Jul 27, 2010

Marleen Menard and Yann Perreau: free Divers/cité show this Thursday at the Quartier des Spectacles





Last night was the big opening of the 18th edition of Montreal’s DIVERS/CITÉ FESTIVAL (ending Sunday, August 1).


The city's gay festival has a plethora of electronic music gigs, jazz and funk concerts, film screenings, cabaret shows, parties and the biggest drag show on the planet - most of it free!
This Thursday, July 29 there will be a big free variety show at the main stage of the Quartier des Spectacles.
1, Boulevard des Rêves is the longest running variety show in Québec. Each year Marleen Menard  amasses a great collection of local luminaries who perform with aplomb.

-
18h: Dj Lady McCoy
20h: Show

Marleen Menard will welcome a long list of guest performes, like Yann Perreau.


Divers/Cité claims to have the longest running, free outdoor programming of any LGBT event in
the world.

Saturday July 31 there'll be a huge Sunset Party right in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles (Lotto-Quebec stage) at 3 PM followed by the traditional drag show "MASCARA, La Nuit des Drags", at 6 PM at the Quartier des Spectacles (Telus Stage).



That same night, lesbos will go nuts at the LESBOMONDE party, at the Just for Laugs museum (10 PM, $30 to get in).

The big closing event will be Le Grand Bal, a huge party also at the Quartier des Spectacles, which starts at 3 PM on Sunday, August 1.

Click here to download the PDF of the full schedule of events.

For more info :
www.diverscite.org
www.facebook.com/diverscite

Jul 21, 2010

Singles in Montreal: the party is on at Koko, August 3rd!




Koko, at the Opus Hotel, is a total flirting spot on a regular basis - went there the other night with my friend C. and he simply couldn't believe the amount of super dressed-up hotties.  But it will be even more so, I guess, on August 3rd, as it hosts a party for singles: La Soirée Célibataires de l'Été.

The benefit party will draw a crowd of about 500 singles with shows, drink on the terrasse and - get this! - speed dating!
For those who don't know Koko: it's a restaurant and bar that has a supper club feel and
a huge outdoor lounge which stays open all summer and is
one of the hottest happy hour spots in town.

Hot girls? Check.

Hot guys? Check!

What's not to love?

The place is trendy but, surprisingly, also serves up impressive pan-Asian dishes.




New St-Martin hotel in Downtown Montreal: all rooms have views!



If there's one thing NOT missing in Montreal's Downtown, it's hotels. There are so many of them sprinkled along Sherbrooke and de la Montagne streets and everywhere else in between! My personal fave is the Sofitel, despite being part of a chain: softest beds ever!

But this post is to tell you about another Downtown hotel, which is brand new, called St-Martin. Ranked as a 4-star, it's at the corner of Metcalfe and Maisonneuve streets and only 1 block from Peel. Style of décor is described as "contemporary, Euro-chic", which to me translates as that look that we tend to see everywhere nowadays: white bed covers, coffee-coloured furniture, the basic boutiquey look. Here are some photos taken by my friend Alessandra Cayley, who was visitting from Toronto:




The 17-floor hotel has 123 rooms and 6 suites, ranging in size from 300 sq ft to 1 000 sq ft. As is expected at a nice hotel, there are HD flat-screen televisions, and wireless high-speed internet connections.

Apparently, the St-Martin's trump card is that there's a great view from every room. Somehow, none of the rooms face alleyways or the back of other buildings. Remarkable!

Off the main lobby there's a hip new restaurant called L'Aromate, which we also visited recently. Read the post here.



980 Boulevard de Maisonneuve Ouest
Tel. (514) 843-3000

View Larger Map

Jul 18, 2010

New l'Aromate restaurant in Downtown Montreal: disappointing



I first went to l'Aromate for dinner with a friend. He'd gotten there before me and, glass in hand, warned me: "this wine is not good at all". Dinner was so-so: great seared scallops, but sloppily-presented bavette, and a weird looking paté de foie de volaille (chicken liver paté with Sherry) with hard toasts piled up and pierced through with a skewer.



The place seemed very.... trendy looking. The décor's main feature is a wall covered by a pretty light panel that changes colours every few seconds. The double-height room has a mezzanine with extra tables, and dramatic chandeliers with crystal balls wrapped in a silvery net. It was almost full, and the crowd seemed young-ish and branché.



I figured I had to go back and see if  my first impression was confirmed, so I invited a friend for lunch. We both ordered the signature foie paté and.... yuck. It was very runny, almost soupy. My arctic char (above) was fishy and overcooked. She hated her warm pasta salad with feta and capers, which came swimming in oil.



Need I say more?


Yet... the place was hopping, every table taken - it somehow seems to be a huge hit. Go figure...

Bistro L'Aromate: 
1410, rue Peel

Tel. 
(514) 847-9005
info@laromate.com


Jul 16, 2010

Pam Anderson in Montreal for Just for Laughs festival, Steve Martin next


Say what you may, Pam Anderson still looks pretty damn hot...

Here she is at a press conference, as part of Montreal's Just for Laughs festival...



Want to go to the fest? Steve Martin is on tomorrow, buy your tix here.

Lustucru: new bistro on Avenue du Parc, in the Plateau




Yesterday, a new bistro arrived on the scene, specializing in the ubiquotous "market-fresh cuisine" and local ingredients.

The top feature is the "bar à cru" serving all sorts of different tartares: venison, horse, trout, swordfish, etc. They'll also serve vitello tonnato, although that doesn't quite classify as a tartare.


Co-owner Iannick Lessard says that "changing the menu regularly is primodial, it allows our clients to rediscover products from our region".

Lustucru: 5159 avenue du Parc
bistrolustucru@videotron.ca

Photos: Maxime Boivert

Jul 11, 2010

Gay festival in Montreal: city gears up for DIVERS/CITE opening July 26



July 26 marks the opening of the 18th edition of Montreal’s DIVERS/CITÉ FESTIVAL (ending Sunday, August 1).


The city's gay festival has a plethora of electronic music gigs, jazz and funk concerts, film screenings, cabaret shows, parties and the biggest drag show on the planet - most of it free!

Divers/Cité claims to have the longest running, free outdoor programming of any LGBT event in
the world.

Saturday July 31 there'll be a huge Sunset Party right in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles (Lotto-Quebec stage) at 3 PM followed by the traditional drag show "MASCARA, La Nuit des Drags", at 6 PM at the Quartier des Spectacles (Telus Stage).



That same night, lesbos will go nuts at the LESBOMONDE party, at the Just for Laugs museum (10 PM, $30 to get in).

The big closing event will be Le Grand Bal, a huge party also at the Quartier des Spectacles, which starts at 3 PM on Sunday, August 1.

Jul 10, 2010

Montreal's Opus hotel: young and hip digs near Quartier des Spectacles




My friend Alessandra Cayley - the author of our sister blog, Toronto para Insiders - and her hubby are in town this weekend (she's researching a piece for Elle mag) and they're staying tonight at one of the coolest little hotels in town, the Opus (pictured above).


Turns out I've been there a few times, usually to have dinner or drinks at the hotel's Koko restaurant and bar, but recently I also toured several of the rooms, which are quite jazzy and bright and colourful.

They've got a funny way of assigning rooms to the guests according to their personalities: gay fashionista, young businesswoman, etc. And every room comes with customized tips on what to do in Montreal, written by local journo Simona Rabinovitch, and a little bar setup with a full bottle of vodka. Fun!

Even in July and August - super high season - rates start at a very fair CAD$ 200.

Have a look:






Click here to book a room.


Opus Hotel:
10, Rue Sherbrooke Ouest, 843-6000, www.opushotel.com

More on Koko, the hotel's restaurant + bar

Nude in Oka: going for a World Record skinny-dip in Montreal today




Here's an ad posted on Craigslist today, should be fun... Today at the Oka Park at 3PM...




Going for a World Record Skinny-Dip!



*** SATURDAY / JULY 10th / 3:00 PM ***


A multitude of people, across Canada, are going for the Guinness™ World Record!?
This coming Saturday, July 10th, 2010, 3:00 PM, at OKA Park, nudist beach area(east-end)...
Last year we attained a grand-total of 13,648 participants; including ppl at Wrecks' Beach (Vancouver) and Hanlans' Point (Toronto)!?
Naturally, photos(as proof, to present to Guinness™) will be taken; if you are too shy and/or for reasons of privacy, you are invited to turn your back to the camera.

Will take/last only a couple minutes!? You won't want to miss this ONE!



Jul 8, 2010

BALNEA spa hosts famous Montreal chefs: the Summer of Chefs is on!



BALNEA, run by girl-about-town Stéphanie Émond and her hubby Denis Laframboise, is a super cool spa near Montreal where people go to spend a whole day dipping into pools and jacuzzis set at different temperatures, alternating that with a bit of sweating in the wet and dry saunas, and plain'ol lounging and admiring the stunning views. They also offer a long list of massages and other well-being treatments.

Recently, they've added what's called a "beach club": a whole set-up by the lake's edge.

Every time I've been there, the crowd's been almost as cool-looking as the couple itself, and the vibe is absolutely magical: the baths face a pristine privately-owned lake and everything is perfectly manicured and looked after.

Now Stephanie has come up with another cool idea, which she dubbed  “The Summer of Chefs", or "L'Éte des Chefs". Some of Montreal's most celebrated chefs will take turn cooking on Sundays, until August 29th.

The chefs have been challenged to a competition of sorts, where the best-selling dish will crown its creator as the winner.

Chefs include Jérôme Ferrer from Andiamo, Marino Tavares from Ferreira Café, Laurent Godbout from L'Épicier, Gilles Herzog from F Bar, Richard Bastien from Leméac, and Marie Fleur St-Pierre from Tapeo.

“We are very proud to welcome these exceptionally talented chefs to BALNEA. By aligning
ourselves with some of Montreal‟s finest restaurants, we‟re able to create an exclusive
event”, says Stéphanie.

All summer long, invited chefs will offer their "BALNEA special" at their respective restaurants. Anyone who tastes these dishes (at BALNEA or participating restaurants) can go online and vote for their favourite. They say more than CAD$ 6,000 in prizes will be given away...

Here is the complete schedule of guest chefs:

July 11th :
S’Arto Chartier-Otis
Enfants terribles

July 18th :
Marie-Fleur St-Pierre
Tapéo

July 25th :
Richard Bastien
Leméac

August 1st :
Dany St-Pierre        
Auguste

August 8th :
Laurent Godbout
Chez L’Épicier

August 15th :
Jérôme Ferrer
Andiamo, Beaver Hall

August 22nd :
Daren Bergeron        
DECCA 77

August 29th :
Gilles Herzog        
F Bar

L'Éte des Chefs on Facebook

BALNEA's offical website

More on BALNEA on this blog


Jul 7, 2010

Montreal Jazz Fest closes with Mardi Gras parade and Trombone Shorty show






The Jazz Fest is officially over.... sigh...

The closing party was very fun: it started with a Mardi Gras parade which ran from Ste. Catherine St. and Fort St all the way to the Quartier des Spectacles, New Orleans-style, with floats "imported" from the American South and bead necklaces galore. Once the parade arrived at the jazz fest site, the Soul Rebels Brass Band took the main stage, followed by Trombone Shorty and his septet Orleans Avenue, and legendary Louisiana R&B pianist and singer Allen Toussaint, the last shows of the Festival.

As someone said to local newspaper The Gazette, "It's fantastic," he said. "Terrific. It even had bagpipers doing When the Saints Go Marching In. Voodoo dolls and bagpipes..."

As the parade wound down -so to speak -Taylor said, "It was a great sight -Ste. Catherine completely commandeered. Everyone's heading down to site. I have no idea how they'll all fit in. "


Radio show host Jona Rapoport, who's been covering the Jazz Festival for 25 years, was at the parade, and kindly shared her photos with this blog.  (Here's the link to her radio show, Art & Fine Living with Jona). 




































Here's a video of last night's fetivities, by Montreal's The Gazette:


Jul 2, 2010

The best restaurants of Montreal: my personal favourites



THIS POST IS OUTDATED. FOR MY CURRENT TOP 10 RESTAURANTS LIST PLEASE CLICK HERE.


By Alexandra Forbes

Today I got a call from my friend Alessandra asking me that age-old question: which are the best restaurants in Montreal? The list will obviously vary wildly depending on who you ask, but here is where I take my friends when they're in town visitting:

1 - Barroco




To me, the best steak in Montreal is their ribsteak with chimichurri sauce. The place rocks! Amazing service by barman Graham and co-owner Roberto in an intimate setting which is as cozy as it gets, in the heart of Old Montreal. Great vibe: dimly lit, stone walls, great-looking crowd.
Click here to read the full post.
Barroco: Rue St. Paul Ouest, 312, tel (514) 544-5800



2- Garde Manger





Some love it, some hate it - and I'm on the first team. Every time anyone younger than 40 asks me where they should go to eat well AND have a very fun time I answer Garde Manger without thinking twice. It's pretty much the only place I know that manages to walk the fine line that separates fun, clubby restaurants from clubs that try to serve decent food (hello, Velvet Speakeasy, hint, hint!). Booking a table or even a seat at the bar is a pain in the ass, to be perfectly honest - especially since chef and co-owner Chuck Hughes went from being a Montreal celebrity to a North American celeb-to-be (his TV show Chuck's Day Off has just been picked up in the U.S.). Don't let that obstacle stop you from going, though. The seafood platters, the oysters and the lobster poutine are amazing, the girls are gorgeous and the party, after 11, is as fun as it gets.
Garde Manger: 408, Rue St. François-Xavier, 678-5044
Click here to read the full post.



3 - Joe Beef

Joe Beef is that little place on Notre Dame St, a bit off the beaten bath, that has gotten a ton of press in the US, owned by that friendly ogre of a chef, Dave McMillan, and his partner Fred Morin. Now... surely, if you live in Montreal you're tired of hearing about him. But for those of you who don't: he's one of the city's best-known chefs, who, after leaving Globe (a hot spot of a few years ago, best known for the hot waitresses in tight dresses), went off to create his own mini-empire of hip little restaurants.

Turns out McMillan hit the jackpot with Joe Beef. It was an instant hit, the tiny restaurant a favorite for its party vibe, top-notch oysters and enormous, carefully-prepared dishes. Great oysters. Delicious wine by the glass! And the most outstanding grilled octopus, previously poached in wine, with peeled yellow and red cherry tomatoes, the purest expression of late summer, all the garlicky goodness of the sauce enveloping the tender tentacles. Yum.
Joe Beef.: 2491 rue Notre Dame West, tel. (514) 935-6504.


4 - Koko Restaurant + Bar


This place, to me, is the most surprising of all. Because it is primarily a lounge bar, I never really expected much from the food. And then, one night, I went for dinner with some friends. Not bad at all!

EDIT: Since this post was published the chef at Koko left and the food has been very up and down. No longer a place I'd recommend.
Koko Restaurant + bar (Rue Sherbrooke Ouest, 10, 514 843-6000, 17h/3h) 

5- Ferreira Café
 



The undisputed king of Downtown restaurants, it's been going strong for several years on Peel Street thanks to the strong hand and sly charm of owner Carlos Ferreira. The food can be Portuguese for those who want it, but the menu is filled with classics and crowd pleasers, with several fish and seafood dishes. My favourite is the cod with confit tomatoes, olives and potatoes. For dessert, nothing beats the pastéis de nata, delicious custard-filled pastries served with ice cream on the side. This is where the movers-and-shakers close deals and where couples go to celebrate special dates, and the room is always humming with lively conversation, no matter what night of the week.Ferreira Café: 1446 Peel St., Montreal, tel. (514) 848-0988

6- Brasserie T! by chef Normand Laprise.
This place is brand-new and already rocks. Below, you can see the T! stamped on the huge window that opens onto the promenade that is home to all the city festivals. In fact, the Brasserie is like a glass box that pop out of the sidewalk and allows diners to enjoy all the buzz of the festival's main promenade, fish-bowl style.


But even more exciting than the location is the food - brasserie classics, most very reasonably priced.
Click here to see why I love it: full post with photos of the dishes.
Brasserie T!: 1425 rue Jeanne-Mance (corner of St. Catherine), tel. (514) 282-0808



Ferreira Café, king of Downtown Montreal restaurants



By Alexandra Forbes



The undisputed king of Downtown restaurants, Ferreira Café has been going strong for several years on Peel Street thanks to the strong hand and sly charm of owner Carlos Ferreira. 

The food can be Portuguese for those who want it, but the menu is filled with classics and crowd pleasers, with several fish and seafood dishes. My favourite is the cod with confit tomatoes, olives and potatoes. Or, actually, my real favourite is a rice and seafood casserole that is not exactly on the menu in the form, unless you call ahead and make a special request:


It's as good as Portuguese food gets: huge chunks of lobster and an almost soup-like rice that tastes of garlic and the sea.
The wine list is almost exclusively made up of Portuguese labels, and contains top vintages of Douro reds, vintage Ports and privately-imported gems.
 Prestigious Portuguese winemakers are often invited to conduct tastings, such as the recent evening of vintage Ports led by Dirk Niepoort of famed Niepoort winery in the Douro:


I find the service the best in town (but maybe that has something to do with the fact that I speak Portuguese!). Sommelier Paulo is always impeccable, as is the manager Vítor. For dessert, nothing beats the pastéis de nata (pictured below), delicious custard-filled pastries served with ice cream on the side. 
This is where the movers-and-shakers close deals and where couples go to celebrate special dates, and the room is always humming with lively conversation, no matter what night of the week.


 Ferreira Café: 1446 Peel St., Montreal, tel. (514) 848-0988