IN WEDNESDAY’S BOSTON GLOBE FOOD SECTION we reported on our crawl of newish, higher-end burger joints in Atlanta, but last week we ducked out of town to snatch a few days in Montréal and Québec City. Our main interest, as you might guess, being the new & slightly used wine bars and restos there.
To pack as much as possible into an evening, our M.O. is to nip into one or two spots for a drink and a bite at the bar before settling into a table somewhere else. We’re walking everywhere – with the idea of achieving a same-day work-off of calories we accumulate at an alarming rate. Herein are a few of the things we took note of, in no particular order (click on any image for a better look).
That cold, rainy first night, we left our Old City hotel for a place we were warned not to miss, Le Comptoir, and passed by a storefront offering courses in wine, cooking and bar service. The sign touts Ecole de Bar, Ecole de Cuisine, and Ecole de Vin; in English “Bar and Coach, Food and Coach, Wine and Coach,” which seemed perfectly clear to us. Indeed, it does seem to be un nouveau concept, unlike PIZZEDELIC which seems a more or less vieux concept (pizza, wine, beer) given new life via a rather clever name. We were briefly tempted to give the place a try, but changed our minds. Another time.
Further up the Boul St. Laurent we encountered Schwartz’s Deli and Moishe’s Steakhouse– both restos have landmark status. We stopped to marvel at the pastrami stacked helter-skelter in Schwartz’s main window. No attempt to style the pile. It’s just a marvelous heap. Moishe’s sign is captivating, for reasons I can’t really explain. We stared at it for some time until it began to rain harder and we pushed on.
The comfy confines of Le Comptoir are as sweet as advertised. The wine list here (a page, below left) is deep into Quadrant 1 territory (see How to speak wine bar now for an explanation). With a spectacular plate of charcuterie we sipped Thièrry Puzelat’s little gem of a gamay. The inside joke is that the property’s name, Le Clos du Tue-Boeuf (roughly ‘kill steer”) is a near homonym of du boeuf and thereby a jab at Georges Duboeuf, emperor of Beaujolais nouveau. The way it says ‘down with factory wine, up with the real thing’ is sly and funny. See the punster here.
Our destination was a much-loved neighborhood spot called Au Cinqiuème Péché. We were put on to the place by a resident of the quartier.
We’d call it an upscale mom & pop except that the proprietors aren’t spouses, they’re sibs – Normandy-born brothers Benjamin (front of the house) and Benoit (chef de cuisine) Lenglet. The pair featured in a 2010 New York Times story about Montreal restos putting arctic seal on their menus. The assiette de phoquonaille (it’s fourth from the top on the blackboard menu at left – click to see) is seal four ways, including as a merguez-type sausage.
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