Montreal Part I

I am delighted to share with you, a little recap of our mini getaway to Montreal. I absolutely adore Montreal, and although we just recently visited last October, I think it was this trip that really made me fall in love with the city.

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We planned to go, sort of at the last minute. Azim was asked to participate in a soccer tournament for Easter Saturday-Sunday, and I said why not make a trip out of it? I hadn’t taken any vacation since Christmas, and was well overdue to hit pause on working-blogging-working. A little getaway was just what I needed!

We decided to stay Thursday night until Tuesday morning. We left right after work on Thursday and drove through until about midnight – the weather was not pleasant. Azim is a wonderful driver though, so we arrived safe and sound!
I had been apprehensive about our hotel because it seemed a little too far north for my liking, but it was actually the PERFECT location. We used Priceline to book it, and I’m so glad we did. I never would have picked out Hotel 10 on my own.

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Hotel 10 is located right on trendy Boulevard Saint-Laurent in the Quartier des Spectacles. We were walking distance to mostly everything I wanted to visit, and because we had driven, we also had access to our car to visit places a little further out. Many people suggest taking the train from Toronto to Montreal, but I highly recommend driving (and why not amble along the Thousand Islands Parkway, and stop in Gananoque?).

That first night we were just completely exhausted, and we fell asleep right away. Unfortunately the next day we woke to chilly weather and grey skies! Ah, I forgot that spring comes a little later and winter hits a little harder for our friends in Quebec. We walked twenty minutes down through Chinatown and to the Old Port for our FABULOUS first lunch. Several friends had recommended Les 400 Coups, and I think it was the best meal we had during our stay.

We went for the Prix Fixe menu (called Table d’hôte in Montreal), which was quite reasonably priced for lunch ($22 for two courses, $28 for three) – considering how divine the ingredients were! The emphasis was on flavour and presentation. Gorgeous, gorgeous, everything about it! I believe the menu is always changing, because I just went to check it now and it’s completely different than what was on offer during our visit.
The highlight for me was my “coquelet” or “young rooster” as the chef described it. It was crispy and delicious, and just melted in my mouth. Heaven! I also loved Azim’s homemade pasta and panna cotta for dessert. He was patient enough to take some photos, but I am sorry to say that my plates live only in my memories now…

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After Les 400 Coups, I was still feeling gluttonous enough to seek out some coffee and treats. Our lovely server suggested “Bar à Beurre”, and yes the name describes it perfectly. The little cafe was filled with rich, buttery treats, and I ended up choosing one of their specialties: a cupcake ball. Yum! I would recommend both Les 400 Coups and Bar à Beurre if you’re ever wandering around the Old Port. There is just too much good food in Montreal to settle for anything less.

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To walk off the calories we made our way through Old Montreal, and then up to Rue Saint Catherine. We had spent a lot of time in this part of town on our last trip, and I was not as interested in shopping and fighting with the other tourists. We made a quick stop at Ogilvy (mais, bien sur! I could not visit Montreal and not go to Ogilvy) and then headed back to the hotel for a well-deserved nap. We did quite a bit of walking on our first day! And yes, quite a bit of eating too…

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My last highlight for the day was our dinner. I had been craving REAL crêpes for awhile, and I knew I would probably be able to find them in Montreal. You simply cannot find a good crêpe in Toronto – I’m sorry but it’s the truth. I can admit that I’m a crêpe snob, but allow me to take you for a true Breton-style crêpe and you will never go back to the sad, flat pancakes that are served on Queen Street West.

Dinner crêpes, or savoury crêpes I should say, are made with buckwheat flower and called “galettes”. They should be brown and crispy, and form a thin envelope for delicious ingredients such as ham, cheese, and egg. This is what I was hunting for as I searched through Montreal foodie forums, and read multiple reviews. Finally I found a place – Breizh Café – that seemed promising. I bookmarked it, and only realized later that it was a 10 minute walk from our hotel! Fate!

Azim and I ordered our delicious galettes, and I was finally satisfied. Crêpes/galettes are also traditionally served with cider, and I happily tried my first “kir breton” which was like a kir royale, but made with cider instead of champagne. I also had a sweet crêpe au sucre et au citron for dessert – simple as they should be! I don’t look down upon a crêpe filled with chocolate, bananas, icecream, etc…but I do think the best kind are just:

Butter
Sugar
Lemon

Yes.

Snob? Who, moi?

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After dinner we had an early night as Azim had to leave for soccer in Laval early Saturday morning. That was actually just fine with me because I had the BEST day planned for myself!

Stay tuned to hear about my visit to the Agatha Christie exhibit, and my new friends I made on my Craft Beer Tour 🙂

xoxox

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