Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Escape to Montreal, à boire et à manger

Cocktail hour is taken very seriously in Montreal, which means there are always plenty of places to relax with a beverage or two after a long day of sightseeing around this chic city. Summertime may be short this far north, but Canadians certainly take advantage of the nice weather by putting cafe tables on every inch of available sidewalk and bar stools on every possible rooftop.

Rue Crescent/Crescent Street is probably where you would end up if you came to Montreal in your late teens (the drinking age is 18) or early twenties before you had kids. These three short blocks are home to row upon row of bars, and the craziness certainly gets going as the sun goes down. But three stories up at the restaurant Newtown, on the corner of Crescent and Maisonneuve, is an oasis of calm above all the noise. The third floor rooftop terrace bar is the perfect spot for late afternoon cocktails and snacks. The skyline views stretch out across the city and you forget one of the busiest streets in Montreal is down below. When they need a little distraction send the kiddos over to peek over the rails at the action on the street. We saw fancy sports cars cruising the strip and very busy policemen ticketing illegally parked cars. There's plenty of people watching for them while you enjoy some interesting Canadian charcuterie with your martinis.

Two doors down from Newtown is the pasta emporium of Weinstein & Gavino's. Our little adventurers were not up for any more walking and we were a group of seven at the height of dinnertime. The place is huge, spread across two floors and with lots of outdoor tables. We lucked out with a table on the balcony overlooking the kitchen and the little C&Gs couldn't have been happier. W&G is huge, incredibly noisy, and highly entertaining. There was an endless stream of bachelorette parties on the night we were there.  The food was good, not amazing but good enough, and the boys were happy with the pasta and brick oven pizzas. The grown ups were happy with the great wine selection and the very long cocktail list.

M:brgr is another one of our favorite spots for dinner just a few blocks over from Crescent on Rue Drummond/Drummond Street. The interior is incredibly stylish, and the dance beats are playing at full volume. Which means the fashionable patrons will never notice your hungry kiddos. If you'd like a mojito with your burger and your kids want ice cold milkshakes with theirs, then this is the place to go. There are tons of options to make even the pickiest eaters in your group happy. Choose from organic or Kobe beef, tuna or veggie burgers, chicken, hot dogs, or mac & cheese. Add in some crazy toppings like shaved truffles or foie gras, or splurge on the decadent $100 kobe burger with all the high end fixings. And because you're in Canada don't forget to add the gravy to your fries (aka poutine).

If you have any room left at all for dessert you can't pass by Suite 88 Chocolatier without stopping in. The chocolates are displayed in glass cases like jewels in this sleek little modern shop. Each brown square is beautifully decorated and filled with interesting flavors such as green tea, maple syrup, or Grand Marnier. For the non chocolate lovers in your family (that would be Little C&G) they also serve waffles, biscotti, and gelato dished out in very colorful little cups. As you can imagine we made several trips to Suite 88 at all times of day, either for a small cup of strong espresso or for a late afternoon sugary treat.

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