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Butchers in Boston...

I live in New York but spend a lot of time in Boston at my girlfriends. So far, I've been unimpressed by the quality of meat available for home cooking in Boston although my experience has been pretty limited (basically Whole Foods). I'm particularly interested in dry aged beef (prime, ideally), heritage breed chickens (or free-range, grain fed, steroid-free birds) and high quality pork. So I turn it over to you guys: where is there a great butcher in Boston? I'd prefer one in the Brookline, Alston, Brighton area, but really any suggestion is welcome. Thanks in advance.

Greatest Overall Tasting Menu

Hate to disagree, but my experiences at L'Epicier have been superior when ordering a la carte. The tasting menu I had there was B- at best. Have not been to Monte de Lait so I can't comment. I've heard good things.

Toque is the "best" tasting menu in the city. I'd say that it's the only high end restaurant in the city that can compete with the best of NYC in terms of food. However, the setting and service are not up to the standard of the food.

It's little reported, but Club Chasse et Peche will do a tasting menu. My girlfriend and I consistently find it to be the most pleasurable dining experience in Montreal (and one of our favourites in North America). A word of warning, some dishes will be served to share while others will be presented individually. The service team there is both the most relaxed and professional in town. Wine pairings are really creative (we had an intentionally oxydized wine with our cheese course there last time we went). I also strongly believe that letting the service staff there leads to a superior experience than ordering a la carte. Usually the total cost for this is between $300 and $350 although the food cost is relatively low, so you can pay less if you tell them to go for cheaper wines.

Other top tasting menu options are La Chronique and Bronte.

Best High End Gourmet Restaurant in Montreal?

Couldn't disagree more. I've had both (albeit in the last year and a half) and my meal at Toque was unequivocally better. The food at Susur was a bit muddled and overwrought. Although the composition of many of the dishes was interesting, none of them had a clear focus. Ingredients were average. Also, I am not a fan of the "reverse" tasting menu or the dessert tower at the end. The reverse aspect tires one slightly by presenting bigger flavors earlier in the meal and the desert tower is a lot of tasty, but ultimately unmemorable bites. Surprisingly, there was very little modern about the cooking in terms of technique. I don’t mean to sound overly negative; Susur is still a very good restaurant, but it’s not even the best in TO.

At Toque, the menu as a whole was more focused, more technically interesting, and the ingredients were better. Each dish had a central component that was enhanced by surrounding elements. Those surrounding elements were often prepared in a modern, technically precise way – a reworking of a fruit salad into ‘chips’ for a textural contrast to foie gras, a deeply flavored bacon foam to go with pork belly and cilantro, and other surprising elements were on almost every plate. This is not to say that Toque is like WD-50 or other avant-garde restaurants. It’s not. But it’s unafraid to accent a high end market cuisine with modern touches. Granted, in a couple weeks time I may change my mind on all this after a trip to Toque. We’ll see.

Best High End Gourmet Restaurant in Montreal?

It comes down to Toque or CC&P. They are very different restaurants. I worry with Toque that the setting overwhelms the food. It is a very corporate, large, and cold space. It's hard to fall in love with that sort of environment no matter how good the food is. Despite this, I think that the food at Toque is beyond reproach. I would actually rank my meal at Toque as the second best I've ever had behind Taillevent and ahead of places like Citronelle, WD-50 and, for a Canadian example, Splendido. It is well above Susur. Interestingly, I had the Montreal food scene conversation the other week with the Maitre d' at a new, trendy NYC restaurant who had been to almost all the top restaurants in NYC and Montreal. He rated Toque above Daniel and Jean Georges but a few levels below Per Se.

CC&P is, from a food perspective, the second or third best restaurant in Montreal. The experience there is beyond reproach. It is laid back and energetic all at once. There is an excitement in the air that few restaurants have. To best enjoy it, pick one or two dishes that you want to try and leave the rest in the hands of the house. Every meal I've had there that I've let them decide the wine and food pairings has been better than the times I've ordered myself.

I'll stay out of the QdC debate other than to say that it's a big, loud, trendy, steakhouse. I doubt that is the kind of experience you're looking for.

Bronte still in business?

Great to hear. Bronte, along with Anise, gives Montrealers an opportunity that doesn't exist in a lot of places; the opportunity to watch a young chef evolve and improve in their own restaurant. Living in Toronto, this is a rare thing, especially in a fine dining restaurant.

Bronte still in business?

Depressing. I hope this is not true. I was in Bronte in February on a Wednesday and it was about 2/3rds full. It was a really excellent meal carefully blending French, Asian and Italian influences. Friends who have been since have also given raves. Joe Mercuri is one of Montreal's most talented young chefs and it would be a shame to see a restaurant like Bronte fail.

Romantic - but not French!

It's hard not to consider places like Chevres, Anise, Brunoise, and L'Epicier anything but French. After all, what is market cuisine? Fresh, seasonal igredients, yes, but in all of these places the techniques used, dish composition, and flavour profiles are ostensibly French in origin. Thus, I'm not sure that we can seperate French and market cuisine. Anise may be a bit different from the rest of this group due to the strong use of middle eastern ingredients, but the underlying technique is, once again, French. One could almost call it fusion cuisine;). All this makes this a hard question. I would look at places like Pintxo (spanish), Da Emma (italian), Bice (italian, too pricey maybe?), cavalli (italian, a bit of a scene), or Ferreira.

Toronto Bagels

Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a Toronto bagel. This is a myth created by ignorant Torontonians (such as myself). What most people mean when they say "Toronto bagel" is a New York style bagle- lighter, not boiled in honey water first, and with a smaller hole. Gryfe's is probably the place to go for these while the Montreal bagel place on Bayview (near Alex's cheese) has the best Mtl bagels in this city. In Montreal, if you're not eating Montreal bagels, get out, they don't want you ;-)

Inn with Good Food for Honeymoon-Rec

Since Auberge Hatley tragically burned down, L'Eau A La Bouche has to be the vanguard for the Quebec Inn/Restaurant. Although I have never been, it carries a boatload of recommendations, is one of only four restaurants in Canada with a relais gourmand distinction, and is also really pricey. Definetely worth a look.

Old Montreal Restaurant Question

To be honest, most decent restaurants in Montreal do not serve chicken as, to be fair, the quality of chicken in Quebec is nothing to write home about. So you've got quite the dilemma. Here are the best options I could think of:

1)Try and convince her that she can eat something besides chicken. The best alternative would be guinea hen (which she may not be able to tell apart from chicken) at Club Chasse et Peche. It's often referred to as a chicken alternative so if she's even moderately open minded you should be good.

2) I'd hate to say this, but, if you can't escape the Old Port, Restaurant Le Vieux Port and Modavi also serve chicken. However, I really don't want to send you to either of these places. The food just isn't that good but they're popular with tourists. I guess.

3) If you can leave the Old Port your options really open up. Many of Montreal's excellent bistros serve chicken. L'Express on St. Denis, a short cab ride from the Old Port, is a quintessentially Monreal experience and serves chicken. Similarly, the intimate Au Bistro Gourmet serves the fowl ( Au petite extra ( does the chicken thing as well. I'd keep going but I think you get the point. Get out of the Old Port and into the bistros and a great meal featuring chicken is easy.

two nights Que. city and two in montreal - looking for casual option & something special

Anise is where you go for an anniversary. Bronte would be a good second choice. I'm a huge fan of Toque! but it's not where I'd spend a romantic night. Just trust me.

Montreal in 3 days on a student's budget

you should go to Toque!
More seriously, Montreal is a great place for eating on the cheap. Just east of McGill is St. Laurent which has some wonderful cheap eats. There are a whole series of delis/butchers that each serve (gigantic) delicious freshly sliced sandwiches for around $4. Schwartz's further up on St. Laurant is the place for smoked meat. Also on St. Laurant (at the corner of Rachel), Patati Patata for wonderful, fresh cut fries. Euro-deli near Prince Arthur and St. Laurent has pretty good take out Italien (thin crust pizza, pasta dishes, and paninis). On the lighter side, there's the vegetarian restaurant Lola Rosa on Milton just down from the university gates.

Further afield, Bagles from Fairmount (or St. Viateur) are in the mile-end area. 12 bagles and a thing of Liberty Cream Cheese (the best) will be well under $10.

For a nicer, but still cheap meal, try Pintxo on Roy. It's a modern Spanish restaurant that serves a $28 tasting menu featuring 4 tapas dishes, a main and dessert.

Also, Meatmarket north on St. Laurent for fancy burgers and ribs that are worlds better than Baton Rouge.

There's way more than this, but I'll leave it for others...

Toque~should we?

Funny how Toque! seems so polarizing. Foodwise, everything I had there was tight and the courses all played off each other. Plus I loved the way Laprise would toss off some 'post-modern' (or whatever they're calling it) culinary technique or rare ingredient like it wasn't the point of the dish (which it never was). Plus it was delicious. But yeah, service and decore were cold and distant. Either way, I think Anise is where it's at right now. It's got a little more passion and warmth. And you'll leave both thinking and feeling good about the world. Descartes by a fire maybe?

Toque~should we?

haha. It's really unfortunate that you had an experience such as that at a place like Toque. That being said, I have to say that Toque! is serving the best food in Montreal, at least if you do the tasting menu. The cooking is the most technical, most exact, and best balanced I had in the city. Indeed, the food there is the best I've had in either Toronto or Montreal. Also, the place is not overly formal or stuffy, instead it is sort of cold and corporate and yes, I've found the service to be distant although very compotent.

Joe Beef,,,is it for real? or is it a joke!

Congratulations, this is the first negative review of Joe Beef I've seen. It had to happen some time.

Torontonian's recount of Montreal feast (Leméac, Bistro Bistro, Cube, and more) Long.

Go with Anise over Chez L'Epicier and order the nine course 'turf' tasting menu. After recent meals at Anise and Susur, my mom rated the Anise meal slightly higher. I'm not so sure, but either way it's cooking at a level few restaurants in this country reach right now. I've had one excellent meal at L'Epicier and one disaster. If you do choose L'epicier don't order the tasting and go a la carte. Don't forget about Chasse et Peche as it is also in walking distance and stronger than L'Epicier.

Also, O&G is a must. Laloux is a good option if you're in the Plateau, but don't for forget about Cocagne which takes a more modern spin on the luxury bistro. Popular bistros L'express and Le Continental are also nearby. Au petite extra is good but a bit out of your way.