The last time I went to Montreal it was with my uncle and his family on a frigid February weekend. We hit all the usual spots: poutine, St. Joseph’s Oratory, Old Montreal, Schwartz’s. It’s not bad but I realized it’s becoming my routine. We always follow the classic tourist trail because we only go to Montreal when we have visitors with us.
I wanted this time to be different. No more tourist trail. We are going to Montreal but we are staying away from things we’ve visited in the past. No pilgrimage to Notre Dame and St. Joseph’s and we won’t use a day to explore Quebec City. I was going to dedicate the entire weekend to Montreal and all the foods it has to offer. And boy, I don’t think we could have done any better.
Here is what went down last weekend in 2 parts.
Day 1 – Saturday
We left Toronto bright an early – 6 AM, to be exact. Our first stop Marche Atwater, one of the two famous markets in Montreal, is a 6-hour drive away. I figured we’d get there between noon and 1 PM, just in time for lunch.
138 Avenue Atwater, Montréal, QC H4C 2H6
The market was in full swing for the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday. Butchers were offering turkey and other prepared meats, the cheese-mongers were sampling their products, fresh produce were on display, and don’t even get me started on Premiere Moisson, the bakery at the end of the market.
We settled on the food court outside and I ordered myself a soba noodles salad with tahini dressing topped with cashews, kale, and cherry tomatoes. I figured I’d start slow and healthy since it was going to be an entire weekend revolving around food.
Nota Bene and Pikolo Espresso Bar
3416 and 3418b Av Du Parc, Montreal
After getting our fill at the market, we made our way to the city centre for Fika. Pikolo Espresso Bar is tiny but beautiful (and way too warm) inside. It’s a cozy place, perfect as a refuge from the rain. Right next door is Nota Bene, a stationery store that is the entire reason Jess came with us to Montreal. We enjoyed our coffee while she perused the pens, notebooks, and all things cute and pretty.
I wanted to see BAnQ Grande Bibliotheque (a.k.a. Montreal’s Public Library) but the rain deterred us from walking to it and the constant search for parking space gets quite tiring, so I passed.
4155 Rue Wellington, Verdun
I got a message from our AirBnB host saying that his earlier tenant didn’t check out on time and as a result, we wouldn’t be able to check in by 4 PM. Ah well. We continued to Mass instead at one of the designated churches with a Door of Mercy.
glise Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs or the Church of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows is beautiful with a gold-adorned altar centered around Our Lady. The Mass was in French (which goes to say I barely understood the homily) but we got apples afterwards because, I think, it’s Festival Pommes.
4436 Rue Wellington, Verdun
Seeing as we were already so close to our dinner spot that night, we ventured down Rue Wellington to Blackstrap BBQ, a Southern barbecue joint in the heart of Verdun. It’s a small place with a very laid-back atmosphere. We ordered not one, but TWO of the Le Gros, consisting of ribs, brisket, half a chicken, string beans, re-fried beans, coleslaw, and fries. It was sinful but oh so delicious. Suffice it to say, we had enough leftover to feed 5 of us the next night.
1609 Rue Sainte-Catherine, Montréal
We eventually checked into our AirBnB after dinner: the apartment fits all 9 of us (7 adults, 2 kids) comfortably and is equipped with a full kitchen and an entertainment system. We refreshed ourselves, showered, and got out again for late-night dessert.
Our original plan was to go to Juliette et Chocolat on Rue Sainte-Catherine, but we were told our wait time would be 45 minutes long. Ain’t nobody got time for dat! We high tailed it across the street to Nos Thes, a Taiwanese tea house serving exotic teas, like yuzu and chamomile tea that was this close to putting me to sleep on the table, it was SO comforting, the perfect night cap for a beautiful (rainy) day!