4 Days in Montreal: Eating My Way Through La Belle Ville

If you’ve noticed the site has been quite for the past few days, it’s for good reason– I’ve been in Montreal! My lovely mother hopped on a flight for Easter Weekend, and the two of us enjoyed much of what the gorgeous city has to offer. 

Quebec’s largest city has a pile to offer visitors– from gorgeous architecture and world-class museums to fantastic shopping and luxe lounges, Montreal is full of things to do and see. But the most glorious part of the city? The food. The food!!! The french bistros, the desserts, the pastries, the fromageries— it’s cheat-day heaven. So without further adieu, you’re invited to relive each and every bite (well, almost) of my Montreal weekend. 

Saint Paul Street, in the heart of Old Montreal

Saint Paul Street, in the heart of Old Montreal

Our first dinner was at the famous French bistro L’Express. Nestled in the heart of The Plateau, L’Express is known for it’s traditional French food and Parisian vibe– both of which we were totally digging. After a glass of rose and some beyond-fresh baguette, we started with a lentil and octopus salad.

Lentil & Octopus Salad

Lentil & Octopus Salad at L’Express

Lentil & Octopus Salad The waiter brought out this adorable jar full of wee little homemade dill pickles and spicy mustard.

Homemade Pickles at L'Express

Homemade Pickles at L’Express

Lentil & Octopus SaladIsn’t my mother a doll?!

MomEntrees arrived soon after we finished each and every morsel of the salad. Sautéed duck confit with salad for mom, fresh sea bass & sautéed vegetables for me. 

Duck Confit with Salad

Duck Confit with Salad

 

Fresh Sea Bass & Veggies

Fresh Sea Bass & Veggies

Needless to say, we weren’t returning to the hotel with any leftovers. The waiter recommended the rum baba for dessert– we just couldn’t say no.

Rum Baba at L'Express

Rum Baba at L’Express

The really impressive thing about L’Express was their ability to make simple dishes taste incredibly complex. If you’re visiting Montreal, put it on your short list of restaurants– there are few like it on this continent.

Shopping seemed to take precedence over eating for much of our first full day in the city (though we did split an ungodly good chocolate brownie from Juliette & Chocolat). Perhaps hunger had begin to cloud my judgement by the evening, because I went to dinner at Sho-Dan Sushi cameraless. This is truly unfortunate, as it was some of the best sushi either of us have been lucky enough to eat. After a few lychee martinis, we started our meal with a softshell crab in ponzu sauce, then shared the Cita Caliente (yellowtail sashimi and jalepenos in ponzu) and the Besame Mucho (spicy tuna, shrimp, avocado, and tempura flakes rolled in soya paper).

We then, of course, were in the market for something sweet. Lucky for us, Suite 88 Chocolatier was only a few blocks away– which meant expresso, truffles, and a holy-shit-this-is-the-best-thing-i’ve-ever-tasted slice of chocolate cake.Espresso

After collapsing from a chocolate-coma, we awoke refreshed and, naturally, on the hunt for pastry and coffee. We hopped on the metro to Montreal’s famous Atwater MarketNext to the Lachine Canal, the market is the year-round home to many Quebec delicatessens, bakeries, chocolatiers, and fromageries, along with vendors of some of the most lovely fresh flowers, fresh produce, local maple syrup, fish, and oils & vinegars. 

After surveying the landscape, we got down to getting down with some pastry. Look no further than Premiere Moisson. Jam-packed with locals either getting breakfast or picking up a pre-Easter dessert, the Quebec bakery seemed to offer every baked good known to man. Apologies if the following pictures create sudden, intense cravings.Premiere Moisson

Premiere MoissonDSC_0588 DSC_0587They also sold lovely baggies to take home to those unfortunate enough to miss out.Premiere Moisson

Premiere Moisson Premiere MoissonBut forget croutons, there were pastries to be had.DSC_0593

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DSC_0604After much deliberation, we decided to go with two croissants: one almond, one chocolate. Now, this isn’t a knock against the chocolate, but if you go to Premiere Moisson and don’t order an almond croissant, you will live in regret for the rest of your life. 

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DSC_0610After we resisted the temptation to order one of everything, we did what any sensible women would do… head to the chocolatier. Since Easter was just around the corner, we were floored by the selection of adorable chocolate bunnies (not to mention cows, cats, and other cute animals) at Chocolats PrivilegeEaster Chocolates

Easter Chocolates

Easter Chocolates

Easter Chocolates

Easter Chocolates

Easter Chocolates

Easter Chocolates

Easter ChocolatesAfter getting our fill of chocolates, we grabbed a fresh baguette and a bag of the oh-so-lauded St-Viatuer Bagels (if you’ve never had a Montreal-style bagel, you’re missing out) and headed to La Fromagerie Atwater. 

Now, with the possible exceptions of maple syrup and hockey, cheese is Quebec’s thing. Second only to France, it’s the largest cheese producing region in the world, and the majority of cheeses are only available within the province. The charming family-run fromagerie offered over 800 different types of cheeses, and since even we can’t eat that much, we had to make some decisions. After some glorious taste tests, we settled on a stunningly good Quebec goat cheese and –my personal favourite– a very smoked, very delicious, semi-hard cow’s milk cheese. The fromagerie also offered about a billion types of smoked and/or cured meat and pate. 

We strolled by the fresh produce, grabbed a dozen macarons, and finally headed back to the hotel to drop off our loot.Atwater Market

 

Atwater Market

Atwater MarketAfter recharging with some shopping on St-Catherine Street, we treated ourselves to Afternoon Tea at the Ritz CarltonRitz CarltonTea was served in the hotel’s gorgeous Palm Court.Ritz

A blurry, though cute shot of my mother and I

A blurry, though cute shot of my mother and I

Ritz

Ritz

 We started with champagne.

Champagne

 

Champagne

Mom

Then we ordered our tea. I opted for a cranberry ceylon, and my mom chose an orange-cinnamon blend. They arrived with our three tiers of beautiful, delicious treats.Tea

 

Tea at the Ritz

The top plate was home to the best scones I’ve ever eaten (the waiter told us they’re a bit more leavened than a traditional scone). Delicate little finger sandwiches sat in the middle, and the bottom tier boasted the most fantastic and detailed little pastries. Scones

The scones were served with clotted cream, rose petal jelly, and black currant jam. Jam

The finger sandwiches were assorted– pacific smoked salmon and wild mushroom, goat cheese and cucumber, & smoked chicken and truffles. SandwichesAnd finally, I have no idea what the desserts actually were– aside from super-tasty and very pretty. Desserts

This little bavarian creme topped with gold leaf was my favourite!

This little bavarian creme topped with gold leaf was my favourite!

Tea was a real treat, and goes highly recommended– a great, glamorous experience that feels a bit like going back in time.

Easter morning was upon us, and after going to service at Notre Dame Cathedral (we aren’t Catholic, but the experience & the STUNNING, stunning structure drew us in), we brunched at Le St-Sulplice Hotel in the Old Port. The hotel restaurant, Sinclair, offered a tremendous brunch. SinclairWe started with coffee and mimosas. Mimosas

CoffeeAnd then went right in for the buffet. Brunch

My round one: cold grilled vegetables, greek salad, two different bean salads, scrambled eggs, traditional hash browns, and a margherita pasta. My mother eats meat, so her plate included some lovely beef, chicken, & duck dishes. The second time around, I grabbed wild mushroom lasagna, beet salad, and a big pile of fresh pineapple, kiwi, & berries. Brunch

It was perfect! MomFinally, we made the dessert rounds. Beyond the cutie pie chocolate eggs and bunnies, the dessert table was stocked with chocolate mousse, tiramisu, dark chocolate cake, truffles, macarons, and other assorted brownies/pastries/cookies/other good things. DessertAny buffet with macarons is a-ok in my book. DessertAfter practically rolling back to the hotel, we decided to burn off brunch with a big walk up the mountain in Mount Royal Park. Mom and IThe view from the top is impossible to beat! I also hung out with one of my new friends. MontrealAfter such a big day, we went for some low-key sushi takeout for dinner.

On our final day, we strolled along the cobblestone streets of the Old Port… but finished with a dark chocolate cronut! I was semi-skeptical, but this donut-croissant hybrid lived up to all of the hype. Cronut

CronutAnd with that, we headed to the airport. The weekend was delicious treat after delicious treat, very happily shared with my wonderful mother. Mom and IAs you can well imagine, this has been a cardio-heavy week for me…. but Montreal’s food was so worth it! If you’re planning a trip to Montreal, any and all of these culinary options come highly, highly recommended… you won’t be disappointed!