Montreal’s main drag, Boulevard St-Laurent (also known as The Main) is a feast for the senses in any season; but with snow sparkling under the streetlights and the soft glow of restaurants, bars, cafes and music venues spilling out into the winter night, winter might be the most romantic season of all…
So why not spend a special weekend on the Main, curling up in a sexy hideaway and exploring some of Montreal’s Plateau and Mile End neighbourhoods on foot?
The Opus Hotel, at the corner of the Main and east-west thoroughfare Sherbrooke Street, is a slick boutique hotel in a heritage building that has been a Montreal landmark for over a century. Their Valentine’s package includes a stay and a tasting menu at their restaurant, Koko, prepared by guest New York chef, Jay Federer. (There are lots of foodie developments going on at Koko- they recently appointed Michele Forgione as their new Executive Chef and, during the High Lights Festival, will welcome Chef Anita Lo into their kitchen.)
While you may want to stay in for your special night, there’s lots to do if you decide to venture out: Buzz recommends an oyster shooter or two at Maestro SVP, followed by an art film at Montreal’s avant-garde film palace, the Cinema Parallele.
If you choose to move into the Mile End neighbourhood, things will get a little more handmade. Casa Bianca, on Rue de L’Esplanade across from Mont-Royal Park, is Montreal’s most stylish and modern-romantic B + B.
From there, you can take a stroll a few blocks up the Main where an afternoon coffee at Casa Del Popolo can turn into a steamy tête-à-tête— and you may want to come back later for an intimate show. (Casa also has a small hotel, Pensione Popolo, upstairs.) For a more interactive musical experience, record yourselves singing a karaoke version of “your song” upstairs at Studio Loco.
A further stroll up St-Laurent will bring you to the indie shopping mecca of St-Viateur. Maybe she’ll find a red dress for tonight at Local 54, a dress shop that features local designers, vintage boots and ingenious handmade jewellery.
Also, don’t forget to pick up the traditional trappings of romance, for later back at the hotel. The florist Sophie Doval takes a creative, seasonal approach to floral design, and Chocolats Genevieve Grandbois has gorgeous handcrafted bonbons that have been a staple in the neighbourhood for years. (Tip: her hot chocolate is basically sex in a cup, but arrive early, because she tends to sell out by mid-afternoon.)
Finally, if what you really want for Valentine’s Day is a bone in your pie, Lawrence Restaurant has you covered—this brand-new dining spot featuring Brit-influenced, whole-animal cookery on the Main is the neighbourhood’s best-kept secret—their Beef and Bone Marrow Pie with watercress salad is a winter wonder.
Guest blogger: Melora Koepke