Recently my friends and I decided to visit Montréal for a quick weekend trip. We made our entire plans around reservations to the legendary Sugar Shack, also known as Cabane à Sucre Au Pied De Cochon. The restaurant became extremely popular when Anthony Bourdain featured it on his show “Parts Unknown” back in 2013. Reservations open up once a year for dinner during harvest season which runs February - May. We were able to get a slot for February! Therefore, we packed our bags and spent four days eating and enjoying everything that Montréal has to offer.
The first meal of the trip was lunch at Saint Sushi, a quaint sushi joint in town. We ordered several rolls between the four of us, along with an appetizer and soup. The sushi was super fresh, the service was fantastic, and we left satisfied and full. Montréal isn't known for sushi, but this place killed it, and we later found out it's actually a favorite among locals.
Our first night was the eagerly anticipated dinner at the Sugar Shack. The drive took about an hour from the heart of Montréal, but we ended up experiencing traffic and some bad weather on our way. Overall, the dinner was quite the experience, although the service itself was pretty awful. The food was very decadent and indulgent. Actually, I'd say overindulgent. The portions were huge! Each year the Sugar Shack prearranges a specific maple-infused tasting menu-- this years' theme was Moroccan. We started with five gigantic appetizers that included foie gras, salad, fish, chicken and a puff pastry. Our entrees took a bit longer to come out, but the presentation was excellent. We received chicken, beef and a mashed carrot dish. Dessert was incredible; I didn't know what to try first. We enjoyed several more puff pastries; maple infused ice cream, cake, and a neat maple stick dish over a bed of nitrogen iced mint. By the end of the 3-hour meal, the four of us had enough leftovers to feed a small army, which is what they anticipate. Moroccan spices are not my favorite, but the dishes were all very intriguing. The experience was unforgettable, even though the service was lacking.
Foie Gras Appetizer
You would think after the meal at the Sugar Shack that we would tone it down a notch on the food, but no. We had a food tour scheduled the next morning. The 3-hour tour started at Crew Café, which is an old bank converted into a coffee shop and workspace. We then explored Old Montréal, enjoying samples of different foods including bagel and lox, gluten-free carrot cake, poutine, salad, blueberry sausage, beer and maple pouding chômeur (a version of bread pudding). Throughout the tour, we got to take in some of the history and culture of Old Montréal, while stuffing our faces. Our tour guide did a great job, and I would highly recommend the tour. Old Montréal is charming; small stores and cafés line the cobbled roads. The hustle and bustle was a good mix of locals and tourists. It is also the site of the replica of Notre-Dame Basilica, which allows entry for $6 CAN. China Town is a short walk from Old Montréal, so we ended up doing some sightseeing there as well.
Smoked Salmon Bagel at Crew Cafe
Cookie Stéfanie Carrot Cake
Blueberry Sausage and Salad
The second night we had reservations to Liverpool, the sister restaurant to Joe Beef, another Anthony Bourdain stop on his trip to Montréal. One of the dishes Liverpool is famous for is their Lobster Spaghetti, which didn't disappoint. It was super flavorful!
Our last stop for the day was Atwater Cocktail Club nearby. Although there was a line to get in, the bouncer was passing out cups of chicken soup to keep the patrons warm. He also generously offered his Canada Goose jacket to my girlfriend, since she didn't have one with her. We would definitely not have this type of service back in the States. Once we got inside, Atwater had an awesome vibe. The place was packed, and the drinks were impressive. I can see why locals and tourists are both drawn to this place.
Most of our time on this trip was spent eating, but we did manage to do a few other activities. On our third day, we stopped by the free Barbie Expo at Les Cours du Mont-Royal, which is a mall that is part of the underground city in Montréal. The Barbie Expo featured dolls dressed in couture by world-famous fashion designers, including Giorgio Armani, Christian Louboutin, Oscar de la Renta, Zac Posen, Christian Dior and Vera Wang. The exhibit also featured celebrities, movie characters, and entertainment personalities. The details of the outfits were incredible! I believe the display is a permanent fixture at the mall and worth a stop for any Barbie fans.
While downtown, we also spent some time shopping around. There are a few shopping malls and stores throughout the area including designer and fashion stores like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada, adidas, Aldo, etc.
Streets of Montréal
Streets of Montréal
Dinner that night was at Notkins, which is a restaurant downtown famous for seafood. The restaurant has a cool design with excellent food. We enjoyed a ton of seafood, including black caviar, oysters, clams, lobster, and salmon. We were here on a Sunday night, so the ambiance was calm, but I bet it gets pretty packed on Friday and Saturday nights.
Dinner at Notkins
On our final morning, we made a stop at the Chalet Du Mont Royal, which is a building on top of Mount Royal overlooking downtown and the St. Lawerence River. Once we found the location, the walk up was super easy, and the views were incredible. Totally worth freezing over. We got some unbelievable pictures of the city. I also lost my favorite fedora here, if found, please send it to me. 🙂
Chalet Du Mont Royal
Chalet Du Mont Royal
Overall, we had a great stay in Montréal. It is a beautiful city with a lot to offer, even in winter. Our Airbnb was a little bit outside of downtown, but only about a 10-15 minute drive into the city. Next time, I wouldn't mind staying downtown and using Uber. I highly recommend dinner at the places we visited, but there are a ton of great choices in the city. We literally didn't have any bad food while in Montréal. We also found that the food, in particular, was very affordable compared to prices in the US. I can't believe this was my first time in Montréal--and Canada. It is so close to Milwaukee and a perfect weekend trip from anywhere in the Midwest, or East Coast.