Our latest excursion to Montreal was a belated birthday get-away for Sarah. Her only request was to surprise her. *gulp* No pressure from her, but plenty from myself. I did my best to keep my plans from her, but I decided to let her know about at least one of the places, a new-to-us knitting store.
If you have read posts of previous visits to Montreal you know that we have a few places we visit often. For example, we always stay at the Hôtel Château de L’ Argoat, and the hotel’s proximity to Cheval Blanc means we inevitably have a few beers there. Réservoir is another brew pub we always seem to end up. However, other than these three places all of the spots listed below are new to us. And it looks like my months of planning paid off as we had a wonderful 48-hour adventure in one of our favorite cities. Please read on for a detailed report, and watch the video for more.
We left the house Friday with the intention of arriving in time to have a leisurely lunch. We made great time with little traffic. At the border where we were greeted warmly by an officer with a large tattoo of the Buddha on his left forearm.
The main event of the day was a visit to Espace Tricot in Monkland Village, but our first stop was lunch at Local 75 where we had a pleasant lunch (Rick had a beer) on their covered patio. We watched the neighborhood prepare for a street fair. The road was blocked to traffic, and vendors set up their tents while people of all ages milled about.
While the interview with Melissa and Lisa of Espace Tricot was not in the cards due to scheduling issues, our visit to their wonderful shop was a great deal of fun. The staff there are so kind, and helpful, and the drop-in crew were all so fun! I decided to take a walk around the village while Sarah hung out with the fiber artists. I had planned to find a near-by pub and watch the World Cup, but ended up making a large loop that took about and hour to complete.
Espace Tricot is a medium sized yarn shop specializing in quality yarns and natural fibers. The owners host their own video series on YouTube where they discuss the latest yarns, share patterns and new shop samples, and other information. In the shop, there are quite a few yarns that are dyed or made in Quebec, as well as other well-known labels. In addition, they have their own house-brand of linen yarn, and Sarah decided to treat herself to some, as well as a skein from Tanis Fiber Arts.
We reluctantly pulled ourselves away, and said our goodbyes before heading back to the car so we could check in to the hotel.
After freshening up, we still had time before our dinner reservation — still a surprise to Sarah — so we walked around the corner to our local-away-from-home, Cheval Blanc. There we saw lots of interesting people, great tattoos, and chatted with a bartender from Northern Ireland who spoke beautiful French. And of course, a few delicious brews.
We then took a leisurely stroll in the direction of the restaurant, stopping in Square Saint-Louis to sit by the fountain and watch other tourists take photos, and a well-fed squirrel cautiously, but unashamedly drinking from the fountain. Even after relaxing and enjoying the show we still arrived earlier than our time, so we checked out the buskers and shops along the walk street Rue Prince Arthur before doubling back for the reveal… Les Deux Gamins
With the sun still high in the sky, and no bugs or rain in sight, we elected to sit outside. The menu was filled with appetizing offers, and we chose a couple of our French favorites. Sarah had the hanger steak with a rich red wine sauce, served with perfectly cooked potatoes and a watercress salad on the side. I went with my go-to duck confit, served with mashed peas and the watercress salad. There wasn’t a single beer on the menu (*gasp*) that I could see, but we had planned to have wine anyway.
After our lovely meal, we took advantage of the bright night and made our way to Réservoir , passing people lined up for smoked meat at the famous place on Boul Saint-Laurent. The roof deck was hopping at the pub, but there were plenty of seats in the downstairs bar. Sarah had what she proclaimed to be the best milk stout she has ever had (I don’t disagree) and I had a refreshing IPA pampelmouse.
A bit tired from our long day, and my knowing what was in store for Saturday, we called it an evening and strolled down Rue Saint-Denis, window-shopping as we made our way back to the hotel.
The next morning we made the decision to have a simple breakfast and check out an organic boulangerie, Pain à Tartine which is a family-owned place that exclusively uses organic flours. The quality and passion comes through!
We continued our walk in the direction of the Hochelaga neighborhood, which we had never been to before. It was a long walk, but it was fun to explore. Originally I had planned to spend more time on Sunday in this neighborhood, but plans change (I decided to wing it) and take each new location one at a time. We thought we might check out L’Espace Public based on a suggestion from a recent episode of the BAOS Podcast, but unfortunately our timing was off and the brew pub was closed when we arrived. So we stopped for coffee and a kombucha instead, and then started to make our way back toward neighborhood Le Plateau for lunch.
Along the route we enjoyed parks, and people of all backgrounds enjoying a beautiful holiday weekend. As a bonus we lucked out on finding our new favorite place to buy bottled Quebec beers. Sarah had requested we scope out all the dépanneurs along the way, and this paid off big time when we stepped past the basic convenience store items in one shop, and found a large and extremely well-stocked beer cave.
Giddy about this find we picked up our pace expecting to bee line it for the ramen place we had targeted, but came across Pit Carbou . Pit Caribou was on my list of potential visits having liked beers we had tried at festivals and elsewhere, but it was Sarah who grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the door. Once inside we had it pretty much to ourselves as it was still just before noon on a lazy holiday Saturday, so we sat at the bar and befriended the bartender, who suggested some lovely brews. We had a couple sour beers, which were refreshing after our walk.
Still quite hungry — being powered only on chocolate-almond croissants, cappuccinos, and craft beer — we set out for lunch at Yokato Yokabai . Yokato Yokabai was on my list as a back up, but when Sarah suggested ramen as a preference, I decided to investigate this place Rich told me was on his hit list. Off Beat Eats never lets us down, and this was no exception. Yokato Yokabai make it easy for ramen novices such as myself by providing a small menu and pencils and walking one through building your own bowl step by step. We both thoroughly enjoyed our creations, which paired well with a craft-brewed red ale from Japan.
We pressed on with our march with a stop at a relative new comer to the Montreal craft brew pub scene, Siboire . We learned about the place from one of the knitters at Espace Tricot the day before, and decided the management was either crazy, brave, or both to open a half block from Dieu du Ceil!.
The place is spacious and decorated tidily with an industrial-bicycle theme. Lots of light wood, high ceilings with huge windows bathing the place in light. The staff were friendly, and the beers we sampled were quality. We tried a test flight of their IPA and decided giving the customer a chance to sample a beer with three different featured hops was quite nice. We also had their oatmeal stout, which I liked more than Sarah did.
The afternoon portion of the march a success we made our way toward the hotel to rest and freshen up before the evening adventure. Tired but silly with drink we slowly made our way down the busy sidewalks of Saint-Denis until we saw the sign … Ice Cream! Crèmerie Meu Meu has some seriously good frozen treats. We tried the chocolate, sea salt caramel, and the pistachio; all were delicious!
Back at the hotel I checked my map and notes while Sarah had a cat nap, and decided to propose dumplings. Sarah had mentioned dumplings as another dish she was keen to have while here, and I was curious about this small, unassuming, well-reviewed place with almost no internet presence of their own, The Dumpling Hut.
By the time we were on the street it had noticeably rained and looked like it was planning to continue. We laughed it off as neither of us had packed for rain anyway. We had a hard time finding the restaurant at first. Thanks to a small sign in the transom high above the door reading “dumpling” we assumed we were in the right place. There were only 5-6 tables there, and two of them were occupied. We chose a table next to a woman dining alone. With her help, and the chalkboard menu we got the hang of things (all servings are 15 pieces and that is CAN$10!), and ordered a single serving of lamb dumplings. MMMmmmmmm. We also struck up a conversation with the grad student in town alone from El Paso, and she took notes with our suggestions for other things to see and do in town. We hope she enjoyed her visit.
As we left the restaurant it began pouring, and we huddled in door ways at intersections as we waited for the lights to be in our favor. Our plan was to return to Pit Caribou, but with the rain we decided to go back to Réservoir. Despite our efforts we were rather wet when we arrived. We settled at the same table from the night before, and enjoyed their IPA and Saison.
The rain stopped and we continued on our mission; however, it wasn’t long before it started pouring again, so we ducked into a place named Alpaqa Importations. We chatted with the nice shop women while we looked around, and after buying a few trinkets, decided to push on.
The rain had subsided again, and we arrived at Pit Caribou for the second time that day. This time, the place was packed with couples and groups enjoying the music and the craft beers. We decided to take a seat at the bar, and didn’t regret it. We were able to chat with the bartenders, and had a nice long conversation with the bar back. He didn’t know the origin of the name of the brewery and took it upon himself to find out. In his broken, but still impressive, English, he informed us that the name comes from a long-running Québécois radio soap opera, Un homme et son péché, and the town’s drunk is named Pit Caribou. This time around we enjoyed a couple of beers, including a 2018 bottle of their barleywine, a perfect nightcap to our day’s march.
Our last stop of the evening was a dépanneur close to the hotel for cold drinks, but I also had a mission. A coworker requested Lay’s ketchup chips and eyeing a few bags near the counter, I pounced at the opportunity. After sampling a few, neither of us was too fond of them — and they do taste like ketchup — but were happy to do a favor for a friend.
The day’s total march was just over 10 miles, and by the time we arrived at the hotel it was after 11pm, and we were bushed.
The next morning we packed our things, but left them in the room, and went to brunch at a spot around the corner, Bistro Tôt ou Tard, where we unknowingly had a huge brunch. Each dish came with a bowl of fruit plus potatoes, and ham and bacon, or sausage and bacon. We each had eggs Benedict as well. We didn’t eat until 7pm that night after we had been home for a few hours.
Afterwards, we walked a few blocks to get to Pain à Tartine to grab some pastries to take home and share with family and friends. We had a nice chat with the staff as we drooled over the wares, and then returned to the hotel to check out. After saying our goodbyes to the wonderful hotel staff, we packed the car and made our way to the final stop.
As is ritual, the last place we visited before heading home was a dépanneur. However, due to Sarah’s find on Rue Rachel with the amazing local beer collection, we had a new spot. As soon as we entered, we requested a few empty cardboard boxes to collect our haul. With no reason to rush, we poured over the shelves carefully. The beer was organized by style, which was helpful. We collected 16 different beers, mostly in individual bottles, and three 4-packs of different Dieu du Ceil! offerings. With the exchange rate essentially making everything 25% off, we stocked up on things we just can’t get back home.
Our trip was nearly spot-on 48-hours. We arrived on Friday at noon, and we set out for home at noon on Sunday. What a weekend! We hope we’ve inspired you to check out Montreal as a great get-away spot, which is walkable, and filled with beautiful people and places.
For more, follow us on Instagram & Youtube — and follow Rick on Untappd for first-try beer tasting notes. As an added bonus we have provided a map of the places mentioned in this post as well as from previous explorations of Montreal.