astonishingly cheap $18, sans tip (it would have been a few bucks more had they had chive dumplings).

1111 Rue St. Urbain, Unit M05 (2nd floor) at Blvd. Rene Levesque O.

metro: Place d’Armes

 

See November 2009 review here.

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This is a busy bistro on the very edge of Old Montreal, just a stone throw’s distance from where the Occupy Montrealers had set up this fall. I usually go to this place when I forget where Boris Bistro is (a block down the street – they need a bigger sign). Neither is a bistro for which I would go out of my way, but if you’re stuck in the area, both are acceptable options.

The waitstaff are energetic and wear crisp orange aprons. The food is conventional bistro fare, with a couple soups, salads, tartars, and burgers. I’ve been sticking to the hamburger with cheddar, but the salmon tartar looks to be good, as well. These two dishes come with a large side salad in simple vinaigrette dressing and a generous portion of shoestring fries in a cup. The most memorable part about this bistro is the bit of wet maple sugar they serve with their tea and coffee.

Metro: Square Victoria

425 Rue McGill and Rue le Moyne

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One of our new favorite brunch spots is a popular bistro in historic Griffentown. It’s always busy, but also friendly and delicious. Located amidst a row of antique shops, it itself is charming and comfortable. The dining area isn’t large, and the tiny kitchen area in the corner is completely open – usually one sees at least two cooks working hard at the old fashioned-looking stove to pump out dishes and a frenzied barista manning the station in the opposite corner. We often have to wait at the bar for a table and once we ate at the bar area right in front of the cappuccino machine, which they dubbed “Niagara Falls.”

The brunch menu is fairly standard. My favorite dish so far has been the Huevos Divorciados, a soft corn tortilla topped with black beans, cheddar, optional pulled pork, avocado with sour cream, and poached egg. You don’t actually need the poached egg, because it’s fairly wet already and is served in a shallow bowl, but I guess that’s what makes it “brunchy.” The succulent pulled pork is a must. I don’t normally order alcoholic beverages, but decided to try a Bloody Caesar while waiting for a table at their bar. It was too heavy on the horseradish for my taste, and not as Bloody Mary-like as I’d hoped. At another time, I had a hot chocolate which was fine if ordinary.

Metro:Lucien-L’Allier

1378 Rue Notre Dame Ouest and Rue de la Montagne

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On one hand, this cramped upscale mart/cafe/brunch bistro has identity issues, right down to the Rorschach-like artwork on the wall; on the other hand, it’s a youthful, pleasant place for brunch if you can get a seat and the food is reasonably priced for the quantity and quality.

Food first. Diners either sit at small tables along the wall, or at a long communal table down the middle of the narrow establishment. Service is friendly, but during peak times can be brusque. The energetic brunch ambiance seemed more conducive to dating couples rather than families. I spotted some of the diners enjoying their bacon and eggs straight out of a cast iron pan. My sizable brunch order came on a large plate. It included: a skewer of fresh fruit, a simple side salad, a mild cheddar-like cheese, scrambled egg on toast, a hot scoop of fried salmon and potato, and a ham and cheese croissant. It also came with a coffee and an amuse bouche, a small cube of what seemed like a cream cheese danish, both of which we got after the entrée after asking for them. My husband enjoyed his brunch atlantique, but was miffed that they refused to allow him to substitute bacon for eggs.

The tiny mini-mart section had a small selection of prepared foods and high-end olive oils, exotic salts and chocolates – the sort of gourmet items which could be put into a gourmet gift basket. And for those to whom this is important, they sell Illy coffee (as a non-coffee drinker this means nothing to me, but apparently some rate their eateries by the brands of coffee served).

Metro: Place Victoria

106, rue McGill and Rue Wellington

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On top of the history of Montreal – that is, the Pointe-à-Callière – sits a surprisingly good bistro called l’Arrivage. While I don’t think that their angle is sufficient to warrant the summer fireworks festival dinner, the long wall of large windows looks out at the Old Port, and the mirrors on the other side let those facing the wall have a nice view, too.

We came here twice for weekend brunch, though it is open for lunch during the week as well. Diners do not have to pay the museum entrance fee, and can walk straight to the left stairs upon entering the PAC to the restaurant floor. While reservations might be prudent if you can think that far ahead, they didn’t seem to be quite necessary when we went, although there was a sudden rush as we were leaving. Service is courteous, and the brunch package was very reasonable, considering the setting, presentation, and quantity.

The brunch menu starts with a soup or salad, then moves onto the main course. I did not like the smoked aftertaste of my gravlax and poached egg, though I was willing to concede that that might be personal preference. The liver was excellent. Dessert was a tasting plate of ice cream, cake, and pudding.

Metro: Place d’Armes

350 Place Royale and Rue de la Commune

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