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Joe Beef without reservations

PDC is similar to Joe Beef but about half the price per pound. Usually the daily specials are good. As for inexpensive lunch or dinner, I guess it depends on what kind of food you're looking for. I posted a list of our favourite restaurants recently:

Osteria Venti review

Well, this is a new Italian place in the old port, 372 St. Paul. We paid $270 with tax and tip for 4 people including a $42 bottle of ok wine. They were good about taking a 4 person reservation for 9 p.m. at 8:20 on a Friday night when we'd found out that Satay brothers was closed.

For the price, it was not worth it. It was obviously better than l'Academie or any Canadian Italian type place, but it was nowhere near the quality of somewhere like Il Cortile or Cafe Via Dante for the same money. It mostly felt like a pub version of Italian food, in terms of presentation, refinement, and taste. Service was friendly, good natured, but somewhat awkward and nowhere near what you get from some of the career waiters in this city. The atmosphere is nothing to write home about, virtually unchanged from the other restaurant that was in this spot with weird soft benches, cheap tables, cheap chairs, and loud music. We were impressed by the ingredients on display when we walked in, since we they were high quality and included things like Planeta olive oil, which is very fine. Maybe they don't cook with it.

We had three kinds of crostini: chicken liver, which was just a bunch of liver mousse spread on a piece of toast, sausage and cheese and tomato traditional crostini, and mozarella bread with artichoke dip. I've made crostini at home that were better than the traditional one, the mozarella bread was just tomato cheese bread, not bad but not incredible and a waste of buffalo mozarella if they really used that, the artichoke dip was acidic and unexciting, and the liver mousse was underwhelming. Not inedible by any means, but very much like pub food.

We had the octopus salad and the eggplant parmigiana as appetizers. The octopus was nice, not too chewy, and hot, and it complemented the fennel in the salad well. The chunks of potato in the salad were strange though, because they gave everything a kind of starchy coating, like in most potato salads. The eggplant parmigiana was more popular, it's hard to go wrong with this dish and we liked it. The one at Il Cortile that they offer as a free appetizer is more delicate and probably better, but nevertheless this was enjoyable.

For mains we had three kinds of pasta and the Cornish hen. The agnolotti was stuffed with ricotta and spinach and served in a tomato sauce. Not bad, not incredible. The gnocchi were homemade, supposedly with ricotta instead of potato, and served in a basil walnut sauce. The homemade gnocchi at Bottega are much softer and creamier, the gnocchi at Il Cortile have a very delicate gorgonzola sauce, and the ones at Via Dante are imported but nevertheless filled with black truffles. These were just giant chunks of whatever with a ladle of pesto walnut sauce. Then there was the pappardelle with rabbit stew. This was good, simply because it's hard to mess up a rabbit if you like rabbit, but again a bit too grubby for an expensive Italian meal. It was the kind of thing PDC would be excellent at.

The highlight of the meal was the Cornish hen, surprisingly. They were very good about quickly preparing us some "organic creamy polenta" to go with it, when we realized it didn't come with anything at all. The polenta was also delicious. The meat was tender, juicy, with a nice skin, and the portion was reasonably generous. Everyone was happy about it.

For dessert we tried everything, some lemon cake thing which was okay, a tiramisu in a mason jar which was creamy and better, a nutella semifreddo (ice cream) that was awesome - not on the level of the gelato at Bottega but still delicious, and a chocolate cake that was moist and well pretty good for a chocolate cake.

If I had come here by myself and had the eggplant parmigiana, the Cornish hen, the polenta, and the nutella ice cream, and I would have been happy. But that's a hit rate of 25%, and not high enough for me to want to go back again. It's not that we had a bad time, it's just that for the money we have had a much better time.

In the end, it's still a hell of a lot better than a pile of spaghetti with meat sauce and Kraft parmesan cheese, but not the best value.

Where to eat on a Monday night?

Aux Vivres
Pizza Napoletana
La Banquise

What's the different between Indonesian and Thai Food?

Phayathai on Guy has been consistently excellent for Thai. If you're 4 people, try the beef satay, green mango salad, bbq duck in red curry, eggplant with basil, phad thai, crab and egg noodles, coconut milk and mango with sticky rice dessert, and green tapioca (natural homemade colouring from some tropical leaf) and coconut milk dessert. Also ask them not to put any MSG in it, and get both sticky rice and regular rice to go with your meal.

As for price, it's more like a Japanese restaurant than a Chinese or Korean one, maybe $140 for the above meal with tax and tip. I've always felt it was good value.

See also:

grass fed beef

A third recommendation for Stairsholme:

I don't think they're certified organic, but they aren't scary. I think it's 100% grassfed, and you can always ask them for details on hormones, antibiotics, grain, pesticides, and fertilizer.

edit: it seems you started that topic on Stairsholme, so I guess you already know about them :)

Steamed buns

See if you can buy a package of powder to make the buns, because it isn't hard to do. Making the bbq pork is hard!

Boston CHs coming through Montreal again--what's new and delish?

In my experience of it, the "Underground City" is just a bunch of tunnels connecting a bunch of shopping malls, food courts, conference centres, condominiums, hotels, office buildings, and metro stations. It isn't nearly as romantic as it sounds, but it can quite useful for commuters who want to avoid the blistering cold.

As for recommendations, I posted ours and asked the same thing recently:

Fresh Guanabanas or Chirimoyas in Montreal?

The Arepera du Plateau might sell you some guanabanas / soursop, but maybe they're canned or frozen pulp since they only use them for juice. They do generally have bins of fruit out in front of the cash though...
4050 Rue de Bullion Montreal, QC H2W 2E5
(514) 508-7267

from Facebook: We’ll be closed from 24/12/12 to the 08/01/13.
Happy Holidays, Thank You.

What are your favourite restaurants in Montreal? (includes 30 recommendations)

Wow, that's great, I have heard of Amelio's, Nouveau Palais, and Pho Lien on that list, but have never been to any of them. Thanks!

What are your favourite restaurants in Montreal? (includes 30 recommendations)

We've been living in Montreal for a long time and have tried a lot of different restaurants. These are reliable places that we like for quality of ingredients, authenticity, and value. We are not so concerned with fancy plating and expensive decor. Is there anything we're missing? Where do you keep going back to?

Bakeries: Guillaume, Mamie Clafoutis, Le Fromentier, Premiere Moisson
Brunch, Lunch, Burgers: Lawrence, Aux Vivres
Chinese: Restaurant Beijing, La Maison Kam Fung, Qing Hua Dumpling, and that old-school bakery in front of the buffet with the long porch and awning on the north side of de la Gauchetiere in Chinatown.
Coffee: Cafe Olimpico, Pikolo
French: Laloux
Ice Cream: Meu Meu
Indian: Bombay Mahal
Italian: Cafe Via Dante, Il Cortile
Japanese: Isakaya, Kazu, Tri Express
Korean: La Maison Bulgogi
Pizza: Bottega, Pizza Napoletana
Pizza Delivery: St. Viateur, Double Pizza
Poutine: La Banquise
Quebecois: PDC
Thai: Phayathai (Guy location - ask for no MSG)
Tibetan: Om
Vegetarian: Aux Vivres
Venezuelan: Arepera du Plateau