Posts Tagged ‘Lunch’

I’ll admit to not really understanding small gourmet boutique shops, possibly because, being from the NJ suburbs, gourmet shops are often mega gourmet supermarkets like Wegmans and Whole Foods. Fou d’Ici has a limited selection of gourmet, often all-natural and expensively packaged grocery items, cheeses, butcher, seafood, as well as a small pastry dessert counter and hot and cold prepared foods counter. Shelves only have a few items, neatly and evenly spaced apart. I’ve had good experiences with the overpriced mini cannoli and Petits Gateaux cupcakes.

The other day, I found myself at a meeting not too far from Fou d’Ici, and stopped in for one of their prepared sandwiches for lunch. To my surprise, it was quite enjoyable, and worth the price (just over $6 after taxes). The buttery and delicate salmon had been nicely seasoned with a strong black pepper, and was put together with tomato, lettuce, and mayonnaise in a soft sesame seed-encrusted bun. There are small tables and chairs inside of the store, and a line of nearby professionals waiting for the hot taco station.

Metro: Place des Arts

360, boulevard de Maisonneuve Ouest and Rue de Bleury


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I’m upgrading my rating for the Law Café, Avvocato (get it? Anglophones, look up the French word for “lawyer” and you’ll get it), which is my new favourite eaterie on campus.

I’ve been increasingly getting lunch from the takeout law school café at McGill, located in the basement bowels of Chancellor Day Hall. Of course, there are several kinds of coffee – both Starbucks and free trade – and other beverages in the cooler, including plain, strawberry, and chocolate milk. It has a minimal selection of snacks, pastries, self-serve salads, prepackaged sushi, flatbread pizza, prepared sandwiches, and soups. I’ve come to notice the to-order pasta station with a selection of meat or tomato sauce and plain pasta or ravioli or tortellini for a reasonable price (a little over $4) and a slightly more expensive (~$8-$9) hot daily special. Some recent selections included braised sausage with onions, tender herb potato quarters, and corn; moist and tender roast beef, mashed potatoes, and tasty and crisp two-coloured green beans. I was well-pleased with both, in both portion and quality. During the summer and on Fridays in September, there was an outdoor barbecue grill with juicy hamburgers and hot dogs and a selection of condiments. I like that the head honcho of Avvocato is so enthusiastic and likes to try new things. The food offerings are good for on-campus fare, and I’m not eating it just because I have no where else to go. I actually like the food.

The only major drawback of this establishment, and why it does not receive a perfect A, is the routine bottle-necking by the cash register, which can mean a wait of several minutes even when there’s only one other person in line. The staff are friendly and like to chat, leaving one often standing with an increasingly hot and moist takeout container in their hands.

Not being even remotely affiliated with the law school, I’m not comfortable eating in the spacious dining area – besides, lawyers and future lawyers give me the willies. As with many on-campus dining options, the café mostly closes when the undergraduates leave. There’s a snack vending machine in the hallway, but not enough for lunch.

Metro: Peel

3644 Rue Peel and Avenue Docteur-Penfield

See my April review here.

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There might be a quicker way to get to the food court underneath the Tour Scotia, but I usually enter through the revolving doors of the Scotia Bank skyscraper, walk straight through the open lobby of the bank, and take the small escalator down to the underground area.

There’s Asian stir fry-to-order, Arabic chicken shawarma (often called shish taouk in Montreal), burgers, and a Subway counter just around the corner. The food court gets very quiet during the summer, some shops even close down, but can be busy with long lines. Akli does shawarma and generous stew plates, and has coffee carafes filled with hot mint tea by the register. My juicy chicken shawarma included a lot of lettuce, hummus, and tomato and was wrapped in paper then heated in a panini press, which made it warm throughout but kept the pita soft. I don’t usually tip at counters, but there was a young kid helping out, so I dropped in a loonie. This is the sort of lunch food court that is convenient because of location and it’s right across the street from McGill.

Metro: McGill

Tour Scotia, 1000 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest and Rue Mansfield

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A comforting sign on the sidewalk bears the image of a cartoon sumo wrestler. Diners walk up a flight of stairs to the hole in a wall on the second floor. Multiple portable air conditioners and fans occupy every available window and at least one other one by the cash register, which displays a few Japanese snacks for sale, keeping the place reasonably cool during the summer. Diners sit at tables covered in plastic and peruse a menu with items ranging from the promised ramen (replete with helpful picture and labels), to edamame or eel appetizers and mochi ice cream dessert. I got #8, the beef ramen, the both times we’ve dined here. The large, satisfying bowl includes house-made ramen noodles (not the squiggly instant noodles, in case anyone was wondering), bean sprouts, half a medium-boiled egg, thinly sliced beef, corn, scallions, dried garlic stems. The miso broth was a tad salty and the soya broth less so. Prices are reasonable. The clientele seems to be mostly young people and families.

Metro: Place d’Armes

1007 Boulevard Saint-Laurent and Rue de la Gauchetiere Ouest

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Europea’s – and consequently its sandwich boutique’s – focus is on its image as a sexy, lavish place to eat. The sandwich boutique is really just a takeout place and there are only two small table areas by the door, but the little touches let you know that you’ve chosen your sandwich shop well. In addition to the sandwich counter and the macaroon counter, one can buy pretentious gourmet items like Himalayan black salt, an espresso machine, and bath salts. In my “boite” – a beautiful and reusable fabric lunch bag emblazoned with the Europea logo – I found my lightly toasted brie, apple, walnut, and grape sandwich, a bottle of Europea water, and chocolate mousse. The sandwich was just right – creamy, sweet, a little crunchy, and satisfying and the mousse was creamy and rich. That box option is just under $13, which is a good deal for what it is.

Europea Espace Boutique is only open for lunch Monday-Friday, and expect to wait in line during peak hours. It’s best to go closer to noon than 2pm for sandwich freshness, but anytime before then and all the desserts might not be ready…and we wouldn’t want that!

Metro: Place d’Armes

33, Rue Notre-Dame Ouest and Boulevard Saint-Laurent

See my December 2010 review here.

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We have dinner here regularly due to its close proximity to McGill. We don’t need reservations when we go early, but the restaurant fills up especially on weekends.

This ethnically authentic, upscale resto has perhaps the best East Indian food downtown. It caters to all audiences – families, groups, business associates, and intimate pairs will all enjoy themselves – and the ornately presented bilingual menu has a pleasing selection. Dishes are presented on gorgeous copperware and diners eat on Taj plates. Service is exceptional. Subtle music allows diners to speak at normal volume. Minimalist Indian decor includes an erotic print on the back of the wine list.

I sometimes start with a freshly made cup of chai. We often order the tightly rolled pappadum and enjoy the tasty condiments served with it. We tend to skip the appetizers, and order a couple of the entrees to share instead. Some of my favorite dishes include the moist and tender lamb tikka, the Bombay curry shrimp, and the butter chicken. The mixed rice and various freshly made naans offer a nice complement; portions are just right. Super nutty kulfi and warm, homey gulab jamun finish off the meal.

Taj also offers a tasty mostly vegetarian lunch buffet during the week for $16. While more than one might usually spend for lunch, the food is just as good at lunch as it is at dinner, and there’s even gulab jamun! Somewhat noisy and bustling, but what good place isn’t at lunch time?

2077 Rue Stanley at Rue Sherbrooke O.

Metro: Peel

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Romados is an astonishingly clean and odor-free Portuguese rotisserie/bakery. I comment on the odorless quality of the establishment because once you make your way up the line to the counter, you see the numerous racks of flattened chicken rotating juicily over smoking flames. The flames are all under powerful exhaust hoods, which effectively controls any smell of smoke or cooking meat. Unfortunately. Because this is some of the best rotisserie chicken I’ve ever enjoyed.

We were both very hungry, so we both ordered a 1/4 chicken combination plate – he got the breast and I got the leg – which included a heap of deliciously seasoned fries (celery salt and pepper, perhaps?) over a generous 1/4 chicken – brushed with spicy sauce to order – and salad, plus fresh roll, and small pastry from the pastry side. Including soft drinks, the total was around $16, and could easily have fed four people instead of just us two. We usually split one of the combo plates. We left unpleasantly full because everything was so tasty we didn’t want to stop eating it. Juicy, flavorful meat under salty, smokey skin brushed lightly with spicy sauce – which, by the way, is not spicy, merely piquant. And yes, I recommend diners use their fingers like barbarians instead of bothering with the plastic cutlery – after all, you can lick your fingers afterwards, whereas licking a knife is still construed as unseemly. If parking weren’t such a problem on that street, I would definitely make picking up a chicken part of my weekly routine.

Drawbacks of eating here include there being limited seating, and possibly waiting in a long line to order. Apparently it’s advisable to call in your order ahead of time so as to avoid the line.  Another drawback might be their use of styrofoam take-out containers…but it’s hard to dwell on that when everything else about the place is so good. I can’t imagine a better deal for this quality food or a cleaner take-out establishment.

115 Rue Rachel Est at Rue de Bullion

Metro: Mont-Royal

See my November 2010 review here.

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