Tour of "Typical" French-Belgian-Quebecois Foods around Montreal
Confession: We'll move from (pseudo-) breakfast to lunch and then to bar snack food, so we're actually going to make a liar out of the title of this post by starting off with the Cronut, which was officially first produced in New York City. However, seeing that it is based off of croissant dough, we think it qualifies to be in this round-up...
In any case, here is your itinerary for a Montreal French-y food tour.
Start with a not-very breakfast-y donut in Plateau Mont Royal neighborhood.
We've consumed several different kinds of cronuts before, but this is hands-down the very best thing we've ever eaten in that category. It wasn't cheap, mind you, but its large size (easily the largest cronut we've had), and quality, and the amount of custard filling, and, well, the currency conversion, makes this hybrid between croissant and donut worth its otherwise exorbitant price tag.
Can you see the amount of custard filling (in the picture below)? What you probably cannot see, however, is the fact that the custard is evenly distributed throughout the ENTIRE ring of this cronut. And the layers upon layers of fat resulting from fried croissant dough! Will and I couldn't figure out what would come first, cardiac arrest or our next trip to Simpliment D'liche to get another one. The one we tried was Vanilla, but that meant we also passed up both the Maple and the Nutella...
Once we finished licking our fingers after inhaling our respective halves of the cronut, I asked Will which single piece of pastry he preferred: this Cronut or the Kouign-amann. I'm not sure whether he has been able to resign himself to choosing (thus apparently rejecting) one over another.
His first love, from our last trip to Montreal was the Kouign-amann, available at a place known simply as Au Kouign Amann--though the name plate on the shop has disappeared from view, thus confusing many tourists who are following their Yelp or Tripadvisor maps to the location. Will's love of this Breton dessert made him so excited to live in our new Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood since that now meant that he would be able to run there on weekend mornings.
Even though Will has been trying out a new boulangerie or patisserie every Saturday (yes, another post on that), we've eaten Kouign-amanns no fewer than 3 times since we've returned. It's that good.
The Kouign-amann is the one on the right, and the other pastries are a regular butter croissant and then, in the middle, a "chocolatine," both also from Au Kouign Amann--but that picture does not do their best seller justice.
There are different variations of the Kouign-amann, including the other popular form that looks like a 4-leaf clover and baked in a muffin/cupcake tin, but the wedge above has been our favorite in its simplicity and overall yumminess. Imagine layers of croissant dough but with the addition of extra butter and sugar caramelized! Warm, slightly oozy, and a bit crusty too!
Once you let the cronut and the Kouign-amann settle in your stomach a bit, for brunch, you might try Engaufrez-Vous. The restaurant's name is a play on words and means something like "Stuff Yourself," with filled waffles, that is...
Engaufrez-Vous (which we actually tried in our early summer stay in Montreal) offers a brunch for two with a chef-chosen wide selection of different types of waffles: crispy, chewy, thin, thick, sweet, savory, American "Belgian" fluffy, as well as the more traditional dense Liege-style. The meal for two also comes with a juice and a coffee, so it's an easy option if you get overwhelmed with the menu. Let them decide for you!
Our two favorites were the savory and sweet stuffed ones: the Piemontaise (bottom left in the picture above) was filled with ham, mozzarella, and pesto; and the Diabetik (top right) had dark and white chocolate, rice crispies, and hazelnut spread.
For lunch, you might wish to head on over to a creperie. Some say the creperie at the Jean Talon market is supposed to have the best Breton-style galettes, but we also really like the comfortable cozy Breizh Cafe (name originating from the Breton for "Brittany") just a couple of blocks from our current place.
We had one each of the "midi-express" (soup/salad, galette of choice, and coffee) and their Breton special (bowl of cider/beer, ham and cheese galette, and dessert crepe with salted caramel sauce), and those were perfect for what we needed. You can see a goat cheese and tomato buckwheat galette (and a bowl of apple cider, in the picture above) and the salted caramel crepe (below).
So, you've had a day of running around eating French-Belgian-inspired food in Montreal. And you feel you should eat something distinctly, well, Quebecois. In our neighborhood there is a place which is considered "an institution" when it comes to essentially the national food of Canada--the poutine!
A typical poutine (as pictured below, from Jean Talon market), consists of fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy. You should try the original version before proceeding further.
If you are interested in more varieties of poutine than you'd imagined possible, you should make your way over to La Banquise (and it might interest you to know that this place is featured in the Wikipedia page about poutines). Luckily it's very close to Parc de LaFontaine, so you will be able to walk off possible queasiness you might experience after having one of their more unique varieties.
At the top of the post is the "regulier" portion (as opposed to the "grand") of "La Matty," which consisted of the usual--fries, cheese curds, brown gravy--AND bacon, mushroom, onions, and green peppers.
You need to believe me that this was one of the healthier options and that I had to restrain Will from ordering "La T-Rex" which had ground beef, bacon, hot dog sausages, and pepperoni...