Dave Cook has a nice weekly roundup of "food-friendly" events:
Virben - have you agree with you here. I used to visit Tournesol 3 years ago before I moved to LIC, and I started getting a lot of attitude and haven't been back since.
There are way too many other options in Queens. Cafe Henri around the corner is a great alternative. Food is consistent, interior is pretty spacious (Tournesol was always cramped), and the staff are lovely.
First, thanks to Montreal for being a wonderful, fun place to visit, and for hosting a few hungry New Yorkers. I look forward to coming back and eating my heart out again.
We came here because we needed a late-night spot to eat. The food was serviceable, but I don’t think we’ll go again unless we need to eat late. The waitstaff was all very agreeable and helpful, and provided good, solid service. The food was only “ok”.
The food we ordered:
My companion tried to order a caipirinha, without success (actually, he tried to order this twice in Montreal, both times without success. We kidded him about ordering a Latin American drink in Canada.). To the restaurant’s credit, the waiter brought out a cocktail menu and was very earnest in his attempts to try to figure out how to make the drink. We appreciated his efforts very much! My friend instead decided to get a vodka and coke.
Ate here with hubby and our 2 friends and had a really fabulous meal. Hubby and I have eaten here once before, and it was a really highly-rated meal in our memories. Just to set the stage, hubby is REALLY hard to please, and the more a restaurant costs, the more it has to knock his socks off. A restaurant with Toque’s price tag has to blow his mind. In NYC, we usually eat at very casual neighborhood-type places and many ethnic joints. At the end of the meal, I was very satisfied, and the hubby less so (he thought the first time we ate here was better than this time).
The interior is pretty much as I remembered it – quite serene, lots of space for each table. The waitstaff really really impressed us. Super professional, very friendly, seasoned, unobtrusive, knowledgeable. I liked their uniforms, too – gray button-down shirts and slacks for the gentlemen, and floral-print blouses and gray skirts for the ladies. It looked like something someone might wear on their own, except after a while, we noticed it was a uniform.
We liked our waitress, who seemed like she would be fun outside of work (bleached blonde hair, tattoo on her leg), but was absolutely professional and knowledgeable. She responded well to all our questions. At the end of the meal, my friend told her the only bit of feedback he had was that there was a bit too much food. We were too full, and the server told us they’d had some feedback from some guests that there wasn’t enough food for the money. We’re used to tasting menus, big prices, small dishes. To each his own, I guess!
We all chose the tasting menu with the discovery wine tasting ($95 for tasting menu, $65 for discovery wine). My husband chose the foie gras supplement. One of our companions chose the vegetarian tasting menu.
My dining companions ordered a peach (?) martini and mojito to start. Both cocktails were excellently executed. Often, in NY, cocktails are made without regard to balance of ingredients (usually too boozy or too sweet or in some way too much of something).
To the best of my memory, here are the courses:
I asked the sommelier for a list of the wines that came with the dinner. I remember less about the wines – the first white was underwhelming. The second was a greek wine that had bold flavors that I really enjoyed. Our sommelier explained the grape grows in volcanic soil which gives it a lot of nutrients/flavors). The French chardonnay was also interesting with a lot of big flavor. I don’t love chardonnays, and California chardonnays much less. I’ve had some French chardonnays which I really liked, but they were lighter in flavor and color.
Here’s the list I got from the sommelier:
I also want to note that the pacing of the meal was very good. On occasion, I’ve gotten a tasting menu that’s so slow you want to lie down in your seat by the end. We’ve actually ordered the bill before we received the dessert at some places, and happy to say, at Toque , this was not necessary. It’s by nature a long meal, but the kitchen and waitstaff did a nice job to keep things moving.
The bill is big, so this is only a very very very once in a while kind of meal. The veggie tasting menu I should note is $85 instead of $95. We don’t eat like this in NY, and I was very glad that our splurge in Montreal was worth it. We stumbled out of there rubbing our bellies.
Au Pied de Cochon
This has been one of my husband’s favorite restaurants in Montreal, and we go back every time we visit, which is not rarely. We now agree it’s time to branch out.
We visited with 2 of our friends – one a meat-eater and one a non-pescatarian vegetarian. We arrived a bit early for our reservation, and we were lucky to be seated immediately. Our waitress recommended the bison tongue appetizer, which I ordered. Our companions ordered fried zucchini blossoms (fried in duck fat) and fried codfish balls, both served in a paper cup. All the appetizers were excellent, I thought – especially the bison tongue. It was cooked just right (very tender), with mustard on the side and some kind of creamy tarragon sauce on the side.
I ordered a Lillet blanc, my girlfriend a cosmopolitan. We also got a red wine for the table. You should note that nothing on the wine list is under $40/bottle. The cosmo was made quite nicely, which isn’t something you’d expect at a place like APDC which doesn’t style itself as a place where you could order a cocktail. We noted that the several restaurants we’d been to make excellent cocktails. That was a nice surprise.
My friend and I split the tuna special (think it was about $45), and we thought it was well executed, lightly seared with a side of vegetables. Most of the time I go to APDC I get a red meat dish, and it was nice to try some of the seafood. Keen on not being overfull by the meal’s end (as we always are after a dinner at APDC), my husband got the foie gras poutine as his main. My veggie girlfriend ordered the goat cheese/beet salad for her starter, then the veggie side dish and potatoes as her main. She really enjoyed the goat cheese/beet salad (layered slices of beets with goat cheese), but thought the veggie side dish and potatoes were super buttery, in a too-heavy kind of way.
The foie gras poutine was very heavy, the fries a bit limp. The foie gras was tasty, but we kept comparing it (less favorably) to the foie gras the hubby ordered the night before at Toque.
Towards the end of the meal, we started running into trouble with our waitress. The husband tried to flag down our waitress to order a glass of wine and had trouble finding her and placing his order. My friend ordered a martini, and towards the end of our main course, we realized he never got his drink. He cancelled his order when he saw the waitress again. Instead of making an apology, she blamed it on the bartender (“I’m not sure what happened – they’re slow tonight”). As customers, we don’t really care why it’s late, and making excuses and blaming someone else in the restaurant is making it our problem to deal with, not hers. There are often instances when the kitchen/bar is slow, and I always appreciate when the waitstaff comes by and lets me know the kitchen is busy, they’re sorry we’re waiting, etc. There was none of this until we cancelled the order.
My friend asked for the dessert wine menu, and the waitress says they don’t have one, but that she can bring 2 dessert wines for him to try. She brings the 2 bottles, lets him try one that he likes. He asks the price, and she says between $8-12 for the glass, and he agrees to get that glass.
We order our desserts (crème brulee and pudding chomeur), and an espresso and cappuccino, and then proceed to wait again for quite a while. I finally get my espresso, my husband is waiting for his cappuccino. We get our desserts, and the crème brulee is cold (I’ve had it served this way before and don’t prefer it cold), and the top is burnt instead of caramelized. The pudding chomeur is rich and delicious and sweet. When we’re near done, we flag down our waitress again and tell her to cancel the cappuccino order. She apologizes and says she doesn’t know what’s going on with the kitchen, then offers to make the cappuccino quickly. He declines and asks for the check. She again blamed the kitchen (if she noticed we were almost done with dessert, it might have been nice to either acknowledge the cappuccino was very late or to jump in and make it herself, as she finally offered to do too late).
Our last nasty surprise of the night is finding out that my friend’s dessert wine that was supposed to be $8-12 was actually $18 for the glass. I’m pretty pissed at this point and about to give the waitress a piece of my mind. My companions ask me not to say anything, preferring not to make a scene. We give a pretty paltry tip (probably a bit less than 15%).
Our companions, who had never been to APDC before, left with a bad taste in their mouths from the service. I felt sorry to show them what had been one of our favorite Montreal restos in not the best light. I also felt bad for the low tip on behalf of the busgirl, who did a really excellent job in filling our waters and clearing our plates – she was very on top of things, and I overheard that she’d been on the job for about 2 weeks.
I’ve been to APDC at least 4-5 times before and never had bad service. It was always a great meal (if super heavy!), with a casual ambiance, and attentive, good service. I always left very pleased.
I guess this was a sign that we should give APDC a rest and try some of the many other wonderful restaurants Montreal has to offer.
We stopped here on our way back home to pick up 2 sandwiches. We’ve been here a few times and eaten at the restaurant, but didn’t have time this visit.
We ordered sandwiches to go and waited at least 15-20 min for the food (2 sandwiches, strawberry milkshake, coffee). That was the only complaint I had – don’t think they’re really a place to go if you’re in a hurry, nor are they a take-out place.
Btw, if you’ve never been, the interior reminds me of some kind of San Francisco hippie enclave. The whole place has a relaxed kind of attitude. Wished we’d had some more time to hang out.
Hubby and I got the Pepper Island (pesto and cream cheese spread topped with jalapeno pepper jelly). This stuff is good!! The slices of wheat bread are really big (I pulled the crusts off – they were a bit hard). Accompanying the sandwich are marinated pepperoncino and some cornichons. These go great with the sandwich.
Jean Talon Market
We tried some strawberries and huge figs. In the prepared foods area, we tried beignets at this polish bakery (apricot & prune). The dulce de leche ice cream at Havre aux glaces was heavenly.
Coffee at Café Art Java
Really good morning coffee before our walking tour. I noticed they use Gimme! Coffee. The blueberry scone is pretty mushy, so if you like firm, crunchy scones, stay away.
Olive and Gourmando
Came here after a long day of walking (had a great walking tour of Old Montreal with Viator.com). Friend had the goat cheese Panini with caramelized onions and house-made ketchup (doesn’t really taste like ketchup but is fresh, very tangy and tomatoey). Hubby and I shared the Cuban Panini, which was very tasty as well (ham, braised pork, mayo, gruyere cheese). We look forward to coming here again.
Le Cartet (brunch)
I ordered the Cartet brunch – huge plate of food: salad, salmon cake (like a crabcake but with salmon), scrambled egg, ham/cream cheese on a croissant, and cheese slices with dried fig, plus coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice for $15. The food was pretty good in general (not amazing). The atmosphere was fun – pretty young (noticed a lot of tourists), dance music in the background, and long communal tables. Good service.
Vasco de Gama
This was a pleasant breakfast spot. You order at the counter, find yourself a seat (it’s a long, skinny restaurant), then sit and enjoy. My friends & I were lucky enough to score a table near the open window in the front. If you sit in the back, I think you’d enjoy the experience less.
Hubby had an omelet with chorizo –Vasco de gama (good but not great). I had fruit with yogurt and honey, which was very satisfying. Yogurt in the US is pretty unimpressive – maybe it’s because it’s often low fat?
We’ve been to Montreal enough times where we’ve eaten at many of the same places. We’ve tried a bunch of new ones and haven’t been impressed (can’t even remember the names of the strike-outs), but I’m excited to go again and try new ones. One thing I haven’t tried yet is a Montreal bagel! Was reading about these but didn’t have time to pick any up this visit. Next time…
Looking for recommendations for good eats for 4 NY visitors. We'll be there from Fri-Mon for the hot air balloon festival. Food spots can be fancy or not, ethnic or whatever - we just like to eat.
2 of us have been to Montreal a number of times, and 2 of us haven't ever been (and one is a very accomodating non-pescatarian veggie who'll go to steakhouses and order salads and creamed spinach but prefers to have something a little more veggie-friendly).
The 2 of us who've been to Montreal before (hubby and me) have been to:
It's also been a while since I've had a good poutine, so any suggestions on that end appreciated as well. I love cheese curds!
Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
thanks for the reco, wleatherette! i live in LIC, and i want to explore more greentpoint joints.
Did a double date for dinner tonight at Queen's Hideaway in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We went b/c we were heading to our friends' friend's bar and knew there was a restaurant next door.
Bottom line - decent food (nothing spectacular) and irritable service.
I had no expectations and was delighted to find a quirky-looking restaurant seemingly in the middle of nowhere in Greenpoint. We walked through the restaurant to the back garden area. We were greeted by an extremely bothered-looking waitress who said, upon my asking if there were any available seats in the garden, "Do you have any reservations? Well, like I told the other people, we don't have any tables and you'll have to eat inside." (not that I could hear what she'd said to the previous party). I asked how long the wait might be, and I felt like I was going to push her over the edge. We opted to sit inside.
One of my pet peeves is waitstaff who make you feel like you're causing them trouble just by being in their restaurant (especially when you're being totally polite as a customer!!).
Hubby and I shared hush puppies with Hideaway hot sauce (tasty, small and crispy, decent hot sauce (not that hot) and nothing that memorable $7), the tongue confit (that it was in a salad was a surprise, as my husband and I both thought the menu description described more of a meat dish, not salad; the dressing was a bit greasy, and the addition of strawberry slices was a bit jarring, $23), and a pancake with jamon, thyme and goat cheese (loved the honey (?) drizzle but the pancake was very thin, which made the whole thing a bit soggy - forget how much it was - maybe $12 or $13. it was an appetizer). i had a bite of my friend's cold lamb dish, which was very tasty (lamb was nicely seasoned, cooked just right and was tender - think it was $24). we had a nice bottle of muscadet for $34.
during the meal, the music was blasting pretty loud (neil diamond to led zeppelin), and i was afraid to ask them to turn it down. I felt like our friendly waitress would roll her eyes at me if I asked so kept my mouth shut.
Feeling like you're walking on eggshells with the waitstaff isn't the kind of environment I like to be in. That, plus the decent (but not great) food won't bring me back. There are many far better restaurants with more welcoming atmospheres. Too bad - I wanted to enjoy it and really liked the look of the restaurant and its out-of-the-way location.
I like Ghenet, in Soho. I always get the (meat) combination platter. Order for 1 person less than you have in your group (if you have 3, order the combo for 2). There's always plenty of food, and the injera is filling!
I also like Meskerem, but somehow I always end up at Ghenet. :) Did see some posts about the service, and it is a bit slow, so don't go if you're in any kind of rush.
Second Jaiya. I've only had takeout, but I love their pad thai and lab nur. dhchait is right - it can get really spicy, so beware when asking for spicy or even medium spicy!
I also enjoy Pongsri, although it's not as "authentic"-tasting as Jaiya.
Not sure if these are recognizable even in NY, but the Momofuku t-shirts are very cute (black with a peach on the front).
My husband and I made a trip to La Petite Auberge for Christmas Eve dinner 2 nights ago.
We arrived a little after 9pm, and the room had a few open tables. We waited a few minutes to be seated and were shown to a two-top. We waited for over 5 minutes to get a menu.
With the menus, our waitress asked if we wanted anything to drink, and I asked for water, after which she proceeded to take our wine glasses. I stopped the waitress and said I intended to order wine, but wanted to look at a wine list. This was a bit baffling - isn’t it common to provide a wine list with menus upon being seated?
Our waitress had a distinctly sour expression and gruff manner (no smiles). When I eat out in Chinatown, or a diner, I put up with rough service. But not when I’m paying good money for a higher-quality dinner. I'm not sure if part of our experience had to do with being the youngest patrons of LPA? We're in our early 30s, and most of the diners were 50+.
The start of the meal left me feeling distinctly invisible and neglected.
The food itself was solid. I had the French onion soup, my husband the Coquilles St. Jacques to start. The soup was well flavored and executed, and the Coquilles St Jacques were excellent, the meat cooked just right.
For an entrée, I had the canard roti a l’orange, and my husband a veal special (with Dijon sauce). The duck was just average, one-dimensional-tasting. Had some of the veal, which had better flavor, from the sauce, although the veal was dry. We shared a Grand Marnier soufflé for 2 for dessert, which was probably the highlight of the meal, for me.
As expected, our waitress didn’t bother to check on us once during the entire meal, nor did she come by to refill our glasses with wine.
I realize La Petite Auberge is not a “fine dining experience”, but it seems like a place for a serious dinner, with patrons who appreciate a well-executed meal and service. To the credit of La Petite Auberge, it seemed that other patrons received much better, friendlier service than my husband and me. The other waiters and waitresses conducted themselves very professionally.
I left a paltry 13% tip (I usually leave at least 20%) and left the restaurant. I am thinking about calling the restaurant and speaking to one of the owners about my experience.
It’s a shame, since it could have been a very pleasant meal, and someplace I would have gone back.