Aug 26, 2011

Montreal's Dîner en Blanc: a crazy and posh communal picnic (video!)

By Alexandra Forbes

The Dîner en Blanc, I already knew, isn't exactly a normal dinner. Part outdoor communal picnic, part all-white gala, it takes place each year in Paris, Montral and now also New York.

Each couple (yes, going à deux is man-da-to-ry!!) brings their own foldable table, chairs, china, glasses, wines and food, all prettily packed in white picnic baskets.

The location is kept secret until the last minute and guests arrive by bus and metro, all at once, only to disappear 4 hours later, as if it had all been a snow-white hallucination. Here is the video I shot at the last Montreal Dîner en Blanc:

Dîner en Blanc (by invitation only, online reservations mandatory).

Aug 20, 2011

Old Montreal: bars by the water and Bota Bota's bistro

Girls having drinks at Bistro Vu
By Alexandra Forbes

My post this week on Tourisme Montreal's portal The Montreal Buzz is about where to eat and drink by the water. In it I recommend three of my favourite spots by the river: the Bota Bota spa (pictured above), Bistro VU (more of a party place than actual bistro) and the Café des Éclusiers.

We're fast approaching the end of summer, so there's only a few more weeks to go check them out...


Bistro Vü: Go for the great view of the St. Lawrence river, the  Jacques Cartier Bridge and the Clock Tower Quay. There's a restaurant on the third floor and a bar-lounge on the 4th floor rooftop where sometimes they have big parties with out-of-town DJs.The VU is hard to find, tucked inside a private marina: make sure to consult your GPS or iPhone.
550 de la Commune St. East, (514) 451-0866

View from Bistro Vu's rooftop: the Jacques Cartier Bridge


Café des Éclusiers:
This riverside bar has been around for a while and it's still one of the best happy hour spots in town on a hot summer afternoon.
400 De la Commune West (at McGill street), (514) 496-0109 


Bota Bota
One of the little-known facts about Bota Bota - the über cool boat-spa-on-the-water - is that they serve lunch outdoors to those who are there to do the so-called water circuit (meaning you can't just walk in off the street, only bathing-suit-clad customers are allowed).
358 De la Commune St. West, (514) 284-0333

Aug 9, 2011

Gordon Ramsay cooks up a frenzy in his first Montreal venture: the Laurier Gordon Ramsay!

By Andrea Doucet Donida

I have never seen so many people at a Montreal restaurant opening! It is also rare that such a renowned chef, with such main stream popularity as Ramsay, opens a restaurant in this town, more accustomed to seeing local or French chefs rule the restaurant scene.

It was fun to watch the VIPs enter the familiar yet refurbished Laurier restaurant. A lot of grey hair patrons, probably folks that have been dining at what was once called the Laurier BBQ, a traditional family restaurant that had survived many decades but had seen better years…or so they say! Because what I witnessed today was more of a rebirth, a very respectful and fresh approach to what many Montrealers consider their “childhood take-out” place.

Speaking with three lovely ladies that have been working for more than 15 years at the old Laurier BBQ, Diane, Solange and Micheline, the menu has changed quite a bit but still retains clients’ favourite dishes and was a needed upgrade. “Yes, Diane tells me, the sauce is not the same. But I’m sure that if a client comes back a few times, they will realize that the new sauce is much tastier!” (my translation).

From right to left: Diane, Solange and Micheline

Having been to the Laurier BBQ way back then and haven’t kept the fondest memories of the food served at the time, I couldn’t agree with her more! The miniature version of the dishes prepared by the new chef - Guillermo Russo of Ramsey’s version of Laurier - was indeed what a really good chicken BBQ family restaurant should serve.

I tasted the poutine, a mini hamburger, a crispy grilled cheese and most of the yummy desserts. I already plan to return there soon to really get to sink my tooth deeper in each dish…and to get a bigger piece of the amazing carrot cake!

Yummy lemon pie, miniaturized for the occasion

Ok, I know, you want to see for yourself if Gordon Ramsay was really in Montreal! Well, here is the man himself, Gordon Ramsay addressing the full house of eager foodies, celebs, patrons and media, enjoy! (oh and FYI, this video is G rated, sorry!).

And for those who asked me, yes, there still will be deliveries!

Gordon at the meet & greet.

The fabulous Carrot Cake!

Laurier Gordon Ramsay is still a BBQ restaurant!

LAURIERGORDONRAMSAY.COM (maybe not yet available)

Check out the menu here.

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