D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Montreal Restaurant Reviews

Sunday, June 24, 2007 3:55 AM

So if you're staying for any length of time in Montreal, you're going to have to face the fact that you'll be eating out...quite a bit actually (unless you get a hotel with suites, where you have a fridge and can store your own food). Here's a roundup of places we hit while there (all ratings out of 5)

Hard Rock Cafe - Montrel, Crescent Dr.
Rating: 3.5

Hard Rock is a safe bet if you want good North American staples like burgers, steak, ribs, etc. Their patio is smaller than other places on Crescent, but still very nice. Staff were very friendly and accommodating, and the food was always very good for the most part. I had the Smokehouse Trio the last night we were in Montreal, and the brisket was awesome...the chicken good...and the ribs a little dry. Their kicked up Mac and Cheese with tex-mex seasoning and chicken was tasty as well.

The biggest thing Hard Rock has going for it is the atmosphere though: the music blaring out onto the patio is great, and the staff are friendly and laid back.

 

Wienstein & Gavino's - Montreal, Crescent Dr.
Rating: 4

Awesome Italian restaurant with a huge patio and an even nicer interior (but its Montreal...get a patio seat). Service was excellent, especially since our waitress appeared to have quite a large section of tables. The other servers and bussers definitely worked together as a team, which is nice to see in restaurants...sometimes its a "fight for your tips" type of place where your customer is the only one you care about...anyway...tangent...

The food is top notch. I had Veal Parm which came with a side of pasta and an I-don't-know what type of sauce, but it was excellent. My wife had a pasta dish and really enjoyed it (can't remember the name of the dish).

If you want a good, casual Italian night out on Crescent, W&G's is the way to go.

 

Mike's - Montreal, St. Catherines
Rating: 1.5

Very average Perkins-ish Italian place, where prices are expensive for what you get and the service is waaay below par. We got a table in the early afternoon, and the place wasn't busy at all. We waited at least 5 minutes before anyone came to our table. I had to flag our waitress (who was pleasant) down for a refill. Food was passable, but not something you need to go out of your way for.

Trois Brossiers - Montreal, St. Catherines (Closer to Crescent)
Rating: 3

The "Three Brewmasters" is a great pub...and the food is pretty good too. If you're looking for a romantic dinner for two, definitely not the place. Looking for a good stop to have a few beers and enjoy standard bar food (pizza, burgers, etc.), then definitely. The feature here is that they brew their own beer, which is actually pretty good (I had the Amber).

Jardin Nelson - Montreal, Jaques Cartier Place
Rating: 4

If you go, don't sit on the patio lining the square. Instead, find the entrance to the back-patio and get a table there. Awesome place, with live musicians at lunch and dinner, and food that is very good. But if you like meat, be warned: this is not a steak and potatoes place. Crepes and salads dominate the lunch menu, but all the items that we saw (and the ones we had) were excellent. Also, if you go on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday at lunch they provide a 15% discount to your bill (not sure how long the promotion is on for, but it was when we were there).

Great service, laid back atmosphere, and good food. Definitely worth checking out.

Le Latini - Montreal, Rue Jeanne-Mance
Rating: With first waiter - 2, with new waiter 4.5

Ok, this is one of our stories from the trip. This can't just be a review...you have to have the play by play. First the background: Le Latini has been around Montreal since 1979, and is known to be a/the premier Italian restaurant in Montreal. We found it as it was featured in a Montreal guide we had picked up for the trip, in its "Top 10" list of restaurants to check out. The place is said to be expensive, but if you're planning a trip out for a special occasion it's really not that bad.

Ok...but on to the full review.

First Impressions

We walk into the restaurant and right into a set from the Sopranos. All the waiters are older gentlemen (30's to 60's) dressed in white suits. There's no dress code at the restaurant for guests, but at first glance all the male guests I noticed were wearing suits...glad I at least wore a dress shirt to go with my jeans.

We wait a few minutes before one of the waiters finally comes by and brings us to our seat: a table in their covered patio (there's an indoor area, a covered patio area, and an uncovered patio area). We were seated at a table between two sets of what I can only describe as French mobsters...seriously, one looked like Abe Giota. However, here's where the clientele merged: on the outside patio (that we had full view of) there was a young lad with a Habs t-shirt on, and another table with young gents wearing kaki shorts and t-shirts as well. I guess the point of all this is that you need to dress to what you're comfortable with. Most men will be in suits, most women were in average dresses and outfits.

The Service

So a waiter comes by and realizes that we're anglos, so he  thankfully switches our French menus for English ones. We got the feeling that this guy was sort of looking down his nose at us, and he pulled some fast ones as well. We asked for water to start while we looked over the wine list, and he brought us a bottle of imported Italian water. Maybe that's the standard...but I thought it odd that a chargeable item was brought out without verifying (i.e. "Would you like to try our Italian imported bottled water?"...that's how you upsell as a waiter, and this from a guy who spent a number of years in the restaurant business).

So anyway, the conversation soon goes comedic. My wife orders a glass of wine...to which he says that they don't have the blush wine on the menu, but it will be "something similar". I then ask him what type of Rye they have.

Blank stare.

Thinking that it was a language thing, I clarified: "Whiskey"

He then begins to list every hard liquor they have in the restaurant BUT rye. "We have Johnny Walker Yellow Label, Johnny Walker Red Label, JD (Seriously, he didn't even say Jack Daniels, he said JD!?)"

Now you can debate that technically Johnny Walker is Scotch Whiskey, but c'mon: if someone asks me for Rye, I'm going to tell them Crown Royal, Canadian Club, etc., not Johnny Walker. If someone asks me for Scotch, that's a different story.

Somehow he clued in to what I was meaning and listed VO and CC.

(It should be noted that my wife's wine never came to the table at all.)

We then proceeded to order. We started with an appetizer of scallops with porcini mushrooms on a bed of spinach. After I ordered the appetizer, I turned it over to Michelle to order her entre (ladies first). The waiter thought he should point out that what I had ordered was just an appetizer. Yeah buddy...I got that.

After this, we never saw this guy again (other than when he was working tables on the external patio), and we were transferred to what I can only describe as the best waiter I've ever had...ever! Confident, in control, and guiding the pace of the dinner...exactly what a waiter should be. Professional servers need to have almost this aura of...well not arrogance, but confidence. It's that confidence that, when a meal takes a long time to come to the table, guests look for to know that things aren't falling apart. He actually came and checked in on how we were doing, asked how the food was as we were eating, even took a picture of us (it was our anniversary). I can't speak highly enough about this guy...totally saved the dinner for us.

The Food

On to the food. The app of scallops and mushrooms was fantastic! Big meaty scallops seared just right. Michelle ordered some ravioli filled with pesto and mushrooms I believe. All the pasta is homemade, and the dish was excellent. I had a sirloin steak with a gorgonzola sauce. My first few bites were just alright...I hate it when steak has that sort of liver taste to it...but the sauce with the steak was fabulous and totally made the dish. All said though, I should have had a pasta dish or something more Italian-y...but it was still very good. I'm kicking myself for not ordering the Dover Sole (yes, they get fresh shipments of it in twice a week from what I remember from the menu).

Desert was made up of a Creme Brule for her, and homemade Tiramisu for me. I've done homemade Tiramisu before, but this was excellent. The Creme Brule was spot on, with fresh fruit topping it off.

The Ambiance

The restaurant itself was...interesting. The patio tables were all done up nicely, but the uncovered patio had a different theme going than the covered patio...which was different from the regular dining room...and there were these candleholders on the table that looked like some glasswork from the 60's, with orange colorations seeping from bottom to top. Again, not ghastly...but just an interesting mesh of styles.

I'm not sure if this was on for show, or whether this restaurant doubled as a local specialty food store, but they had a deli-style counter showing all the fresh ingredients that they used in their cooking, including seafood and meats. Knowing how many restaurants get their product frozen and then thaw it, it was refreshing to see a restaurant that was committed to fresh ingredients.

The owner (or manager...I'm guessing the owner) was running around checking on tables and passionately talking with the waiters. I thought he looked like he could be Paul Shaeffers brother: art-deco glasses, nice suit, no hair (hence the Paul Shaeffer reference). It's always good to see owners/managers engaging with the clients, and you could tell that his passion was the reason this place had existed for so long.

The clientele, as I mentioned earlier, was diverse. Guys in suites, guys in t-shirts, guys that were going through mid-life crisis and looked like French versions of Miami Vice...there was even a table where I guy was rubbing his female companion's leg while she propped it up on his lap.

And finally...the washrooms. You walk past the bar, down a set of stairs, and down a hall way until you see these two frosted doors, one with a "W" and one with a "M" on it.

Inside, there's a full trough sink, a stall that you have to figure out how to open the door to, and a floor mounted hook that the TP sits on. There are no paper towels in this restroom, only linen. It was all very...impressive. But then there was the urinal. I actually took a picture of it because words can't begin to fully describe this thing (well, had to take a few...with my Treo...and mash them up...so just pretend that the backing is a totally even rectangle from top to bottom).

 

Urinal

 Yes, you stand on those little placeholders on the bottom...and I'm guessing (hoping) water comes streaming down the rock once you're done. I've never seen anything like it.

So if it sounds like I'm down on this restaurant, believe me I'm not (well, other than Waiter #1)! This place really showed off what Montreal is all about: passion, flare, and a zest for life. It was so nice not to be in the same, sterile type of higher-end dining environments that you typically relate to the type of food and pricetag. If you're in Montreal and you want a true dining "experience", you need to check this place out. When we come back to Montreal, it will definitely be on our to-do list (and I'll order the Dover Sole this time).

Make sure to take in the fine restaurants that Montreal has to offer! These are but a few of the ones out there.

D




Feedback

# Quite tasty reviews

Wow, Jardin Nelson and Le Latini make me want to go see Montreal! I'll definitely stop in for a bite at one of these next time I'm there. 6/24/2007 10:27 AM | Lorin Thwaits

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