With the summer flying by and my guilt at having taken my kids nowhere this summer reaching new heights, we decided to take an old fashioned car trip north to Quebec.
We decided to make an express trip north, waiting until we reached Montreal to eat. Arriving in town just as it began to rain we headed to Schwartz's Deli only to find a huge line of folks standing in the rain. Not wanting to wait we headed up the street a short way to a place rumored to have the best poutine in Montreal.
Patati-Patata at 4177 St Laurent did not disappoint. Despite the fact there are only 13 seats in the place, our timing was great, and we got 4 seats immediately.
The menu was surprisingly big for such a tiny place. Our meal choices included a burger, a fish sandwich, a crepe, and my poutine.
Son's burger. The burger was small by US standards, but I noticed that there was a bit better portion control up in Quebec than we have here in states. It was well seasoned and garnished, and you were offered a choice of fries or a salad. The salads were good, with a good variety of greens.
Now I am far from expert enough on this subject to judge if this is truly the best poutine in town, it was quite good, with the thin fries covered in a very flavorful sauce. The cheese pieces were smaller than what I have had before, but had the squeak of fresh cheese curd.
After this meal we strolled about the old portion of town...in the rain. There are many beautiful sights in Montreal. Among my favorite...
Dinner was at a place called Lamaska. No pictures were taken as it was raining and I was so wet, I left camera in hotel. I had a meal I found on almost every menu I read while in Quebec, Steak and frites. A small, 6oz sirloin and some good fries...oh...and a nice Canadian beverage. I found the quality of potatoes to be very high throughout my trip.
The next morning...still raining...we went to a place close to our hotel...
Turns out this is a chain of places. If I am to judge the chain on this example, I'd recommend going elsewhere. The breakfast was quite ordinary and mine arrived just lukewarm.
We snacked on a few unremarkable items as we toured about...in the rain...and then had dinner at a place called Jardin Nelson at 407 place Jacques Cartier. This was a unique place that was built in a courtyard behind some buildings. Entering you seemed to be heading into an alley only to find yourself in this huge space which was sheltered from the elements by a neat looking combination of awnings and gigantic umbrellas. The specialty here was crepes and we all had one. At the recommendation of our server I had a crepe filled with slices of pork tenderloin, fresh tomato, red onion, Kalamata black olives, cheddar, mozzarella, feta and tzatziki. It was quite good, especially the crepe itself, which had a wonderful sweetness that complemented the saltiness of meats and cheeses perfectly. The crepe was so good that it left me disappointed when I tried another one in Quebec City. The latter crepe was solely there as a carrier of the ingredients that had taste, while the one here added a wonderful touch to the meal. I regret not having my camera at the ready, but again, we were all very soggy.
As day three dawned we were delighted to find...SUN!!! We strolled about a bit, and had breakfast at a nice little Montreal version of the Greek Diner.
The Plaza McGill at 488 rue McGill had a diverse menu, not terribly different from diners back home. The food wasn't outstanding, but it was fairly priced and quite good. There were several tables with regulars. It reminded me a lot of the coffee shop where Jerry, George, and Elaine spent their time...except everyone was speaking french.
We strolled about some more, then had to check out of hotel and get car, so we decided to drive about. First stop was the famous St. Viateur Bagel Shop at 263 St. Viateur West. This place has been written about here on roadfood, and I can even get their bagels now in Brooklyn, but a trip to the original is always worth while.
The people who run this place are remarkably friendly and accommodating and make some of the best bagels on the planet. They are different from NY bagels, having a slight sweetness, and a lighter, airy interior, but they are wonderful.
After feeling like we had made some new friends, we bought a bag of bagels and some drinks, and headed over to Mont-Royal Park for an overview of the city and our bagels.
My all dressed bagel...outside...
and inside. A real delight! I would recommend this as a don't miss stop if you head to Montreal. You won't regret it.
The next stop on our tour was a visit to some of my wife's family near Drummondville, QC. We drove east and checked into our new hotel. Without any knowledge of the area, and precious little info available about this area, we asked the hotel clerk for a recommendation. He asked what we wanted to eat, and when I said poutine, he immediately directed us to a place called Le Roy Jucep, the fabled birthplace of poutine! How had fate led me to this holy grail of poutine joints? Clean living I guess.
As their web page indicates, Le Roy Jucep
at 1050, boul. St-Joseph, Drummondville, claims to be where this dish was invented. As best I can determine from the google assisted translation, this place started as a drive-in in 1956. It has now evolved into a family style restaurant, with an interior that resembles a Denny's, but a menu that is FAR more unique.
The page of poutine choices alone was overwhelming.
I had a smoked meat sandwich, and found it to be every bit as good as sandwiches I have had in Montreal.
As one would expect from a place that invented the dish, the poutine was delicious. It was very different than any other version I have had, with the sauce having a bit of sweetness and a color more orange than the usual brownish gravy. The cheese curds were large, fresh, and delicious!!
Breakfast the next day was VERY early, as we had places to go. I brought my left over St. Viateur bagels to the "free breakfast" bar and drew some jealous stares as I toasted up these delightful bagels for my meal.
to be continued...