48 Hours in Montreal
I’ve always jumped at the opportunity to see a new city when it presents itself, so when my sister and I both had a (rare) free weekend, we packed up and got out of town. In this case the country.
I’ll preface our destination choice by saying, we love good food and wine. From everything we’ve heard about Montreal, the one thing that seems unanimous is their reputation to have absolutely delicious food. We knew it was going to be miserably cold – barely above 5 degrees one day and 13 degrees the next – but didn’t let it stop us.
We arrived late Friday and set out to find some place to grab a drink and a light bite to eat. Naturally we found the nearest wine and tapas bar – Pullman, and it was a super cute spot. We took our server up on her dry red, full-bodied wine suggestion and it didn’t disappoint. Blei. I’ll be searching around for it and you should too. If you’re here and into this kind of stuff, it’s worth a trip.
We somewhat knew what we had coming to us on Saturday with the cold, but ended up taking a few more pit stops than planned to warm up. We found a crepe place close to our hotel. We did the touristy thing in the morning and headed to Olympic Park. The best part was seeing the Olympic pool – as a former swimmer, I geek out for this type of stuff. It was amazing to see it’s still, very much so, in use. Next stop was Atwater Market. We shopped around a bit, tasted delicious dried meat and got ourselves one of these. (Maple syrup on a stick, frozen by snow.)
Next stop, Pub Burgundy Lion, picked solely because it was the only thing open at 1:30p in the area. We got ourselves one of their namesake beers – not sure if it was their brew or a local brewer? Nothing special but was exactly what we needed to wash down our poutine. It definitely wasn’t a classic poutine, but good in its own way. We explored the shops around there for a bit after, and finally caved to the cold. If I can find one thing in a city, you can guarantee it’s a good cup of coffee or cappuccino, and September Surf didn’t disappoint.
Next, Le Vin Papillon, a spot that came highly recommended from various sources. Again, absolutely delicious wine we almost didn’t get because of their “no bar license” situation which forces you to order a food item to drink (yes, more food). Suggested by a few, we got their shaved ham and Parmesan with melted brown butter. So simple, SO DELICIOUS. Three hours, three glasses of red wine each, one ham and cheese and some serious catching up later, we got our food/wine/cold coma bodies back to our hotel for a quick cat nap. We tossed around the idea of going to the famous Joe Beef for dinner or doing something walking distance to our hotel, and chose to stay close which landed us at Biiru. It was about a block from where we were staying and described as a “funky Japanese izakaya dishing up traditional small plates and drinks.” It was just that and delicious. We split a couple of apps and had an “Abocado” drink which was avocado, sake and a bunch of other good stuff. Joe Beef, we’ll be back.
Sunday morning, we hit up Beautys, their famous luncheonette. Simple breakfast food done right. We topped off our omelets with a Bailey’s and coffee (for me) and Bloody Mary (for her). My sister admitted that although different, Montreal’s bagels were almost as good as New York bagels … coming from a person who has 24/7 access to the most delicious bagels in the world.
We checked out Old Montreal, including Notre-Dame Basilica, got a coffee and called it a weekend.
You’re headed to MTL? Here’s a short version of what we did in our 48 hours there (in winter):
- Checked in to our Downtown hotel
- Had a late dinner (tapas) and drinks at Pullman
- Had a quick breakfast (crepes) close to our hotel
- Olympic Park – I’d recommend seeing this during the warmer months, and when the tower re-opens
- Atwater Market – also recommend going here during the summer
- Le Vin Papillon, go for drinks and a bite to eat
- September Surf, warm up with a coffee
- Biiru – suggested cuisine by our Uber driver, recommended location by our hotel concierge
- Beautys for breakfast
- Old Montreal – see Notre-Dame Basilica and walk the streets
On the list for our next trip:
- Joe Beef
- Old Montreal (in the summer)
- Rent BIXIs and ride around the city
- Outdoor Markets – Atwater again, and Jean-Talon
- Poutine La Banquise
Montreal, despite your sub-zero temps, I loved you. See you soon.