Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

December 16, 2017

© Hans Laurendeau / Shoot Studio

Most dishes on the menu at Brasserie T! are under $25.+

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Montreal

Have your pasta and say it too

You can most certainly get pasta in Montreal, and you don’t have to order it as pâtes either. The Office Québécois de la Langue Française would rather you do — as highlighted by February’s brouhaha with Italian resto Buonanotte — but the province’s language police won’t arrest you, dear MD… at least, not before you finish your dinner.

Food in Montreal is famous for more than Pastagate, however. There are the hand-rolled, honey-water-boiled, wood-oven-baked bagels from Fairmount Bagel and the St-Viateur Bagel Shop; the old-fashioned, marinated-for-10-days, smoked-meat sandwiches from Schwartz’s Delicatessen; and the gravy-smothered, cheese-curd-covered French fries — yes, poutine! — that’s almost illegal to mention in an MD-aimed publication such as this. (Delinquents should sneak over to the open-24/7 La Banquise for 30 extraordinary poutines).

Yes, the food options are enough to make a visiting MD go mad. Luckily, the Palais des Congrès is surrounded by restos that outcook the competition, and many within walking distance, like the always-packed Olive and Gourmando (351 St-Paul West, Old Montreal; tel: 514-350-1083; oliveetgourmando.com; closed Sundays and Mondays), 10 minutes from the convention centre. Baked goods at O+G include buttermilk scones with currants and a lemon glaze ($3.50), and Gruyère cheese biscuits with chives and smoked paprika ($3.75). A grilled panino filled with poached-egg salad, Comté cheese, roasted tomatoes and prosciutto ($11.95) might make for a heartier breakfast though. Le Cartet (106 McGill Street, Old Montreal; tel: 514-871-8887; lecartet.com), five blocks away, also makes a mean breaky. Keep things simple with fruit salad served with Mediterranean yogurt and organic ginger-honey granola ($9.35) or go big with scrambled eggs and country-style ham served with potatoes cooked in duck fat then roasted with salted herbs, plus baked beans ($12.75).

O+G and Le Cartet do lunch too, but if October has you craving something more ooey and gooey, head to the barely-a-year-old, brunch and lunch joint, Le Gros Jambon (286 Notre-Dame West, Old Montreal; tel: 514-508-3872; legrosjambon.com). The tiny diner makes a four-cheese mac and cheese with your choice of bacon, ham, smoked meat, duck confit or lobster ($10 to $15). Hamburgers and hot dogs are on the menu too, as are milk shakes big enough to share. Expect bar-stool, counter seating only — and a good wait.

If you’re tempted to sup at Toqué!, the 20-year-old eaterie that raised the city's gastronomic expectations, save the $200 you would’ve dropped on dinner for two and walk north to Brasserie T! (1425 Jeanne-Mance, Quartier des Spectacles; tel: 514-282-0808; brasserie-t.com). Toqué’s more casual little sister is three-years old and housed in what looks like a glass shipping container: parfait for people watching. Almost everything on the menu is under $25, including its dill salmon and fennel salad, and the flank steak with Toqué butter and fries (both $22).

Fans of the Food Network will want to go to Le Bremner (361 St-Paul East, Old Montreal; tel: 514-544-0446; crownsalts.com/lebremner; closed Sundays), Chuck Hughes’ new basement resto indentified simply by a sign that reads “restaurant” above a flight of stairs. The French Canadian cook of Iron Chef fame opened the “seafood diner” in 2011. Appetizers (like shrimp and cornbread or smoked trout, bacon and avocado toast or snowcrab kimchee) range from $15 to $22; mains (from seafood agnelottis and shaved egg yolk to hake and clams) are $25 to $36.

And for sweet treats, there’s Les Glaceurs (453 St-Sulpice, Old Montreal; tel: 514-504-1469; lesglaceurs.ca) for dreamy cupcakes ($3.15) and Cookie Stéfanie (272 St-Jacques West, Old Montreal; tel: 438-380-1560; cookiestefanie.com; closed Sundays), where the baked goods, including their yummy dark-and-white chocolate brownie with coconut shavings ($4.50), are gluten free.

MDs on the move

It’s not a stretch to say that pedestrians rule the road here — or they sure try to. They run across streets on red lights, despite risking being ticketed for it; they dart between slow-rolling cars and often confront drivers, hitting hoods if a pedestrian’s right has been violated. Nope; you won’t need a car in this city, but if you’d like some wheels consider a Bixi (montreal.bixi.com), which has two.

North America’s first bike-sharing system has its roots in MTL, and it consists of over 5000 bikes docked at over 400 stations. Getting from A to B via the city’s 600 kilometres of bike paths on a Bixi costs a flat $7 for 24 hours of bike access or $15 for 72 hours; the first 30 minutes of each trip is free with additional fees for subsequent 30-minute periods. Bixis are available 24/7 between April and November. Helmets aren’t mandatory, but are, of course, recommended.

For fall trips slight further afield, take the métro (stm.info/en/info/networks/metro). A one-way trip costs $3 for adults; a two-trip pass is $5.50. A one-day pass costs $9 for adults, a three-day pass $18. Weekly ($23.75) and 10-trip passes ($24.50) are available too, but require the additional purchase of a refillable OPUS card ($6). Chances are you’ll use the green and orange metro lines only; both run daily until about 12:30am.

Buy local

Shopping is obviously best done on foot. And in between Old Montreal’s heavy, 18th-century stone buildings, you’ll find plenty of places to do just that. Stay away from the catch-all souvenir shops — unless your visit won’t feel complete without a tiny stuffed moose wearing a Habs hockey jersey.

Quirkier, slightly more sophisticated gifts can be found at Mortimer Snodgrass (56 Notre-Dame West, Old Montreal; tel: 514-499-2851; shop.mortimersnodgrass.com). The gadgets emporium is chockablock with kids’ bicycle bells hand-painted in Montreal with colourful mermaids and pirates. There are adult T-shirts too with retro prints of the Farine Five Roses sign that’s overlooked the city for the last 50 years and the 12-metre-wide Orange Julep built in the ’40s above a roadside diner.

For cool threads, including slightly pricey, locally-designed pieces, go to Espace Pepin (350 St-Paul West, Old Montreal; thepepinshop.com), where boutique owner Lysanne Pepin also sells her ethereal, figurative paintings. Or, for one-stop shopping, try Simons (977 St-Catherine West, Downtown; tel: 514-282-1840; simons.ca), a hugely-popular, family-owned department store that was exclusive to the province until a West Edmonton-mall location opened last fall. Its apparel and houseware range from cheap to très cher, and it carries plenty of designer digs.

Don’t dismiss the lovely Pointe-à-Callière (165 Place D'Youville, Old Montreal; tel: 514-872-9150; pacmusee.qc.ca) and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1380 Sherbrooke Street West, Downtown; tel: 514-285-2000; mbam.qc.ca/en/boutique) shops, the latter of which features glass-master Dale Chihuly merch until the MMFA’s grand, Canadian-exclusive exhibit, Utterly Breathtaking, closes on October 20.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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