Dispatch, Montreal: Bon appetit


Bouillon Bilk restaurant, Montreal

Montreal was the venue for Caribbean and Mexico editor Gay Nagle Myers over the July 4 holiday. It was beach weather, but Gay took to the streets instead of the surf. Gay’s second dispatch follows. Click to read her first dispatch.

Montrealers are passionate about jazz, art, summertime, parks and gastronomy. With more than 5,000 restaurants on the island, this is a city for foodies.

“Montrealers love good food and will pay for a good table,” Brad Norby, team manager at Tourisme Quebec, told me.

I’m not particular about what I eat. I enjoy just about every food, except tongue and anything that jiggles, like aspic or Jell-O.

My first Montreal meal was at Bouillon Bilk, a strange name for a restaurant located on a grungy block of St. Laurent Boulevard (called “The Main” by locals) in the city’s Latin Quarter.

The name has no significance other than it sounded good to the owners when they dreamed it up and opened the restaurant in 2011 with little fanfare.

It looks like an abandoned storefront. The sign for the previous business, an electronics store, still hangs above the door. It’s a place you’d walk right by. Fortunately, I didn’t.

Inside was a minimalist-chic

Bouillon Bilk-octopus and sweetbreads

décor, plain interior, black chairs and tables with some tables higher than the others, and a long bar in the back facing the kitchen.

The cuisine was fun and fancy — main courses of octopus and sweetbreads or scallops and shitake mushrooms or halibut and whelks (sea snails).

There was a lunch at Helena, a Portuguese restaurant with modern décor and great tapas, and dinner at Accords Le Bistro, the little brother of another restaurant with a similar name serving bistro-type food on an outdoor terrace.

Four of us shared gratin dauphinois (a French dish with potatoes and crème fraiche), saucisson en brioche (sausage and bread) and deviled eggs (I knew what those were) at Brasserie T near the Museum of Contemporary Art.

A very hip place was Verses restaurant, housed in a 19th-century building that’s home to the Hotel Nelligan in Old Montreal. I was clueless about some menu items, such as magrete (which turned out to be duck) and smoked bison tartare, but the place was snazzy and fun.

I never did indulge in a platter of poutine, French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. It’s the unofficial comfort food of the Quebec province, but I envisioned very clogged arteries.

St-Viateur Bagel

I also missed out on scarfing down a smoked meat sandwich at the legendary Schwartz’s, where the line often stretches down the block.

I did make it to two of the best-known bagel shops in the city, St-Viateur Bagel and Fairmont Bagel. Nothing gets a debate going faster among Montrealers than which one is better.

I sampled the goods from both shops. They equaled New York bagels.

My final indulgence was a slice of kouign-amann, a layered butter-and-sugar cake (very addictive) at a patisserie in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood.

It was a calorie-filled visit to Montreal and I enjoyed every bite. Bon appetit!

Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.

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