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Posts from the ‘Montreal’ Category

Joe Beef

Attempts at artisanalizing the McRib wind me up a little. Yet, when it comes to cross-cultural fast food interpretations using foie gras, I’m completely open. There was no way I wasn’t ordering the Foie Gras Double Down, four very important words scrawled in chalk at the bottom of the appetizer list on Joe Beef’s wall-sized blackboard menu. Our server started explaining what a Double Down was (KFC had recently stopped selling the controversial sandwich in Canada) and I appreciated her assumption that I wouldn’t be familiar with the monstrous creation.

Joe beef foie gras double down

Two slices of foie gras are breaded in a light flaky crust, deep-fried, of course, and surround meaty slabs of bacon candied in maple syrup. I did not detect any cheese, though I’m fairly certain that was mentioned in the description. As if you would need an additional layer—this is the kind of dish the food police should fret over, not the chaste 540-calorie fried chicken as buns served at KFC, and exemplifies the Joe Beef approach to food in a tidy foil-wrapped bundle. Shared, the fork-and-knife snack is still a hefty dose of creamy fat and salty-sweet chew. Maybe that pork belly McRib isn’t so bad after all.

Joe beef venison

My venison and spaetzle was no less hearty, but a touch more traditional. Seeing my first snowfall of the season and excited by finally being able to crack out my parka, I was going wintery and filling all the way.

Joe beef venison carpaccio

We first experienced venison as an amuse. Not the first meat I would think of to carpaccio, but the pink flesh was very tender and contrasted well with the sharper raw shallots and dollop of mustardy mascarpone—oh, and shaved truffles.

Not pictured is the rack of pork ribs. Full of game meat, I didn’t sample them, but James had to because he’s been dabbling with a baby-sized Bradley (a Canadian brand, of course) smoker. We were shown the built-from-scratch smoker in the back yard by co-chef/owner David McMillan. Impressive for sure, as was the bowl of vanilla soft serve topped with a burgundy wine reduction and shaved black truffles. Decadent, and once again merging disparate styles.

From start-to-finish, we got the full Montreal welcome. It was more than enough to drop my old Au Pied de Cochon grudge because I’m mature that way now.

Joe Beef * 2491 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montreal, Canada

Alpenhaus

After so much gravy and fries, I just wanted something light and fresh like…fondue. Ok, what I really wanted was something old fashioned and festive. Alpenhaus more than met my needs.

Alpenhaus seating

Fondue is a confusing dish, though. I treat it as an entrée (American entrée, not entrée meaning appetizer like in the rest of the world including Canada). But it’s always on a menu with other big dishes, whether veal cordon bleu at a traditional restaurant or heritage pork cassoulet at a more modern one. Are you supposed to treat it as a starter? At Pain Béni in Quebec City (which I’m not blogging because I’m trying to be more restrained) a group ordered cheese fondue as dessert, which isn’t a bad idea.
Alpenhaus fondue

I’ve never encountered a fondue for two as massive as the three-inches of melted Emmental and Gruyere that was presented to us in this weathered, red crock. We were warned against ordering a rosti and the large cheese-and-sausage heavy salad, and I can see why.

Nonetheless, the male half of a couple sitting nearby yelled out to the waiter, “Yes, now I do want the wienerschnitzel!” implying that his original order had been tamed, as well. He got his veal cutlet.

Alpenhaus salad
And we ordered the Alpenhaus salad anyway.

Alphenhaus * 1279 Rue St-Marc, Montreal, Canada

Chez Ashton & Restaurant Madrid

St hubert sauce packets While I do profess to be an admirer of chain restaurants, I don’t eat a lot of fast food in practice. But when I leave the US (yes, Canada counts) it’s a free for all. Canada is particularly interesting because it looks just like the US on the surface except our franchises are nearly nonexistent there. Roots not the Gap, The Bay not Macy’s, Tim Hortons not Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s all homegrown.

On our last excursion up north we discovered St-Hubert, featuring rotisserie chicken and a fondness for gravy and frozen peas (which seems more English than French). James became so enamored by the brand that on this visit we stocked up on packaged sauces. DIY hot chicken sandwiches in our future.

Chez ashton

This time we explored Chez Ashton and all its poutiney glory. How many ways can you serve fries? Quite a few, it turns out.

Ashton poutine

Combo meals come with fries or poutine as a side. The round aluminum tin on the left accompanied a chicken sandwich (poultry on bread is as ubiquitous as poutine in this fast food canon). The gravy-softened fries and soft irregular hunks of tangy cheese would be ideal for a geriatric jaw (or my toothless cat, Caesar, who gums Doritos with fervor) but there’s nothing gruel-like about the makeshift casserole that hits the right salty and starchy notes. Snow food or drunk food, it’s hearty. What’s not, are the sodas that come with these combinations. Beverages are served in sane, un-American-sized paper cups that I don’t think we’ve had since the ‘70s.

Gus' red hots

A Dulton Saucisses adds fat wiener slices and cinnamon-spiced ground beef, the same “Michigan sauce” that you’ll find just south of the border smothering hot dogs in Plattsburgh, New York. This is an onion-topped specimen from Gus’ Red Hots. The Galvaude Fromage, which I did not try, is poutine with chicken chunks and little green peas. Featured on the tray liner is a nameless snack that’s simply cheese curds and gravy. I guess it’s no stranger than eating a bowl of cottage cheese with ketchup.

Madrid restaurant

Madrid superfoot

Lunch turned out to also involve fries and gravy. There was no way we weren’t stopping at Restaurant Madrid, a hotel and diner half-way between Quebec City and Montreal that’s inexplicably surrounded by dinosaur figurines, monster trucks and designed in “the Spanish style that was sweeping Quebec” in the ‘70s.

Madrid interior

I don’t recall a Spanish revival during my childhood. If there were one, I suspect it didn’t involve a mechanical fortune teller or life-size country bumpkin dolls.

Madrid hot chicken sandwich

Not really hungry after a Dulton for breakfast, I just ordered the bbq chicken leg. It came on half a hamburger bun, surrounded by fries with a small dish of what I’d call gravy. Canadians make a distinction between the brown liquid served on poutine and the brown liquid served with rotisserie chicken and atop hot chicken sandwiches like in the photo above. Those peas, they’re everywhere.

Chez Ashton * 54, Côte du Palais, Quebec City, Canada
Restaurant Madrid * Autoroute 20, Exit 202, St-Léonard d’Aston, Canada

Schwartz’s

Schwartz's exterior Schwartz’s is touristy—even at 0 degrees Celsius there are lines out the door, tour busses parked out front—but classic. I still went back for a repeat visit.

I haven’t yet mustered up the patience for Mile End, though, so I can’t compare a Brooklyn interpretation of Montreal smoked meat to the real thing. I would say that the Canadian pastrami is seasoned a bit more mildly, is less salty and more tender (even though I’ve read the contrary) than their NYC counterparts. To be honest, I prefer it if only because the sandwiches are completely rational in size and price. I’ve never understood the half-foot tower of rosy meat spilling out of two floppy slices of rye. Why not just order a pile of meat?

Schwartz's viande fumee

Which is what we did. This was the $13.95 large plate, which came with $1.50 sharing surcharge. “Enough for three sandwiches” turned out to be plenty for five in reality. They’ll give you more bread if you blow through your ration.

Schwartz's counter

I was stymied by something called “nash” on the menu (also “pogos” at a pit stop between Quebec City and Montreal). It turns out to be pepperoni sticks, a snack I didn’t realize was so popular in Canada until we were faced with a big bag of Piller’s pepperonettes at a grocery store and had to buy them.

Previously on Schwartz's

Schwartz’s * 3895 Saint-Laurent Blvd., Montreal, Canada

Sunday Night Special: All the Pretty Horses

From scratch used to be a mystery to me. When grade-school-aged, I overheard my mom incredulously telling a neighbor, “Marva makes cakes from scratch. That’s what Ron expects.” It sounded like a dirty secret and I wanted to know what scratch meant. “Not from a box” was the short answer. I had no idea you could even make a cake any other way so this was a startling concept. Looking back, I think my mom was stymied by the idea of going through the extra effort to please your husband.

Time-consuming baking or not, Ron and Marva already stood out on our street. For one, they were the only black people for blocks (possibly miles). Two, Marva had multiple sclerosis and when she wasn’t shaking and stumbling down the cul-de-sac, holding onto signposts for balance, she was riding around in an Amigo. And possibly oddest of all, Ron was a nurse. If scratch was strange, a male nurse was practically inconceivable to me.

Fonduemeat I like scratch now, but sometimes I like novelty even more. Hence, Sunday evening’s instant French-Canadian supper. While in Montreal over Labor Day weekend, we went nuts at run of the mill supermarkets and became fixated with fondue section. There was a freezer case with paper thin cuts of meat, cans of ready to heat bouillon and bottled dipping sauces. No prep to speak of. We even happened to have a packet of powered béarnaise sauce in the pantry to add to the readymade meal. Shabu shabu-style fondue (or steamboat, as they’d say in Singapore and Malaysia) is strangely popular in Montreal. Outside of the suburban Melting Pot chain, I’m not sure that cook-it-yourself meat is a huge American dining concept.

Cooking horses most definitely isn’t an American dining concept. Never having been much of a pony-loving girl, I guess I’m less sentimental about treating equines as a food source (I think pigs are much cuter and yet a plate of bacon doesn’t bother me).  In addition to picking up a tray of pre-sliced beef, there was no way we could pass up the exotica like bison and yes, cheval, a.k.a. old gray mare. And apparently horses are having the best week ever. Later last night I stumbled on this horsemeat taboo article on Chow and then saw a bit on The F Word about horse milk being the new thing. Yes, horse milk.

Fondue_1Honestly, it was difficult to ascertain exactly what horsemeat tasted like. The broth was distinctly flavored and permeated everything dunked in it. Béarnaise isn’t exactly light either (Arby’s Horsey Sauce as appropriate accompaniment?) so any natural essence was doubly masked. It didn’t taste like beef, though if someone fed it to me blindly I would likely peg it as such. The raw flesh is much redder and deeper in color (in photo: note pale beef on the left and burgundy horse on the right). The texture is chewier, maybe slightly tangy (there was a chalky aftertaste that I noticed while trying to fall asleep a good four hours after eating. I doubt it had anything to do with horse and more to do with our poor meat handling skills. Our packs started defrosting while in the hotel mini fridge, and not only were we nearly charged for every item removed to fit in the frozen flesh but blood had leaked all over the remaining tiny bottles and snacks). I forgot to take cooked photos. I’m so not a dedicated documentarian when it’s time to eat.

Eating horsemeat freshly prepared by an experienced chef would probably be a fairer assessment of its charms (or lack thereof). But I don’t see that happening any time soon in NYC. Leave it to those freewheeling Canadians. I swear, if Americans knew what carnivorous horrors were going on up there, they’d build a 700-mile wall along our northern border too.

Schwartz’s

Schwartzs Pastrami is like bbq to me, one of those meaty technique heavy cooking processes that I don't quite have a grip on. People are very opinionated about methods, resulting flavors and regional styles. Me, I'm completely naïve and unqualified to make any sweeping statements so I'm just giving a quick synopsis.

Schwartz's is like the Katz's of Montreal, if that means anything to you. In Montreal they call their style of brisket viande fumée (smoked meat) and I honestly don't know what separates it from what we do to our meat in America (I'd have to do a side by side taste test). Schwartz's sandwiches are smaller and more manageable than the towering NYC deli styles, but they only cost $4.50. (I was just poking around blogs where people were saying that they couldn't finish their sandwiches, which is ridiculous because I was just going to say that I thought they were the perfect size, filling, but not sickeningly so. Maybe I have an eating disorder.) We got two apiece and some pepperoni sticks for the road. You can also ask for lean, medium fatty or fatty cuts. Only a freak would get lean. I played both sides with the medium.

Schwartzs_sandwich There's always a line. It's not initially apparent, but queuing on the left is for a table and the right is for take out. We stood awhile in the left hand formation before deciding to get our sandwiches to go because we needed to get on the road back to NYC. But it looked like tables popped up with regularity. At least while waiting you get a chance to see how others order (and a glimpse of the briskets piled in the front window) so you look educated when you eventually reach the counter.

Schwartz's * 3895 St. Laurent, Montreal, Canada

Anise

Anise_interiorI had to have one "nice" dinner in Montreal since I felt compelled to mark my seven year dating anniversary somehow. The trouble was that we didn't decide to go to Canada until Thursday and most higher end establishments are closed on Sunday and Monday (the technical date) and Saturday reservations with 48-hours-notice isn't the wisest. Brunoise and Le Club Chasse et Peche wouldn't work, but Anise, another on my list was doable.

Coming off my recent Spain extravaganza. I wasn't completely bowled over. But that's hardly a negative because Barcelona and environs set the bar fairly high. I think I'm just used to past Montreal visits when the exchange rate was more in our favor. I'm cheap, duh, even when celebrating (and not footing the bill). Currently, it's almost one to one so a $90 bottle of wine is really a $90 bottle of wine. I'm focusing on wine here because I thought the list was slanted a bit heavily towards the higher end. Anise_breadSpain is unusual because wine is a bargain even in expensive restaurants. We had the six-course tasting menu for $70, which was absolutely reasonable, and ultimately opted for the $115 version with wine pairings because it would be tough, given the choices, to spend any less anyway.

I appreciated the Middle Eastern inflected dishes, which isn't something you typically find being done in the U.S., at least not in New York. We have nouveau sorts of Indian, Latin American, Chinese, Thai and so on, but I've yet to sample this style. In a way, it's very Montreal in that both French and Lebanese food are popular in the city.

Pardon the off-color photos. I'm no whiz in the best of circumstances, but the room was very dim and moody. There wasn't even candlelight to rely on.

Anise_watermelon
Watermelon shot with mint, arak and feta cube
This opener scared me. Melon is easily my least favorite food and the licorice-ness of the arak was pungent. It was nice with the cheese, though.

Anise_lentil_soup
Lentil soup, pita crisp
This was like a fancy dal.

Anise_goat_tartare
Goat gigot tartare scented with spices and marjoram, allumette potatoes
Yes, raw goat meat. I was amused by this dish because I'd just read a bit on Montreal by Alan Richman and he ends the piece with looking at Anise's menu in the window and being kind of horrified by the inclusion of duck tartare. I don't think duck has anything on goat as far as creeping Americans out. I have no problem with the furry beasts, raw or cooked.

Anise_quail
Quail breast crusted with pine nuts, stuffed date with almonds scented with orange blossom water and cubeb
James I were joking, holding up the Lilliputian quail bone up to our mouths and pretending to nibble. But damn, if this wasn't one of the most amazing things I ate, miniscule or not. I love sweet and savory combos with the same passion that I loathe melon and extreme bitter flavors. Nuts, dates and dark meat blend wonderfully, creating a bisteeya effect (even Emeril makes bisteeya). I could imagine a duck leg being done this style in a heartier portion. Learn about cubeb, unless you're already a culinary historian. I had no idea what it was.

Anise_venison
Venison shawarma, parsley salad with sumac, hummus coulis
A perfect example of doing something fairly traditional, but amped up. Despite the baby proportioned quail dish, we were very full by the time the shawarma was presented to us.

Anise_cheese
Raw milk comte, onion sprouts and hazelnuts
I need to start learning more about creative cheese presentations because all the little flourishes really make a difference.

After three glasses of wine and a lavendar syrup champagne cocktail, the finer details get lost. But there was gooey chocolate dessert and parting cookies.

Anise_dessert Anise_cookies

Anise * 104, Rue Laurier Ouest, Montreal, Canada

St-Hubert

St_hubert While combing Montreal’s outskirts (St-Léonard, to be precise) for second hand shops like my favorite Pacific NW chain Village de Valeur (Value Village in the U.S., duh) I was tempted by all the bright and shiny restaurants we were passing on Jean-Talon E.

The weird thing was that our fast food like McDonald’s and Wendy’s (and even A&W, which we found in Kuala Lumpur too) were well represented, but they didn’t seem to have our casual dining chains. There were places that looked like Applebee’s or Macaroni Grill from afar, but turned out to be establishments I’d never seen before. I couldn’t even tell you their names because they didn’t stick.

Chicken I wanted to try regional fast food. I’ve been to Tim Horton’s a million times so that wasn’t necessary. I saw an orange and blue hamburger logo advertising a place called Harvey’s, Roasters with a cock’s comb cutely designed into the a in their name, but I was drawn into St-Hubert’s feathery embrace.

The counter girl didn’t speak any English, which I’ve noticed happens if you get like 20 minutes out of downtown Montreal. It’s totally baffling to me because how do you watch TV and listen to radio and live in a predominantly English speaking country and not pick up the language? Of course, fast food is about combo meals and backlit color photos so words aren’t of utmost importance. But there are options and I got totally lost on one of her questions despite possessing cursory French language skills. Dark or light meat had me confused for a while. I wasn’t as stymied by the traditional or creamy coleslaw inquiry.

Sandwich I tried the #1, which is a quarter roasted chicken sitting atop what looked like the bottom half of a hamburger bun, french fries, soda and coleslaw. James got some bizarre sandwich, #5 possibly, which struck me as totally British. Who else would put gravy and peas on white bread? Maybe Australians would do that too. I’m not sure and I’m afraid to ask the handful that I work with.

While getting drinks I noticed a self serve machine with a nozzle like an institutional coffee carafe. The label said barbecue sauce, which I couldn’t resist indulging in out of sheer curiosity. I pushed the spigot and hot steamy gravy streamed out. I’m still not clear on how this is bbq sauce. I’d say it was more like peppery gravy, though it wasn’t the same as the sandwich gravy.

SauceSauce confusion aside (that's it on the left) the chicken was really good. Normally, I’m more of a fried chicken girl. It’s easy to forget the beauty of a rotisserie grilled bird. This location was a St-Hubert Express. I have no idea how that differs from a regular version, though I did catch a glimpse of one on Rue St. Denis and it looked like there were sconces and frosted glass details. Fancy.

Later that afternoon, we saw St-Hubert branded gravy, poutine and bbq sauces in packages and cans sold in the supermarket and picked them up. I see a culinary adventure in my future.

St-Hubert * 7190 Rue Michelet, Montreal, Canada

Pie Holes & Scallywags

So, I don’t watch or read the news for a few days while I’m out of the country (ok, just Montreal) and the first item I’m hit with is the Crocodile Hunter getting stabbed to death by a stingray? Jesus, I really need to be more plugged-in while on mini vacations. This aquatic mishap only reinforces what I’ve always suspected, that sea creatures, especially rays (The other night I got sucked into a fluffy HD show [you know, hour-long nothings created to simply show off high definition images] about giant manta rays and got the crap scared out of me) are up to no good.

The past week has been shocking and pleasing with the weather bizarrely going down to morning 60s (unfortunately, it’s still humid enough to induce mild sweating). It’s what September should bring. Of course I somehow forgot that September also brings screaming schoolchildren feet from the open window next to my bed. The kids are so damn rowdy they make me nervous and I’m not the one with back to school jitters. There appeared to be two groups this morning: comfortable horse playing types who seemed to show up alone and the skittish kids with parents in tow, trying to convince them that school is going to be fun.

I still can’t figure out what grades attend the public school across the street. There are little little kids being handheld by grownups and then there are girls who have enormous butts and boobs barely contained by their ill fitting jeans and tee shirts. (I know girls mature faster and that supposedly puberty is striking earlier as kids ingest more hormones and crap in their food, but I still don’t think seven-year-olds look that outré yet.) Seeing the chaos and tumult of the Brooklyn public school almost taps into my distrustful NW roots and makes me see the beauty of home schooling.

AwesomepbjLast night we made the mistake of stopping at a Friendly’s (I knew we should’ve gone to Bennigan’s instead) in Latham, NY (a few miles north of Albany where our favorite Wal-Mart ever resides). We were trying to get back to NYC by midnight and being made to wait nearly an hour for nothing special sandwiches was agonizing (and then to add insult to injury, James was given the Alpine Chicken Sandwich instead of the Grilled Smokehouse BBQ Chicken Sandwich. It sucked that the service was so slow because I was horrified/fascinated by the purple and brown Awesome PBJ Sundae but there was no time for ice cream). I kind of felt bad for our waitress because she seemed genuinely sweet but dangerously un-smart. And then I overheard her talking to an elderly couple about her two-year-old and the girl looked about 15, 16 tops, so then I didn’t have the heart to be harsh about the atrocious service that she was subjecting our entire half of the restaurant to). Our only entertainment was the freak show family taking up two booths in the back. The boys were emotionally damaged and pounding on each other and crawling around on the floor despite being at least six years beyond the rug rat stage. One daughter was troublingly larger than the rest of the children. Her arms were as big as my thighs and I don’t have lean legs. But it wasn’t their physicality that weirded me out, it was their peculiar use of the English language. 

My back was to this family so I could only hear, not see what was going on, but I heard a little girl’s voice yelling in a wavering tone, “you’d better shut your pie hole.” Pie hole?! I’ve been known to use the endearing phrase, but I wasn’t aware of its popularity with the under-12 set. Later, one of the boys started calling one of his siblings a “scallywag” and I was like what sort of rift in time did I just fall through? When the older boy was chasing the younger one who’d stolen his hat, he was threatening, “You're going to pay, punk!” I’ll admit that’s not as strange, but I was convinced “dirty rat” or “fink” were the next insults coming. I swear these were home schooled kids, there was no other explanation.

So, we drove up to Montreal first thing Saturday morning and came back last night. It’s a long drive in the best of circumstances, maybe 7.5 hours, but yesterday we were completely traumatized waiting over two hours in line to cross the border back into the U.S. I could’ve dealt with the sitting still in traffic for 15 minutes at a time, five miles back from the check point, but we hadn’t predicted such a long wait and our ¼ tank of gas began depleting. The gas light came on while we were in a deadlocked jam. I was totally panicking because there wasn’t a shoulder and you couldn’t turn around. People were already going nuts and getting out of their vehicles and just wandering or sitting on the side of the road from boredom. If our car stalled and we blocked one of the two lanes that were already crammed with cars, someone would kill us. I’d be pissed if someone was so retarded as to not fuel up before getting into such a situation. All I could think was how we might have to push the car five miles, which could work because it was flat terrain and autos were only moving inches at a time anyway. After an hour or so, I saw an Esso sign in the distance and we were able to putt to the last exit before customs. Uh, but it was a diesel-only station so we were screwed.

Luckily, from taking this side detour we were actually able to circumvent like 30 minutes of traffic and popped back on the road way ahead of the game (we accidentally figured this out, but a lot of NJ drivers were pissing off the stuck cars by doing this aggressive pull around trick). We stopped at the Duty Free and put a shot glass full of accelerant we’d bought at Wal-Mart on the way up, hoping that it would boost the gas fumes we had left (rather than dilute the precious remaining drops) to get us over the border where there were real gas stations.

I almost started crying when I realized the guy manning our line was checking everyone’s trunks in front of us. This farcical war on terror is too much, like this was helping anything. I was exasperated with spending 2.5 hours trying to go a few kilometers and more wound up that they were going to confiscate our raw milk cheese and horsemeat (don’t cry, the Quebecois don’t—they sell it at mainstream grocery stores) we’d purchased. Through some miracle, we were believed when we said we only bought clothes and chocolate. I also bought K-Tel disc High Voltage at Village de Valeurs (I couldn’t believe Montreal had the Value Village chain, which I thought only existed in the Pacific NW) to replace an unreturned copy I lent years ago, but didn’t feel the need to disclose that C$1.49 acquisition.

Anyway, Montreal was fun, though I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. Food-wise I hit the biggies like St-Viateur Bagel and Schwartz’s for viande fume/smoked meat. We tried Canadian chain St. Hubert in the suburbs (I still can’t figure out how they can call gravy bbq sauce) and had a dating anniversary dinner at Anise. It’s very strange that Montreal’s flavors seem to be anise and cardamom, at least on this visit. At the restaurant, a namesake anise pod is nestled in each place setting and cardamom played a strong role in a few dishes. I was convinced that our hotel soap was also cardamom scented (though I can find no substantial evidence on the Roger & Gallet site) and wanted to do an interactive tasting where you’d wash your hands and then eat the little almond cookie laced with cardamom presented at the end of Anise’s tasting menu. Yesterday, I went to Genevieve Grandbois to buy fancy chocolates for my mom’s birthday and cardamom was the flavor of the week. I also just noticed they have a star anise graphic on their webpage. What gives with all the spices?

Tour de Ville

1/2

I don't know why revolving restaurants havent become trendy, retro, whatever
(though I swear I recently read a tidbit about one being created in NYC).
Theyre more about the atmosphere than the food, a timeless draw.

I probably wouldn't have gone out of my way to sample Tour de Villes
fare, but we didnt have to—it was atop hotel we stayed at over
last-minute-planned Labor Day weekend (it was the cheapest hotel we could
find that seemed palatable). And I'm not one to say no to a Sunday buffet
brunch.

And it was pretty impressive, though I'm not sure about the
“California Cuisine” they were touting (I guess every month the
restaurant has a theme, wed just missed a Taste of Quebec). I became
enamored with hotel buffets in Thailand because they had to cater to
Europeans and other Asians too, so congee, museli, dried fish, and Chinese
sausage shared the stage with eggs benedict, bacon and hash browns. This
wasn't so multi-cultural though they spanned meals. There was pasta,
seafood, and roasted meats in addition to more standard morning offerings.

Ill admit being surprised at the lack of fat Canadians, especially since
we share a border—does gluttony obey international lines? And I made a
true American pig of myself at the multitudinous dessert display. No one had
even touched a single pie, cake or pastry yet. Pristine, uncut and awaiting
my arrival. A few families had also begun to wander over and were telling
their children how they could choose one thing. Meanwhile, I was taking
slices out of everything. Well, four things (not to mention the chocolate
croissant I'd eaten earlier). All that slow spinning can really work up an
appetite.


Tour de Ville * 77 Rue University, Montreal, Canada