Explore Montreal: Day Two

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Day two was shopping on Rue Sainte-Catherine. Original, I know. At one point, I thought Ontario HST was bad…and then I came to Montreal and realized that they have a ridiculously high tax rate of approximately 15%. I quickly grabbed breakfast and a coffee from an Asian pastry place called Pâtisserie Cocobun in the underground food court. Instead of eating in the food court underground, I awkwardly maneuvered my food out of the bag and stood to the side of La Maison Simon’s main doors and watched people hurry through the busy downtown intersection. On the train to Toronto, the woman sitting next to me recommended a book called Quiet so after eating my pastry, I went to check it out at a nearby bookstore. I got through part of the first chapter while finishing my coffee and then ordered the book off Amazon to finish when I get back home to Vancouver.

I spent the first part of my afternoon shopping in Simon’s and then just browsing through random stores. Around 4:30 pm, I realized how hungry I was becoming and decided to check out Le Warehouse. If you are ever in Montreal and want good, cheap, pub food, Le Warehouse is the place to be. The entire menu (minus drinks) costs $4.95. The portions are smaller but filling. I got Le Warehouse Poutine: peppered fries, maple bacon, cheese curds, and gravy. Welcome to poutine heaven! Le Warehouse isn’t supposed to be a “famous poutine place” but, let me tell you, it was still amazing. The fries popped with bits of peppercorn on each bite. I’m not a huge fan of peppercorn so I picked off large pieces of the pepper to make sure it wasn’t too spicy. The peppered fries, mixed with crispy maple bacon, gave it an incredible crunch. I love crispy fries so even if the fries themselves were not the crunchiest, the peppercorn and maple bacon made up for it. I paired it with a Tennessee Lemonade (Jack Daniels, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and Coca-Cola) for a whiskey infused Coke. A little strong to start off, especially on a relatively empty stomach, but it got better with some mixing.

After Le Warehouse, I got lost (again) looking for C’ChôColat, a desert place just a couple blocks south of Le Warehouse. One of my good friends from high school suggested it to me since she had connections at McGill from her undergrad years here. C’ChôColat is kind of a hybrid coffee shop and dessert shop. They make drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), mason jar milkshakes and smoothies, sandwiches, waffles and other desserts including fondue! Check out their menu here. I almost ordered a fondue for one but decided against it for a “King Kong”. Literally a King Kong of a dessert: Vanilla gelato wrapped in a chocolate bubble waffle  with banana slices, salted caramel, whipped cream, crumble, and pecans. Probably one of the best things I have ever had and 10/10 would recommend. There is not much I can say about it because my taste buds were literally assaulted by its sweetness and I was in awe, so this picture will say it all for me.

After I finished at C’ChôColat, it was getting close to 6:00 pm. I headed back to meet up with my aunt to head out for dinner. I’m not sure how I fit all that food in my stomach without getting sick! I was pretty full by the time I got back to the hotel but I shoved that feeling aside and headed to dinner. We went to Le Robin Square, a small French cuisine restaurant run by the Robin Family. Their menu is unique in that their ingredients are, for the most part, locally grown and the menu items change daily. The chef comes in every morning to prepare the menu items for the day. A frequent menu item that the restaurant makes is their specialty Mac & Cheese. I don’t really know how to describe this dish because it has such a unique taste to it. The cheese sauce has a maple sweetness to it, creamy, topped with Hawaiian salt and sweet pulled Christmas ham. I completely regret not taking a photo of it but just thinking back at the dish is making me salivate. We also ordered their appetizer pizza. It had sundried tomatoes, fresh little tomatoes, and a large block of Italian cheese they have imported each week. I thought it would be rather heavy because of the pizza crust and creamy cheese but it was surprisingly light, a perfect appetizer. Unfortunately, the flavourful Mac & Cheese overshadowed the pizza so if I get a chance to come back to Montréal, I will definitely try the rest of their menu, one item at a time. I even ventured out of my comfort zone to try La Saison du Tracteur, a beer stocked from a local micro-brewery called Le Trou Du Diable. I’m a terrible person to drink beer with because I usually stick to what I know so this was a new experience for me and I was surprised at how much I liked it! The delicious meal was topped with a unique pistachio creme brûlée. I slipped into a food coma not too long afterwards. Given how much I ate today, I was stuffed.

I think I learned a lesson today. Don’t try to fit a whole day worth of food into two and a half hours because the food coma will be very real. Other than that, I have zero regrets because my stomach was VERY happy.

tiffany sign off

Explore Montreal: Day One

You would think that with only three exams, I could finish my third year of university early and go home right? Wrong. The university seems to have scheduled my last exam for one of the last days of exam period. Left with two weeks in between my first two exams and last exam, what was I supposed to do with my time? It has been two years since I last visited my Aunt and her family in Toronto so I thought, why not pay them a visit? This is how I ended up in Montreal. My aunt seems to frequent Montreal for business trips and invited me along this time since going to Toronto to visit them just means being stuck in a suburb for most of the week. In Montreal, I am flying solo and getting lost on my own. It’s quite exciting actually! So this is what I have been up to!

Monday, April 17, 2017

My day started at 5:00 am. I stayed up until 1:00 am packing the night before so I am surprised I even made it up in time to catch my train! Once I got on the train, I was ready to go back to sleep which I think I managed to do for 10 minutes before the coffee cart passed by and I had to borrow some change from the lady next to me to afford the $2.25 coffee (yeah. I’m poor and cash doesn’t exist in my wallet. sorry pickpocketers!). The lady next to me happened to be headed to Vancouver from London, but raised in Montreal so we spent the rest of the train ride to Toronto exchanging tourist tips on our home cities.
Once in Toronto, I changed trains and was on my way to Montreal. The whole trip took around 7 or 8 hours so I made it to Montreal around 2:00 pm. I immediately got lost after getting off the train. Very typical of me! Google maps probably saved me from landing in some dead end corner on the other side of the city. I finally found my hotel and settled in before heading to Vieux-Port (Old Port) and Vieux-Montréal (Old Montreal) in the borough of Ville-Marie. First stop: Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal. 

The Basilique Notre-Dame was only a short walk away, not even 10 minutes. There was a large line-up outside so I chose not to go inside. Maybe I will get a chance to get take a look around inside but today, I was pretty hungry so I went to find some food down by the St. Lawrence River.

Next stop: Maison Christian Faure. Not really a meal place but dessert can be a meal right? It took me while to make up my mind but I finally settled on a slice of flan and three macarons (mangue passion, caramel, and pistache). The flan was a lot tougher than I thought it would but it was creamy, delicious, and just the perfect amount of sweetness. The macarons were tangy, with vibrant flavours. The mangue passion really hit me at the first bite. I didn’t expect it to be so sour and strong. The pistachio macaron had a creamy texture with a mild flavour in comparison to the mangue passion macaron. The caramel was rich and dark, more so than most caramel macarons I have tried. All three were very, very sweet. If you have a sweet tooth, this is the perfect place for you! The macarons are rich in flavour, and have the perfect crunch. Pricing, however, is on the steep side. Each macaron cost $2.50 so I had to choose very carefully.

After dessert, I strolled down Rue de la Commune and grabbed a coffee from Magasin General before making my way back to Rue Saint-Paul. Rue Saint-Paul is pretty much the oldest part of Montréal and true to its reputation, it is rustic with cobblestone roads. It is almost like being transported into a miniature version of Europe. I just walked around and took pictures before heading back to my hotel to meet up with my aunt for dinner. We ended up checking out a Chinese noodle restaurant located in Chinatown called Nudo. The noodles are hand-pulled in house, making them pretty special, but the noodles were starchier than I would have liked. I got the dry noodles with BBQ pork…the pork was AMAZING though. It has been such a long time since I have had good BBQ pork. London needs to step up their BBQ pork game (and all things Chinese cuisine, honestly).

It had been a long day by the time we finished dinner so we headed back to the hotel. I spent some time by the poolside before retiring to bed VERY early in the night. All in all, it was a chilly but productive afternoon of exploring Vieux-Montréal!

tiffany sign off