Restaurant Mai Xiang Yuan – I have always been a fan of dumplings in many forms, steamed, fried, whatever, so I couldn’t turn down a chance to try this dumpling shop that had stellar reviews on Yelp. Each order comes with 15(!) dumplings for about $6, so we ordered the pork and cabbage dumplings steamed and the beef curry dumplings fried. Everything was delicious. You can even make your own dipping sauce with personalized proportions of spicy vinegar, chili and soy sauce. Heaven on a plate. Even the cucumber salad starter was a hit.
Dieu du Ciel – One of the more well known and popular breweries in Montreal, this brew-pub was packed when we arrived early on Saturday evening. We managed to snag a table by hovering next to a couple paying their check; there seemed to be a good amount of turnover, so definitely wait it out if you find yourself nearby. Since they have taster sizes available we tried several different beers, and our favorites were the heavily-smoked rauchbier and the Rigor Mortis quadrupal.
Les Deux Gamin – I really wanted to try a French bistro in Montreal, so this was our Saturday night pick. We were lucky to be seated at the edge of the second floor overlooking the entire downstairs section of the restaurant. I started with the appetizer portion of the steak tartare which was wonderfully spiced and went very well with our bottle of house rose from Languedoc. My second course was the moules frites special while Eric opted for the baked mac and cheese. We thought there might be a hint of sheep’s cheese in his dish as it had a nice earthy quality. Very friendly service and good food.
Juliette & Chocolat – Known for their chocolate, we stopped in for some dessert after dinner on Saturday night. Unfortunately, the line was out the door, so I worked my way to the back counter and placed a to-go order of a salted caramel pot de creme for me and a hot chocolate with home-made marshmallows for Eric. Easily the most awesome dessert we’ve both had in a long while!
Jean-Talon Market – Our main activity on Sunday morning, this open air market is full of vendors and shops. My absolute favorite was the Olive et Epices shop where they allowed you to open sample jars and taste from their wide selection of world-wide spices before purchasing. We wound up taking home a Norwegian smoked salt and a Madagascar voatsiperifery wild pepper. Making our way around the market we picked up some Belgian chocolate chip cookies (to die for!), a salted caramel macaroon, local 4 year old cheddar and a baguette for an impromptu picnic in a nearby park. This market is a sense-stimulating place to explore some local foods and spices.
Vices et Versa – We almost missed a chance to stop in here because I had marked it as a shop instead of a bar in our planning notes. Thankfully, we decided to peek our heads in and wound up with a boozy cider (11%) from Cidrerie Les Vergers de la Colline and a lovely local Scottish Ale (Équinoxe Du Printemps) from Dieu du Ciel. The bartender was eager to let us try a few beers before making our choice with helpful recommendations. This bar is cozy and welcoming and is a great place to grab a beer and a snack in the afternoon. The courtyard out back was quite popular with the locals but a little chilly for us!
L’Amère a Boire – We stopped into this local brewpub on Saint Denis Street to sample a beer and grab a snack before dinner. More of a drinking establishment, there are several beers on tap and a few light snacks like the pretzels with spicy beer mustard that we enjoyed. I had the Imperial Stout and Eric choose the red ale, Fin de Siecle.
Le Saint-Bock Brasserie – We managed to grab a comfy spot on a leather couch and ordered a beer each, then decided to stay for dinner after a day of exploring. I went with an incredible Baltic Porter from Les Trois Mousquetaires (found a bottle later to bring home!) and Eric had the house Sacristie, a dunkelweizen. My burger was just okay but the laid-back atmosphere and beer made up for it. I would recommend stopping in for a beer but skipping the food.
St.Viateur Bagels – We braved the rain and hail on Monday morning to make a pilgrimage to this famous bagel shop for a half dozen sesame bagels. The verdict? Definitely fresh, though I think they could of used a bit more salt in the dough but the texture was absolutely perfect.
Montreal is a great city to explore for a variety of drink and food options. Since the weather can be unpredictable, this is certainly a good thing!