Having a car in Montreal can be a curse or a blessing, provided you know what to do with the car and where the appropriate places to go are.
Places not to be driving in Montreal – since crazy Montrealers will drive you mad with the pedestrian rights and crazy taxi drivers and the traffic
St Catherine St (between Peel and University)
St Laurent – anytime after 11am
St Denis – anytime after never
Chinatown – see above
Old Montreal on the weekend
That being said, if you have a plan for Montreal, it can be an eminently accessible city and in 12 hours, it is possible to have a couple great snacks/treats in the Jean Talon market, see great houses from Mont Royal, get to the Basilica and the Oratory, do Chinese tea service and finally end up near Atwater market for trendy food.
- Start from the whatever hotel you’re at and head over to the Jean Talon market. Now getting to Jean Talon market is always a pain, no matter what time of the day, but is always a worthwhile treat, since there’s always something fun and offbeat at the market.
How about hot Maple Syrup on Ice? Quite the Canadian treat!!
How about some awesome frites with tons of flavored mayo
Black Pepper Steak?
Spicy Calamari at AquaMare gourmet poissonnerie
Maybe some olives with spicy veggies, or olives with feta cheese or olives with garlic or olives with lemon or olives with goat cheese or black olives with ricotta … i think you get the idea – if you try nothing else in this market, go find the olive shop there … you won’t be sorry. Spicy olives there are a treat unlike anything “pepperholic” has had!!
Personally, the only miss was the ” wild meat” grill. All Trinis love their “Wild Meat” but having a completely undercooked – almost raw Bison Burger was not the highlight of my epicurean afternoon. Complete waste of $5!!
- After the Market, then head over to the Notre Dame Basilica for tea service at Ming Tao Xuan Tea House. This is almost a mandatory stop in Montreal for D* and I …this place is quite a find in Old Montreal.451, St-Sulpice, Vieux-Montreal, Quebec H2Y 2V8 (514.845.9448) [email protected] The luxurious, classy wood furniture provides a mellow tone; the tea menu is extensive, and the owner is knowledgeable and helpful, so you don’t have to know about teas, but come willing to learn.
In my traveling, I’ve had tea service in many other places. Tea culture is as refined and complex as any other beverage culture. When you go through the menu and see the different varieties of tea, you can help wonder, how anyone takes the average tea leaf for granted. The ceremony of preparing your tea is relaxing, and you can savor cup after cup as the leaves unfold their layers of flavor. There are only 7 tables at the tea house, but there is absolutely no rush by anyone on your time. The owners completely makes the experience as he is patient and knowledgeable for a first timer or a veteran. Stay for a couple of hours if you want, and really take in the rich atmosphere: it’s a privilege to spend time in such beautiful surroundings.
After tea, you can head over to Les Glaceurs for cupcakes. This place is a treat for anyone but me, since the smell of butter envelopes the entire shop. It’s always too much for me. However the minis and ice cream are irresistable to everyone else.
453, rue St-Sulpice, Vieux-Montreal, 514.504.469, Open since: September ’07 Price per cupcake: $2.85 Seating: yes
After the cleanse of the tea and then the treat of the cupcake, it’s time for a visual treat at the Basilica.
There is probably nothing more I can say about the Basilica, since pictures do tell 1000 words here!!
- After the Basilica, it would be time to drive through Westmount (one of Canada’s most exclusive and wealthy zip codes) on your way to the back of the Oratory.
Chiaroscuros, anyone …?
- After all that travelling and driving around, then you can head over to the Shoppes on Parc for a beer or two and maybe some garlic potatoes in the Atrium.
- Finally some good pizza and wine at Restaurant Geppetto’s. It’s a good fall back if you can’t get reservations at Joe Beef or Liverpool House.2504, rue Notre-Dame O, Montreal, QC H3J 1N5.(514) 903-3737 (Open 11:30am-11pm)
Overall, great appetizers:
The Grilled Octopus with Spicy Hummus and Chick Peas – well done execution and very tasty
Large Antipasto platter – heaps of proscuitto and di parma ham, grilled artichokes, yellow peppers, enoki mushrooms, drenched in high quality Di Pitigliano Olive oil, one can also order(http://www.frantoio.com/olive) . It is the stuff of legends!!The pizzas were awesome. Check out the menu.
Polpette – Small meatballs, fresh provolone and basil – was definitely the highlight of the three pizzas that we’re ordered
Orecchiette with rapini, italian sausage, and basil was also quite good
And there you have 12 hours well spent in Montreal!!!