Holiday Vacation Part 2: Montreal, Canada

Our trip started with a two mile, very cold and windy walk to Poutine La Banquise for the most popular poutine restaurant in the city. We were told by Montreal residents that it was “the place” to have poutine in Montreal while we waited in a 30 minute line (outside!) to get in. Totally worth it. Watch out for the greasy floors!
For the second year in a row (you gotta take advantage of the winter weather wardrobe!), my best friend Andrew and I have ventured to Canada to ring in the new year. This year, we headed to Montreal, Quebec to explore the big city (in comparison with the most magical Quebec City). Between extremely long walks, we visited the best bars, restaurants, parks, neighborhoods, incredible public art installations and city celebrations.

Our first dinner and drinks were at Barroco in Old Montreal. Bourbon and rye cocktails were followed by French red wine, braised short ribs braised in maple syrup (it’s Canada) and balsamic vinegar and a seafood rich paella. The staff couldn’t have been more friendly – it was the perfect meal to begin the food adventure.

On New Years eve, we took a long walk through Griffintown where we had a perfect brunch of grilled cheese sandwiches. And then further to tour the Atwater Market; a spectacular city market full of seasonal vegetables, bakeries, chocolatiers, butchers, speciality foods and my favorite the Atwater Fromagerie with 850 Canadian cheeses! Sadly I learned at US Customs that we could have brought cheese home… next time!

New Years Eve early dinner at Pullman included delicious cheeses, venison tartar with homemade potato chips, crispy lamb and a decadent mushroom tart. We finished 2016 at the Montreal’s spectacular New Year’s Eve celebration. Snow, music (including the most touching Leonard Cohen tribute), cocktails and fireworks were the perfect way to ring in 2017 (and Montreal’s 375th birthday — and Canada’s 150th birthday!)

January 1st we lucked out to meet Ronald the Uber driver who gave us the insiders tricks to ordering lunch at Schwartz’s deli. After a short line, we indulged in the “medium” pastrami sandwiches (medium is fat content not size!), fries and black cherry sodas. Lunch prepared us for an impromptu hike up Parc Mont Royal the most beautiful Olmsted designed city park.  We joined hundreds of local humans and dogs on sleds, skis and foot move up the mountain for an amazing view of the city. After all the food, a 10 mile walk was certainly needed! Especially since we ended the night at the most fun dinner in Chinatown at Chez Maxim Oriental! 

Our last day in the city included a long walk through the Mile End Neighborhood with bagels at St-Viateur Bagels (sorry Canada, I prefer a New York bagel) followed by a walk through La Fontaine Park. We concluded the trip with our favorite restaurant (that was worth getting lost traveling on foot there), Gus!  Gus was the most culinarily interesting and cozy restaurant we visited. Chalkboard menus were presented verbally from the small staff and tiny kitchen. We enjoyed hearty soup and homemade salad before an incredible grilled lamb with fried capers and herby topping.

I’d be crazy to not mention the extensive investment that the city has made in their public art collection. I’m sure I’m forgetting countless stories and gut-cramping laughs that we experienced throughout the 5 days in Canada. I’ll save those for our personal memory books.  Not to our surprise, the New York Times listed Canada (the entire country) as their number one recommended place to visit in 2017. We recommend it too – it’s a place not to miss.




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