I confess: Come winter, I hibernate on a par with Yogi Bear. Even going out to restaurants, admittedly one of my favourite pastimes, sounds less attractive when the weather drops to -30 and I must park my car in snow banks four feet high. So when spring finally shows up, I practically move to the backyard, work with both feet floating in my outdoor pool and take to the road at every opportunity, knowing that I have but a few precious months to live big, eat up and drive around away from my four walls and off the beaten path.
This spring, I asked 10 bloggers (food and otherwise) from the Greater Montreal area, closely identified to the urban scene, to recommend outlying restaurants so good, laid-back and welcoming that they compel such devoted urbanites to hit the road. If in turn you feel like breaking from routine and discovering suburban addresses wrongly overlooked, here’s the first of two posts with their suggestions, ranging from fancy bistros to roadside shacks — because we all love those junk food stops along the highway, me included.
Ask bloggers to talk about their favourite foods and chances are you’ll end up with a mile-long post. Therefore, the first 5 are hitting the road for you here, with the next 5 to follow shortly.
To get where you’re going fast and easy:
Marie-Julie Gagnon from Taxi-Brousse
– Author, globe-trotter and confessed web addict, this technomad at heart is also an avowed foodie. You can follow her on TV shows like Salut Bonjour!, in the pages of Coup de Pouce magazine and at the Huffington Post among others.
Les Copains Gourmands in Longueuil
When I moved to Old-Longueuil, I feared leaving behind my hectic “Plateaufied” lifestyle. Since I rarely cook, I was a habitual restaurant goer, so I needed new addresses across the bridge. I quickly realized that the suburbs were not the wasteland I feared! When I first visited Copains gourmands a few corners from my new home, I knew I was doomed and would be spending loads of money there for years to come… I love the honest, simple, tasty food served up by this French bistro, the brainchild of two friendly madmen: Éric Courchêne and Jean-François Hogue. I usually fall for their salmon tartare, but when my carnivore DNA rears up, I also delight in their braised beef short ribs. I also find it incredibly hard to resist their chocolate lava cake!
Info: 352 Guillaume St. (corner St-Jean), in Longueuil, J4H 1S4, 450-928-1433
Gousto Bistro also in Longueuil
Impossible not to mention Gousto, an Italian bistro opened by my friends and neighbours Aurélie and Gianfranco over a year ago. Here you’ll find nonna cooking at reasonable prices. I visit when I yearn for good bolognese spaghetti or a porcini risotto. You can eat in the warm, family-style dining room or order to go. I’m addicted!
Info: 360 St Jean St. in Longueuil, J4H 2X6, 450-332-6767
Caroline Marchand from Dcouverte culinaire
— A kindergarten teacher for the past 20 years, Caroline describes herself as a food lover, epicurian and explorer of the Montreal, Québec and (budget allowing soon) world scene. She’s a regular guest at Montreal’s many food events.
Sao Sao in Brossard
I discovered Petit Sao in Nun’s Island surfing on Facebook. While talking with owner Lise, she explained that the small Sao had a big brother serving a more elaborate menu, called SAO SAO. It’s located in Brossard, yes, yes, you heard me: Brossard in the 450! After multiple visits where I tried almost all the menu, I’m in love with this restaurant more and more each time. A BYOW, it’s like a small, lowfare trip to the heart of Vietnam. Friends who join me invariably go back by themselves. My 2 favourite dishes? The Bùn bò Hué (a spicy lemongrass soup with beef, pork hocks and large rice noodles) and the Bành hòi hit bò la lôt nu’òng (2 grilled beef kebabs wrapped in Betel leaves marinated in lemongrass!) Both are must-try!
Info: 7209 Taschereau Blvd., #106 in Brossard, J4Y 1A1, 450-443-2388
Dustin Gilman from Food Guy Montreal
— Dustin has put food at the center of his life ever since, at the age of 16, he first started working in a little Italian bakery in Montreal. Today, he moonlights as a caterer, makes a living as a marketer and even gives cooking classes in his spare time.
Le P’tit Stop/100% Bœuf in Saint-Faustin
The casse-croute: A place to indulge where satisfyingly greasy foods are produced on flat-top grills and deep fryers. Hot dogs, burgers, fries, and poutines are staple items. If you are a fan of the casse-croute, you know where the best ones are. It’s hard to find people to agree on THE best one; however, I believe I found it.
If you’ve ever driven along the 117 on the way to Tremblant, you’ve most likely passed by Le P’tit Stop in Saint-Faustin-Lac-Carré, Québec. If you’ve never seen the picture of a stop sign character sitting on a burger, you may have noticed a large sign on the roof of this establishment simply saying “100% Boeuf”. This is casse-croute heaven. What should you order? The “100% boeuf burger avec fromage et poutine” is definitely the way to go. If you’re really hungry, have a second burger. Also, if you’ve got a sweet tooth, don’t skip on a slice of their incredibly delicious homemade “tarte au sucre” or maybe a beaver tail with the “tarte au sucre” filling. This place really is one of the finest classic casse-croutes around.
Info: 1176 Saint Faustin Road, in Saint-Faustin-Lac-Carré, J0T 1J3, 819-688-3111
Mayssam Samaha from Will Travel for Food
— Blogger Mayssam says food is her OCD. A food and travel writer based in Montreal, she travels the world in search of the next culinary discovery, her suitcase and passport never tucked away and her wanderlust never satiated. She has twice been a finalist in SAVEUR’s Best Blog Awards.
Zyara in Brossard’s Quartier Dix30
Zyara is one of those rare Lebanese restaurants that combine beautiful décor, tasty food and trendy vibe. The terrace is magnificent in summer, while the dining room impresses year round. While the elaborate menu offers every choice possible, I have a soft spot for the fattoush salad, the Zyara hummus, the kebbé nayyé and the eggplant fattet, with a side of great homemade pita bread straight out of the oven!
Info: Quartier DIX30, 9140 Leduc Blvd., #205, in Brossard, J4Y 0L2, 450 812 0235
Jason Lee from Shut Up and Eat
— Jason has made it his mission to unearth the hidden gems of the Montreal food scene, with foods and restaurants from every corner of the world getting their due. His Instagram was named in the Top 5 of must-follow accounts in Montreal.
Deli La Trattoria in Kirkland
I’ve been a frequent customer at this deli in Kirkland for a while now. Every time I’m in the area, I always make an effort to stop by Deli La Trattoria. Where the landscape is full of soccer fields and minivans sits this Italian Deli oasis where you can get some of the most fantastic Italian treats. Owners Rico and Mario offer some of the finest gourmet products imported directly from Italy from truffle oils to dry goods. This deli is a popular spot for their homecooked ready-made meals to enjoy at their lunch counter or take out. Daily specials as well as their famous deli sandwiches are a hit amongst first time visitors as well as regular customers. With a warm and friendly atmosphere, Deli La Trattoria is your go-to place in the West Island for all your Italian needs outside of Little Italy.
Info: 19787 Chemin Ste-Marie, in Kirkland, H9J 3L8, 514-694-0595