So Fortescue and your dear Doctor had a week’s drive through the beautiful countryside of Vermont to see the leaves turning some wonderful hues of yellow, red and brown.. It’s a beautiful sight and well worth a trip. The fallen leaves provide employment for the chappies who like to blow them around from one side of the car park to the other. Having had our fill of leaves we arrived in Montreal and do you know what I said? “Hurrah and bloody hurrah” I said!! Now one can find some real food at last!!!!
A week of Reubens, BLT’s, burgers and turkey club sandwiches and “would you like fries with that?” had left one at the very end of one’s tether and the lack of anything green was sure to bring on a nasty case of spots! Menus in Vermont are extremely limited and lacking in anything that vaguely approximates invention. Apologies to those from Vermont but one can attest to the fact that it is not a foody destination of the United States despite being informed subsequently that Manchester should have been on one’s list if food was important.
The excellent news is that Montreal with its French heritage is without a doubt a food capital and it has some damn fine restaurants. Or at least in just a few days, although one cannot be an expert it has displayed some wonderful culinary initiatives. On the first evening, just to be confronted with a menu that did not contain burger and chips, Caeser salad or sandwiches of any description was a refreshing and uplifting experience.
So the first restaurant we were recommended was Holder.A large, modern, French style bistro. Your Doctor spied Duck Confit on the menu and couldn’t resist. Served over Arugala (that’s American for rocket my dear English friends). What a shock, they had not included maple syrup in the dressing, nor piled it with Strawberries or glazed pecan nuts. It was actually a dressing with finesse, style and none of that bunkum that you can find in many American salads. Hurrah! and they didn’t offer blue cheese crumbles either…rant over. Apologies mes amis Americans.
So, Holder, super food and a lovely ambience. Worth a visit if you are in Montreal.
Lunch the next day was not so good but then we did visit the tourist trap area of the Old town which although elegant was not brimming with top class eateries. We tried Le Fripon and it is not to be recommended as the food was OK but lacking any care or finesse. Yes, I know lasagne was not a great test but believe me this restaurant is only so so.
Dinner was at an eccentric and wondrous restaurant called l’Auberge de St. Gabriel. It’s in a very old inn which was the first to receive a liquor license in 1754. The restaurant resembles an old monastery from within. The décor is stupendously well done and you are greeted at the entrance by a 25 foot “whale spine” standing on its end in a display case in the entrance. It’s an intriguing and oh so trendy restaurant with expensive wine on display, a rotisserie cooking next to a large open fire in the main restaurant, two trendy bars and downstairs the nightclub opens at 10pm. It had a wonderful buzzy atmosphere. One had a very generous charcuterie board to share to start and that was excellent. Fortescue had a lobster (no surprise there) and wasn’t particularly happy with it due it being “not very tasty”. We had a Cote du Rhone to accompany my entrecote which I found to be excellent unlike the Cote du Rhone which was not in any way corked but it had a very strange grape blend which both of us found unappealing. Avoid the Cote du Rhone! Overall the meal was very good as the atmosphere more than compensated for the disappointing wine and Fortescue’s lobster. There is a virtual tour of the restaurant on their site which is a super way to see what it is like. Click here to see it as it really is a rather lovely restaurant.
Finally, Osco! in the Intercontinental hotel provided a pleasant surprise. As Fortescue and I were both coughing and spluttering with a bout of flu on the final day, we determined to eat lunch in our hotel restaurant and found a surprise awaiting us. The menu choices were inventive and interesting. None of your ordinary run of the mill stuff here. Haven’t hotel restaurants improved over the years methinks. Whilst Fortescue stuck to a steak (not literally although the thought of steak stuck to him does sound rather droll. I had a cabillaud (cod) which was served in a light broth with a perfect set of vegetables consisting of fennel, carrots, cauliflower, green beans and potatoes. All cooked very al dente and with super flavour. Aioli was served on the side and contained enough garlic to stave off Dracula and all of his wives. We chose a sauvignon blanc from the Loire which was crisp and refreshing. Thank you chef Matthieu Saunier, it cheered us both up to have such a delightful meal when feeling a bit low.
So hurrah for Montreal. One wishes one could stay longer and visit a few more eateries but once again we head off and this time on a cruise towards Florida via the St. Lawrence Seaway. A gastronomic stop in New York is already planned.
L’Auberge St. Gabriel
Osco! – Intercontinental Hotel