Sunday, February 2, 2014

montreal: eat to stay warm

last weekend i was in montreal in some of the coldest temperatures i've ever faced. ~hello, polar vortex~ in addition to plenty of layers and limited outside exposure, below-zero temperatures call for maximum comfort food (which apparently is meat-centric in this case). lucky for me, with sean living in montreal for the past few months he has found a number of really delicious, reliable, and affordable food places. so here's where and what we ate:

- station w: this is a fairly new cafe that opened in verdun over the summer. it has free wifi, individual and communal tables, and a simple menu of coffees and grilled cheeses (along with a few basic pastries and sides in the display case). we had two lattes and the raclette with cranberries and caramelized onions. good quality bread for the sandwiches, and the sweetness from the cranberries and onions balanced out the fattiness of the cheese and buttered bread.
- boustan: we went to this lebanese restaurant after watching a comedy show in downtown montreal. it definitely appeals to the late-night crowd; the place was packed with people at 1030pm on a thursday, and we even ran into one of the comedians we saw earlier. thanks to some inside information, we ordered the creation ("the ultimate pita"), which includes lettuce, eggplant, pickled turnips, garlic potatoes, chicken, and garlic sauce. SO good. i wanted to go back at the end of the weekend.
- omnivorea middle eastern restaurant serving up a variety of kaftas. the sandwiches were slimmer than the ones at boustan but featured more distinct flavor combinations. we had the cauliflower soup, bombay kafta (chicken, pineapple chutney, sumac onions, red cabbage), beirut kafta (beef, hummus, sumac onions, tahini cabbage). both were good, but we preferred the beirut--beefy and simple. i guess we're more traditional when it comes to middle eastern wraps.

- patati patata: apparently two kaftas at omnivore weren't enough, so we walked a couple blocks to patati patata for some poutine and two sliders. this place is super small, but we were lucky enough to score a table in the back. i've mentioned their poutine in a previous post, and it still ranks high for me; the gravy is flavorful yet light, and the fries are the perfect texture--not too soft and just crisp enough. i could do without the olives, but they're easily picked off ;) the sliders are customizable and just the right size. i topped mine with lettuce, red onions, pickles, and mixed hot peppers. sean kept it simpler with cheese and red onions--he didn't realize that 'cornichons' were pickles, so i gave him one of mine. sharing is caring <3
- la cornetteria: the cronut craze did not bypass quebec, and we were treated to a canadian 'cronut' (or cronetto) at la cornetteria. no crazy lines, and they were still baking trays of fresh cronettos when we were there (ricotta-flavored). we ordered two lattes, a custard cronetto, and a nutella cornetti (italian croissant). the cronetto was sweet and nicely layered with a healthy amount of custard. a bit of a sugar rush for breakfast, but at least we followed it up with a stroll through marche jean talon and bought some produce ;P
- antep kabab: to balance out some of the sweetness from the morning, we had lunch at antep kabab, a turkish restaurant near concordia university. similar to boustan, this is a no-frills place serving quick and simple food. we split the grilled chicken sandwich, which was incredibly moist and maintained a nice char-grilled flavor.
- blackstrap bbq: this bbq place opened up over the summer in verdun and seems to always be packed. there are communal tables and seats at the counters, but it seems orders to go are also quite popular. we chose a couple seats at the counter, so we could watch the kitchen. there's a small selection of local beers and standard bbq menu with one quebecois addition--poutine. we ordered the brisket platter which is served with coleslaw, bread, and side of poutine (paid extra for that...). the brisket was delicious--montrealers really know their smoked meats--but the poutine was the star. crispy yet soft fries, rich gravy, and squeaky, melty cheese curds. MMM!

by the end of my visit, i had my fill of middle eastern sandwiches and excellent poutine. not to mention the sugar overload from la cronetteria and homemade chocolate chip cookies. oo, and let's not forget all the lattes and home-brewed fancy coffees! the combination of all those things for sure helped me survive the bitter cold. now if only i could figure out how to avoid the inevitable blobbiness of all that food...

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