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Saturday, September 13, 2008
Bouillon Bilk is an unexpected modern take on a neighbourhood fusion bistro, located in a nondescript retail space on The Main just north of the Quartier des Spectacles. Although located between Place des Arts and the trendy part of Saint-Laurent where the beautiful people hang out, this stretch is, well, let's be honest - seedy. You'll quickly forget any notion of a romantic after dinner walk and quickly head to your car, lock the doors and drive off. However, if you can put up with the location, you will be rewarded with a wonderful dining experience.
The decor is clean and modern, with solid wood tables and real cloth napkins. (It's unfortunate there are no tablecloths as the menu prices certainly would justify them. Hmmmmm...must be part of that green movement where you pay the same but get less because it's better for the environment). Service is reasonably prompt, although we would have appreciated having some bread to munch on a little sooner. As well, our waiter was a little too interested in the goings on of neighbouring tables while mechanically listing the day's specials. A little more focus on his clients (us) would have been warranted. We'll nonetheless excuse the staff, as the place was absolutely packed on the Friday evening we visited.
The menu features a limited choice of appetizers, mains and desserts - about six in each category - plus a few daily specials. Most dishes are what I would call Continental Fusion, a combination of the best ingredients from European and Asian cuisines. We tasted about half the menu and no one was disappointed. The tagliatelle with rabbit were exquisite, the scallops were tender and succulent and the guinea fowl with vegetables was heavenly. The wine list is ridiculously long (over 100 selections - all private importations we were told) and has something for everyone and every budget.
We measured the noise level at an average of 78-80 db with an audiometer during our meal on a very busy evening - which is on the high side of comfortable. One notch lower would have been perfect. This is not the place for a romantic dinner date, but rather for foursomes or sixsomes. Parking is available on the street. The bathrooms are clean and modern. Bouillon Bilk is a little pricey, but you will taste original dishes that are attentively prepared.
This is likely the best breakfast place in the up and coming Atwater Market area. The lineups after 10 am on weekends attest to its popularity, so make sure to come early on the weekend. Noise levels are also somewhat high, though not uncomfortable.
Attention to detail is evident in everything Quoi de N'Oeuf does - including plentiful and attentive staff guaranteeing quick service, well garnished dishes, menu substitutions (our waiter actually said "We can make anything for you" - when was the last time you heard that?) and even coffee creamers that are hand served cold by your waiter along with the coffee, and not left to turn sour on the table as is usual in most other breakfast places.
Ingredients are a notch above - from the bacon to the bread - and the menu has something for everyone. Parking is plentiful on the street with the usual donation to city meters. We'll be going back!
I had walked by Lyla numerous times before and noticed the BYOW sign. The place was usually near empty. On this Sunday evening, my party of three decided to give it a try. To my surprise, the place was packed.
What looks like one more run of the mill Vietnamese eatery is pretty much that - on the food front, at least. The menu is standard (with a larger than usual selection of Pho) and the presentation lacklustre. The ingredients - chicken, shrimp, etc. - are of industrial quality. Fortunately, the prices are in line - so this is not an expensive restaurant, and of course, you can bring your own wine or beer.
Lyla does however excel at service - the staff being numerous and prompt. Decor is a mix of pretentious architectural features (an expensive scalloped ceiling), accompanied by tables and booths requiring refurbishing and lighting bright enough for a Costco warehouse. Clearly, someone changed their minds along the way.
Lyla is fine for a quick inexpensive no-frills weeknight dinner. Just don't bring a date or a birthday party you want to impress.
Laitue is one of a slew of Asian restaurants in the CDN area. It seems that every time I drive down this road, there's a new Asian hole in the wall that has opened. While not quite a hole in the wall, Laitue does meet many of the criteria: Low priced menu, plastic tablecloths, plain nondescript decor and a BYOB license.
The menu features Vietnamese and Thai dishes (so which type of restaurant are you?). The appetizers we ordered were disappointing: We had a Tom Yum soup which was bland and spring rolls that were far too greasy and tasteless. The main courses were mixed: Singapore noodles (which are neither Thai nor Vietnamese) lacked curry and colour, while a seafood stirfry with rice was passable. Service was prompt and friendly, and though the waitress could not even answer the simplest question regarding the menu, she always came by smiling.
Sadly for Laitue, there are many other better Asian restaurants in the area, most of which focus on just one type of cuisine - and do it well. A Thai / Vietnamese restaurant is like having a French / Greek restaurant. How serious would that sound?
Our experience with Artigiani was overall positive. The restaurant is located on a busy stretch of St-Denis inside a renovated semi-basement. It features an open kitchen, a full bar and an up to date and inviting decor.
We were seated in the bar section, which surprsingly was no noisier than the rest of the restaurant at a 70-75 dbA level. The tables and seats in the bar section are elevated, which may or may not please some patrons. We enjoyed it.
The menu consists of a long selection of appetizers followed mostly by pizza and pasta, the former cooked in a large wood-fired brick oven visible from everywhere. There are also a very limited number of meat and poultry dishes.
The appetizers run the gamut from Antipasto Misto to grilled shrimps, and a large selection of salads. Our grilled sausage was delicious. The pizza is thin crust and made with traditional ingredients, and is very tasty. The white focaccias add a touch of authenticity to the menu. Desserts feature typical Italian classics, including Tiramisu. We had a hazelnut-chocolate cake. Yummy!
Our only nitpick is with regards to service. We waited a while at the reception before someone came to seat us, and we were served by three separate waitresses throughout the evening - a somewhat impersonal approach.
The restaurant is quite popular and was packed on the Friday night we were there. Reservations are a must!
Wellington is a trendy high-end BYOW bistro situated on a rather sketchy part of Wellington Street in Verdun. The contrast between the foodies enjoying seared cod with squash risotto inside and the "beautiful people" of Verdun walking by outside would make for an interesting sociological study. But that's not wht we're here for.
This restaurant is definitely foodie heaven. Every plate, from the small tapa-like aperitives to the main courses, has been carefully planned and crafted, exploding with flavour and freshness in your palate. We had the scallops and vegetables, as well as the duck and pork with cassoulette. Both were exquisite.
Service is adequate, though we were served by three different waiters/waitresses from start to finish, which makes the establishment of any patron connection or preferences all but impossible.
Decor is urban plain chic, featuring a fully renovated interior plainly finished in white. Cloth napkins adorn each table. The bathroom is clean and modern.
We specifically asked to be seated at one of the two front tables, which are a little more isolated from the restaurant, and had a noise level of 75db (as measured by my professional soundmeter), which is at the upper end of comfortable. I fear that the diners in the main room were experiencing somewhat higher and more uncomfortable noise levels. Parking is plentiful on the street, though you need to feed the meters until 9 pm.
Overall, a pleasant experience, which we will repeat, but only if we can get one of the quieter tables.....
PJ's is a typical brasserie / sports bar, with walls and ceilings covered in sports memorabilia and giant screen TVs. In fact, it's impossible NOT to be distracted when dining here. This place is particularly popular during sports events. If you're looking for a romantic outing, it's best to avoid it. On the other hand, if you're with a bunch of friends (especially of the male variety), this may just be your place.
Not being a fan of boisterous and crowded places, I only frequent PJ's in tthe morning for breakfast. They offer a very complete choice of favourites at very reasonable prices. The food quality is average, but merely reflects the menu prices. This applies to the lunch and dinner menus as well. The staff is very friendly and helpful, if sometimes distracted themselves. You'll enjoy honest food at a fair price.
Parking is plentiful and free in their lot, and there's even a terrasse for warm, sunny days. This is not a gastronomic outing by any stretch, but a good place to fill your tummy while sparing your wallet and making noise with friends. Oh, and you can have a nice Molson Ex with your breakfast eggs and pancakes!
A South Shore automobile dealership alley is the last place you'd expect to find an excellent and affordable BYOB Vietnamese restaurant, but that is precisely the case with Hoai Huong.
The Vietnamese cuisine we sampled, while not breaking any new culinary barriers, was as good as any Vietnamese dish you will find elsewhere in Montreal. The decor is more upscale than for similar restaurants, the only downside being a large flat screen TV on one wall. Unfortunately, large screen TVs seem to have become ubiquitous in many low to mid end Asian eateries. What happened to enjoying a meal with the people you came with? The restaurant being fairly large, this single screen proved to be only a minor distraction.
Parking is free and plentiful, prices are reasonable (plus it's a BYOB) and the bathrooms are clean. Other reviewers have indicated that service was poor, but that certainly was not our experience. On the contrary, we went on a Saturday evening and found the owner-operators and staff efficient and helpful.
This restaurant is recommended.
We went on a Sunday morning for breakfast. St-Raphael Café is an attractive neighbourhood café located in the middle of a quiet residential area of Verdun.
We were lucky to get an outdoor table on the terrasse. North American brunch fans be advised: The breakfast menu features mostly crepes, eggs, baguettes and café au lait, with many combinations available. However, there is not a whiff of bacon or American style pancakes around. You are definitely in a French café.
Service was prompt and efficient. The bathroom was clean. All in all a pleasant Sunday meal in Verdun.
This is another great discovery in the up and coming neigbourhood of Pointe St-Charles. This blue collar district used to be a scary place - and still is in some parts. But with gentrification (which is not a dirty word) has come an influx of new restaurants, cafés and stores, further transforming the area. This place has the potential to become the next Plateau - along with nearby Verdun.
I had been passing in front of Cari Mela for several years and admittedly, the place looks a little bit like a dive from the outside. But having read the positive reviews on this site, and being a sucker for outdoor dining, I decided to take the plunge on a recent hot summer evening. I was very pleasantly surprised.
The place is much more attractive once inside - though you won't mistake it for the Ritz - with a tasteful, if bland, decor. The best part is the rear terrasse, which only holds half a dozen intimate tables surrounded by mature trees and overhead foliage. This is a definite must in the summertime.
The food features all the expected classics from the Indian subcontinent, served tableside in the now de rigueur brass cookware. We had one of the tasting menus and enjoyed all the dishes, especially the Chicken Tikka. Quantities are generous and prices very reasonable. Furthermore, the restaurant's BYOB policy is welcome.
My only nitpick is that no ice was available. On a warm summer evening, this resulted in drinking lukewarm water and not having ice for the wine bucket. Otherwise service was above reproach.
Parking is free and plentiful on the street - which, thankfully, has not yet been invaded by the City of Montreal's ubiquitous parking meters. The bathroom is clean and functional.
We will definitely be back!
Yas is a wonderful discovery - a small, intimate, well decorated gem of a restaurant offering the owners' attention to every guest detail, from the food to the reception to the tableside service.
Located in a semi-basement in a nondescript working class neighbourhood off of Décarie, the restaurant is a complete surprise once you enter. It has been renovated from top to bottom in a tasteful if slightly over-the-top manner. Attention to detail is everywhere, from the nice leatherette clad menus to genuine table linens - a far cry from your typical Greek BYOB restaurant. Service is provided with genuine caring and repeated visits to your table. We were even offered a complimentary appetizer on the house. Nice touch!
The food is very good, ingredients are fresh and presentation is attractive. There is something for everyone: Meat lovers, vegetarians and even seafood aficionados. My only constructive comment would be on the simpleness of the main course plates, which consisted of meat or fish and basmati rice. Perhaps a half grilled tomato, a slice of lemon and some shredded carrots - to name just a few garnishes - would have helped transform the main courses from very nice to top of the class. But this is just a nitpick on an otherwise excellent venue for almost any kind of outing - from the romantic to the casual.
Prices are very reasonable and don't forget to bring your won wine. We will definitely be back!
Nikas is a run of the mill Greek restaurant trying to compete in a very busy market segment. Nothing really sets this restaurant apart: The food is merely average, the decor could use a freshening and the staff (at least the day we were there), while efficient, looked as if they'd rather be elsewhere. In fact, while we were dining, the owner was busy tuning a soccer game on the restaurant's large screen TV - not exactly my idea of atmosphere in a Greek restaurant.
Le Tonkin is a welcoming and tasty Vietnamese restaurant with above average food and service with respect to its BYOW peers.
Firstly, I have to address the location: It's located on St-Laurent just half a block south of hypertrendy Little Italy, in a nondescript commercial building. The neighbourhood is a little rough, and it's easy to just drive right past the place. Even if you take the time to look, the exterior is reminiscent of a cheap joint. On closer inspection, the interior is completely renovated and nicely - though inexpensively - appointed. Parking is on the street with a mandatory contribution to the city's coffers (parking meters).
The service is prompt and attentive, with a quick response to any request, including an ice bucket for your wine. The food is one notch above the city's typical inexpensive Vietnamese establishment. We particularly enjoyed their salt and pepper calamari. Other dishes met our expectations, without being spectacular.
This is a nice honest restaurant for a weekday or weekend outing, or just to get away from the crowds in Little Italy.
La Colombe has been deemed as Montreal's finest BYOW restaurant. My experience suggests that may just be the case....for French restaurants.
The menu is kept very simple to a mandatory table d'hote, featuring a soup, an appetizer, main dish and dessert. There are five main dishes to choose from - that's it. However each dish is well prepared and cooked to perfection. The rack of lamb is incredibly tender and falls off the bone. Portions are relatively generous, unlike expensive nouvelle cuisine establishments.
The decor is up to date, with real table linens. Service is impeccable. We had a half bottle of champagne, and the waiter did not need to be asked to bring two flutes. Prices are commensurate with the restaurant's standing. Parking is difficult, as with most Plateau restaurants. Reservations are an absolute must, the place was full even on a weekday evening.
This is a wonderful restaurant for a special occasion. I shall return.
This review is for breakfast only - we did not try their lunch or evening menus. This is a great place for breakfast, and perhaps the largest breakfast restaurant in the Montreal area. It is very popular, so beware of the long lineups on Sundays after 10 am! Also, parking - though free - can become problematic at peak periods.
The menu features just about every breakfast item and combination possible. Prices are fair. The decor is casual and attractive - in a sports bar kind of way. Service is excellent, from a quick reception to numerous visits by our waiter.
My only negative comment regards the syrup, which is made to look like real maple syrup in a classic maple syrup bottle located on every table. In reality, it is "sirop de poteau". I will forgive this transgression (and bring my own maple syrup), as this restaurant pretty much hits every nail on the head.
This iteration of the Eggspectation chain has been around for a few years. It is by far the smallest restaurant in the chain, though the decor and menu is identical.
We were greeted very quickly and the waitstaff was pleasant and quick throughout. The fare, as in any Eggspectation outlet, is above average breakfast food, featuring ingredients that are noticeably fresher and tastier than in an average corner greasy spoon. My only nitpicks are that the coffee is not included (obviously a cash grab from unaware customers) and the maple syrup - while real - is offered in miniscule portions. The only negative comment is regarding the bathrooms (both men's and women's) which were not as clean as they should have been.
Overall a positive experience, but be prepared to pay more for the higher quality food.
Chez Carl is an average pizzeria trying to be upscale. The food is merely average - we both had pizzas, nothing memorable. The waitstaff is certainly present, but in a rather impersonal way. It appeared that their queries were more procedural than genuine. I've said this before in previous reviews, if you don't like serving people, don't become a waiter!
Parking is free. The decor is upscale, but it shows in the high prices ($15 before tip for a one-person pizza - and that was at lunch!) Nuns' Island does have the highest per capita income in Quebec, but that's no reason for restaurant operators to assume that they can charge higher prices just because they're on Nuns' Island. Remember, Verdun is only a 90 second drive away. I won't be going back.
Arahova is a Montreal institution dating back more than 40 years. It has since morphed into a multiple-outlet chain. Sadly, there has been infighting between the original founder's offspring, and the chain was divided into two management groups. These inconsistencies show up from outlet to outlet, and it is sad for everyone (Montrealers included) that this internal strife has not been apparently settled.
This location on Taschereau is well managed. The staff greets you and seats you promptly. The waiters (or waitresses) are friendly and efficient. The food is excellent, if, and this is an important if, you want a slightly Canadianized version of Greek cuisine. If you want the real thing, go to Milos and bring your bank account. If you want to eat a copious and tasty meat, chicken or seafood dish (they also have everything from salads to spanakopita) delivered piping hot a short time after you order, then this is the place. You won't leave hungry and the prices are reasonable. Warning: If you order any of the $15 souvlaki or gyro platters, don't bother ordering an appetizer or a dessert. You'll be stuffed.
Parking is free and - bonus! - it's bring your own wine. I have been here on many occasions and will be returning.
I am not a fan of combination restaurants. I am very weary of restaurants advertising "Greek / French cuisine". Sorry, in my book you can't be both. Pick your identity, you can't be great at both.
When I first came across Uchi, which advertises itself as "Japanese and Szechuanese", I had the same reaction. However, based on the positive reviews on this site and the very pleasant and modern decor, I decided to give it a chance. I must admit that my initial skepticism was ill founded. Having closely observed our fellow diners' choices, we ordered various seafood dishes. Yes, there is some fusion in their dishes, but the resulting flavours are terrific.
Unless you are seeking a 100% authentic Japanese or Szechuanese experience, Uchi will satisfy you. The restaurant is BYOW and there's parking available on the street. We'll be going back to sample their sushi in the future.
A striking decor greets customers as soon as you walk in to Sawadika. The owners have clearly spent a small fortune redoing the restaurant's interior, and the result is beautiful. The lighting is dim enough for a romantic dinner while bright enough for a casual dinner (and reading the menu). Don't forget to visit the washrooms, they're also beautiful!
The menu features two formulae: The first is an all-you-can-eat tasting menu where you order anything from the menu. Portions are smaller and ordering time between multiple orders becomes an issue. The second formula is traditional à la carte, which I recommend. Spiciness varies between dishes, and these are clearly indicated on the menu. The dishes we ordered (green curry chicken and vegetable shrimp) were excellent. An entree of fried calamari proved rubbery with an odd tasting batter. We'll just leave the fried calamari to the Greeks next time.
Service is by far Sawadika's strong suit. From the initial greeting, to handling of our wine bottle and regular visits to our table to check on us, other restaurants can learn a lesson or two from here.
Bonus points: Plenty of free parking and it's a BYOW.
This restaurant is recommended. We'll be going back.
5 Saisons was recently reopened after a major fire. The restaurant is in shipshape and has the perfect decor for a casual Japanese restaurant.
We were greeted and seated by the owner, who also took care of our wine. The menu features a long selection of sushis, along with a useful list of "Chef's selections" combos for those not inclined to pick themselves. There are also soups, salads and Teriyaki dishes for the non-sushi eater.
Service is fast and efficient, but could be a bit friendlier. Also, large and boisterous groups made conversation difficult at times. We went on a busy Friday night, so I will cut the restaurant some slack. The place is also BYOW and they have wine buckets for white wine - a nice touch.
We will definitely be going back, but perhaps on a quieter evening.
A breakfast chain "à la Chez Cora", Ben & Florentine seem to be focused on taking the breakfast chain dining experience to level 2.0. In this, they largely succeed.
Attention to details is obvious, including the sleek clean decor, plentiful staff and a menu that offers practically every imaginable combination. The food is above average, featuring breakfast classics from pancakes to yogurt, and everything in between. On a sidenote, why do so many breakfast restaurants serve only crepes and NOT pancakes (like Cora)? Ben & Florentine does not fall into this trap. Their potatoes are also small home fries, as opposed to to the skillet stirred slop served in many other breakfast places.
As usual, I have several nitpicks: There is a very large unused outdoor space that would be perfect for a terrasse, yet no outdoor dining is available. As with other chains, "sirop de poteau" is the standard syrup served - you have to ask (and pay) for real maple syrup, which should be a crime in Quebec. And our server, while not being overworked, could have come by our table once or twice more to check on us. Nothing major, but that's why I am giving this iteration of Ben & Florentine four stars and not five. We will nevertheless be going back.
When we first visited Parisa, they had just opened and were still working the wrinkles out. The place was empty and we weren't sure if it would last very long.
This most recent visit demonstrated that this restaurant has all the elements in place to become a vibrant member of the Montreal BYOW restaurant scene. The decor is pleasant and subdued. The food, inspired by Persian cuisine, is excellent - particularly the different varieties of basmati rice available. Service is polite and efficient. The place was also full on a recent Friday night, so it's nice to see quality being rewarded. Do call to make a reservation on weekends.
My only nitpick is with the wait staff's dress code. There isn't one. Our waitress was wearing a pair of spandex nylons suitable for....well, I don't know what really, but definitely not for a server in an up and coming dining establishment. Please, apply a dress code. Crisp black pants, a white blouse and perhaps a colourful apron would be much more in keeping with a successful restaurant.
Azar is a wonderful intimate family-run Lebanese restaurant situated in the heart of Sherbrooke St./NDG. You are warmly greeted by one of the family members and promptly seated. The dinner menu is somewhat limited, but the food is excellent and cooked to your preference. The service is friendly. The restaurant's BYOW status and the outdoor terrasse are bonuses.
The restaurant has pretensions of being upscale, as reflected in the above average decor, tableware and presentation. While far from being a trendy hotspot, this small establishment has charm and appeal. If you enjoy lebanese food and want to avoid the chain restaurants, this is a great bet. Prices are reasonable.
As the restaurant is somewhat smallish, this is a perfect restaurant for an evening out with a small group or for a tete-a-tete, while avoiding large noisy groups. The restaurant also advertises breakfasts and brunches, so we will certainly be back to try that.
A lovely modest Thai restaurant, featuring one of the most varied Thai menus in the city, including one of the largest varieties of curries. The service is fast and efficient, the decor modern - without being over the top, and the food is satisfying. It's also a BYOB, which is a bonus. It is a little on the pricy side - so just print out a coupon from their website or elsewhere for a 20-25% saving.
Lychee Resto doesn't excel at any one thing in particular, but it performs predictably and respectably at everything. A good choice for a casual meal anytime....
I go regularly to Pho Zen, both for lunch and dinner. The food is excellent - one or two notches above the sea of Vietnamese restaurants in the Montreal area.
Bonus points for the chic decor, plentiful free parking and BYOW. The only faults are the two giant TV screens (which prevent the restaurant from becoming a trendy evening spot) and the service, which is sometimes a little too relaxed (read slow).
While the owners of L'Académie will cringe at my description, L'Académie is a essentially a high end Montreal BYOB chain featuring French and Italian cuisine. Clearly, the bulk of the restaurant's budget was spent on decor, which at the newly opened (Dec. 2010) West Island location is quite fetching. They're definitely trying to play the "trendy nightspot" card. Sadly, the paper napkins on the tables betrays the restaurant's true vocation - did I mention BYOB chain?.
The food is decent, though not outstanding, with reasonable portions and quality ingredients. While certainly better than most chain-type BYOBs in Montreal , don't expect the attention to details you'd find in a small owner-operated restaurant on the Plateau. The grilled tuna was slightly overcooked. The veggies decent. No capital offences were committed, the food was merely adequate.
On the service side, avoid going on Friday or Saturday nights between 6 and 9 pm. Like other locations of this chain, it is simply packed with the expected reduction in service levels and staff attention . On a Tuesday evening, the service was fine, if a little slow. Parking is plentiful (it's located in a strip mall) and being a BYOB, you won't complain about the wine.
Breakfast places probably offer the best meal value in Montreal. And with the closing of Picasso next door on St-Jacques two years ago, there was a breakfast vacuum in this part of town. So when Eggsfrutti opened earlier this year, I had to try it.
Located on a very industrial / commercial stretch of St-Jacques, the restaurant features tall ceilings and a marevelously stylized decor. It looks like they invested a mint in renovations, as the restaurant would not look out of place in South Beach. Will they ever recoup that investment? Hmmmm......
Parking is plentiful and free in their own lot. There are line-ups at peak weekend breakfast times , which leads to my only issue with the restaurant's physical layout: the waiting area. It is cramped and situated between two dining areas - along with the attendant wait staff traffic running by with trays full of food. It's an accident waiting to happen, and while waiting, I almost left after a couple of near misses.
Once seated, you are presented with a vast menu featuring over one hundred breakfast choices. The staff seems shorthanded, as wait times are long for almost everything. As I am a pancake lover (as opposed to crepes), I inquired about having pancakes and not crepes. The waiter replied that "it's all the same, the kitchen makes no difference between the two". Excuse me!?! When a breakfast specialty place tells me that pancakes and crepes are the same, there's a problem. What are they going to tell me next, that scrambled eggs and easy over eggs are the same?
I ordered a complete breakfast (with a crepe or pancake - what's the difference, right?) The food was OK, but again my number one gripe at breakfast restaurants in Quebec: We are the world leading producers of maple syrup. Why do you give customers Aunt Jemima corn syrup?
Perhaps the restaurant is still undergoing some growing pains (staff problems), but the menu/food issues are structural and won't go away by themselves. Like a ditzy South Beach starlet, this restaurant has a lot of eye appeal but little content.
Running a breakfast restaurant - which Déjeuner Cosmopolitain is - should be a simple matter. About 10 basic ingredients (eggs, bacon, ham, sausages, potatoes, coffee, fruit, toast and pancake batter) are combined in 101 combinations to please the client. There's no wine list, no bar, no fancy cooking - it's really Restaurant 101. Just make sure each table has coffee refills, sugar, jam and peanut butter - that's it! Why then are so many breakfast places off the mark?
Cosmopolitain looks promising at first glance. Its West Island location is easy to find, has lots of free parking, large clean bathrooms and the decor is attractive, if a bit dated. The tables are level (not wobbly) and the seats comfortable (Yes, I look at everything!). Service is fast and efficient. You are immediately greeted and even if there is a lineup, it moves quickly. The servers are plentiful and check in with you often to make sure all is well. Unfortunately, all is not well in the one area it should be - the food.
Cosmopolitain's menu is the largest breakfast menu in Montreal - and I've been just about everywhere. There are literally hundreds of combinations from A to Z. BUT, you can't have two eggs, bacon and two pancakes. You can have three eggs, baked beans, 40 types of omelettes, 10 types of Eggs Benedict, steak and eggs, smoked meat and eggs, you name it - but a simple combination that is not on the menu - NYET! The waitress simply shruggged her shoulders and said I'd have to order from the menu. Come on people, this is a BREAKFAST restaurant - how hard can it be to ask the cook to put two eggs, bacon and two pancakes on the SAME dish?!?! So I ordered from the menu: Two eggs, bacon and one pancake with "a mountain of fruit".
Aside from not being what I wanted, the dish was plain bad. Obviously, the management of Cosmopolitain has never travelled to the Rockies or the Alps, as their definition of a mountain is akin to a mole hill. The accompanying potatoes were a disgusting massive lump of refried mashed something or other that looked more at home in a Soviet gulag. And when I ordered real maple syrup (this is Quebec, for God's sake, stop serving used motor oil as maple syrup), a charge of $2.50 was added to my bill for a thimble of real maple syrup.
Sorry, Cosmopolitain. You've got the basics covered, but you fail in the execution. Where's Gordon Ramsay when you need him?
L'in-Time must be one of Montreal's quirkiest restaurants. Located in a shoebox-sized former retail store, the restaurant is decorated inexpensively in dark hues that lend it an intimate feel. If the dark colours won't do it, the small size will. There are no more than a dozen tables.
The menu is mostly Italian dishes, with several meat and salad dishes recently added to the menu. My companion and I ordered a pork tenderloin and a scallop brochette. Both dishes were excellent, well presented and were accompanied with the appropriate sides (grilled vegetables and basmati rice). My only comment is that on the night we went, only one cook was working, so service was a little slow. The result was that the plates were not as piping hot as they should have been. Also, the bread is served parsimoniously. What's wrong with leaving a full basket at each table?
On the service side, the solitary waitress seemed to have checked her personality at the door. She was cold, never smiled and was much too business like. Fortunately, the chef visited each and every table and chatted with all the patrons, asking them how they had enjoyed the food. What a charming touch! Maybe he can give the waitress a lesson or two on basic human relations. Had it not been for the chef''s visit, this restaurant would have earned only two stars for service.
L'in-Time is a relatively inexpensive BYOB close to downtown. Parking on adjacent streets is plentiful. Call for reservations, as it fills up quickly. It's worth a visit for the food and the charming cooking staff.
Campagnola (Camp's for those who remember its modest Italian deli beginnings) started off many years ago as a deli counter with a few tables. The deli counter is long gone, the few tables have morphed into a fully renovated restaurant and the place next door was added as well. It is now a vibrant and very popular Italian restaurant. The decor is fresh and pleasing.
The food is excellent - from the pasta cooked al dente to the meats grilled and seasoned authentically. Everything is flavourful, including the olive oil. A nice touch is the waiter plying the tables with free morsels of whatever the chef wants that evening's diners to sample. Hard to find regional dishes, such as roast rabbit, are also available by ordering in advance. Most dishes, desserts and ingredients are home made, and it shows.
The service is strong, with the brother-sister owners patrolling the floor. However, I'm going to nitpick and remove one star because of the inexperienced staff (mostly young students of Italian heritage) who try to make up for their inexperience with overeagerness. With pretensions of being a serious Italian restaurant, may I suggest a three hour seminar for staff on how to differentiate yourself from the waitstaff of the local sports bar. Oh, and please, bring back the cloth napkins. When one charges $15-$20 for a plate of pasta, I don't care how good the dish is (and it is good!), I don't want to see paper napkins!
Parking is free at the back, there is a terrasse in the summertime and it is a BYOB restaurant - so all the bases are covered for a good dining experience. Recommended for all occasions. Reservations are a must on weekends.
Barbie's has been a mainstay on Montreal's restaurant scene for more than 25 years, and this is the location that started off the chain which has now grown to four restaurants. The decor is more in tune with a sports bar, and appears not to have been renovated in 25 years.
Definitely not a date restaurant for a quiet romantic meal (though it's probably packed on Valentine's day, like most days), Barbie's is the ideal place to bring kids on the weekend or the senior hockey team for beer and a burger after the game. The place is noisy, packed, open late and features more giant plasma screens than Future Shop. If weather permits, eat outside on the terrasse - it's quieter.
The food is at best above average for standard fare such as burgers, souvlakis, steaks and club sandwiches. At Barbie's, gourmet cooking means adding mushrooms to a burger. Of course, it's reflected in the prices, which are very reasonable for the huge portions. Make sure to have a "2 for 1" coupon on hand, and dinner for two becomes a downright bargain (The coupon is actually for $10 off the second plate - be aware of that). Breakfasts are also copious at Barbie's, but the quality is not the best.
On the service side, most of the staff has been on hand for a long time and are top notch, especially with the owner greeting customers at the door and supervising the entire operation. They will try to accomodate you any way they can.
Barbie's is a great place for a quick inexpensive bite with friends, family or the kids. Just don't invite your new flame or your boss - you won't impress either.
Arahova is a well-established chain of Greek-style eateries located throughour Montreal. This Lasalle location is unique in that it's both BYOB and has a lovely outdoor terrasse in the summertime.
The food is excellent - that's always been Arahova's strength - with ridiculously large portions. While vegeterians will find many items to please them on the menu, this is really a carnivore's delight: Chicken, beef, pork, lamb, as well as many seafood dishes. The chicken gyro platter is fabulous - and filling. Don't order any appetizers - you'll end up bringing half your meal home in a doggie bag.
The decor is fine - for a chain restaurant. Service is a little spotty, with the wait staff sometimes leaving you alone for a little too long.....
Overall, excellent value for a casual everyday or weekend outing. Special occasions should be celebrated elsewhere.
This is a small family-run South Indian / Pakistani restaurant with a very extensive menu. In fact, if you don't know what you want, just reading the menu will take some time.
The location is nondescript - an unimpressive decor in a typical suburban strip mall - definitely not the place to bring a romantic date. The service is slow on every count, from bringing the menus to bringing your order. As for the coupon available on this site, I had to insisit for them to accept it. (I'm not the only one on this forum). The bathrooms are nevertheless clean and the toilet paper is soft.
And now the food: When your order finally does arrive, it's well worth the wait. Delicate flavours and rich ingredients result in amazing tastes. We had the lamb tikka masala, chicken curry and mixed vegetables - all excellent. The basmati rice and nan bread are as good as they come. Combined with a delicious bottle of wine that one can bring himself, it makes for a memorable meal. The portions are generous and the prices are reasonable.
Now if only they could get their service up to par.....
When rating a restaurant, one must always take into account what one pays with respect to what he receives - in other words, value. On this note, Porte Grecque scores high.
By far its biggest asset is its setting, a centuries old converted stone house. It is perfect for a romantic late evening meal. The outdoor tree-covered terrasse is also wonderful in the summer. Avoid the open terrasse on Sources Blvd. - it's a little noisy.
As with many successful restaurants, it is family run, and, predictably, the service is above average. The staff is friendly and helpful in making menu suggestions. By now, the expectations are very high - which brings us to the food.
While a notch above the mass market BYOB Greek chains , the food could be a little more inspired. The fare includes all the mass market stadards (chicken brochette, pork shish-kebab, tzatziki, etc.) and some more original dishes such as bacon-wrapped scallops. The portions are sizable, while the presentation is merely adequate. Could Greek restaurants be a little more original and offer their main dishes with something other than the ubiquitous rice, salad and potato? However, given the price, it is an excellent value. And, of course, the restaurant is BYOB - another plus.
The only visible weakness were the actual menu cards, which were a little dingy and old - and should be replaced.
Don't expect a Greek culinary tour-de-force, but do expect a wonderful setting, friendly staff and a fairly inexpensive and satisfying meal.
I dined at this location for years when it was known as Michael W. This was the first time I ate under its new incarnation and I was very favourably impressed. The host / co-owner Ryan took very good care of us, the service was professional and omnipresent - without being too overbearing (as in some very high end restaurants). The menu is relatively simple but the dishes are prepared with care and attention. The other co-owner is the chef, and it shows. We were fortunate to be able to eat outside on what is probably the best kept secret terrasse in Montreal. All that and BYOB to boot?? This is going to become on of my favourites.