Saturday, August 30, 2014

Montreal, Canada Edition

MoishesI traveled to Montreal, Canada, recently to present my master's thesis as part of the AEJMC conference. It was an incredible experience where I met people conducting similar research, and, of course, there was a lot of food. I wanted to try what the locals loved, so I followed this list as closely as I could (plus some extras). Joe Beef was closed for vacation, but the rest of them I got!


Schwartz's
Schwartz's Deli
Schwartz's was No. 1 on my list. I trekked to this side of town via metro and then by foot, waited in line until it was finally my turn and told them it would be just one. They squeeze you in whereever there is space, so it's likely you'll sit next to someone you don't know. I actually was seated at the bar. I asked for the Schwartz's Special - smoked meat sandwich (lean, medium or fatty) - I went with medium. Served on bread with mustard. It's a giant pile of meat, but it's tasty. Just very hearty. Before I was even done, they put the check in front of me. This is a no-lingering type of place. But I kind of liked that.

Grade: B
Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

Moishes Collage
Moishes
This was my first time eating at a fancy place alone, so I couldn't tell if I was more uncomfortable or if they were at Moishes. But I sat in this white tablecloth, upscale restaurant and ordered their filet mignon. It comes with their special potato, as well as cole slaw, pickles and bread as complimentary appetizers. Slaw was an oil base, and pickles were tasty. The steak was good. It was medium and tasty, and I definitely ate the entire thing. Maybe I was expecting something more for $50? I can tell you the "special potato" was amazing. Creamy, cheesy, amazing.

Grade: B
Moishes on Urbanspoon

Beauty's Collage
Beauty's Luncheonette
Beauty's was a nice quick stop for breakfast. I awkwardly waited at the door for what felt like an eternity before someone waved me back to a small booth so I could place my order. The Beauty's Special is cream cheese, tomato and smoked salmon atop a toasted bagel. It's a combination I haven't really had much of, but I really, really liked it. And I especially liked the bagel - how they're more crunch and not big and doughy. Lots of cream cheese and a fresh tomato slice made this one a perfect brunch for me to start my day.

Grade: A
Beauty's on Urbanspoon

St-Viateur Bagel Collage
St. Viateur Bagel 
There's an inner-city bagel war being waged between St. Viateur and Fairmount. So of course I had to try both. St. Viateur was up first since it was the furthest away. I walked in, ordered one all dressed, plus an individual cream cheese. After I received my small brown paper bag, I found a park bench and devoured it. They're not that big, thick bagels I'm used to. They're smaller, more dense and crunchy. Delicious. And little flakes of everything fell all over the place as I ate this. No shame.

Grade: A
St-Viateur Bagel & Café on Urbanspoon

Fairmount Bagel Collage
Fairmount Bagel
The rival! Okay - had to go with the all dressed at Fairmount, too. But I didn't see anywhere I could get an individual cream cheese, so this one was naked. And when I pulled it out of the bag, half of my toppings were MIA. Not as good of a showing as St. Viateur -- plus there was so much more fennel on this one! Meh. Overall, though, still good. But having them back to back, I think I prefer the first.

Grade: B
Fairmount Bagel on Urbanspoon

Wilenskys Collage
Wilensky's 
I went out of my way to get a flat sandwich with salami and bologna and mustard from Wilensky's. Plus I added cheese. I know it's iconic and simple, but I just didn't quite get it. It was boring to me. The old-fashioned soda fountain was awesome, though. They add syrup to a glass then fill it up with carbonated water, so it's mixed right there. Just neat. And their black cherry soda was great. They are a local landmark, though, as evidenced by the numerous newspaper articles. And even a photo of Anthony Bourdain on the wall.

Grade: B
Wilensky's Light Lunch on Urbanspoon

Au Pied de Cochon Collage
Au Pied de Cochon
Au Pied de Cochon was on the list for their fois gras poutine, which I already knew I was ordering. But Bob ordered a few more - a tuna tartar and a prosciutto plate. Fois gras poutine was good - a little different. But I liked it. Tuna was way better than I thought it would be. Fresh, firm, delicious. The prosciutto was tasty - and it even told us that our pig was fed on pumpkins! And for dessert, I had a creme caramel, which was just a flan. Good all around.

Grade: A
Au Pied de Cochon on Urbanspoon

Dic Ann Collage
Dic Ann's Burger
Dic Ann's is a fast food chain in the area, so it's in stark contrast to my prior meal. I went in early, and it wasn't busy. I ordered their burger, and it is this small little flimsy thing that sticks to the plate - so they give you a popsicle stick to plop it off with. It's sitting in a sauce that adds some flavor. But it's an odd little thing. Tasty, though. Just a little messy.

Grade: B
Dic Ann's on Urbanspoon

Jeff de Bruges Collage
Jeff de Bruges
Ice cream is my fav, and after a successful presentation, Jan took me for ice cream at Jeff de Bruges. It's a standard weight, so you can get as much stuff on it as you want. I went for a caramel + strawberry ice cream with caramel, cookies and cream dots, crunchy meringue and little chocolate candies. So delicious.

Grade: A
Jeff de Bruges on Urbanspoon

Toque Collage
Toque!
I spent 2/3 of my money on two meal: Moishes and Toque. The other meals were all pretty cheap. But Toque was the most expensive, by far. I spent around $100 here. But it was my last dinner in Montreal, and I was rewarding myself for a successful presentation, and damnit, kind of proud of myself for navigating all around this huge city, that speaks mostly French, and only getting slightly lost. There was bread and butter, which was tasty. A gift from the chef was this mousse and melon, which was super refreshing. My appetizer was princess scallops - which were raw scallops, daikon radish, beebalm mouse and berries water. And they were made to drink all in at once. It was odd to drink this water because I felt like it was perfume or something. But really, really tasty. And for my main course, I went with the suckling pig loin, which was artichoke, eggplant, tomato, chanterelle mushrooms, corn, roasted garlic puree and smoked sauce. So, so incredible. The pork loin had the best sear - almost crunch - on the outside and it was so juicy and perfect inside. Touches of artichoke added a little tang when necessary, and the mushrooms and garlic puree added the perfect earthy flavor I wanted. The smoked sauce, zucchini and other vegetables just were prepared absolutely perfectly. AND the chef sent out a petit fours that were like blueberry muffins with a toasted marshmallow topping, but the bread was a thick sugar crust almost. Amazing. Most expensive meal. Best meal.

Grade: A
Toqué! on Urbanspoon

Orange Julep Collage
Gibeau Orange Julep
Okay, totally opposite here now. Gibeau Orange Julep is a giant orange. I got off the metro and wasn't sure where to go - but I just followed the giant orange in the distance. It produces this sweet orange juice from these tubes that come down from the ceiling. I'm OK with it. Pretty tasty.

Grade: A
Gibeau Orange Julep on Urbanspoon

Decarie Hotdogs Collage
Decarie's Hotdogs
For my LAST meal in Montreal, I had to try one of Decarie's hotdogs - and some more poutine. I ordered two steamés, all dressed, which had mustard, onion and sauerkraut. It's not really sauerkraut though - more like cooked cabbage. Pretty good. And the poutine - huge! But amazing. I love the cheese curds and fresh cut fries. Plus the guy knew West Virginia and John Denver. And he made me feel super at home once I told him I was traveling alone. He served me and chit chatted until I was on my way.

Grade: A
Decarie Hot Dog on Urbanspoon

So, yeah, Montreal was incredible. Lots of amazing food. On the last day, I half bused, half hiked up their to their giant park - Mont Royal - with everything I had brought with me to Canada on my back (since I was taking a bus back to the airport afterward) so I could finally see. Montreal is super walkable (and hipster awesome), but no matter where I was, I could see this one mountain in the distance. So I figured out what metro/bus combination I'd need and made my way there. And the view was incredible. you could see literally everything for miles.

I think I was most impressed that I dined by myself, went far far away without being able to rely on GPS and only use my handheld map, used public transportation in a language I usually didn't understand and rocked my presentation. Couldn't really have asked for a better trip.

mont royal

mont royal