Eating (and drinking) our way to and through Montreal
We escape to Montreal every so often for a change of scenery and language. With the recent beautiful weather, we felt the City of Saints calling us.
On the way, we stopped at the incredibly charming Every Day Cafe in Contoocook, New Hampshire. I enjoyed the “the Bup” – a roast beef and cheddar sandwich with tomato and horseradish mayo on thick white bread. The cafe also sells many locally-made products including their branded “Tooky NH” items.
Our friends John Delpha and Cailin Bilodeau own the Black Cow Bistro in Essex Junction, Vermont and we’ve been craving John’s cooking since he left Boston after stints at La Campania, Sorellina, Harvest and Mistral. John has won numerous for his culinary talents – especially for his barbeque: 2009 Grand Champion and two-time category champion at the Jack Daniels World Barbeque Championship competition. I started with Smoked Chicken Wings with House Rub and Agave Nectar Glaze and finished with a tasty pork chop which was a special for that night. An amazing dinner and a few celebratory cocktails for Cailin’s birthday made for an exceptional evening.
The next morning, we drove to Montreal and heading straight for Rue Laurier Ouest, the perfect street for meandering, dining, and shopping. Michel Brisson is a little clothing shop which lured us in with its sleek design and window displays. I purchased a great cotton summer jacket from wings + horns, a Canadian company which draws design influence from Japan. We stepped into L’Emouleur to look over their stunning selection of Japanese cutlery and into La Maison d’Émilie, a shop which sells intriguing and interesting culinary items and gifts.
After a quick “welcome to Montreal” cocktail (or two) at Rotisserie Laurier, we made the tragic mistake of going to a different restaurant for lunch. I won’t provide the name of the restaurant, but we waited 53 minutes for our meals – afterwhich the server said we should have told him that we were in a hurry.
The Jean-Talon Market was definitely worth seeing with stall after stall of produce, seafood, meats, and flowers. We’re accustomed to paying high prices in Boston and Cambridge for fresh produce – and wish we could have filled the car with these delectables, but the U.S. customs officers wouldn’t have been so pleased.
We then checked into one of my favorite hotels, The Gault. This hotel has almost the exact opposite design asthetic of our little hotel in Harvard Square, Hotel Veritas. While our rooms are small with detailed woodwork, rich textiles and iridescent wall coverings, the rooms at The Gault are large and loft style with concrete floors and smooth lines. The concierges and servers are extremely friendly and charming. We’ve tried a few hotels over the years in Montreal, but now we stay nowhere else but The Gault. A few cocktails in the lounge with our friends led to us missing our afternoon nap – which we’re so accustomed to when traveling. We pushed through somehow.
The friendly bar at L’Assommoir Bernard was great for our pre-dinner cocktails. When we walked into the Le Comptoir, I was certain our friends had selected the right place for dinner. The neighborhood restaurant was intimate and lively – and with the restaurant descriptive of “charcuteries et vin,” we had high expectations of the meal to come. We weren’t disappointed. After the house-made charcuterie plate, we enjoyed the roasted beet salad with celery “à la grecque”, goat cheese, watercress, and argon oil – then the braised beef short ribs, potatoes angnoletti, celeriac purée, and red wine glazed onion. There was much sharing of food amongst our friends – and the wine flowed well.
For some, that would be the end of the culinary night – but not for our friends. L’Express Restaurant was the final stop of the night and Dan and I sipped on pear martinis and vodka on the rocks – while our friends had their mid-night snack of steak frites.
We collapsed into our bed at The Gault quite sated.
Monday morning brought about our stroll around Chinatown and dim sum at Ruby Rouge. Although Boston has an vibrant Chinatown, Dan and I tend to go more often for the pho than dim sum. We picked up some shwarmas from Marchés Adonis for the road trip home.
All in all: a great few days of eating, drinking, and laughing with friends.
Posted by Benson Willis, General Manager of Hotel Veritas