Eating Cheaply in Montréal
Due to the multi-ethnic makeup of Montreal there exists a wide variety of restaurants in all different sizes and prices ranges. I recently came across an excellent softbound book entitled “Cheap Thrills” which describes great Montreal meals under $10.
The book is published by Véhicule Press and was written by Simon Dardick and Nancy Marrelli. The authors in their introduction clearly indicate that the restaurants they recommend and review not only serve meals under $10, however, there should be a reasonable selection in that price range.
The third edition of the book describes 80 different restaurants indicating their names, addresses, phone numbers, hours and days of operation, the nearest metro or bus, if they accept credit cards and if you can bring your own wine. Several Montreal restaurants permit their patrons to bring in their own wine, that the waiters will open for you and serve you in wine glasses provided by the restaurant at no extra cost.
The authors also indicate if the restaurant has wheelchair access.
What is very practical about the publication is that the authors provide indexes at the end which break down these eating establishments into speciality restaurants which depict a distinct ethnic flavour such as Chinese, Italian, French, Greek, Indian or a genre of food such as seafood, fast foods or vegetarian.
There is also a neighbourhood index indicating if the restaurant is in well-known areas such as Chinatown, Little Italy, Cote-des-Neiges/Université de Montréal area, NDG, St. Henri.
A good example of the authors’ description of a well-known Montreal landmark is that of Schwartz’s Hebrew Delicatessen. New York may have its pastrami, Toronto may have corned beef, Italy may boast about its pasta, however, there is no place in the world other than Montreal which can offer you the most delicious smoke meat sandwich.
According to the authors, Schwartz’s on the Main is Montreal smoked meat at it’s very best perhaps even Montreal at is best.
The prices may have risen since the time the book was published, however you get a good idea of what it will set you back if you order a smoked meat sandwich, fries and a dill pickle. Remember, all prices are quoted in Canadian dollars and if you are an American you really have a bargain.
If you do visit Montreal you must savour a smoked meat sandwich piled high on deli rye with mustard, pickle, and coleslaw.
The authors’ description also gives you a good idea of the ambience of the restaurant and as indicated the restaurant has an old-time deli atmosphere all its own, narrow and cramped with barely enough room to move. There is also mention of the uniqueness of the food and an assertion most Montrealers agree that Schwartz’s smoked meat is the standard against which all others are measured. As I am very familiar with Schwartz’s I must admit that their succinct description is right on the mark.
Other restaurant descriptions point out the quantity of the food served, if it is children friendly, history of the restaurant, menu and price choices. There are also some short descriptions of the history of some of the restaurants.
For any of you BootsnAll members as well as Montrealers this neat softbound pocket book should prove to be a gem, particularly if you are not too familiar with the vastness of the Montreal restaurant scene.