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Posts Tagged ‘French bistro’

This is a small, simple French bistro serving two prix-fixe menus – the special and the  table d’hote. The special is a simple butter lettuce salad with walnuts, thin steak with mustard sauce, frites; the other menu will give you the same plus a soup and profiteroles for an extra $6.95, though I’ve never had room for all of that. My favourite dessert is the peche melba, which is a tall sundae goblet of buttery vanilla ice cream topped with canned peach halves, whipped cream, and toasted almond slivers. The traditional profiteroles are also good. Diners can look out the windows at passers-by in the bustling downtown area, or can look at themselves in the wall mirrors. We’ve never needed reservations.

2022 Rue Peel at Blvd. de Maisonneuve O.

metro: Peel

See my Sept. 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 my favourite restaurants in Montreal is Brasserie T!. This contemporary, sexy bistro opened up just last year, and is a “little sister” to Toque! and Olives and Gourmando. Reservations are recommended, although it’s possible to squeeze in if one goes early.

Despite its tiny home right next to the contemporary art museum (Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal), Brasserie T! makes intelligent use of its space, and the decor feels a little like a minimalist airplane – first class, of course. Claustrophobia is averted by the large windows lining the walls that afford a nice view of passersby and the dancing fountain during the summer; during warmer days there is even outdoor seating. While sophisticated,  pricing is not outrageous. The service is smart and friendly, and the menu is a small yet sophisticated selection of charcuterie and contemporary Quebec bistro fare. It’s all delicious…well, maybe not the brandade, a bland mixture of cod and potato that I haven’t been in Quebec long enough to appreciate it. Last summer there was a tantalizing fresh tomato soup which was poured at the table over a waiting bowl of herbs, croutons, and spices. My favourite order is the salmon with dill, which is a delicately cooked and seasoned salmon filet with a fennel salad. My husband sometimes gets the burger, which is also good and comes with a gigantic mound of fries, which we split along with the vegetable of the day.

As for dessert, I have had good luck with the eclair and other baked goods; the fresh sorbets and gelatos tend to be too sweet.

metro: Place des Arts

1425 Rue Jeanne-Mance and  Rue Saint-Catherine Ouest

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My husband and I went to Artisanal, a cheese-focused French-style bistro, twice when we were dating, and again during this past holiday season with another couple. Nothing has changed. Reservations are strongly recommended, though we were able to get seats by the bar. Service is friendly but sometimes unbearably slow. The menu is fairly simple. Gougères were cheesy, savory, and just as delicious as when I first bit into their hot puffy little spheres several years ago. The fondue du jour, a Gruyère, cornichon, and bacon fondue, actually worked, though was not as complex as the Artisanal Blend fondue. In addition to the bread which came with the order, we got juicy and tender beef tips, sausage, green apples, and crudités. Two small fondues were almost enough for four people, but it was just the right amount when we followed it with chocolate fondue, which came with a selection of strawberries, banana, dried apricots, spice biscuits, housemade marshmallows, and mini madeleines. One order was enough for the table, although we had to get a second tray of fruit and sweets to finish the small pot of chocolate. Apparently it was also a good addition to the postprandial coffee.

At the end of dinner, I realized that one might be able to purchase gift baskets at the cheese counter in back, and attempted to surreptitiously fulfill a Christmas request from my husband, which was a gourmet food basket with crackers and cheese. Unfortunately, I was waited upon by a young man who didn’t seem to know what he was doing and who took just as long as the table server had to fill my order. In a cheese-focused restaurant/cheese shop, I was surprised that there was no talleggio, and found the sole manchego to be rather bland; the Gruyère was ok. As I rushed to keep up with my departing party, they finally handed me my finished custom gift box, but told me to keep the shopping bag horizontal, which, as a we traipsed about NYC for a while afterwards, visiting Times Square and Rockerfeller Center, became rather uncomfortable to hold. Plus, they did not attach the large box of crackers which did not fit into the box; it keep slipping out of the horizontal shopping bag onto the ground.

While the food is delicious and very satisfying, the long wait in between ordering food and receiving food is too long.

2 Park Avenue (Entrance is on 32nd Street between Park & Madison Avenue), New York, NY  10016, USA

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Leméac is an exquisite brunch place – chic, popular, with sophisticated  food in just the right portions – with only the slightly snobby staff and high prices bringing it all down to earth. Two people eating a salmon salad, poached eggs over belinis, donuts, hot chocolate, and latte  = $60, including tip. Ouch. And yum. Therefore Leméac is a treat meant to be savored sparingly…or on someone else’s tab.

The perfectly dressed salad came with two long pieces of beautifully smoked salmon holding up the greens as a form. My belinis were more like two small pancakes, but the salmon, poached eggs, and dainty smears of sauce and caviar were delicious. The house-made donuts were warm and slightly crisp, and could have done with the house-made jam, which we decided we’d order it with the next time – jam was extra, after all. The Valrhona hot chocolate was just the right temperature – warm, not hot – and unsweetened; my husband also found his latte to be very good.

I’d recommend making reservations, as it does get busy, and dressing up a bit. I haven’t seen cufflinks in a while, but they weren’t out of place here. But part of the charm of Leméac is to see and be seen. If the other diners bore you, gaze out the large windows overlooking the  gentrified part of town.

I was going to check out ordering the house-made salmon mentioned on their website, but couldn’t figure out how to go about buying it. Does one ask the waiter? Or does it have to be ordered in advance? Perhaps we’ll find out during our next visit.

Metro: Laurier

1045, avenue Laurier Ouest and avenue Durocher

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On the street that houses a number of closely packed, worthwhile restos, is yet another one in Reservoir, a casual yet trendy francophone bistro. Anglophones, bring a bilingual dictionary, as even the website’s English version seems to be perpetually “coming soon.” Still, the weekend brunch at this Plateau resto is something to look forward to when you want a contemporary Quebecois, foody-friendly repast.

The floor-to-ceiling windows are removed during nice weather, which suits the laid-back brasserie air. Service is friendly, but minimal and very slow. The main draw is the food, which is nicely presented, well-seasoned, and delicious. Selections are scribbled on a large chalkboard, but are also presented on a printed menu, ranging from eggs florentine with gravlax to thick crepes with fresh fruit compotes to juicy pan-fried mackerel on top of asparagus, fresh peas, and zesty citrus puree. My first brunch here was an unbelievable scallops with bacon garnished with cauliflower and citrus purees – I had seen it at another table, artfully arranged on a large wooden slab, when we walked in and thought immediately “I want that.” The chocolate pot de crème with fleur de sel topped with thick dulce du leche is unbelievable and very rich.

Metro: Sherbrooke

9 Ave. Duluth Est at Blvd. St. Laurent

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Comfortable traditional French bistro known well by the McGill community. Has a pleasant, private courtyard during the warmer months. Recommend for lunch. As is typical in Montreal bistros, servers have to be flagged down for everything.

3487 Ave. du Parc at Rue Milton

metro: Place des Arts

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