French cuisine in Montreal? No thank you
Believe it or not, the entire three days we were in Montreal last month, not once did we eat at what I would call a truly French restaurant. Then again, French cuisine is often heavy on seafood or meat and, being vegetarians, that doesn’t work so well with the old digestive tract. That said, we still had many a fancy feast at everywhere from little holes in the wall to an eatery specializing in raw meals. I even had every American’s obligatory “deer caught in headlights” look at a restaurant – twice – when the servers thought I spoke French. Nope – just gold, ol’ Amer-uh-can … er, English.
Here’s just a sample of some of the places we dined at whilst in French Canada:
Crudessence – Expect to spend about $15-$17/plate
I’ve eaten at “raw” restaurants (or places that don’t cook their meals) twice now and while both times I went in feeling nervous about my choice of restaurant, both times I left feeling satiated and happy. The meals aren’t cheap given the simplistic and shotgun layout of the restaurant (located on the lower level of a building off Rue Mackay near the hoity-toity Rue Sherbooke), but the food is fantastic. The pesto “spaghetti” is fine zucchini noodles with pistachio pesto, apple and marinated mushrooms on a bed of spinach with fake cheese and dehydrated onion crackers. The menu also boasts “B”LTs, wraps, salads and heartier creations like pad thai and lasagna. There’s even a small store in the front selling ingredients and raw foods for those on the move.
Lola Rosa – Most entrees around $11-$11.50
Apparently, if you’re vegetarian, Yelp and the rest of the Internet says you just HAVE TO come to Lola Rosa. First, some words of advice: Get a reservation – while there are many tables crammed closely together to maximize seating, it fills up … fast. Second, the food is good, but I’m not even sure I would say it was the best veg food I had in Montreal. I got the quesadilla, while Caitlyn got the Lola’s Nachos, chock full of black beans, avocado, salsa and so on. Both dishes were fine, but I prefer my homemade nachos and quesadillas at La Margarita back home in Indy. Lola Rosa has two locations; we visited the Milton venue (near McGill University).
Café Veritas – Everything’s pretty much $10-$12
You wouldn’t suspect a little sandwich shop next to a Subway and not even a block up the street from a McDonald’s would hold much promise, but, boy, were we wrong. Hands down, this was one of the best meals we had in Montreal. Perhaps it was the hunger pangs from having been en route to Montreal since five that morning, or building an appetite from lugging our luggage a mile to the hotel, but it sure was tasty. We both got the grilled vegetable and goat cheese sandwich on olive bread. Wow. The goat cheese was so melted, it sometimes dripped from the sandwich, making for some messy – but delicious – eating. Very simple, but modern décor inside the café, located as you approach Old Port.
Of course, no meal is complete without dessert … especially when on vacation! We were fortunate enough to find two delectable dessert destinations.
Located in Old Port, it was one of the few places still open “late” (7:30 p.m.). In addition to offering a smattering of sugary confections, Caitlyn was particularly fond of the macarons, even badgering the clerk into going into the freezer in back to grab her some since there were none in the display case. OK, she didn’t badger the guy, but you could tell she really wanted those colorful macarons!
With a handful of locations around the city, Juliette et Chocolat is slowly bringing all of Montreal into a diabetic coma. This place is clearly intended for the sweetest and richest of sweet tooths. I was boring and picked up an “intense” chocolate brownie, while Caitlyn nabbed some funky flavored chocolates, which were mostly unappetizing to myself. Whatever you get, bring the platinum card – it was near $4 for a 2.5×2.5” brownie.