Happy New Year everyone! It has definitely been quite some time since my last visit here. A lot has happened, I got married, went on a fabulous honeymoon and now, I’m in the beginning stages of immigrating to Toronto, Ontario so I can call Justin Trudeau, “Daddy!”
But that is not why I am here today. Let’s talk about food shall we?
Fall of 2016, I spent a week in Montréal, Québec as a newlywed and we were able to experience an amazing food scene. We all love eating and trying new things and I will admit, I do have a slight penchant for French cuisine or at least foods with a slight French accent and yes, Montréal is in Canada and not France… but folks, the food no joke over there.
There is some serious comfort food to be had in French Canada.
Now, if you are not in the mood to trek around the old city or climb the hilly streets of downtown then download the Foodora app and have it delivered to your hotel room.
So let’s start with breakfast…
We stayed at the simple and elegant Sofitel Montréal Golden Mile and their breakfast at the Renoir came highly recommended by a few people. So why not? We went downstairs and was able to enjoy their version of Eggs Benedict with a twist, smoked salmon. Their hollandaise was perfectly rich without feeling too heavy
(…like egg yolk can sometimes be…)
Your breakfast comes with freshly squeezed orange juice and a grapefruit/vegetable juice power shot that have complimentary refills. We found this out on our last morning breakfast, had we known on previous mornings…OMG. (Psst, waiter?!, Refill SVP!)
In addition to a filling breakfast, we had a basket of various pastries that spoke to my heart (or belly).
Pain de Chocolat, Pain de Raisins, Croissant… butter, coffee… just heaven.
I will forewarn you, breakfast in a hotel of this caliber does come at price. Our two breakfast plates, pastries, juice and coffee came in at around $85CAD before tip. Every morning we said, “For the honeymoon!” and carried on, however had it been any other occasion, we might have just reserved it for a first and last night event.
So what about lunch?
We decided to walk a couple kilometers downhill from the hotel to the old city center, Vieux-Montréal. A beautiful city that with cobblestone streets, old French-style architecture and the birthplace of Canadian Poutine.
Oh poutine (Pū-tîn or Pū-TEEN), fries, gravy, fresh cheese curds. It screams Canadian comfort food. It is definitely not the best food Canada has to offer, it is definitely not the most tastiest of dishes either (depending on where you go), but it is still one of my favourite comfort foods.
Poutine loosely translates itself to “mess” mainly from its appearance when served. We fancied a visit to Montréal Poutine in the old city to try their Smoked Meat Poutine. Now, we have been here before, had poutine and enjoyed it, but not entirely. Two years ago, we visited the city for a quick weekend, but it was a wayward trek downtown and we did not completely take in all it had to offer. We also went there at night just before closing and they had run out of their smoked meat, so we needed to try it again.
One smoked meat poutine and one smoked meat sandwich, two plates, please! This is my favourite poutine. It is full fat, large portioned and slightly rustic in presentation. There is an intense comfort eating hot fried food when it is 0°C outside. Poutine is something that warms you up and keep you warm!
As it clogs your arteries.
You can have poutine elsewhere in Canada, it will undoubtedly lack the flair that Montréal’s version has.
Although, I cannot say you will be able to walk around once the food coma directly follows.
The sandwich was alright…
We knew we were going to try a more famous rendition of this sandwich later during our stay, but the bread was actually really nice and crispy. Something the other sandwich had missing.
Dinner came in the form of room service…
Our first official night as a married couple! Let’s get the Prosecco, the filet, the EVERYTHING.
Meats, especially beef in Canada are still something I am getting used to. You realize when you dine in a different country that American meat and poultry is terrible quality. I am also taken back with how small steaks and chicken breasts are here in Canada, but amazed with how clean and rich they taste…
…then I remind myself, “Oh right… they’re not injected with hormones and shit…”
So when the steak from Alberta melted in my mouth, I understood what people say about good quality filets.
I completely understand now.
The house charcuterie, however, was not to our liking. Unfortunately, there was a slight funk to the salami that we did not take to. However, the prosciutto was excellent.
I don’t like to share my prosciutto. Well I do, but, get your own.
The house salad, with grilled brie, wow. I have have eaten melted brie on pizzas, macaroni & cheese and burgers, but never grilled and tossed in a salad. That was a new experience. It was almost like bursting open a mound of Burrata cheese. Watching heaven unfold before your eyes.
Overall, the room service experience was something we enjoyed. You see it in the movies, you see it on the Telly, but you are never presented with the chance to experience it first-hand too often.
Seize the opportunity, no regrets.
The following day, I had a strong craving for Middle Eastern fare. I am a huge fan of Halal Guys and all those restaurants that serve pita and gyro platters of the sort. I knew that Egyptian cuisine had a strong presence in Montréal and began to search Yelp for recommendations.
La Folie du Koshary grazed my radar and we went for it. Egyptian food has an abundant amount of influence from its neighbours. I was taken back by the some of the more educational dishes, but not curious enough to try it without having the staples first. So we went safe.
By safe choosing, we were absolutely blown away with the food!
Their Fatet Shawerma plate came with a nice surprise. Under all the rice, beef, vegetables AND TAHINI was a crispy layer of fried pita chips. Wow, what an addition. It gave a nice texture almost like you are eating a pita chip salad. I enjoyed it, I can see how some may not like this addition.
The Hawawshy was a rich and heavy meat-filled flatbread with the addition of curry-spiced fries. The fries I did not enjoy too much, but the hawawshy was beautiful. I loved the seasoning, but it is amazingly greasy due to its deep-fried roots.
This is a place we will order from again the next time we visit. La Folie du Koshary definitely left an impression on me. I hope you never close! All the best places do!
So what’s left?
Oh yeah, a visit to Montréal is not complete without a visit to their famous Hebrew delicatessen, Schwartz’s.
Schwartz’s is known for their Montréal Smoked Meat. What exactly is smoked meat? I cannot really tell you. It tastes like Beef Pastrami to me. Maybe they are the same thing, maybe it is because it is made with Kosher meat that the nomenclature changes, I suppose I’ll have to research this…
Schwartz’s typically has lines out the door. Our last visit we had waited over an hour to get inside, was rushed to order and then pushed out the door. You have to know what you want and how you want it or you may be left behind in the crowd.
Everything from the cut of beef, the fat content and how many kilograms of smoked beef you want is asked of you. Many of their menu items are for dine-in only, but you can order a kilogram of smoked meat, a bag of sliced bread and some sides for under $30CAD. Win.
We chose their beef with a medium fat content, as we all know you need some fat for the best flavour. Their sliced bread they serve leaves much to be desired. It is dry and lacks character, unlike Montréal Poutine’s french baguette, but it does allow the meat to shine as the true star that it is. I could easily have eaten the whole container and cut anyone who came near it!
The potato salad is decent, but needs salt. The coleslaw is not the style of slaw I am used to. There is no mayonnaise in it at all! Just vinegar with no salt, pepper or sugar to balance it. So the zing of it made eating it a bit unenjoyable.
So with that, I present our experience of Montréal’s food scene. It is comfort food with a slight French Canadian accent. The warmth and European flair makes their food scene quite charming and desirable, at least for my palette.
We left the city missing all it had to offer and cannot wait for another return.
That is when you know you have thoroughly enjoyed a city. If a piece of your heart is left behind, it becomes a part of your identity. We left many memories in this city, memories that will last us a lifetime…
…however, my tastebuds and belly can’t wait a lifetime to return and so we plan the encore, soon.