.. and so with thanks to Viarail engineers, we left the cottage on Wednesday and returned to Toronto in time to catch a PorterAir flight to Montreal.
(as an aside, j’amie Porter Air! … it’s such a civilized way to fly and best of all you avoid the nightmare that is Pearson International)
In Montreal we booked a three night/four day stay at the hotel in the City – Hotel Le St.-James. In a word, the experience was magnifique, and if you ever get the opportunity to try this premier establishment, take it. The hotel was painstaking restored in 2002 by a husband and wife team who scoured the world to appoint it with fine paintings, art and antiques. It is in a former bank building right in the heart of vieux
We managed to score an executive suite on the 10th floor.
6 & 7) the livingroom of our suite
8) the oh-my-god comfortable bed; 9) the tub
10) looking down to the master bathroom; 11) the phone system was very cool and controlled everything in the room
12) tiny windows though; 13) G awaits the funky old elevator to get us down to the lobby from our floor
14) City Hall is getting a face lift; 15) walking in the old town
16) ever seen one of these? … an alcohol tester in Marche Bonsecours; 17) I like these sculptures outside City Hall
18) Marche Bonsecours; 19) a visit to Montreal is never complete without a stop to Premiere Moison
On Thursday night, we had the hotel arrange dinner for us at Le Local, which was rated by Enroute Magazine as one of the Top 10 new hotels in Canada last year. Another, which I must do a post on sometime is The Only on the King which we’ve tried twice now.
Anyhow, Le Local is a very chic spot (just west of the old city and Rue McGill) with plenty of wealthy 30-somethings who hang out in the packed-like-sardines bar and and casual eating area all playing the hook-up game. But, if you can manage to escape that horror and get a table in the Cote de la Maison area of the restaurant, you’ll be glad you did and be rewarded for the work. There, amid neutral tones and plenty of wood (not to mention very handsome waiters) you’ll be served some damn fine fare and wine to match. We each had an appetizer and then shared their plate for two (of the best back ribs I’ve had in a long time and a so-so lobster roll, complemented with homemade coleslaw and a too-die-for fingerling potatoes done in lardon and aged cheddar).
20) trout sashimi with dijon caviar mayo; 21) golden beet salad
22) the main course before; and, 23) after we finished with it
24) well worth the money spent on this fine bottle of wine
25 & 26) the rib battle remains – mine (left); G’s (right)
27) moi in the conference centre; 28) G amid the coloured glass in the conference centre
29) at the harbour, Prime Minister Martin’s old group – Canada Steamship Lines; 30) that’s parking these two ships close!
On Friday night, we decided to try the tasting menu with wine pairing at XO, the Hotel Le St-James’ posh restaurant. We both agreed, it was one of the best meals we’ve had in many years in terms of a tasting menu … on par with the meal we had at (the now sadly closed) Accolade in the former L’hotel in Toronto. The serving team here were exceptional in the ‘art’ of their profession … there seemed to be 4 staff for each table and courses were delivered and removed in tandem. Seven courses with 6 wine pairings will set you back CAD$485 … and worth each and every penny. Below, some photos of the food … each worse than the previous one as my camera is not good as the light gets dimmer.
33 & 34) XO outside and in
35) the chandelier and upper seats
36) Fresh Florida shrimp / fennel / mango / lemongrass /Granite/ginger yogurt spuma / “Bibb” lettuce / black
liquorice powder … this was FABULOUS!; 37) Spanish mackerel with artichoke / seaweed / squid ink paste
38) Hand cut Tagliatelle / carrot confit reduction of coffee and soy / marjoram / roasted almond pesto; 39) Beef on beef / tartare / carpaccio / fresh hearts of palm / veal tongue / quail egg / truffle vinaigrette
40) Atlantic halibut / braised veal cheek / peas / morels / baby leeks; 41) peach consomme / pistachio sponge
42) the wee sweets to finish things off
Wow – nice dining experience! The presentation is just stunning. That’s a pretty serious looking key to your room.
What a way to spend the weekend…fine dining and staying at the St James! I wonder if this whole trip for a special occasion or spur of the moment?