It was touch and go with Montreal. I was stonewalled in areas like Frontenac or Old Montreal, wondering if I could take another limpy, fishy tasting cod fillet or tasteless salad. Realizing I was hanging in the wrong areas, this hungry traveler eventually found her treasures, and then some.
1. Poutine – La Banquise
Several eastern towns in Quebec lay claim to inventing this hugely popular dish. Poutine is everywhere – sold in fast food chains or local eateries. A foodie investigator might find all that poutine confusing, so where is the best? I happily introduce La Banquise. Recommended to me by Jodi Ettenberg, I was impressed with a few things. It’s not immediately close to a Metro, a terrific way to work for the grease. Because it’s a fair walk, you get the chance to sober up or realize how soddening drunk you are. It’s open 24 hours a day. They not only serve classic or vegetarian, but theme poutine. Mexican or an Elvis anyone? Above all, the price was beyond reasonable for a serving fit for two of me. Go! You must. Address: 994 Rachel East. +1-514.525.2415. Close to Sherbrooke or Mont Royal Metro. www.restolabanquise.com. Price range: $7 to $15 CDN.
2. Vegetarian or Organic – Bonny’s
This place was discovered because of a happy accident, or was it serendipitous? It was a good thing Griffontown Cafe’s doors were closed in the height of a Wednesday morning, while Bonny’s proved wide and welcoming. We sat down to a full lunch – organic chai latte, smooth carrot soup, empanadas made of spelt flour, tofu, spinach, salsa and salad. I ended the meal with a rich, chocoloate tofu mousse. Besides my own lunch, their menu offers intensely tasty soups or what’s famously known as the Boca Burger. Fresh ingredients and a chilled atmosphere invoked some of my favorite vegetarian haunts in Vancouver. Address: 1748 Rue-Notre Dame St. West. +1-514-931-4136. Close to Georges-Vanier Metro. www.bonnys.ca. Price range:$6 to $15 CDN.
3. Sushi – Aka-Fuji
Dismiss sushi. Those were my initial thoughts when I first arrived in Montreal. I had been staying in Verdun for sometime before discovering Aka-Fuji. Literally there wasn’t a soul in the restaurant, typically a bad sign for a traveler. Verdun is punctuated by Wellington, a well-known street in Montreal. This restaurant had the sense to create a roll named after the street. With slices of yam, the roll has a tempura outer coating, then topped with masago sriracha sauce. After stuffing myself, dessert was green tea ice cream. The sushi is pared down, which allows the full-bodied flavors to emerge. I. Loved. It. Address: 3872 Rue Wellington. +1-514-223-4262. Off the LaSalle Metro. www.aka-fuji.com. Price range: $6 to 17 CDN.
4. Portuguese – Braseiro
My one culinary complaint about Montreal was the profound lack of decent seafood. I encountered tough, bland, or downright vomit worthy. A friend suggested we try Braseiro. A far distance from the Jarry Metro, the long jaunt was worth it. I ordered a succulent grilled cod and the portion was larger than my head! It was salty, but off-set by boiled potatoes, grilled veggies and olives. A small venue, intimate for family outings or date night, the entire place was packed, a clear sign of it’s reputation. Well known for more than cod, you can satisfy with grilled squid or salmon. Meat lovers can enjoy juicy steaks or roasted, succulent chicken. This restaurant is so word of mouth they don’t even have a website. Lucky you’re reading this article. Address: 8261 Saint Laurent. +1-514-389-0606. Off the Jarry Metro. Price range: $10 to $30 CDN.
5. Bagels – St-Viateur Bagel
A city known for bagels, I managed to lockdown a scrumptious breakfast and score bagel action at St-Viateur. Open since 1957, this Montreal staple is divided between several bakery locations and cafes. My veggie omelet was dressed with hashbrowns, and a crispy, chewy bagel. You can also request another if one doesn’t satisfy. I did. They have a broad choice of locations so I recommend reviewing their website: www.stviateurbagel.com. Price range: bagels or bagel sandwiches $2 to $4 CDN. Brunches were around $10 to $14 CDN.