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Eater Quebec

Montreal Plaza

The dining experience at Montreal Plaza was simply WOW!

At CA$125 per person, I did have high expectations, yet before getting there I couldn’t really pinpoint what all my expectations were. For one, I expected some grand entrance to the restaurant, and maybe a grander name. That didn’t seem to happen. It was very unpretentious. We got to the restaurant right at 6:15 when our reservation was, and the restaurant was quite full already. I didn’t get to take a picture of the outside, except one of their many windows.

Before we were led to our table. I got a quick picture of the bar at the entrance.

The friendly host led us to the table reserved for us. It was right in front of the open kitchen, near the hall way to the bathrooms, and next to the waiters’ stand. It didn’t seem to be an ideal location at first, but later I found, by sitting there, it totally satisfied my curiosity. It was a five-service meal, and there is “downtime” in between the services. Other than the family chatting, I got to see the kitchen staff working, waiters/waitresses interacting, the grand appearance of their wine cellar (which I didn’t get a picture of, unfortunately).

The interior of the restaurant was simple and clean, yet playful and quirky. There was a upside down doll house dangling from the ceiling right behind me.

Our cocktails were served quickly. They also have a very very extensive menu for wine.

We began with a light corn mousse served salted and buttered.

The second course came in two parts; the first was this sea urchin mousse garnished with flower petals on a bed of uni.

Alongside our uni mousse came razor clam in a yuzu ponzu sauce with peanuts and cilantro. The waitresses unshelled and mixed the clam for us recommending it sit while we enjoyed our mousse.

Perhaps the most eclectic dish in the serving, we were served a smoked tomato water with a fresh tuna and tomato salad on top.

We were then treated to a potato and cod based soup made from specially imported fish from France topped with croutons.

With our soup, came a salad made with the freshest local vegetables with a house-made mayo and a fried egg. The egg was fried perfectly with a running yolk. The super large chunks to carrots were quite unsightly. While the vegetables were very fresh, it’s my least favorite dish among all.

For our main course, we were served beef shoulder with mushrooms and strawberries cooked in duck fat, a wonderfully filling dish that left us ready for dessert.

Finally, we come to dessert where we were served two dishes. First was an isle flotante made with a blueberry meringue topped with mint leaves and a creme anglaise.

We finished our meal with a raspberry sorbet on top of strawberry chips, whipped cream, and fresh blackberries.

This was by far the longest dinner we ever had. There was wait in between each service. However, we didn’t feel we were just sitting and waiting. There was much to talk about what we like and dislike (salad) about the last service we just had. Every service seemed to come with perfect timing when we cleared our palette and eager to be intrigued by the next dish. By choosing the sharing menu, we didn’t need to decide what to order from the menu, at the same, every service came as a surprise.

So now I know, my expectation was to be surprised, to be wowed, and to remember the meal for a long time. For that, Montreal Plaza certainly met if not exceeded my expectation. It offered flavor combinations that I didn’t know existed. It was original, creative and most importantly, enjoyable. We left the restaurant completely satisfied. It was an experience worth reliving.

A side note, the price for the sharing menu soared this year, you can definitely see the impact of the inflation. The sharing menu was at about CA$85 per person couple years ago, it went up to $105 at the beginning of 2022, $110 in July, and $125(!!!) in August.


Poutines

Known as the most quintessential Canadian dish, poutine is made of French Fries and cheese curds topped with gravy, the three pretty common and well-liked ingredients. I guess it’s the combination of it that makes it special, or maybe not, because after 2 poutines on the first day, I was almost done with this icon. However, we did manage to average almost one poutine a day, had 6 during our 7 day trip.

Eater Montreal has a post of 19 must-try Montreal Poutines. We didn’t follow that post. Other than Gibeau Orange Julep and Costco were a bit out-of-the-way, the rest of them were mainly convenience.

While we were “crazy” about the poutine, one local Quebec native, an old man I met at a breakfast cafe in Quebec City said he had never had a poutine in his life and didn’t consider it’s a native Quebec cuisine. Go figure.

#1 from Gibeau Orange Julep

This is our first poutine, particular we had it after a long drive, it certainly tasted great.

#2 from Brewskey

I think the restaurant tried too hard. Onion rings and scallions don’t belong there. Also, 2 poutines in a day? I really should have known better. After this one, I needed a break.

#3 from Schwartz’s Deli

Wow! This blown me away. I know I said I had enough of poutine, we did take a break on Tuesday. On day 3, we got food from Schwartz’s Deli for a picnic at Mount Royal. The deli is famous for it’s smoked meat, which is another icon of Montreal, and it just seemed right to have a poutine topped with smoked meat. Boy, they don’t disappoint.

#4 from a neighborhood diner (near Montmorency Fall)

which I don’t quite remember the name

It’s just okay. Besides, this diner did not take credit card, so we had to pay cash, but then we only had US dollar with us. The cashier took US dollar as Canadian dollar, which made this the most expensive poutine ever!

#5 from Stat (Quebec City)

This is a variation, it’s called breakfast poutine, and made of hash, bacon bits, cheese curds and hollandaise sauce(!). Though quite unconventional, it doesn’t taste bad at all.

#6 from Costco Montreal

This reminds me why we love Costco so much! As a die-hard Costco fan, we went out of our way just to see if it sells poutine there (our local Costco don’t even sell fries any more). Costco delivers once again, not only it sells poutine, it’s cheap! This container of poutine cost merely CA$5.99, less than half of what we paid for anywhere else for a poutine. Though it doesn’t taste quite that special, for the price, we love it! By the way, this is the busiest Costco I had ever seen (other than the pictures of Shanghai Costco when it first opened).


Icons of Montreal

It’s said if you visit Montreal, you have to eat smoke meat sandwiches, bagels and poutine. We certainly need to comply.

Schwartz’s Deli

A 90+ year old Jewish deli definitely knows a thing or two about smoking meat. It has a restaurant and a take-out next to each other on Saint-Laurent Boulevard. The window of the take-out place was quite unappealing, thus I completely dismissed it. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon, I stood in line under blazing sun wondering why so many people eat at this odd hour. Then I realized I stood in line to be seated (still, why so many people eat at 4? I guess everyone wants to avoid the crowd, can you imagine how long the line would be at 6 or 7pm?)

I went in the take-out place next door, and there was only one person in front of me.

The menu was simple. I got 4 sandwiches to go and of course an order of poutine and an extra pickle (which probably is not necessary). I wish I had known black cherry soda is a special thing. As none of us drink much soda, I didn’t bother to check. But apparently there is rave review about the black cherry soda pairing particularly well with the smoked meat.

We drove up to Mount Royal to enjoy an early evening picnic. The layers of smoked meat were so juicy and flavorful. I am not a mustard fan, but it didn’t seem out of place in each bite.

Highly recommended!

Bagel Shops

Somehow bagel is one of Montreal’s most celebrated food. There are 2 big rivals, Fairmont and St-Viateur. We passed Fairmont on our afternoon stroll first. It was a very small store, and quite old. It takes cash only and we didn’t bring any Canadian dollar with us, so we walked out.

We then walked another 10 minutes and reached St-Viatuer. It took cash only as well. We asked if it’s okay to pay US dollar for the 2 bagels and 2 cream cheese (Philadelphia, LOL). The shy cashier only took 3 dollars.

Honestly I like New York bagels a lot more. The Montreal bagels are too dense, and a bit too sweet.

Gibeau Orange Julep

The Julep has a 3 story high orange ball, it is a road side attraction, also a fast food restaurant. The signature offering of the Julep’s is it’s orange juice, something in between a juice and milkshake. It’s too sweet to me. The sweetness attracted a swarm of wasps, we had to lock ourselves in the car to finish the drink and poutine.


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