Like any other well-touristed neighbourhood in the world, Old Montreal has its fair share of traps serving overpriced and mediocre food to unknowing travellers. A tell-tale sign one should always steer clear of: plasticized menus with faded photos of the dishes. The good news is that those places are outnumbered by lovely restaurants and cafés that showcase the best this city can offer – you just have to know where to go…
As far as casual lunch spots go, nothing beats Olive et Gourmando, the cool little sandwich shop where different salads and sandwiches are scribbled on a chalkboard each day, all consistently delicious, fresh and creative. But if you’re in the mood for a plate of food rather than a sandwich, you could head over to Le Cartet, another great place for grabbing a quick bite: they always have a fish, a meat and a pasta of the day, as well as salads and tartares.
Le Cartet, frequented by a hip local crowd, is also great for buying tasteful souvenirs and gifts. The front of the high-design space is filled with lovely teas, jams, spices and other edible goodies, many of them made in Québec. They sell, for instance, the beautiful line of products by Montreal’s top chocolatière, Geneviève Grandbois. Foodies might also be tempted to take home the preserves from l’Île d’Orléans, like the onions confit in maple syrup or the strawberry and rhubarb jam.
During the summer they set a few tables on the sidewalk, so you can stop by for a break from the sightseeing and lazily sip your beer or Illy espresso while people-watching. But the space inside is just as fun, with a double-height ceiling, quirky lighting, two communal tables made of hand-hewn wood, and dishes posted on blackboards as a multi-coloured collage of letters.
Le Cartet, 106 McGill, (514) 871-8887
Photo Credit:Alexandra Forbes