I spent this past weekend up in Montreal for my brother’s bachelor party. Montreal is apparently the new king when it comes to destination bachelor parties because of it’s variety of interesting bars and clubs, as well as restaurants and strip clubs. The last time I was in Canada was when we did an east coast baseball stadium tour and started up in Detroit and spent the night in Windsor, so I was excited to get back up North to check out all that Montreal had to offer… but if you’re trying to see all that Montreal has to offer, don’t go up there with 11 guys for a bachelor party. All you’re going to end up seeing is the inside of different bars and strip clubs, which was fine, but it didn’t give me a grasp on what the city itself is all about…. unless that’s it…
It was a still a great place to visit and we all had a lot of fun, but seeing as how this is a food blog, the food aspect of the trip was a bit lacking, but that was for a couple reasons. The main reason the food portion of this post is going to be lacking a bit is because we were on a bachelor party. The main reason for eating was just to coat stomachs to handle the alcohol that was consumed, not necessarily to eat the finest meals. I mean seriously, I was on vacation, in a new city, and we had Five Guys burgers for lunch one day… Don’t get me wrong, I love the shit out of some Five Guys burgers (way better than In-n-Out in my opinion), but Five Guys isn’t really what Montreal is known for, food wise… although I did find myself eating a lot of burgers…
Les 3 Brasseurs
After landing in Montreal, and making it to the hotel, we met up with one other guy from our party that was already there, everyone else was still trying to make their way in, including the bachelor who’s American Airlines flight from Austin to Chicago ended up getting canceled the night before we were supposed to leave, so he missed our flight from Chicago to Montreal the next day. Then he got stuck in Newark NJ where his connecting flight to Montreal also got delayed… American Airlines really dropped the ball on his travel. He didn’t make it into Montreal until 6:30pm that night, when he was supposed to arrive with us at 10:30am…. ridiculous, but anyways, back to the food.
After meeting up with one of the guys that was already in town, we decided to walk down to the main strip downtown and see what we could find to eat and drink.
After making our way to Saint Catherine Street, we found a place called Les 3 Brasseurs that had burgers and beers and stuff… easy and simple stuff that we figured everyone could eat.
I got a burger with a side of fries which also came with a salami, bread, and veggies plate. I had to special order my burger (as I always do), because the only burger that came with cheese came with gouda, which I’m not a fan of, so I ordered just a plain burger with cheddar cheese. Other people in our party didn’t realize that their burgers didn’t even come with cheese until our server came over to ask if it was ok that they charged me extra cause the burger I ordered didn’t have any cheese.
The food came out and the salami plate was a bit disappointing. It seemed like just packaged deli salami on a plate with some bread and a bowl of vegetables and stuff… it was fine, in terms of taste, but I don’t know why I was expecting more than just a few pieces of salami and two pieces of bread, maybe that was my fault.
The burger itself was ‘ok’, but not gourmet, and I sure hope it wasn’t “what they are known for” as the server told us when we ordered. They were all cooked to the same temperature (medium, medium-well), which is fine for me, but a couple other people wanted medium-rare, and apparently that’s not something they can accommodate. I didn’t think the burger was that bad, but I seemed to be in the minority when it came to that, as nobody else really cared for it, but at this point we just needed food.
It wasn’t until we started walking down the street a bit more that we realized that Les 3 Brasseurs is a Canadian chain restaurant. We ended up passing 3 or 4 more of them as the day went on… oh well.
Drinks, Dinner at L’Atelier d’Argentine, and More Drinks
After lunch we wandered around down a bit more and ended up at Winnie’s on Crescent St, which as a pretty cool little area. We stopped in and grabbed a seat on the balcony that overlooked Crescent street which is just a strip of bars and restaurants. After one drink here, everyone was ready to head back to the hotel and meet up with the rest of the crew that was starting to arrive. After most people were there, we hung out by the pool for a bit until the bachelor finally made it to the hotel, at which point we decided it was time to hit the town.
We didn’t really have any reservations or anything planned for the first night we were there, and since Crescent St. seemed pretty cool when we were over there earlier, we decided to head back to that area for dinner and drinks.
We ended up at L’Atelier d’Argentine, which is contemporary Argentinian food… not really what we were after, but they were the only place that could seat 11 of us, and they had a nice little outdoor area, which worked out perfect.
We decided that one of the guys would just order a bunch of appetizers and entrees that the entire table would share. Nobody seemed to want to order an entire steak for themselves before we headed out on the town, so this worked out perfectly. Of course, with my diet, a lot of the food we ordered I couldn’t eat, but the braised beef empanadas were incredible. Even though they had onions in them, I had to try them, and thankfully I didn’t have a reaction, because I just kept eating them. It really made me want to order the short ribs they had on the menu, but I decided against it.
Aside from the empanadas we also ordered the roasted butternut squash gnocchi, which was good, but I’m not a fan of butternut squash, so it had a little bit of a weird flavor for me, but I still ate a decent amount of it cause I was hungry.
And to wrap up our food we ordered a couple of the steaks, but I can’t remember which. Whatever it was though, hit the spot and gave us enough sustenance to power through the rest of the night… even though the night had already started as soon as we ordered a bottle of Jameson and everyone started doing shots… And as far as where the night lead us, it was a bachelor party, I can’t talk about everything that happened…
Craft Beer Tour, Poutine, and Buonanotte Dinner Club
Friday was the only day we had anything specific planned. Early afternoon found us at Le Saint Bock, a bar in the Latin District of Montreal, for the start of our Craft Beer Tour of Montreal. The beer tour lead us to three different bars in the city, to taste 6 different beers, and pair them with a few different foods. Nobody was really sure what to expect out of the tour, but considering it was absolutely pouring outside on Friday, it worked out well and I think everyone really enjoyed it.
At the first bar, Le Saint Bock, we tried a sour beer, which I really enjoyed… and I’m not much of a beer guy, and then some super dark beer, which nobody seemed to enjoy. We paired the dark beer with some traditional Canadian Poutine, which was absolutely incredible. I’ve had poutine in the states, but it’s just a random restaurant’s version of poutine… the poutine we had in Canada was outstanding and has quickly risen in ranks to be one of my favorite foods on the planet. Everything about it was incredible to me, the white cheddar cheese curds, the steak fries, and the gravy… all amazing. I even ate 2 other people’s bowls at our table that didn’t finish theirs, even though I was told that the gravy had garlic in it (which doesn’t sit well for me), I didn’t care, I had to eat it. And apparently, if the cheese curds don’t squeak as you bite into them, it’s not true poutine and not fresh cheese…
At the second bar, L’Amere a Boire, we had two more beers (which I can’t remember), some chips and ranch dip, and some weird cured meat on a toothpick that smelled like black licorice, I believe called beef gravlax. Nobody really cared for it, but I actually didn’t mind it…
The final bar we went to, Benelux, had a very cool atmosphere and was much more lively than the previous two bars, but that could have been because we were now back closer to downtown, and it was right around happy hour time. At this bar we paired an IPA with different types of chocolates. IPA’s aren’t my thing, but the chocolates were delicious.
Overall the Montreal Craft Beer Tour was a cool experience. We got to learn a little bit about Montreal’s history as well as try some decent beers and eat some decent food. Our tour guide was great, she was super knowledgeable and very friendly, my only complaint about the tour was I wish there was a bit more food. It was hard to gauge how much food we would get based on the information found online, but outside of the bowl of individual poutine, the food that the rest of the bars was pretty sparse. And our dinner reservations for that night weren’t until 9:30pm, so it made for a pretty hungry afternoon.
After the beer tour we relaxed around the hotel until our dinner reservation at Buonanotte at 9:30pm. Buonanotte is this dinner club place where it’s a restaurant until about 11:30pm, and then they remove all the chairs and it turns into a dance club. People had heard it was a good time, so a couple months ago I made a reservation, got all the details ironed out, and we were set to go.
The day before we left for Montreal I decided to look up some of the Yelp reviews for Buonanotte and was generally surprised that there were so many negative reviews of the place. We had gotten at least three separate recommendations to go there before we made the reservation, but the Yelp reviews had me second guessing our choice. It did seem that most reviews said that it’s more for tourists than locals, which is why they didn’t give it higher ratings, and seeing as how we were tourists, I kind of let them slide.
Upon entering the restaurant/club it immediately reminded me of a banquet room. It was fairly dark, almost all the tables were covered in white table clothes, all of the chairs and booths had the ability to be removed and relocated when it became a club… it just had a weird ‘banquet room’ type of feel to it. Not to mention the music was so loud, even during dinner, that we could barely hear each other talk, let alone hear what the server was saying.
In regards to the service, our server, who is apparently some social media star in Montreal, was pretty attentive during dinner for a while, but once dinner ended and the club started, she was nowhere to be found. It wouldn’t have been too big of a deal, but we wanted to order another bottle and close out the tab (and I wanted to leave). She did, however, not give a shit about the minimums that I was told were in place in order to keep a table when it turned into a club, so instead of having to purchase 3 bottles, we only bought 2, and instead of the pre-fixed menu, I’m not even sure we hit the $25 minimum per person for food, although we might have.
Speaking of the food, which is really what you care about here, I was not very impressed. We were told by a bunch of people, including the manager at our hotel’s bar, that the food was very good and the kitchen was run by some famous chef. It wasn’t very good, and I could care less who the chef was. Even though a lot of stuff on the menu sounded delicious, it was already getting late and everyone was just hungry. I think we ended up ordering our entrees and a few appetizers around 10pm, and I would say the appetizers were out on the table by 10:20pm or so, which is pretty good for how busy the place was. However, it took about an hour after that for our actual food to come out. The place was already turning into the club before we got our entrees… it’s not easy to eat in pitch black while extremely loud music thumps through your head… so that was kind of annoying.
I ended up just ordering a margherita pizza just cause I figured it was a safe bet out of all the other menu items… it wasn’t very good. At first glance it looked pretty tasty, but the entire bottom of the pizza tasted super burnt, which pretty much ruined the entire thing for me. Another member in our party ordered the Piadina pizza, which consists of Prosciutto, arugula, fior di latte, parmigiano, and it came out in some sort of rolled up form of pizza… almost like a pizza puff, which was weird, and apparently not that great since he took one bite and that was about it.
Out of the rest of our party, I think a few people liked the Gnocchi di Luciano, which consists of Potato gnocchi, Bolognese ragu (beef, veal, pork), and at least one person got one of the steaks and didn’t really care for it. Overall, I would say that most people were either just ‘ok’ with the food or underwhelmed. Needless to say, I don’t know that anyone would recommend Buonanotte to their friends after this experience. The food was just ‘ok’, the atmosphere during dinner was weird and super loud, and the club setup was interesting to say the least. They set us up a sort of lounge area with some of the booths and tables, but we were so segregated from everything else, and nobody else was sure they were allowed in that area, that it just made for a weird situation.
I would have to say do a little more research on these dinner clubs and see if you can find one that might be a little better. Or, maybe we’re just too old for this type of scene and that’s why we didn’t care for it (I know damn well that I’m too old for that shit).
Pool, Poutine, and Old Montreal Terrasse Nelligan Rooftop Views
Saturday after the dinner club was slow going for most people. I went home fairly early (1am), but most people were out till at least 3-4am, so nobody was in a big hurry to do anything Saturday so we just hung at the pool. We must have sat at the hotel pool for 6 hours just eating and drinking from the bar. I will say that Hotel Bonaventure has a very nice outdoor pool area that gets pretty crowded with bachelor and bachelorette parties on the weekends. There’s even a nice outdoor bar that would have been even better if they didn’t keep running into issues with kegs and electricity.
I would say the best part about hanging out at the hotel on Saturday though was the Poutine from the hotel bar. I seriously think I’ve found my new favorite food. It’s so incredibly good that we ordered two pretty large orders of it to eat while we sat by the pool at drank. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss out on poutine if you visit Canada.
After everyone cleaned up after the shower, we made our into old Montreal and found ourselves at the Terrasse Nelligan, which is a bar on the rooftop of the Hotel Nelligan right along the river in old Montreal. We managed to get a table for 11 outside and settled in for a few hours. Again, we kind of just ordered a bunch of appetizers, but I was too hungry to just munch on random stuff, so I ordered a burger. The burger was much better than the burger we had at Les 3 Brasseurs even if they forgot to add the bacon to it. The bbq chicken taquitos were also quite tasty. This place was definitely a cool spot for the evening and I’m not even sure how we found out about it.
The only complaint I have is that we were told there was a fireworks show at 10:30pm, but all we saw was some fake fireworks that were projected onto a building near the river… I’m not sure if those were the fireworks they were talking about or what, but we never saw any real fireworks.
After dinner we wandered across the street to Philemon, which was actually a really cool bar. It looked pretty old on the inside and didn’t have that club feeling…. until they shut the windows in the front (literally boarded them up) and turned down the lights. Apparently every bar in Montreal turns into a club at around 11:30pm, and it’s kind of annoying. I would have really enjoyed this place if they hadn’t of converted to the club. The music was solid, it wasn’t too loud, the atmosphere seemed fun, it was a nice change from the night before… until it was exactly the same as the night before. So that’s when I know it’s time to call it quits and head home.
And that was it…
We flew home the next morning and the trip was over. I had a great time, but I’m sure there’s a lot more to Montreal than just the inside of bars and clubs. Unfortunately I didn’t get to try a variety of foods, or tour a bunch of the city on this trip, but maybe the opportunity for that will present itself in the future.