Montreal for the Weekend

A couple of weeks ago we traveled to Montreal to catch the Formula One race. Montreal is such an easy destination, a great city filled with fantastic food and incredibly nice people. Because the F1 was the first really big event the city has held since Covid, the energy and excitement was palpable. Our flight was mid-morning from the newly renovated LaGuardia Terminal B , and I have to say I was blown away. If you have had the “pleasure” of flying in and out of LGA in recent years, you will be amazed at the transformation. We had plenty of time to explore the terminal, as our Air Canada flight delayed by four hours. If you have the opportunity to pass through LGA, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. There is also a large Centurion Lounge (which was very crowded due to all the delays) and a pretty nice Air Canada Lounge as well if that happens to be your destination.

Once we finally boarded, the flight was smooth and easy. Upon landing we learned that the car we had ordered to pick us up cancelled while we were in flight because they were so overwhelmed. Luckily the hotel (The Four Seasons Montreal) was able to source another car, a white Rolls Royce, which on a weekend filled with car enthusiasts drew a lot of attention.

In all honesty I have recently been disillusioned and disappointed with the various Four Seasons’ I have visited, but happened to be very impressed with this property. Everything was spotlessly clean, and they were over-staffed (a good thing) with exceedingly friendly and helpful personnel. The hotel was full with race go-ers, so we didn’t have too many options as far as room availability- what we ended up with was quite nice. The location is great downtown, as it is accessible to all parts of the city.

During our stay we dined in for breakfast and had drinks at Marcus, which boasts Marcus Samuelsson as the “Visionary Chef”. The bar was mobbed at all hours, and the competing DJs ensured everyone was having a great time. The breakfast, which was included because we booked through our Virtuoso agent was fine, with the saving grace being the coffee in the hotel which was especially delicious.

Montreal is an incredibly diverse city, and therefore enjoys a fantastic food scene. I had pored over the Eater essential list for Montreal and the one spot I knew we had to go was Restaurant Damas , a Syrian spot which lived up to its very lofty hype. Every dish was absolutely delicious, particularly the humus with roasted oyster mushrooms, which I could have eaten vats of. Thankfully we were traveling with friends so we were able to order even more than we usually do. Our reservation was for 8:30 and what I didn’t realize was that I had somehow opted to dine outdoors. When we were seated it seemed as though we had been banished to Siberia, but in time the outdoor space filled up to match the inside, and it was not as depressing as we had thought. The wine we ordered was a natural Orange Italian wine, and after a few bottles we were happy as can be. Not sure if it was because it was natural, or Orange, or Italian, or a combination of all three, but it was a perfect match for the food.

If you are heading to Montreal, PLEASE put Restaurant Damas on your list, you won’t regret it.

There are a few places no one should overlook on a trip to Montreal, and they include Schwartz’s Deli for Smoked Beef (similar to Pastrami but arguably better) and St-Viateur for Montreal’s characteristically slightly sweet bagels. Schwartz’s has several decades over St-Viateur, but they are both institutions, and both extremely good. Personally I ate most of my husband’s fries (a little soggy but nice and greasy) and took his word for the excellence of both the smoked meat and the bagels.

Another entry on the Eater list was Elena which is highly regarded for its pizzas and pastas, as well as fresh and scrumptious salads. As with everywhere we went in Montreal, the waitstaff was knowledgable, friendly and seemed genuinely happy to be sharing their sublime food with us. We feasted at Elena, and drank some more Natural wine, it is definitely having a moment, and was actually very good!

The one fail I encountered was a healthy salad spot that I went in to for a lite bite. Mandy’s certainly looked appealing and seems to be popular in town, but the salad was AWFUL, Tasteless, institutional and the dressing smelled and tasted like dirty feet.

As I mentioned the real reason we traveled to Montreal was to watch the Formula 1 race, and it was incredible! I am not a race fan, my husband is, but we were fortunate enough to have incredible access to the racers, the pits, and even the pre-race line up. It was unforgettable.

All in all we LOVED our weekend in Montreal; nice people, incredible food, beautiful sights, and an awesome race. It is so easy to visit, I would wholeheartedly recommend it.

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