I don’t really need an excuse to explore a new place, so when my partner David said he chose Montreal to renew his U.S. working visa, I had my passport in hand faster than you could say window or aisle. Side note: it’s always window. My goal was to spend 48 hours eating in Montreal.
A weekend in Montreal had me throwing my ‘only indulge on French pastries in Paris rule’ out the window pretty quickly and oh my C’est Bon!
One of the perks, and trust me there aren’t that many, of starting work at 5am, is your weekend starts at least a couple hours before anyone else so I jumped on a plane and made it in time for dinner Montreal. First stop!
Quintessence bistro experience with the biggest jar of cornichons I have ever seen.
I ordered the chicken pate and beef tartar and immediately sunk into a state of Parisian bliss. From the checkered black and white floor to the simplistic sophistication the French have mastered so well, this is a great place to have a special dinner while in Montreal.
I went back to our hotel to swiftly sink into a rich buttery food coma cushioned by soft hotel pillows and pillow tops eager for a weekend of exploring.
Whoever said Saturday mornings were for sleeping in, have not met me on vacation.
We took a stroll down to Vieux Montreal for breakfast at Olive et Gourmando.
This is one of the more popular places to devour your morning croissant, coffee and paper, so if you prefer to sleep in and/or wait in line, try and make a reservation. This place is worth the wait and they aren’t open on Sundays. You will be greeted by competing flavors, from the freshly blended coffee, piping hot pastries and savory eggs on their way to the table. Make sure to save room for an almond croissant. David would have had 7 if he could (read: allowed).
Jump on the bus and head to Jean-Talon Market. A fresh produce market where locals pick up all their fruits, vegetables and meats for the week. Just like in Paris, the displays were set up in spectacular intricate form, making even the grossest of gross mushrooms look like a delicacy.
No trip to Montreal would be complete without at least one plate of poutine. Not the most beautiful looking of dishes, this national treasure is nothing to put your nose up about. Who knew a little gravy and cheese curds on fries could be so delicious and comforting. Many places like Poutineville have re-invented the dish, offering variations to the Canadian classic.
After a day of extravagant tasting, I highly suggest a drink and tapas style dinner, especially when you read ahead and realize what’s in store for Sunday.
The Pullman wine bar is a fantastic trendy bar we came across close to our hotel and actually went there both nights. I hadn’t really read about it anywhere else but could not recommend it more. If you can, take a seat downstairs, which was so chic, I almost felt not cool enough to be in such a trendy, underground wine bar (I said almost). Oh mon Dieu! That was all I could get out of my mouth between the drinking and the stuffing of tapas.
Sundays are for bagels and yes Montreal is waging war on New York for the title of best dough. In my opinion, the more bagels for everyone, the happier we all are. There are two places to check out to see the authentic bagel works in production; St- Viateur and Fairmount Bagels. Both cook shops offer the mainstay sesame bagel and schmear can be purchased for an on-the-go meal. The main difference between Montreal and NY bagels is the size and the taste. The Montreal counterparts are cooked in honey-infused water, which gives the entire dough a sweeter bite.
Continue the carb loading for a late lunch at Schwartz’s. I say late because during peak time you will be competing with every other Montrealer and tourist for a seat.
Known for its smoked meat, many compare this Hebrew Delicatessen to Katz’s Deli in New York City. One place calls it smoked meat, the other calls it pastrami, many will argue its very different, but it comes from the same animal so lets leave it at that. After having both, I would say there are definitely similarities between the two but not enough to say ‘meh I got one in New York, lets skip Montreal’. When there’s meat, you eat it.
La Diperie Ice cream
After you start getting the meat sweats, walk it off or better yet bike it off. We rode around Mont Royal and Le Plateau. Then I would suggest washing it down with an awesome handcrafted ice cream from La Diperie.
I know it sounds ridiculous but it’s actually quite difficult managing your eating schedule while traveling. Often there are so many of the good places in one spot you don’t want to be left worrying you might miss out. I say eat it all and worry about those jeans when you get home. No one ever regrets the meals they did eat. So I really enjoyed my 48 hours eating in Montreal.
Herstory is a weekly column on women and travel by Steph Ridhalgh. Steph is a Sydney born; New York based television producer and travel blogger. Not one for being quiet for too long she simply loves talking about travel and lifestyle.
Steph is the founder of STEP(h) ABROAD, a travel and lifestyle resource for those who love to be in the know and know how.