Although I had hoped to see more of Montreal than the view from my room at the W Montreal (above), there just wasn’t time between brainstorming and sleeping. So my friend Shayma lives in Canada, sent me her mini guide to Montreal.
Shayma, who is Pakistani-Afghan with a hint of Iranian, writes The Spice Spoon, a food memoir-style blog inspired by her heritage. An economist by profession she was born in Lahore, and grew up in Pakistan; the USA; Nigeria; Kenya; Bangladesh and the UK. Her career took her to Rome, where she spent 6 years working for the United Nations, and last year she moved from Rome to Toronto.
Inspired by her family history, she started blogging to share some of the dishes she cooks at home, learnt from her mother, aunt and grandmothers.
So: her guide.
Belgo Building, 372 Ste St Catherine’s St West- for a gallery crawl. This used to be an industrial building which has been converted to a space for art galleries for local artists. It is right next to the contemporary art museum, MOCCA, which is great – we saw the 2011 Biennale there.
Old Montreal is very pretty. There is a lovely private art foundation (admission is gratis) which was closed over the December hols- we saw a John Currin exhibition there. (Do check with your concierge to see if it has re-opened). It is located in a really nice area of Old Montreal- here is the link- DHC.
Usually, I would suggest that you walk along the Mile End– there is a lovely bagel place- St Viateur- 263 Rue St Viateur West- you can only buy bagels there & there is no place to sit and eat. But I’m not sure if you will want to walk around in wind chill factor -30….
i would suggest, (highly recommend) Lawrence for lunch/brunch (have heard dinner is nice, too, but haven’t tried it in the evening yet). Their crumpets are amazing, and I had a fried egg with some very unique mushrooms, all sitting atop a slice of sourdough bread. My husband had poached eggs with gravadlax they make themselves. I think you will love this place.
Another place in the same area (Mile End) is a lovely little cafe with lots of pastries/treats- Gascogne.
If you are a chocolate addict like myself, there is a chocolate bar called Juliette et Chocolat I can sit there for hours on end, reading, eating, slurping drinks. They have a brownie truffle menu, lots of hot chocolates made from real chocolate and an alcoholic chocolate drinks menu, too. I don’t know if they have wi-fi, but it would be a wonderful place to park yourself for a few hours. The location on Laurier West is the really lovely one.
Here are some nice, reasonable-price-point places for dinner:
Laloux – 250, Pine Avenue East
Lemeac nice for lunch or brunch; dinner was not so good. This is next to the chocolate bar i mentioned.
Au Cinquieme Peche I have not been but my friend says it is very good.
Le Local – Delish salmon tartar.
La Salle a Manger – Scrummy duck entrees and steaks to share
Alep or Petit Alep for Syrian/Levantine-style cuisine
We ate at Le Club Chasse et Peche It is one of the most funky/weird-in-a-good-way/beautiful restaurants i have ever been to. Definitely a special occasion place, and I hear that the owners have opened a new place called Le Filet.
And then, of course, for lunch, there are the two really famous places for smoked Montreal beef- Schwartz’s and Beauty’s. We always go to MTL on a weekend so the queues are insane; I so wish I had not missed both of these places.