In my last post I spoke of crossing the 1000 Islands Bridge on my way to Montreal and spending four days there on business. I stayed at the Imperia Hotel in Terrebonne, a northern suburb of Montreal. I always enjoy visiting Canada, I find the food in non-chain restaurants to be suburb. Quebec, especially Montreal, is the mother lode for a foodie. They know how to treat food with respect, must be the French influence. No matter where I ate I had an excellent meal. The service on the other hand needed some help at times but the food was scrumptious. Bad food/good service vs. good food/bad service – I am taking good food every time.
I haven’t been to Quebec in a long time so I forgot just how many Québécois do not speak a lick of English. It’s better in Montreal but the farther out of the Montreal metro area you go the less English is spoken. It is like visiting France without have to cross over the Atlantic.
I had lunch a couple of times at Bieres a local pub type restaurant that the people I was with frequent. The food and service was good.
The first time I was urged to try the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich with I did, sans the bun and fries. It was a good rendition of a Philly Cheese Steak but not the greatest I have had. I think; since I was a Yank; they thought I would enjoy a touch of home, they don’t know me very well. The next time there I went for the throat and ordered the Hambourgeos de Canard – Duck Hamburger again leaving out the bun and fries. This was a wonderful meal but laws in Canada forbid them from serving ground meat any way but fully cooked, otherwise a medium to medium rare duck burger would have be over the moon.
When I travel there are two rules I try to follow: 1. Eat at a locally owned restaurant not a chain and 2. Except for breakfast, do not eat at the hotel unless it is unavoidable. So I was surprised at how nice the Martini Grill Bistro at the Hotel Imperia was and the quality of the food quite shockingly good. The first night at the hotel I was tired from the drive and not very hungry so I opted to order an entrée “beef tartar with old style mustard, homemade dill pickles, celery leaves, capers and two year old cheddar cheese”. For a hotel restaurant this was amazing and I took my time eating, savoring every bite.
(It is time to air another one of my pet peeves. In the USA Entrées is the main meal according to most menus, not so in the rest of the world and American restaurants in the know. Entrée is French and means “enter”, so it is the appetizer because an appetizer is where you “enter” the meal.)
Two other outstanding dinners I had at the Martini Grill were the grill octopus and the short ribs. Octopus has to be cooked for a fairly long time before grilling so it is firm and not chewy. The reason we grill food is because we like the smoky flavor and the slightly bitter taste of the char and even the crunch grilling imparts on the food. In this case the octopus was cooked correctly and the taste of the grilling had me wanting more The octopus was so tasty that I almost ordered it again the next day but instead I opted for the short rib.
The BBQ sauce on the beef short rib was made with Jack Daniels and Dr. Pepper – finger licking good. The meat was tender and fell off the bone, darn good meal. The slaw was unique and complemented the short rib. I forgot to have them nix the fries so they went uneaten. I really hate wasting food but I hate being fat more.
I was just getting started exploring the food of Montreal when it was time to drive back to Hotlanta. I really didn’t want to leave, my work was not finished. I am, however; looking forward to my next Canadian adventure and revisiting St. John’s, Newfoundland in a few months. Restaurants there often serve an oversized seafood platter with fish fresh off the boat. Especially good is the cod including the cod cheeks and fried cod tongue, can’t wait. If you like fish Newfoundland is the place to go.
I am going to hate retiring and not able to travel and sample great food from distant places and in the USA too.