Friday, March 10, 2017

Squid Eats: Montreal 2017

A couple weeks ago, our family made its annual winter trip to Montreal, just a two-hour drive from our home in northwest Vermont.  For me, the highlight of these visits is nearly always the food.  One of the world's great cultural crossroads, Montreal boasts top-notch restaurants across a broad range of cuisines.  Here are a few of my favorites among our new discoveries:
  • La Taberna - Potuguese - Chicken piri-piri is the star of the menu. 
    The bird is perfectly cooked and had us plotting future visits.  It's Montreal so, of course, the restaurant offers its own version of poutine featuring said chicken.  We didn't try it but we will next time.  They offer pastéis de natas: lovely but overpriced.  There are more reasonable Portuguese bakeries in town, including the one I wrote about here.
  • Otto - Japanese - There are a couple aspects of Japanese culture that I will miss for the rest of my life: good train service and great bars.  Izakayas are magical places for me and North America facsimiles rarely live up to my memories of the real thing.  Otto comes pretty darn close.  For starters, it smells right.  The music's a little loud but the food's great and not outrageously priced at all.  Kawa (chicken skin) yakitori was my favorite, not included in the photo as we'd already gobbled it up before we thought to take pictures.
  • Mei Yuan - Chinese - Our daughter loves dumplings of all varieties so we generally try to find at least one good dumpling restaurant when we travel.  Mei Yuan has many to offer, including soup pork dumplings.  My favorite was the curry dumplings, a little soupy themselves and yummy.
  • Café Reine Garçon - café - True to its French roots, Montreal has a thriving café culture.  There are Starbucks around, though they seem more than a little silly with so many high-quality local options.  Café Reine Garçon was right around the corner from our hotel, a delightful spot for breakfast.  The offerings are simple and wonderful.  I had the smoked salmon bagel and pain chocolat both mornings we went.
And yes, we did find a few things to do between meals.  Our top museum discovery was the Stewart Museum which focuses on Montreal history, particularly the early European influence.  The current featured exhibit is called Curiosities, basically an organization of various smaller items from the museum's collection in "cabinets of curiosities."  Lots of fun.

We also attended part of the String Quartet Marathon held as part of the city's Montréal en Lumière festival.  The group we saw was quite capable, though the selections a bit too modern for our tastes, even our daughter who likes the weirder stuff.  Modern string music is interesting for its exploration of the full instrument, using harmonics and other unusual techniques.  Three of the composers were in attendance, too, which is always fun.  But afterwards, I could have used a heavy dose of Vivaldi to bring me back to equilibrium.

As always, we were sad to leave but happy to get home.  We'll be back.  There's talk of gathering the family in Montreal for Christmas, in fact.

12 comments:

  1. I have never been to Montreal- but it sounds tasty- and fun. :) Always great to visit a place with lots of food items to try. I think it is awesome that it is only a couple of hours away. I think it is about 10-12 from my house, but I am not sure. Thanks for sharing!
    ~Jess

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    1. My pleasure! If you ever do make it to Montreal, let me know what you think.

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  2. I haven't been to Montreal, and I would say I have envy, but I suppose, considering I live within an hour of SF, I can't complain.

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    1. I have been to SF once. I would love to go back.

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  3. I would love to see Montreal and Quebec. Taking a cruise down St. Lawrence would work with that.

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    1. Quebec is nice, too. Much smaller, which can be a plus and a minus. Less to do but also less ground to cover. Very pleasant to sit and watch the world go by. Montreal is comfortably bilingual. No one was rude to us in Quebec but it definitely would have been easier for all parties if we had stronger French.

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  4. Ohhh! Jealous! I would love to go to Montreal and Quebec...maybe some day!

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  5. Hi AS. Sounds like a visit to Montreal just for the food would be in order!

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  6. Montreal sounds nice; the food amazing. Funny thing is, you mention Starbucks being there mixed in with other, probably better, local options. I usually won't stay in a town that doesn't have at least one of the following: Walmart, Starbucks, or McDonalds. Thing is, I don't eat or shop at any of those places. Huh.

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