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anyone eaten at Schwartz's in Montreal recently? [moved from Ontario board]

I was disappointed last time I went as well (back in May, it had been a couple of years since my last visit). Meat was definitely dry and not warmed enough (the middle was cold like it had been taken out of the fridge and not steamed for hours like the take-out instructions tell you to). I thought it was just a one-off but it appears systemic. That is very troubling. Schwartz used to have the best smoked meat, it may no longer be true.

Saquenay and Lac St Jean. ANY ideas???

Well, can't really help lodging-wise, but foodwise, Le Privilège is back in business in its new incarnation.

http://leprivilege.ca/

Also, word on the street is that the best sushi in the province is in Chicoutimi:

http://www.temakisushibar.ca/

Still in Chicoutimi, La Cuisine is very decent:

http://www.restaurantlacuisine.ca/

Finally, the one regional institution that everybody loves (except visiting foodies from outside who have no clue) is the steak house:

http://www.chezgeorges.qc.ca/

PS: Don't believe anyone who recommends L'Auberge des 21.

Ottawa Restos Not To Miss?

Nah, nothing's really a "must" in Ottawa. The only local thing to get is a beavertail, but that's not a meal. The Black Tomato is decent though.

Bread in NDG/Westmount

Back when I lived in NDG, on Girouard, the only decent bakery around was Wawel, but it's a Polish bakery/pastry shop (best donuts in town), so I wouldn't go there looking for a baguette (theirs was OK, better than factory made but not anywhere near French bakeries). For more French style breads, you better go/move to the Plateau.

top 10 food to eat in Québec (the province)...

I'm only doing this to encourage discussion and increase awareness of the pure awesomeness of tourtière (du Saguenay/Lac-St-Jean) : ), and the fact that we do make regular meat pies back in the land of blueberries, and they are way better than the stuff available in Montreal (they got smoke meat and bagels, but they don't get to claim everything, especially not meat pies, or traditional poutine)...

Trappist made chocolate covered blueberries should have been on that list too...

top 10 food to eat in Québec (the province)...

Let me reiterate: meat pies (which like any Bleuet, I refuse to call tourtière) and actual tourtière (the "lac St-Jean" kind for the uninformed) are not variations on a theme. One is a savoury shallow pie, best made in muffin-size format, filled with ground pork, a little bit ground veal, finely chopped onions and celery. It cooks in half an hour in the oven since the filling has been pre-cooked. The other is a large deep-dish pie made with pounds of diced meat (preferably including game), diced potatoes, chopped onions and broth (preferably hare and partridge, the only kind of meat you pre-cook in the filling). It takes an entire day cook in the oven and feeds a small army.

Thus, the common meat pie has more in common with apple pie than with tourtière, hence my calzone/raspberry pie analogy.

top 10 food to eat in Québec (the province)...

I take issue with associating cheeses specifically with the Eastern Townships. Sure they have lots of cheeses there, but really, there are great cheeses from all over the place.
I also take issue with the assumed implication that
a) what Montrealers call "tourtière" should indeed be called a "tourtière" (they should have stuck with "meat pie", which is a perfectly fine description for the dish, and too nice a description for the pork hamburger pie-like things one can find in Montreal)
b) tourtière contains ground meat (it doesn't, though meat pies do)
c) actual tourtière (the "mythical" Lac-Saint-Jean kind which does not necessitate such precision and has only been heard of in the touristy books) is some sort of filling variation of the standard meat pie (it isn't; otherwise one might as well say a calzone is a variation of raspberry pie).

top 10 food to eat in Québec (the province)...

Street food isn't a Quebec thing, and especially not a Montreal thing (where it's plain illegal).

Can you recommend an affordable wedding reception venue with great food?

$15000? For that amount, I think I could've rented space at the Botanical Gardens in Montreal and still have enough for the catering. When I saw affordable, I was thinking of suggesting a Chinese banquet, where foodwise you'd get a good bang for your buck. I couldn't make a specific recommendation though. But here it might not be what you're looking for.

Lunch/Dinner Recommendations - Ottawa

Will you have a car?

Baked goods in Montreal...

You know, I'm not a stuffed donut type of guy, but for Wawel pączki I made an exception to try, and they're just so delicious. And I love the real plum filling (Powidl is the name according to wiki, made with no additional sweetener and you can tell).

Heading to KW tomorrow - St. Jacobs or K/W Market?

When I was in Waterloo, it was the closest farmer's market from my home, but I agree with your assessment. If you're not from KW, it's not worth the drive, you'll find the same products (or better) at your local farmer's market. In fact, our favorite stands were from shops (bakeries and cheese shops in particular) from around the GTA.

For really local produce, there was in the summer only a small market/farm I think in St-Agatha (west of Waterloo, on the way to Baden where my wife worked) where you could pick strawberries and other veggies. I've never bought better garlic, but it's just a matter of buying local.

Finally, I had forgotten about David's Gourmet, I went there a couple of times but it opened only a couple of months before I left, and it was a hectic time for me so fancy food was not my priority. The products weren't bad, but prices weren't cheap..

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David's Gourmet
36 Northfield Dr E, Waterloo, ON N2L6A1, CA

Heading to KW tomorrow - St. Jacobs or K/W Market?

I'd say St-Jacobs just because you can find parking there...

La Banquise question

I have yet to go to Patati patata, but I will never go back to La Banquise, where the only way to know that it's chicken in your galvaude is by the tell-tale bones they leave in (and not just a tiny fragment). So yes, definitely highly overrated.

Au Pain Dore and pâté

When it comes to pâté, I personally try different kinds all the time. In most artisan bakeries, small grocers and butcher shops, you can find pretty good stuff, though there'll be disappointment too. But I've learned not to get attached too much to particular products in Montreal because they tend to disappear pretty easily.

Oh how I miss the olive and cheese bread from Le Moulin on Mont-Royal (the cashiers were really cute back then...), which later became Le Petit Fromentier de Fabien with a sadder selection of breads (and hippie dude cashier just wasn't as easy on the eyes), then some other bakery a couple more times. I think the place is now a pastry shop. In fact, Pain Doré on Mont-Royal closed too.

University of Waterloo student looking for good eats

Let me requalify my statement: I had live for 9 years in Montreal before moving to Waterloo. While a decent Korean restaurant isn't easy to find in Montreal, I was never more than 3 minutes walk away from great food. Around Waterloo, I couldn't find a decent artisan bakery except at the farmer's market in Saint-Jacob (Saturday and Sundays only; never managed to get to the Kitchener market due to lack of parking...), which, except for meat, has a few decent vendors but a lot of non-local pretty standard fare or low quality local stuff. For example, you couldn't find local strawberries beyond a short 2 weeks/3 weekend period between the end of June and the beginning of July, but tons of imported, practically made out of plastic US ones that the locals bought because they were so cheap. With a car, you can find the good places but they are few and far between (I did go to Vincenzo's for cheeses, but prefered Mickey McGuire's at the Sunday market side of the St-Jacob market).

Anyway, to get back to the topic, there's an Indian restaurant next to Tokyo Ichiban which is also very decent in terms of quality of food and prices.

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Vincenzo's
740 Belmont Ave W, Kitchener, ON N2M1P2, CA

University of Waterloo student looking for good eats

Waterloo is a food wasteland. However, I was there for two years and have a few favorites in the area:

Raintree Cafe (220 King St N, just below University, across from Wilfrid Laurier U and halfway to Regina street in the parking lot)
Mirage (korean japanese, stone's throw from UWaterloo)
Tokyo Ichiban (465 Phillip St, for their gyosas)
Twin City pizza (500 Glen Forrest Boulevard, just above Bearinger, 15 minutes walk from UWaterloo main campus through RIM park; now that I live in a place where all there is is pizza, or burgers, I have yet to find anything half as good as that place)

For fine dining (read pricy, not for students), I only remember Verses in Kitchener and another place on King I can't remember the name of (also in Kitchener, I'll have to look it up). But, whatever you do, don't ever bring anyone to Still's Bar & Grill. The worst place I have been anywhere (food, service, everything, and I include filthy truck stops on god forsaken roads in that comparison).

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Raintree Cafe
220 King St N, Waterloo, ON N2J2Y7, CA

Ontario Wild Blueberries

Saw some Sudbury wild blueberries at Byward market in Ottawa (it's only a 4.5 hour drive from say, Oshawa...). However there's only one place from which I'll buy (or preferably pick, when I can) wild blueberries, and it ain't in Ontario.

Best Thing You Ever Ate - Toronto

All you can eat Korean BBQ in Market Village. Since it was Sunday lunchtime in a Chinese mall, the Korean place was deserted because everyone else was having dim sum...

Quebec City > Lunch spots

I have yet to find a decent poutine in Montreal (and APDC foie gras poutine doesn't count, though I also have yet to try it). I guess I'll have to try Ma'am Bolduc at some point, but I've heard negative comments about the service. I know the one place almost everyone raves about is La Banquise. But I have been there, and obviously it's only popular because it's open 24 hours and those who visit it after a night of drinking are too drunk to taste or remember anything. If they were sober, they'd notice the fries are burnt, the curds are so large they can't be called curds anymore, and the sauce is bland.

And the chicken in the galvaude at Chez Ashton is clearly chicken, while at La Banquise, the only way to tell this dry as cardboard meat in the galvaude I ordered was chicken was because of the chicken BONES left in it.

Sorry about the rant, but given my experience, you can see why I'm pretty skeptical of Montreal poutine claims. To me, going to Montreal for poutine is like going to Toronto for bagels. It doesn't make sense. Ashton may not be high class but they've got quality control, you know what you'll get in terms of food and service.

Anyway, to get back to Québec City, another place that I liked for lunch (but haven't been to in ages myself) is Le Café du Monde. It might be a bit heavy for lunch if supper is supposed to be heavy too.

http://www.lecafedumonde.com/

Steak and Frites?

I agree, though it's been years since I've been, my last visit was extremely disappointing too. I don't know how that place can still be in business. Back in the early to mid 90's there were good steak frites in Montreal all over the place. Now you can't find a place that'll serve it with a decent beurre maître-d'hôtel.

The best place for Dim Sum in Ottawa??

If you want dim sum, just head to Toronto. Chinese food in Ottawa is simply pathetic. Yangtze has the second highest rated reviews according to Google, and I wouldn't go unless someone invited me. I guess you could try the top rated one, Chu Shing but I wouldn't expect much. At least the gate in Chinatown looks nice though.

What's the best thing you've eaten in Montreal??

You know, aside from a really tasty cream of mushroom at the long gone Le chou (adjacent to the original but overpriced Les chèvres by the same owners, closed too obviously), I don't think I've had really memorable meals in Montreal. It's more for the every day foods that are one of a kind. The St-Viateur bagels, Schwartz smoked meat, bread from Le Fromentier, kouign amann from Kouign Amann. Tartare at L'Express. Discovering Peking duck at Mon Nan was quite a revelation, but I know you can find better elsewhere (outside of Montreal obviously). And since August is upon us, I'll mention chocolate covered blueberries made by the Pères Trappistes (from Mistassini) which I have bought and eaten in Montreal a bunch of times (finally found a place that sells them in Montreal for a decent price too), but they're not a Montreal thing (they are, however one of those things that you have to buy whenever you have the chance).

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L'Express Restaurant
3927 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC H2W2M4, CA

Quebec City > Lunch spots

Chez Victor perhaps? It's a nice fancy burger place with half a dozen franchises or so now. Don't know which one would be closest to the old town. It shouldn't be too heavy.

http://www.chezvictorburger.com/

Of course, in Quebec City I would recommend stopping by Chez Ashton for poutine at least once (local fast food chain, don't expect nice cutlery but it's better than any poutine in Montreal...), but you want light...

http://www.chez-ashton.com/

A little crepe at the Casse-Crepe Breton (1136 Saint-Jean, I hope I'm thinking about the right place, because there's another creperie right across which is not even half as good) is also perfect for breakfast or a light lunch (or a middle afternoon dessert). If I'm thinking of the wrong place, just go to the creperie with the longer line-up (the crummier place shouldn't have a line-up).

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Chez Victor
2360 Ch Ste Foy Pyramide, Quebec, QC G1R, CA

Chinatown for group of 30

Don't go to Ruby Rouge, it's terrible. I would go to Kam Fung (it's dim sum for lunch only,) or Mon Nan if you feel like Peking duck. Haven't been to Tong Por.

Saguenay-Lac St-Jean

The best place to eat used to be Le Privilege, but it no longer exist as a restaurant, it's now some sort of catering project, but I had to mention it. Here's the website if you're curious.

http://www.leprivilege.ca/

The fanciest place around is Auberge Villa Pachon (especially if you like cassoulet) in Jonquiere.

http://www.aubergepachon.com/index.html

Otherwise, in Chicoutimi I would suggest La Cuisine

http://www.restaurantlacuisine.ca/

If you feel like sushi (which is so representative of the local cuisine :p) apparently Temaki Sushi Bar has the best in the province

http://www.temakisushibar.ca/

Now, if you're into greasy comfort food (not fancy dining), the local institution is Chez Georges steak house (aka le Steak house

)

http://www.chezgeorges.qc.ca/

You can guess the type of menu from the prominent colourful sign. It's a classic but, again, don't expect a fancy, long dining experience.
There are various inns and inn-type restaurants around the region, I haven't been to any in ages, but I will say this: l'Auberge des 21 in La Baie is overrated. Don't bother with that one.

Since it was the feast of Saint Anne yesterday, blueberry season should be started. The famous Trappist made chocholate covered blueberries might be available as of this weekend, Be sure to buy some if you can, but don't fall for a knock-off.