Bonjour Delicious Montreal!
While it was not my first visit to this part of Canada, I’ve been to Montreal a bunch of times before… for F1 as well as “just because the flight was cheap” visiting for the very first time in the freezing cold of Quebec’s winter in January. This trip however gave me an amazing opportunity to check out some of the best the city has to offer in terms of delicious food. I got to try the poutine. I got to try the bagels, the smoked meat sandwiches and much more.
Some may laugh but for one of my Formula 1 trips I decided to bring a dozen bagels for my gracious host on CouchSurfing. I figured bagels is something New York has that’s unique… and not really replicated elsewhere. Well, little did I know, Montreal is famous for it’s own style of bagels. And on this trip I committed to try them out. Visiting both of the places that claim to be “the best!” (for scientific research purposes only, of course…)
Since I had three days of sightseeing before Formula E activities kicked in, the first order of business on Day 1 was to check out St. Viatur and Fairmont Bagels in the Jewish neighborhood of Montreal. I had bought an unlimited metro-card pass for three days, so it was easy to get around. I made a list of places I must visit, and checked them off one by one.
First stop: St. Viatur Bagels:
The atmosphere was no different than many deli’s in New York… however these guys sold bagels and all the add-on’s separately. If you want to schmear your bagel with some cream cheese you gotta do it yourself. Want locks, smoked salmon… buy your own separately. It’s all good. I ordered a sesame and a poppy bagel and ate them on my way to my second stop:
Second Stop: Fairmont Bagles
Yesterday’s bagels anyone?
Same scheme in this place. Small counter. Big line outside. Some benches to sit down and relax in the shade. I couldn’t really tell the difference between the two sessame bagels. But they are certainly different from the New York style bagel…. not least the size… I think the Montreal bagel is significantly smaller and far more sweet than what we find here in New York/New Jersey. They’re like a snack more than a meal.
My favorite was a blueberry bagel which was bursting with flavor!
For lunch I went for poutine at Frits Alors! But it was not particularly good, so I’ll skip this step…
For dinner I joined my buddy Denis who gave me a tour of Old Montreal near to where he works. We ended up at the Old Port and luckily there were some food trucks bringing delicious restaurant food (restaurants that are spread around the city) to the masses at the very touristy part of town.
Here we sat down for a delicious sampler of poutine which was much better than Frits Alors! but still, in my opinion, not as great as the little food truck I go to in Ontario near Mosport… (that is sure to piss off some Quebecoise foodies).
Desert was a delicious few scoops of strawberry ice cream:
That I got all over my shirt lol
Walking back through Old Montreal you could see many restaurants of various caliber clearly targeting many tastes of tourists. One thing that popped out at me was a Thai Poutine place… WTF?
Next day I decided to do a Jewish deli for breakfast.
I took the Metro to Berri-UQAM central stop and walked the rest of the way passing many restaurants along… as well as a filming for a Formula E car on the streets of Downtown:
My destination was Schwartz’s Deli with their delicious serving of smoked meat for under $10 bux ($12 with tax in CAD)
This sandwich was super tasty… and once again I’m going to compare it to NYC food because just a few days earlier I visited Katz’s deli in Lower Manhattan with friends and ordered a similar pastrami sandwich… this was much cheaper though.
Walking to/from Schwartz’s you could see many eastern European storefronts selling different meats/foods. There was a Slovakian joint, a Polish place, a Hungarian one, and many others.
For lunch I decided to expand my tour of the island of Montreal and put my public transport pass to good use. So I took the train to the very northern tip of the island, and then another ten minutes on a bus to arrive at Dic Ann’s Hamburgers. I saw their food truck in Old Port / Old Montreal but wanted to check out the original:
The tiny hanburgers were very good… I ordered one, and then one more to sample this unique delicacy. And then visited Petro-Canada gas station on my way back to the bus stop for some Coke to help with digestion lol
Once I crossed the traditional dishes off my list, I ended up going to random places my friends from the Formula E event were in a mood for (typically during dinner). We spend a lot of time near the circuit, hanging out on Saint Catherine Street in Gay Village and going to places in that area.
The street is closed to vehicular traffic in the summer time and an excellent place to go for food and entertainment, though some of it was a bit out there. Go with an open mind!
One stop was Thai:
I had Massaman Curry which seemed to be way off, not spicy at all, but cheap and very filling at Bangkok Cuisine Restaurant.
Sticking with Asian theme we ended up at a Viatnamese place:
Here finally we found the clear spring rolls and a tasty bowl of Pho, which was just spicy enough and had a ton of sliced beef in it which was a great value for the money. The location was near to the Berri-UQAM stop on Boulevard de Maisonueve.
The food at the track was outstanding. The marshal organizers did an excellent job feeding the volunteers. I’ll write more about it in the Motorsport post, but will mention one little snack I enjoyed a lot, Bear Paws… soooo good!
Oh and I of course guzzled down many cups of Tim Horton’s french vanilla cappuccino’s along the way. Love that stuff!
Thanks for treating me so well Montreal… I will be back for more!