They say that it's unrealistic to expect to get everything from one person and I agree. I don't need to gossip about boys to my parents and I don't need to have in-depth discussions about why leggings should never be worn as pants to the guy I’m seeing. Unless HE wears leggings as pants, in which case we have much more concerning things to discuss.
It's the same with friends – specific friends are more suited for different situations. I have pals to wax philosophic with over expensive wine, gym buddies to get my sweat on with, and amigos to eat myself into a coma with because we share the same values….those values being that tacos trump abs. Every. Time.
My Asian Twin, Cherry, is the latter friend for me. We are friends who eat. The last time we went to Montreal was for the Osheaga and we only attended the music festival in-between meals, to walk/waddle off the food.
So when she proposed a quick, weekend getaway (40 hours, to be exact) to Montreal, I knew the only thing we’d be spending our time on was eating. Everything.
This is how two fatties – I mean, foodies – spend 40 hours in Montreal:
FRIDAY - 11PM: FOIEGWA
We rolled into the train station in Montreal around 11pm and after dropping our luggage off at our AirBnB, we booked it over to Foiegwa for late night eats.
Serving deliciousness with a side of foie gras until 3am, this popular spot is all caramel banquettes, plants, and whimsical caricatures of famous Montreal personalities that hang along the white-tiled walls.
While perusing the menu, Cherry said “Let's not go crazy – let's only get two apps and two mains." Meanwhile it was midnight at this point and technically our second dinner. Typical.
Sipping on a Pastry Cloud cocktail – flavourful white chocolate syrup, lemon, gin, and a fluffy, whipped egg white – as a restorative after the 5-hour train ride, we enjoyed the garlic butter escargots, the baby romaine Caesar salad ( you gotta get in those greens somehow) with cauliflower shavings and a heap of parmesan piled on top.
As our mains, I insisted that we both order our own Spaghetti Maison Monté – the indulgent house pasta dish of truffle, butter, a 64 degree egg (so specific!), covered in Parmigiano Reggiano – because it's just too good of a dish to share. Also, I didn't want to share #truthbomb.
FOIEGWA | 3001 Notre-Dame St W
SATURDAY - 1:30AM: BAR DARLING
After that indulgent meal, it wouldn’t have been healthy for us to go to sleep immediately so to give our distended bellies time to digest, we dropped by Bar Darling for a nightcap.
Whimsical (see: creepy) art bedecks the walls and lush plants cascade from a ceiling luminescent with marquee letters, the crowd is eclectic and the vibe is chill.
BAR DARLING | 4328 St Laurent Blvd
8AM: HOF KELSTEN
Bakery in the back, deli in the front! While providing freshly baked bread for some of Montreal’s top restaurants, Hof Kelsten also serves Eastern European delights such as brisket sandwiches, gravlax, and classics like French Toast using fluffy Challah bread and melty pain au chocolat. If you’re in the mood for something more hearty, go for the saucy shakshuka – baked eggs with chunky tomatoes and a side of sausage and thick-cut bread.
Open as early as 8am, this is the ideal spot – relaxed and casual – to start your morning, especially if like Oprah, you LOVE BREAD!
HOF KELSTEN | 4524 St Laurent Blvd
Every time I return to Montreal, Lawrence is a must-visit for me. I’ve been here enough times that I’ve pretty much had everything on the menu so I can confidently say that it’s ALL amazeballs.
To truly give this light-filled haven a fair shake, you must conveniently forget first breakfast and move on to brunch with a plate of mixed beignets – chocolate, custard and lemon – and a freshly baked scone the size of your HEAD with clotted cream and jam (obviously).
Plow on to the creamy scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and/or the French toast with summer fruit (if you prefer a sweet brunch) and end with my favourite – the pig’s trotters or pied de cochon. The meat, fat and tendons of the pig’s feet are cooked to perfection, melting in your mouth.
As a popular brunch spot, either arrive early, be prepared to wait in line, or swing by another nearby gem like Sparrow up the street for house smoked trout with soft-boiled eggs or Larrys – a cozy tapas café right next door, known for their strong coffee game.
LAWRENCE | 5201 St Laurent Blvd
For our third meal of the day, we were seated at the bar of the zen interior of Park Restaurant – right in front of the sushi-making action – setting hundreds of delicate white paper flowers that were hanging from the ceiling, aflutter in our wake.
The austere setting was exactly what’d you’d expect for such a highly regarded establishment and not suitable for our obnoxious cackling, brainstorming a fashion line of stylish “Eating Muumuus” that would allow us to eat to our heart’s content while still looking stylish and completely obscuring our squishy bits.
We opted for the omakase menu, leaving arduous task of decision-making to Chef Antonio Park, a Korean born, South American raised Montrealer with a love of Japanese food.
Armed with a saké lychee cocktail, we kicked off our five-course (plus dessert) meal with udon noodles – perfect texture and chewiness – topped with buttery king mushrooms.
Next up was a fried egg with crispy salmon and brussel sprouts followed by a long, wooden board of nigiri expertly topped with garnishes like shishito peppers with Sriracha, mixing Japanese flavours with Latin influence.
Plump maki rolls were topped with a mushroom stirfry while a platter of sashimi were served in a delicate Yuzu sauce.
We were in desperate need of a nap after this meal!
PARK | 378 Victoria Ave
3PM: TOMMY CAFÉ
Ensconced in the historical British Empire Building, Tommy Café has high ceilings, opulent moulding lining the high, white walls, and abundantly lush plants spilling from the heavens. This bi-level coffee shop is perfect to relax in between meals with an Americano or a fresh juice with mint.
TOMMY CAFÉ | 200 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest
Not gonna lie – by this point, we were STILL extremely full but if we hadn’t been, we would’ve been able to do more than admire the gorgeous space at LOV. An acronym for Local, Organic, and Vegan, LOV serves up gourmet vegan and vegetarian dishes in the rustic chic interior.
Devour ALL the avocado or the extravagant butternut squash and sweet potato cheese Kale Mac’n’Cheese while chilling in elegant wicker basket seats hanging from the ceiling.
LOV | 464 McGill St
8PM: LE SERPENT
After a quick nap, we dolled ourselves up for a fancy night out, starting at Le Serpent, the restaurant in the visual art center, Fonderie Darling. Hailed as one of the most acclaimed establishments in Montreal, you will definitely need a reservation to snag a spot in this industrial-chic bistro, lit by glam diffused vanity lightbulbs.
Could you believe that we were STILL stuffed?! Much to our chagrin, we had to order conservatively as our stomaches were pleading for a respite. Our thinly sliced scallop crudo were artfully served in the shell, the beet salad and the clam dish were vibrant and refreshing, and the uni squid ink pasta was bursting with umami.
I couldn’t resist trying their beautifully crafted ricotta cheesecake for dessert. At this point, she would've died if she had any more dairy as she's lactose-intolerant, but her sorbet was so flavourful!
LE SERPENT | 257 Prince St
Time to work off all that food with a dance session! Not wanting to cram ourselves into an obnoxious club or fall asleep at a quiet pub, Clébard was the happy medium. They had a great DJ, I had enough room to shimmy without bumping in to anyone, the crowd and bartenders were chill and attractive, and most importantly we discovered that tequila shots were a paltry $4! Later on, we moved the party to Club Peopl.
CLÉBARD | 4557 St Denis St
SUNDAY - 3AM: CHINATOWN
To be honest, by this point we had thrown back so many tequila shots that I don’t remember which restaurant we actually went to for post-last call, greasy Chinese food. I’m shocked that the alcohol even made a dent in our sobriety considering how much food we had eaten throughout the day, but we were troopers and ordered Peking duck – a classic.
While we were stuffing our faces with wraps filled with greasy duck meat, slivers of scallion, and cucumber, we decided it was the perfect time to take ugly selfies.
11AM: BOTA BOTA SPA
We meant to wake up early to beat the lines at the cult classic brunch spot, Olive et Gourmando, but we were hurting post-tequila…so instead we slept in.
Eventually we dragged our dehydrated corpses to Bota Bota Spa, docked in the Old Port, for some necessary revitalization. What was once a river ferry from the 1950s was transformed into a “floating spa” of Nordic origins, offering a range of revitalizing treatments for the body, yoga, a restaurant, and a relaxing water circuit of thermal baths.
After cycling once through the steam room, sauna, cold plunge, and warm pool, Cherry and I visited the restaurant for a Caesar (hair of the dog) and some wild mushroom raviolis and fresh green salad. Not greasy enough for a hangover cure but it was enough to tide us over.
BOTA BOTA SPA | Promenade du Vieux-Port
It was a refreshing end to the perfect weekend escape, full of good food and foodie/fatty adventures. This is how we felt after Bota Bota:
TRIED + TRUE:
+Au Pied du Cochon for the Duck in a Can (it’s exactly what it sounds like) and the foie gras poutine.
+Chuck Hughes’ Garde Manger for the massive seafood platter (more like a huge, ice-filled trough!) and a caesar with an entire King crab claw as a garnish.
+I could take it or leave it but you should try Schwartz’s smoked meats at least once!
+I first tried Tapas 24 in Barcelona and it's just as delicious in Montreal.
SCENE + HEARD
+I’ve heard from multiple people – both local and otherwise – that Banquise is the place to go for the quintessential Montreal dish: poutine.
+I’m dying to go to any of the Joe Beef, Le Vin Papillon, or Liverpool House establishments but they require advance reservations so think ahead!
+If you’re walking along the Old Port and want a hearty meal, check out Da Emma. I’ve heard they serve up fantastic Roman Italian dishes and I love me some pasta.
+Arthur’s Nosh Bar looks really cute and I’m itching to try their Challah schnitzel sandwich!