Eating & Drinking

PLANNING A ROAD TRIP?: Forty-eight hours of food heaven in Montreal

Frappé la rue: Forty-eight hours of food heaven in Montreal
Left to right: Colourful houses are the eye candy to complement the city’s foodie offerings; Montreal smoked meat sliced by hand and piled up on seedless rye bread has been served at Schwartz’s Deli since 1928; husband and wife Vincent Beck and Ngoc Phan make artisan ice cream and homemade soft-serve at Kem CoBa

BREAKFAST: Casa Bianca

The breakfasts — like the bed linens— are organic and light, the essence of minimalist style and simplicity. Croissants are brought in from the nearby bio (organic) bakery and are served with fresh coffee and a bowl of plain yogourt with muesli and fruit. We could opt for scrambled eggs but choose to save room for the inevitable gluttony ahead.


When a friend suggested I check out this new café with the instructions “Go early in the day for fresh, warm yeast doughnuts,” I listened. The scent of strong coffee greets hungover hipsters at the door and beckons grumbling bellies to the bar, where an oasis appears: a red toolbox filled with shiny glazed doughnuts fresh from the fryer. Varieties include cinnamon sugar, Jenever and lime, and chocolate-chai. Dangerously good.

9, av. Fairmount E.,

LUNCH: Wilensky’s Light Lunch

Sidle up to the lunch counter and order the special with cheese and a cherry cola before your bum hits the stool. Marvel at the fact that this sandwich — sliced beef salami and bologna with a dab of mustard (cheese is optional) on a pressed yellow bun — has been around for 80 years. It’s gobbled up in less than three minutes, at which point you might consider ordering another. While you wait the requisite 45 seconds, look around and imagine Mordecai Richler sitting on the stool next to you. Then consider the sorry cynics who balked when Travel + Leisure magazine named The Wilensky’s Special among the world’s best sandwiches.

34, av. Fairmount O.,


Don’t be surprised if you suddenly get the urge to whip up a soufflé as you wander around one of the most seductive kitchen boutiques imaginable — proof that culinary heaven exists. Here, whisks and mixing bowls are elevated to art and fetish objects, yet everything for the sophisticated home cook is within reach. Enter this gourmet gallery at your own risk; you will want one of everything. A French Opinel knife, required for smearing brie on baguette at your next picnic, seems like a good place to start. Feel free to browse, ask questions, and imagine you’re walking in the footsteps of the city’s top chefs on the set of a TV cooking show, because you are.

152, av. Laurier O.,


With dreams of dinner parties dancing in your head, exit Les Touilleurs and walk east (right) along Laurier Avenue for several blocks until you pass St-Denis Street, a metro station, and finally a lovely park. At that point, you will arrive in another residential neighbourhood/foodie enclave with a stretch of epicurean boutiques, cafés, and bakeries — too many to mention — where you’ll be tempted stock up on chocolates, coffees, teas, stinky cheeses, unique cooking oils, rustic breads, and much more.

AFTERNOON TREAT: Patisserie Rhubarbe

When you feel ready to pause and plot out the rest of the weekend, sneak up the side street with the bright pink awning and enter the precious shop filled with designer sweets. Montreal food critic Lesley Chesterman, a professional pastry chef herself, recently tweeted that when it comes to French patisserie, Rhubarbe is “the only game in town.” The pretty glass pot du crème chocolat topped with dark chocolate cookie crumble is indeed amazing. No doubt the more delicate mille feuilles and dainty macarons are as authentically Parisian as the atmosphere suggests. Lots of lovely little loaves, cookies, confections, and homemade preserves to take home too.

5091, rue de Lanaudière,

DINNER: Le Comptoir Charcuteries et Vins

Even with its rock-star status as one of Montreal’s hottest new wine bars, nothing prepared me for how much I was going to love the food at Le Comptoir. Misled by buzzwords like “small plates” and “homemade charcuterie,” I thought I knew what to expect. Instead, chef Ségué Lepage infuses lightness into familiar ingredients. Somehow he creates cured meats that melt on the tongue, mustard that’s sweet and frothy like a mousse, sweetbreads as addictive as candy corn, and pretty-in-pink cured salmon wrapped in a lacy vest of parmesan cheese. Even crisp pork belly practically levitates under a blanket of lemon and hoisin foam. Natural French wines amuse a jaded palate. One last surprise: prices are laughably low.

4807, boul. Saint-Laurent,