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You’ve already heard the hype. You don’t need me to tell you that Jeffrey Finkelstein has an impressive resumé of work experience at world famous restaurants Noma, El Bulli and French Laundry and that he’s set up shop here in Montreal. You know that the bread from his Hof Kelsten has fed diners at likes of Le Filet, Club Chasse et Peche, Toqué, Dominion Square Tavern, Nora Gray, Joe Beef, Toqué and Les 400 Coups because you’ve already tasted it. Yes, you can breath a sigh of relief. We’re finally in on secret source of good bread in this city.
Lil’ Baci Taverna is that sweet neighbourhood spot you wish you had. It’s got this comfortable low key, local vibe that makes you feel right at home. With the smell of freshly baked bread and eggs in the air, friendly servers that seem impossibly perky on Sunday mornings, it’s hard not to smile and feel at ease.
Head down the stairs into the Cartier building, walk past the “sushi” joint taking up the entire seating area and you’ll find a little slice of unexpected heaven. It comes in the form of a small depanneur known affectionately by its greatest offering: the one and only Super Sandwich.
Omnivore is a cute Mediterranean restaurant serving a mix of themed platters and delicious, fusion-type sandwiches. The place has a bit of a hippie sort of vibe that’s all at once calming and forwardly friendly, accentuated by the long wooden communal table and the close quarters that encourage diners to sit and eat together. Leafy plants decorate the windowsills and eclectic animal and abstract art decorate the colourfully tiled walls. You walk in, give the chalkboard menu a good look and step up to the counter to order. If you’re staying to eat, take a seat and wait for the servers to bring you your meal.
Weslodge is a new addition to Toronto’s dynamic King West street having opened in July of this year to much local media fanfare. From the instant diners walk through the big, bold yellow doors, the saloon style restaurant makes no apologies for its colorful personality.
Desperately searching for a last minute brunch place to take my parents to Saturday morning, I came across Julieta’s after a few minutes of research. See, my parents are hard to please when it comes to the food department. They have a natural, predominant preference for ethnic food regardless of what time of day it is – and they love to try new restaurants as much as I do.
Just across from the famous Olive & Gourmando, La Villette is sometimes overlooked as an equally delicious lunch spot. Going for a distinctly French look and feel, the restaurant has a rustic, comfortable interior equipped with big wooden tables and chairs, hanging charcuterie, vintage photographs, and a large counter where their sandwiches, salads, terrines, cheeses and pastries are proudly displayed.
With decor that can be only be described as eclectic and entirely whimsical, Chez José is a favourite local lunch spot with smoothies to die for, bangin’ sandwiches and awesome homemade pastries. Looking around the small shop, brightly contrasting animal prints (red and yellow leopard print, purple and black zebra stripes), funny bits and pieces of memorabilia (“sex scene – do not cross” tape, Ken barbie doll, disco ball) and high res photographs of nameless individuals catch your eye and make you smile.
Laurier BBQ has been a historic restaurant site for as long as anyone can remember. With the changing of hands, Gordan Ramsay has brought the place to a whole new level of fame and further reputability, changing up the decor and the menu just little enough to placate the hardcore locals, remaining true to its roots of perfectly cooked rotisserie chicken while bringing some new dishes into the mix.
Located directly across from Lasalle College, Avesta may be easy to miss amongst many ethnic eateries on St Catherine West. Once we saw the lady in the front window happily stretching fresh dough to make delicious flat bread, we committed to giving it a try. The service was somewhat slow during the lunch hour as we picked up sandwiches (that were really wraps) to go. Word on the street is that Avesta’s specialty is Manti which is fresh dough with spiced beef covered in yogurt, butter and spices.
Pourhouse Irish Pub is a restaurant and bar in the heart of Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood. I stopped in recently for a business lunch and we all ordered the Po’ Boy Lunch special which is a sandwich, side and beer for 12$. The above was a beef brisket sandwich with salad side. The beef tasted tender and smoky and tasted great along with the crunchy pickle and salad. Pourhouse has a number of taps with rotating regional beers to pick from.
Almost every time I have gone to Chez Nick’s there has been a line up backing the place up from the inside out. This time, perhaps because it was a Monday, there was less foot traffic and we were able to get a spot immediately. One of the most popular diners in the Westmount area, Chez Nick’s is busy chiefly because of its historical past (founded in 1920) as well as its Kosher friendly menu options – the restaurant serves traditional food for a higher than traditional price. But that’s a given, considering the location in which it is.
I love Olive and Gourmando’s. I almost want to eat there every day. Sigh. If only…
Arguably one Montreal’s best summer spots for lunch, Olive and Gourmando’s is always overflowing with people either waiting for a seat at a table or moving leisurely through the take out line. The look of the place is artfully messy, with pots and plants decorating the counters, colorful chalked up menus on the walls, and visually appealing fresh foods on display. As their menu is constantly updated according to the freshest ingredients available, O+G’s daily creations are listed on their site under the “What’s New” tab – inform yourself of today’s special here.