We visited food heaven in Montreal last week. Evelyn and David – our uber-foodie friends from Vermont – planned each decadent instant. Adam and I went along for the ride.
And, oh, what a ride.
Trying to write – in flowing, descriptive prose – about the delights of this most culinary of North American cities has escaped my mind, pen and keyboard. I just can’t do the experience justice. Can’t.
So I offer this list of moments instead:
- Au Pied Du Cochon’s guinea hen liver mousse with sweet aspic and pickled pearl onions nearly brought me to my knees.
- The melt-on-your-tongue duck carpaccio did bring Adam and Evelyn to theirs. (Topped with simple shaved cheddar, an over-easy egg, button mushrooms, olive oil and salt and pepper – it shouldn’t have been as good as it was.) I think Evelyn called the velvety dish “Freakin’ awesome” – repeatedly and loudly.
- Watching the line chefs spin, swerve, and bend was like viewing a chaotic, clattering, French-speaking ballet. Hint: Sit on stools 3 and 4 down from the door (out of 6 total) at the Food Bar – no pepper mills and olive oil bottles block the action in these prime seats.
- I felt my arteries harden from gazing – zombie-like – at plate after plate of poutine. Cheese curd, topped with fries cooked in duck fat, topped with gravy, finished with a melting pile of foie gras. Yowza! We opted for the foie gras terrine instead. Marvelous.
- At the chic brassiere, Holder, Adam ordered the BEST EVER beef tartare. Better even than a much-beloved version devoured in Paris a few years ago. Onion forward. Fatty, succulent meat. Touches of red pepper. It had me at first bite.
- Holder also yielded the most impressive restaurant “triage” I’ve ever witnessed. The waitress spilled Evelyn’s espresso on delivery. Five waiters converged, stripped the plates and butcher paper, flung on a new tablecloth and plopped down a fresh espresso. Within seconds. We hardly had time to blink.
- At funky Restaurant DNA near the river, my red onion soup with chicken liver dumplings filled me with joy. I mean it. I sat in a warm huddle of happiness – letting the fragrant steam fill my nostrils. Paired with La Barberie Rouse, a Quebec-brewed bitter red ale, it made for a sensory, savory lunch.
- Each morning we sipped flavorful espresso and munched fresh fruit and flaky, crackly – and not too sweet – chocolate croissants at our hotel – Le Petit Hotel on Rue Saint-Paul in Old Montreal. At $148 a night, this hip boutique hotel is a steal. Best beds and continental breakfast ever!
Now, not everything was wine and roses. Holder’s insane wine list mark-up drove us to cheap-ish Prosecco. The sauce on my gnocchi at DNA sadly resembled Chef Boyardee, and Adam’s chocolate pot de crème would cream Au Pied Du Cochon’s.
But, the things that were wonderful were out of this world wonderful.
Montreal is just a hair over 5 hours from Portland.
If you love food. Go.