As Montreal braces for its annual mid-winter festival, a lot of which takes place au plein air as they might say, much of the US East Coast braces itself for the kind of frigid, snowy conditions that Montrealers witness 6 months of the year, illustrating just one of the ways they and their city distinguish themselves from the rest of us.
In October 2008, we visited Montreal for the first time over Columbus weekend (US) aka Canadian Thanksgiving and came home fatter and much closer to our first stroke, but enchanted. Even though we hardly had time to scratch the surface on that brief sojourn, it didn’t stop us describing our chastening experience at the cruel hands of Martin Picard in excruciating detail nor blabbering on garrulously in a podcast about how fabulous it all was. Since then, we’ve barely touched foie gras, but we’ve been jonesing to return. The small matter of having two children making that rather more challenging.
However, last summer we went back, returning as parents to a city we had greatly enjoyed as single folk excited, if a mite apprehensive, to see if our first family vacation would enhance or ruin our fond memories. On our first visit, we recorded a podcast of our reflections from our hotel room in Montreal. This time we also recorded a podcast, except that it took us more than five months to get around to this one and it only features one of us, as the other one was looking after our newborn, so our reflections are, ahem, a little more singular and reflective, and almost definitely more rose-tinted as we recall happy times eating delicious food in warm weather while contemplating what shoveling ten inches of snow in biting Arctic winds feels like.
They say that returning to somewhere you have been happy is a mistake, but in this case, viewing it through the eyes of our adventurous three year-old, it was a real joy and revealed layers of the city that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. These included more casual eateries, markets, parks and attractions (like the excellent Montreal children’s museum) and the rolling countryside surrounding the city, many of which we mention in the podcast, all of which are listed below.
As amateur gourmets, we had found our son’s erstwhile reluctance to try new foods frustrating, but since our visit to Montreal he’s a changed kid, and well on the way to emulating his parents. Of course, since returning home, we’ve had to step up our game in preparing meals for him, but in many cases that means he eats the same dinners we do. Real child developmental progress and wonderful memories of a great family vacation? Now that’s the stuff dreams are made of…
French specialties include: calves liver a l’estragon, soupe au poissons, steak/bavette frites, steak tartare.
3927 Rue Saint-Denis,
H2W 2M4 Canada
Hours: 8am – 2am
Portuguese specialties include: grilled Piri-Piri chicken, pork escalopes, french fries, rice, and natas, a Portuguese egg-custard tart flavored with vanilla.
115 Rue Rachel Est,
H2W 1C8 Canada
Hours: 6.30am – 9pm
Le Jardin du Cari
Guyanese specialties include: peanut punch, Guyanese chow mein, goat curry, pumpkin, and roti.
5554, boul Saint-Laurent
Montréal, QC H2T 1S8
Quebecois specialties include: poutines of all kinds.
433 Rue Rachel Est
Montréal, QC H2J 2G8
Hours: 11.30am – 10pm
Au Pied de Cochon
Quebecois specialties include: foie gras, stuffed pigs feet, bison tongue, boudin noir
536 Avenue Duluth Est
Montréal, QC H2L 1A9
Hours: 5pm – 12am, closed Monday and Tuesday
Read our review of this incredible institution here.
Chilean specialties include: empanadas of all kinds – tuna, chicken, spicy beef and potato, etc.
130 Rue Roy Est
Montréal, QC H2W 1L9
Hours: 10.00am – 8.00pm
Le Relais Restaurant Bistro/L’Auberge Knowlton
Quebecois specialties include: duck a l’orange, duck livers
286 chemin Knowlton RR 1
Knowlton, QC J0E 1V0
La Fromagerie Hamel
2117 Avenue du Mont-Royal Est
Montréal, QC H2H 1J9
Specialties include: maple syrup ice cream
3807 Rue Saint-Denis
Montréal, QC H2W 2M3
Hours: 12.00 – 9.00 pm
Adonis (Middle Eastern supermarket) 2 locations we visited
Specialties include: Lebanese groceries
Adonis Place Vertu
3100 Boulevard de la Côte-Vertu
Saint-Laurent, QC H4R 1Y8
2425 Boulevard Curé-Labelle
Laval, QC H7T 1R3
Hours: 9.00 – 8.00pm
7070 Avenue Henri Julien
Montréal, QC H2S 3S3
Hours: 7.00am – 6.00 pm
Les Aliments Picado / Marché Picado
Specialties include: Portuguese groceries, oils and chourico
4553 St Laurent
Montréal, QC H2T 1R2
Boutique Canards de Lac Brome
Specialties include: duck, duck livers, foie gras, pates, terrines, jams, maple ice cream
176, Jean-Talon Street East
Montreal (Quebec) Canada
T 514 286 1286
F 514 286 4396
Slovenia – Boucherie Charcuterie
Specialties include: Balkan-style deli featuring sausages, cheeses, pickles, prepared foods
3653 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montreal, QC H2X 2V5, Canada
Hours: Tuesday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Boucherie Hongroise (1984)
Specialties include: Hungarian and Austrian-style sausages and charcuterie, paprika
3843 Boulevard Saint-Laurent
Montréal, QC H2W 1L2
Librairie Espagnole / Épicerie Gourmet
Specialties include: Spanish and Latin American grocery products – chorizo, cheeses, olives, oils – cookware and Spanish-language books
3811 Boulevard Saint-Laurent,
Montreal, QC H2W 1X9,
T: 1 514-849-3383
Hours: Tuesday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
La Vieille Europe
Specialties include: fine European groceries – oils, charcuterie, cheeses, jams, pickles, chocolate, biscuits
3855 St-Laurent, Montreal, QC H2W 1X9, Canada
T: Phone:+1 514-842-5773
Hours: Tuesday 7:30 am – 6:00 pm
Le Circuit de Paysan (Quebec)
Route of organic cheeses, wines, ciders, artisanal Quebecois products
3 thoughts on “Podcast: Montreal As A Parent”
Montreal is a city I’m dying to visit (my favorite weekend brunch place in New Haven was covered in posters from its jazz festival, and they actually closed down every year to go to it), so I’m definitely filing this away for whenever we go there. Thanks again for posting this seemingly exhaustive list!
I am with you and disagree with the notion of not revisiting a place that made you happy if you can make it happen, because places, like people, are complex beings. For years I had a complicated relationship with the city of Chicago–I always had to go for work reasons and something always went wrong on those trips–but I finally went for pleasure last fall to visit a friend, and I loved it.
I have obviously not visited your blog in aeons – *two* children? Congratulations on number 2! Since my son was born a year-and-a-half ago, I have not been so good at keeping up with my favourite blogs. I LOVE you for posting this. My husband went to McGill, so we used to visit MTL from TO a lot (pre-baby!) and it is one of our favourite dining cities; we have not been back since our little one was born. I am so pleased to read this post, because now we can start planning a trip. I was always reluctant to go back to MTL with a small child. Best Wishes, S
@Shayma: welcome back! we missed you! Congratulations on your son too! Isn’t it amazing how kids take up enormous amounts of time? At least before they can move around, you could stick them in the swing and get something done for a few minutes. Anyway, as you can see, we highly recommend Montreal for a family vacation. We wouldn’t normally consider going right into the heart of a major city as perfect for a young family but that’s another facet that makes MTL so different and enjoyable. We’ll be over to pay you a long overdue visit just as soon as we get a moment. All our best to you too!