Cover photo from the Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg site

Until the fall, Montréal

Once more, and probably for the final time this spring, I spent the weekend in Montreal.


Work. Flight. Pizza. The usual.


I spent the morning in our Montreal office after picking up a capp and croissant from the nearby Café Myriade.


After that I made a quick stop at Le Creuset, then had a burger at La Belle Et La Boeuf and grabbed a shit-ton of sweets at Cocobun before heading home. Then it was back downtown for a talk, followed by a snowy cab up to Maison Publique where we had a typically excellent meal:

  • tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni
    • with Closson Chase Chardonnay and a cocktail
  • fresh scallop crudo, smoked celery, squid ink + onion sauce
    • with Tawse sparkling Riesling
  • cappellacci pasta with veal
  • herbed roasted bass
    • w/ Sperling Pinot Noir
  • pôt de crème, pear ice cream

It was all good, but the scallop dish was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.


A day of complete relaxation: we slept in, relaxed, laid about, watched Arrested Development, and ate leftover pizza and cocobun treats. Really, we had no plans until dinner at Le Filet. And, holy shit: what a dinner. The food was stellar, and the wine (a bit of a splurge) was transcendent.

  • oysters: 2 plain, 2 jalapeño & maple crisp, 2 baked in miso gratin
  • hamachi w/ sesame, sumac
    • with Francis Boulard brut rose Champagne
  • tataki of Wagyu w/ eggplant, miso
  • maple-glazed smoked duck w/ topinambour, chestnuts, Cremona mostard
  • cavatelli w/ foie gras, veal cheek
    • with Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Pinot Noir
  • maple syrup square w/ whipped cream, pecans
    • vin Santo
    • cognac


Like the last Sunday I spent there, we had brunch in Mile End and grabbed beers after.

Brunch was at Nouveau Palais, a diner reformed into…well, a slightly more fancy diner. The brunch was outstanding though — Lindsay had eggs benny and I had the smoked meat hash with fried eggs. There were some service hiccups because they were so busy, but overall it was very solid indeed. Relatively cheap too.

After that we happened upon SW Welch and bought some used books, bought some coffee at galactic hipster nexus Le Cagibi, and walked to Vice et Versa, which we’d tried and failed to hit on a previous visit. It was terrific: Lindsay had a Bière de Coin d’Rue, I had a Dunham LaPatt robust porter, and we split a bottle of Dunham Oro Zurr (Batch 1 – Mosiac).


We left there and made delicious nachos at home before my flight. Au revoir Montreal! See you in…the summer, maybe?


Cover photo from the Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg site



I just got home from Montreal. I am very full, and slightly sleepy, after this past weekend. So much fun. I flew in Thursday night, very much in need of relaxation and a few days with Lindsay. I had a nice easy ride from the airport, then we ordered pizza and put our damn feet up.


I needed a lazy, lie-about, do-nothing day. I got it on Friday. Man, it was nice. We grabbed some groceries, made a nice little breakfast of scrambled eggs with basil and tomato, sausage, fried potatoes, Belgian bread, and mimosas. After that we just hung out, watched TV, drank beer, played chess, ate leftover pizza, and tried to stay warm. Somehow we killed a whole day like this before going to dinner at Maison Publique. We’ve had a number of killer meals there, but this one was near the top of the charts. We had cocktails, house-made capocollo, pork belly salad with kimchi, garganelli grenoble, and a chicken pot pie the size of a chef’s hat. We had all this with a bottle of Domaine Queylus 2013 Signature Pinot Noir. We finished things off with a pot de creme and a pair of whiskies (Lagavulin 8, Glengoyne 10) before the staff surprised us with housemade ice cream. Helpful, since the rich food and whisky had given us a bit of heartburn.


Our heads hurt a little after that dinner, frankly, but we still got up early and had another lazy-ish morning. We had a bit more on the agenda this day though, the centerpiece being Péché Day at Dieu Du Ciel, where DDC offers a dozen or so one-off variants of the world famous Péché Mortel. First we wanted another Montreal staple: a smoked meat sandwich. We uber’d against the cold to St. Laurent, but skipped Schwartz’s and instead hit Main Deli across the street, which had no lineup, no cramped tables, and (arguably) better smoked meat sandwiches.

We felt a little full-sleepy from lunch so we stopped in at Dispatch Coffee, where both the decor and espresso were top-notch. We ducked back outside into deep freeze to catch another Uber, arriving at Dieu du Ciel. There was a huge lineup inside, extending another dozen or so outside, and the line was moving much less quickly than our hands and feet were freezing in the -35° cold, so we bailed. So did my battery: it was so cold that my battery suddenly drained from ~80% to 0% in seconds. We got ourselves home with a plan to warm ourselves before heading back out to dinner.

Unfortunately some sudden illness came over Lindsay; luckily she has a remarkable ability to know in advance when she’s gonna vom. And she did. So our planned dinner at Le Filet was out. Luckily Lindsay’s roommate was cooking chicken and vegetables, and offered to share. To round out the meal I girded myself for a quick excursion to the nearby Metro to pick up some white wine. While there I noticed a special 4-pack of Péché Mortel, including some of the variants they would have served at the brewpub…so I bought one and had myself a little mini-Péché day. The peach one was decent, as was the special edition (made with a lighter coffee), but the bourbon barrel-aged variant was tops. Meanwhile we had a lovely meal and fantastic conversation and listened to loads of good music which, several drinks in, turned into a bit of a dance party. Until 2am.


Between the late night and losing an hour to daylight savings chicanery, we woke up a little later than planned. We pulled on some clothes and went straight to The Sparrow, once again back on The Main, for some brunch. We’d timed it perfectly too, taking the last available table; a long line formed shortly after we sat down. Brunch was excellent: Lindsay had a hot toddy(!) and house-smoked trout with spinach & green onion pancake, soft boiled egg, beet salad, and whipped crème fraiche. I had shakshuka: two poached eggs in a Moroccan-spiced tomato sauce, with merguez sausage and sourdough toast. We ended with three fresh, tiny donuts: lemon curd, nutella, and pb+j. Then: back out into the cold.

We bought some Fairmount bagels, withdrew some cash, grabbed espressos and a churro at Barros Luco, and did a little shopping before getting to Dieu Du Ciel just as it opened. We’d hit on a nice little compromise: most of the one-offs were gone, sure, but the one I’d really wanted — the Péché Latte imperial coffee milk stout — was still there. It was beautiful, sweet and creamy like a dessert. Lindsay had a Rosée d’Hibiscus.

We split a sample of a few more, and finished with a final glass (a Paris Thé saison with green tea for me; a Nativitor Weizen Bock for Lindsay) before ducking back out into the Arctic. We knew we’d need a little more food, so we got burgers from Burger de Ville and Ubered home. I showered and packed; we ate and watched a few minutes of TV. Then it was off to the airport and home.


0 for 3


My superb weekends in Montreal are becoming too numerous to count. Here’s the really, really short version.

  • Thursday: an easy taxi / flight / taxi combo had me from door to door in 3.5 hours; late-night Pizza Hut (the BEST)
  • Friday: a little leftover pizza to tide us over; shrimp pizza and beet salad at Café Parvis; an exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain; beers at the Benelux Brasserie; a game of chess; our usual stellar meal at Maison Publique (albacore tuna crudo, calamari in its own ink and aioli, TH Wines Viognier, Garganelli pasta with pesto and walnuts, duck breast, Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc, pôt de crème, butterscotch cake) with some extra drama thrown in when some dude passed out during dinner and had to be taken away by ambulance.
  • Saturday: sausage rolls and almond croissants; a few hours of work; an attempted visit to supposedly-top beer joint Vices & Versa waved off due to how crowded it was; a visit to Birra instead, which was outstanding; an espresso stop at Caffe San Simeon; dinner at Hostaria (burrata, gnocchi, strigoli pasta with duck ragu, some kind of rolled veal+spinach+mozzarella covered in prosciutto and mushroom sauce, and an absolutely stellar bottle of Cavaliere Michele Satta 2011 Sangiovese)
  • Sunday: brunch at Mamm Bolduc; Canadiens vs. Oilers at the Bell Centre (another loss; that makes three games I’ve seen in Montreal, all of them losses); lunch at Brutopia; TV and cheesies; a messed-up trip to the airport (Uber doesn’t know where the Montreal airport is, apparently) and a snowy flight home.

À la prochaine, Montréal.







Cover photo from the Southbrook site

Balsam Houblon

I wanted to be nowhere near a TV on American inauguration day, aka the beginning of the end, so I worked in a frenzy until I had to run to the airport. I was headed to Montreal for the weekend where it was cold and damp and gray.

After a really interesting talk we grabbed dinner at The Balsam Inn. We split the Quebec mozzarella and garlic bread and chorizo cake with fried egg and tomato jam (!), and then the salmon tartare and beef tartare, all with a bottle of Pinot. We sampled a peanut blondie and orange/almond cake for dessert, with scotch for me and bourbon for Lindsay.




The next day was kinda lazy, slightly worky, heavy on the pastry (there’s this amazing bakery near Lindsay’s place that makes me SO happy), and ended up with us at Saint Houblon for beers and lunch. Lindsay’s lamb burger looked prety good; my duck confit burger was fantastic. The beers were all pretty solid too…great selection (some brewed there, some from other Quebec microbreweries) and laid-back atmosphere.


We relaxed a little back at Lindsay’s before dinner, and drank a bottle I bought (and left behind) the last time I was here: Beau’s “One Ping Only” Baltic porter. I mean, I love porter anyway, but the reference to The Hunt For Red October guaranteed I’d buy it.


Dinner Saturday was at our usual spot: Maison Publique. Our first time there together was stellar; the second time was good, not great. This time, though, we found that first height again.

  • We started, at our server’s insistence, with the foie gras parfait. I’m not a foie gras fan, and Lindsay wasn’t sure, but she was a pretty big fan by the end.
  • Around the same time we had a grapefruit and fennel salad as a palate cleanser. We paired all this with glasses of Spark from Tawse. This one’s a 100% Riesling sparkling so it’s not my favourite, but it helped cut the richness of the foie gras.
  • Our mains were a collection of winter vegetables covered in something called bagna cauda, which was this rich, salty, garlicky sauce; the pappardelle with beef cheek; and the Charlevoix pork, a brined chop served with sweet potato. We wondered what wine would go with all these — flavour-wise cab franc seemed the best choice but we needed something which could keep up with all that richness, so we went for Pearl Morissette’s big one-off variant: the 2012 Le Spectateur. It worked pretty well actually.
  • For dessert we couldn’t decide between the caramel pot de creme and the pistachio doughnut, so…yeah. We got both. We hadn’t planned to get a dessert drink but our server brought over a serious treat: a 2006 (!) Vidal icewine from Southbrook. I’d not had this before, and it was lovely — not that sweet for an icewine. Strong finish, Maison Publique.


Sunday was a big old pile of relax: pancakes, merguez sausages, mimosas, work, and watching The Invitation. I was so relaxed I forgot I even owned a watch, and accidentally left it behind when I took off for the airport.

See you in two weeks, Maison Publique. You too, rest of Montreal.


Cover photo from the Southbrook site

The bitter drink

Another weekend. Another epic weekend.


Christ, it was impossible to get out of Toronto. I’ve never seen Billy Bishop airport like that. A lot of commuter fliers + a few canceled flights = chaos on the island. My flight was an hour late leaving, and sat on the Montreal tarmac for fifteen minutes while we waited for an open slot. I didn’t have much in me but to get in a cab, drop my bags, listen to music, play some poker, and drink some beer.


I had a plan. A plan for beer. After driving in a delicious breakfast sandwich it was off to Le Saint Bock — tremendous beer, and tasty frites, but a weird vibe…I’m not used to craft beer places also being sports bars. Anyway, after pints of Hefeweizen and Saison, this was the sample lineup:

  • Malédiction Milk Stout
  • King Kunta Shiraz Saison Noire Impériale Vieillit en Fût de Shiraz
  • Pénitente Blanche Épicée
  • Harvest Ghosts American Brown Ale au Piment Bhut Jolokia
  • Jésus Chéri Ale Brune Impériale Aux Cerises
  • Black IPA (Brasserie Dunham)
  • L’ambiguë Rousse Bitter (La Voie Maltée)
  • Cidre à la Cerise (Vergers de la Colline)

Next up was L’Amère a Boire, just up the street. While the beer here was less impressive (the stout and red were fine, but…just fine) the food was very tasty. Rabbit dumplings? Lamb spring rolls? Yes please. Also: hot butch servers. Anyway.

A delicious, colourful stop at G&G Patisserie and a much-needed americano at Café Sfouf later and then it was time for Station, the home bar for Hopfenstark.

It was fricking rammed with beer nerds and stressed servers, so it started off rocky, but got a little better — especially when the flammekueche w/ crème fraiche, oignon, lardon, and emmental cheese showed up. The beer was almost too nerdy, if you know what I mean.

  • 7 Sisters: Mérope Belgian Pale Ale
  • Baltic Porter de L’Ancrier Baltic Porter
  • Saison Station 55 Saison amère
  • Berlin AlexanderPlatz Berliner Weisse

Clearly that wasn’t quite enough booze and food, so after a brief respite it was off to Pullman wine bar for some late-night charcuterie and fromage, and glasses of pinot noir and cab franc and more cab franc and barolo.

I barely remember getting home.


Sfouf indeed. Pastries and coffee please. Honestly, not much happened on Sunday apart from some delicious relaxation, until it was time for dinner at Maison Publique…and mon dieu. What a dinner.

First of all, the wine list: it’s entirely Canadian, and it’s easily the best Canadian wine lineup I’ve ever seen. Not the biggest, but certainly the best-curated. When I first walked in I saw bottles on the bar from TH Wines, Tawse, Pearl-Morissette, and so on. I ordered that TH Wines Cab-Merlot by the glass to start.

And then there was the food. Gawd. It was…well:

  • octopus & lentil salad
  • beets in marjoram, aioli
  • ricotta gnocchi in duck + pork ragu
  • magret de canard
  • olive oil cake

For the main meal the sommelier suggested a bottle of 2007 Southbrook Poetica Cab Merlot, which was amazing. After dessert he recommended glasses of Closson Chase chardonnay and Southbrook Triomphe Cab Franc.

The wine, the ambience, the service…it might be my new favourite place in Montreal.


Time to head up to my work conference in Mont Tremblant. A ginormous yummy breakfast, mimosas, and a péché mortel filled me up until I made the long drive up. Mercy.

Montreal, je t’aime.