Feeding Ethan in Montreal

When a very good buddy is about to get married, you do everything in your power to go. When it happens to be in Montreal and you’re the proud owner of a VERY flexible schedule and you’re your own boss, you definitely go! Seeing as I used to visit Montreal as a child and lived there for almost ten years, I was experiencing serious cravings that you simply can’t get anywhere else in the world! My plan was to embark on a four day eating journey that would honour my past but also explore new to me eats in La Belle Province.

Road to somewhere

Wishing my buddy and his new bride a long and beautiful journey together

My first stop was a restaurant I had discovered while reading an article on Chef Chuck Hughes. He mentioned that Bouillon Bilk was one of his favourite places to eat in the city and unknown. Although we were seated 50 minutes late (obviously people know about it!), they apologized with a glass of champagne. A small gesture which was appreciated because they certainly could have given nothing and it somewhat lessened how ridiculously hungry we were!

Everything looked so good and since there were three of us, we opted to go the sharing route. Everything was great and I wish I could confirm that with photos. However, between it being dark, a rather intimate space (polite word for cramped), and friends I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, the phone stayed in my pocket! We had the beef carpaccio accompanied with sea urchin, corn and mushrooms as well as the fried zucchini blossom, burrata and eggplant which were both terrific! The star to me though was the homemade ravioli stuffed with ricotta and lamb which was rich and creamy. It may have been new to me, but it was certainly worthy of being visited again.

After a late but great dinner and a long day in the car to Montreal, I was in major need of a good sleep! A drive that should have been a manageable 7 hours to Montreal turned into 10+ hours due to a major accident on the highway. I’d like to think I have a pretty comfortable bed at home, but there’s something about a hotel bed with all the pillows! I succumbed to the ever-so-comfy king size bed at Hotel Omni Mont-Royal and awoke refreshed and ready to tackle another day of eating and wedding celebrations in the city. Of course, a fresh fruit platter with a tremendous view of the city helps to get the morning started too!

Omni Montreal View Fruit Platter

As we know, the internet brings all sorts of people together. My brunch companion was Janice of the blog Kitchen Heals Soul. I had met Janice a couple of years ago in Montreal and had last seen her at the Food Bloggers of Canada conference in April of this year. She suggested a spot called Lawrence appropriately on Boulevard St-Laurent in a part of the city called “The Plateau.” The English breakfast was recommended and it didn’t disappoint! The order was so heaping, it needed to be in a bowl, rather than a plate to contain it all. The bowl of homemade bacon, blood sausage, roasted potatoes, tomato topped with a runny egg was perfect.

Lawrence Breakfast

After checking many new places off my list, I needed something familiar! And there is nothing more familiar to me than the hustle and bustle of Schwartz’s and of course the smoked meat! For those that haven’t been, the stories of the crazy line-ups are true. You also better be ready to get to know the person to the left and right of you very well as the bench family-style seating means you’re guaranteed to be setting elbow-to-elbow. It was no different than usual when I got inside, but as I was dining for one, I was able to saddle up to the counter right away. Although I had no one on my right side, my back got bumped by every single person walking by and yet somehow at Schwartz’s I don’t seem to mind!

Schwartz's Smoked Meat, Fries and Cott

When it comes to eating at Schwartz’s, I’m predictable. Surprisingly, my go-to wasn’t on the menu board (although I could have sworn it used to be). It’s always been a sandwich consisting of 1/2 smoked meat and 1/2 stuffed chicken, but by 1pm they were out of stuffed chicken! My back-up option was no slouch and I went classic smoked meat sandwich (medium cut), French fries and the iconic black cherry Cott soda. My father explained to me a long time ago, you order the black cherry soda at Schwartz’s because you just have to. It is how incredible how familiar sounds and tastes can bring you back into time, but somehow it does.

Schwartz's Smoked Meat-The aftermath

The content aftermath of a Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwich. I always eat my sandwich with extra mustard

Having taken care some serious smoked meat business, it was time to check into the second of my two hotels during my time in Montreal. What I knew about Hotel 10 Montreal was what I had checked out online ahead of time and I was looking forward to it! For starters, when their restaurant Brooke opened, they had DJ Jazzy Jeff as a special guest and spin some tunes. The hotel was chic, funky and perfectly located right on the corner of St. Laurent and Sherbrooke. Next time, I’ll have to make time to eat there too!

Hotel 10 Montreal Having had my fair share of eating out, I was excited for a home cooked meal during my travels. But I was doubly excited because I was going to experience a #SimpleBitesSundayDinner better known as Sunday Dinner with Aimee of Simple Bites and her family! Each Sunday, Aimee posts a wonderful spread that goes up on her blog, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity to have family time and they were kind enough to let me share their special time with them. We enjoyed a Bacon-Wrapped Turkey Roulade roasted in squash squash, served with apple cider gravy and out-of-this-world baked beans.

Sunday Dinner

My favourite part of this photo is how second nature it is to the kids that mommy is taking photos of the food. No big deal.

After dinner, the kids got their homework done and we all went for a walk through the woods. The walk was perfect to enjoy some quiet time, admire the leaves changing colours, work off the turkey and make room for dessert which consisted of warm and fresh apple rhubarb pie! With the our bellies full and the kids in bed, we were able to sit around and catch up. Come to think of it, I don’t think the phones got pulled out once, crazy huh?!

Now feeling comforted with a home-cooked meal and a good night sleep, I was back on my journey and next on my to-eat list in Montreal were hot dogs. They may not have street vendors like they do in Toronto, but an inexpensive “steamie” can always be found and I will take a steamie over a Toronto street dog any day of the week! A steamie is just as it sounds, it comes out of a steamer so the bun is soft and simply melts in your mouth. The traditional way to eat a steamie is “all-dressed” which consists of mustard, chopped onion and coleslaw or freshly chopped raw cabbage. The crunch of the cabbage, the soft texture of the bun and the snap of the hot dog itself makes for a perfect combination. In my experience, you can never have just one, because the first one disappears so quickly!

La Belle Province Steamie Dogs

Steamie

Now, there is a “steamie” and there is also a “toastie.” As the name implies, the bun is grilled or toasted until crispy. Wanting to have a toastie as well, I decided to tackle two cravings with one spot…enter Orange Julep! And yes, that is a big giant orange that measures three stories high and is as impressive as it looks.

Orange Julep

Not to be confused with Orange Julius, the Julep serves toasties with mustard, relish and onions AND is home to the most magical drink ever made. The Orange Julep drink is orange juice, but frothier, creamier, sweeter and more satisfying than you’ve ever experienced. I will say, it’s also pretty expensive at $5.50 or so for my medium cup, but I let it slide since it has been a while!

Orange Julep Hot Dog and Drink

Toastie

I had two places left on my itinerary before leaving the city, one was for bagels because there is nothing like a Montreal bagel. I repeat, nothing like it! However, everyone has their favourites and mine are the bagels from St-Viateur Bagels. The warm sweet smell when you enter is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. However, I was so focused on the other part of my mission I completely forgot to stop and pick up a couple dozen bagels. The reason for my horrible oversight was because I had almond croissants on my mind. Janice had told me about a place I had to check out and she knows her croissants, so I did. I headed to Fous Desserts and the croissants lived up to expectations! Like the Orange Julep, I don’t know if I could spend that much every day on a croissant, but I’d like to if I could. But that croissant was coated oh-so perfectly with sweet sliced almonds and the inside was flaky with just the right amount of almond paste that gave it a perfect creamy filling.

Croissant aux Amandes

Visiting a city where your parents were born, visited often as a child and lived as a university student and adult will always have a familiar feel to it. Yet, Montreal is such a vibrant and incredible city that there is always something new to experience. With its language, history and charm, it truly is the closest thing we have in North America to a European city! And with most of my cravings fulfilled, it was time to say “aurevoir” to Montreal but comforted in the fact that I’ll be back soon.

Thanks to Tourisme Montréal, Hotel Omni Mont-Royal and Hotel 10 Montreal for their hospitality and my accommodations in Montreal. However, the rental car, the gas, the numerous Tim Horton’s 1/2 coffee & 1/2 hot chocolate drinks along the highway and ALL the FOOD you just saw and read about (and were likely jealous) of were courtesy of Ethan (me) and his (my) bank account.

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12 Responses to Feeding Ethan in Montreal

  1. Aimee @ Simple Bites October 22, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    We so enjoyed having you at our table. Hope the boys didn’t share too many family secrets. ;) Great post! I’ve got a few ideas for our next night (and brunch) out.

    • Ethan October 26, 2013 at 3:42 am #

      I will keep the family secrets safe:) Looking forward to the next adventure!

  2. Paula October 22, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    So true about familiar tastes and sounds bringing you back in time. Wonderful photos Ethan. Looks like your visit to Montreal was warm, welcoming and very filling in every sense! Best wishes to your best friend and his new wife.

    • Ethan October 26, 2013 at 3:47 am #

      Thank you Paula! I bet your kitchen smells familiar and wonderful 24/7.

  3. Katina October 25, 2013 at 4:48 am #

    Salut from a new blogger! I love this post because although I’m from Van, I just returned from a living a year in Montreal. I also have to say that St. Viateur is my favourite, compared to Fairmount. The service just seems to be better at St. Viateur. At Fairmount, I always feel rushed and never have time to think about what I want to buy. Oh and if you do venture back to Montreal, head to the West Island and visit Smoke Meat Pete’s – in my opinion it’s better than Schwartz’s, and they even do live music. Have you been to Chuck Hughes’ Garde-Manger? Debating whether it’s worth going to or not when I visit the city later this year.

    • Ethan October 26, 2013 at 3:45 am #

      Salut! Smoked Meat Pete’s huh? I don’t think I’d ever be able to convert, but we shall see! I haven’t been to Garde Manger yet, hopefully next visit, but I think it’d be worth it! A bientot:)

  4. Robert October 28, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    Hey Bear, Pretty darn tasty. What was missing was the Chinese restaurant we used to go to and a helping of General Tao tofu for your mother at Les Nouilles and a Montreal Pizza with the cheese on top. Oooh and don’t forget some knartzel to help with the smoked meat sandwich and ooo,ooo when time permits some scampis or a rack of lamb from Gibby’s. That’s a trip that would take a week. But thanks for whetting the appetite!

    • Ethan November 10, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

      I know! I just ran out of time to meet up with the General, prochain fois! A Gibby’s and Les Nouilles combo…nice!

  5. Filipino Christmas Recipes by trina November 12, 2013 at 10:01 am #

    Great photos! Love the one that has an amazing view through the windows and that sandwich from Schwartz’s is really something! This made me so hungry! ;)

    • Ethan November 15, 2013 at 8:21 am #

      The ultimate compliment, glad you got hungry!

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