There were three main takeaways from my Christmas holiday in Montreal:
1) Twitter is an extremely powerful tool;
2) Keep an open mind toward the world, and it will constantly amaze you;
3) Montreal is one marvelous, beautiful, delicious city.
When M. Cheesemonger and I booked our tickets to Montreal, we didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t visited since I was a kid, and M. Cheesemonger had never been at all. We knew it would be cold, but that’s about it. In the end, I don’t think we could have imagined anything better, or tastier, than what we got, thanks, in large part, to a thing called Twitter! Before arriving, I had been put in touch by a Twitter follower (Hey! You can follow me, too @msscheesemonger!) with a local chef, Stephen Leslie (@stevoleslie), owner of Taverne Sur Le Square (which we had the great pleasure of experiencing later) and Taverne Monkland. He seemed nice, but of course, M. Cheesemonger and I couldn’t help but wonder, “This is kind of sketchy. Twitter meetings. He might cook us for Christmas dinner. But . . . OK.”
We arrived in Montreal around dinnertime. The first thing I noticed was the cold—it was around -10 degrees Fahrenheit. The second thing I noticed was how hungry I was. At Chef Stephen’s recommendation, via Twitter, we headed off to L’Orignal in Vieux-Montréal, a chalet-style, basement restaurant decorated with a sculpted moose head, wood and stone walls, and soft lighting. I enjoyed my potage aux courges—a silky winter squash velouté. Perfectly smooth, perfectly seasoned. Very classic and comforting for this winter’s night! Next came the succulent bison burger. Like the soup, it was glorious in its simple preparation. The quality of the meat was impeccable. We wanted to return to L’Orignal later to try the rabbit cavatelli or boar chops , but time was too short during this trip!
Our next stop was the local favorite Garde Manger to meet Chef in person (He wasn’t cooking there, just dining.). Given our Twitter exchanges, I figured it must be the guy on his phone in the bar. Despite the initial trepidation, our first meeting went well, and we promised to go cheese shopping the next day! All the tables at Garde Manger were booked, so all we could do was say “Hi,” but that’s all right! We’ll just have to try it during our next visit! M. Cheesemonger and I puttered around a bit in this novel thing called “snow” before heading off to bed.
I’d highly recommend any and all of these restaurants if you’re looking for Montreal dining options.
L’Orignal: 479 Rue Saint Alexis, Montreal, QC H2Y 2N7, Canada
Garde Manger: 408 Rue Saint François Xavier, Montreal, QC H2Y 2S9, Canada
Monkland Taverne: 5555 Monkland Ave, Montreal, QC H4A 1E1, Canada
Taverne sur le Square: 1, Carré Westmount, Montreal, QC H3Z 2P9, Canada