A gourmet getaway in Montréal has been on my list of top experiences in Canada for the last year. Sure, a case could be made for many cities in Canada, but my top four choices for gourmet getaways are: Toronto, Montréal, Québec, and Vancouver. And as I live in Québec City, and Montréal is closer, I decided to start there.
A cosmopolitan city, Montréal is known for their food scene. Hell, they have more restaurants than the city of Toronto, or any other city in Canada for that matter. This makes Montréal an obvious choice for those wishing to have a gourmet getaway.
While food is the focal point, accommodations are also an important consideration. In my mind a gourmet getaway is about indulgence, colour, texture, and intriguing details. Therefore staying at a hostel is most emphatically out of the question. No, if you are planning a gourmet getaway to Montréal, a boutique of luxury hotel is best – think of the joy of a long hot soak in a lovely tub after a day of culinary indulgence!
During my recent gourmet getaway to Montréal I stayed with InterContinental. A boutique hotel a few blocks from Old Montréal, the train station, Chinatown, and metro, InterContinental Montréal is one of the more centrally located hotels in the city, and a fabulous accommodation choice.
I’m a woman who gets ridiculously excited about design and decor when visiting a new space, and from the moment I walked through the front doors, to the moment I checked into my room, this hotel did not disappoint me.
Look out for…
- Fur & birch bark lined wall by the escalators leading up to the lobby, a salute to Montréal’s fur-trading past.
- The Hands of Harry Allen! Located in the entrance to Osco! restaurant, this collection of hand sculptures (Harry Allen made these using a mild of his own hands) are used to hang coats, keys, or whatever you wish. It is all kinds of fabulous.
- Wall of plates designed by Piero Fornasetti featuring the image of Lina Cavalieri.
- A piece of the Berlin Wall. Yes, a piece of the wall was given by Germany to Montréal for its 350th birthday!
check-out the InterContinental Montréal’s self-guided tour for your stay!
Aside from the unique design features of the hotel, and the cozy rooms, InterContinental Montréal also fetters Sarah B (the only absinthe bar in Montréal that is worth visiting), and Osco! restaurant.
Named after French tragedy actress, Sarah Bernhardt, the Sarah B is the only Absinthe bar in Montréal. Dark wood, lime green, white, and yellow upholstery, a chandelier by Preciosa (a leader in Czech crystal), plush private seating areas, and the perfect place to experience ‘The Green Fairy’.
An authentic absinthe ritual complete with water dispenser, absinthe spoons, and cubes of sugar to take a little of the edge off. All of which starts once you select an absinthe (Sarah B sells absinthe from France, and Switzerland. If drinking absinthe straight-up is too intimidating, not to worry, Sarah B also offers $12 absinthe cocktails.
Executive Chef Matthieu Saunier, from Provence in the south of France, is one of the youngest executive chefs in the InterContinental hotel chain (he is 30), and extremely talented. Chef Saunier’s cuisine is French-inspired, flavourful, and creative. And from time to time he will incorporate absinthe into one of his dishes. During a recent visit to Osco! I tried several seafood dishes (it’s a spring/summer must for me), but the one that stood out was the Lobster Risotto with scallops and bisque sauce. Amazing.
Going Gourmet in Montréal
A gourmet getaway is not complete unless you make the most of your time, meaning you give yourself plenty of opportunities to indulge – preferably without going into a food coma afterwards.
Auberge Saint-Gabriel • 426 St Gabriel St. • Built in 1688 by a French solider, Auberge Saint-Gabriel was the first ‘inn’ in Montréal. Nowadays Auberge Saint-Gabriel is a trendy restaurant, flirting with the line between a bistro and fine dining. Chef Émilie Rizzetto creates dishes that are fresh and excited – I highly recommend the Cornish Hen (which is cooked on a rotisserie in the dining room).
Le Bremner• 361 St Paul Est • Tucked away on rue Saint-Paul in Old Montréal, Le Bremner is co-owned by Chuck Hughes, and run by Chef Danny Smiles, and a favourite among locals. The menu is seafood-inspired and the best seat in the house is along the bar. My recommendation? The Kale Caesar Salad, and whatever funky new cocktail the bar tender is crafting.
Bar à Buerre • 350 Notre Dame Est • I’ve debated about including this spot. Not because it’s questionable, but because it’s so damn good that I almost don’t want to share it with you. Selfish? Yeah, but one bite into a boules du buerre or buerréo, and you’ll know why. The Nono Carlo is my choice.
Micro Resto La Famille • 418 rue Gilford • A tiny restaurant located at the north end of Mile End, Micro Resto La Famille creates their menu based on what it available at the market that day and makes everything (including the bread) in-house. Whether you’re stopping for fresh croissants and a cup of café au lai or coming for lunch, this little restaurant is absolutely delightful.
Pho Bang New York • 1001 Boulevard Saint-Laurent • While there are a couple of fabulous Vietnamese restaurants in Montréal, this one in Chinatown is popular, affordable, and delicious. This is not an über gourmet restaurant, but the food is definitely worth it.
iBurger • 1237 Metcalfe Street • What’s not to love about a restaurant that has tables that doubles are interactive menus? At iBurger you use a digital menu inlaid in your table to order your meal. Fabulous. While the decor and technology are pretty damn cool, their burgers are amazing. I’m a kobe burger fan myself, but the sushi burger (pictured above) is also out-of-this-world delicious.
I know, there are a lot of interesting (and yummy) places in Montréal and this post doesn’t even come close to listing them all. Think of this as an introductory look, or as a peek into some of my favourite spots in Montréal. Either way, this is definitely not the last post on Montréal, where to stay in the city, or where to eat for that matter.