((I wrote this post earlier in the week for my friend Jen’s blog, where I’m a once-a-month contributor.))

I had the pleasure of spending a long weekend in Montreal with my husband earlier this month. Neither of us had been before so we were eager to explore a new city together. We were also eager to lounge and relax, eat and drink, and restaurant hop. I did a fair amount of restaurant research leading up to the trip. While one of the things I enjoy about visiting a new city is stumbling upon a great place to eat, it can also get frustrating wandering around passing restaurant upon restaurant and wondering which one to try.

I had made dinner reservations for two nights, but unfortunately we didn’t make it to the one place we were really excited about trying, Au Pied de Cochon. After some stomach weirdness on my part, and some general malaise on Pat’s part, we didn’t think we’d enjoy the experience of poutine, fois gras, and a meat-heavy meal that particular night. So, we forfeited those reservations and had some small plates of Italian instead at Dolcetto. We sat at the high-top bar in viewing range of the kitchen and chatting range of the chefs. We tried a little bit of everything- a prosciutto and arugula pizza, an antipasto veggie platter, a creamy squash lasagna and tiramisu. It was a fun little restaurant, the food was tasty, and all those yummy carbs definitely hit the spot after a gorgeous fall day of walking around Montreal.

Due to a booking snafu at our hotel, we got to stay at two different hotels in the Old Town area of the city. At our first, we arrived late at night to this package of macarons and a free drink at the hotel bar.

Another place we were determined to check out was Olive + Gourmando. Luckily it was right in the neighborhood where we were staying so we were able to get our fix of incredible pastries and delicious coffee not once, but twice. Our first morning we went for breakfast and found out they don’t really serve breakfast, except for a heaping bowl of yogurt/granola, coffee, and pastries. I got the mongo-granola, which was hearty and awesome and filled with fruit, a brioche chocolat, and a latte. Pat had all of the above, minus the granola. And the brioche chocolat? Oh my.

We were back here the next day, after touring much of the city in the pouring rain. This time we went for their tasty paninis and soup, which hit the spot on that wet day. And then for dessert we had more pastries and coffee.

That night we dined at Brasserie T! (the other res that I had made ahead of time), and ate this:

(above: jambon la quercia and fondue parmesan)

(above: flank steak and frites. And wine.)

I liked this restaurant. They let us take our time, service was efficient but not overbearing, location was right next to a contemporary art museum, and they did a nice job with the food. Pat thought the flank steak “could have been better”, but I was very pleased with my meal. We had dessert too of course. (apple turnover and ice cream)

We had heard that Montreal is known for its bagels and were eager to try some, so on our last full day we took a cab to Fairmount Bagel and picked up a couple sesames and cream cheese. Then we walked to the bike shop where we were joining a tour later in the morning. The bike shop wasn’t open yet, so we made ourselves at home at a next-door coffee shop with our bagels and cappuccinos. The bagels were excellent- warm, soft and chewy.

And speaking of the bike tour… we’d like to sing the praises of Fitz and Follwell for providing us with an awesome morning of bike-touring around the city.

Pat, in front of an outdoor art installation made of milk crates

As part of the bike tour we visited an out of the way farmer’s market for lunch. We never would have found Atwater Market on our own.

We rode a total of 12(ish) miles, ate lunch in the sunshine outside the market, and then stopped for almond croissants on the way back to the bike shop. That there, people, is my kind of bike ride.

Three more places worth mentioning… we had a decent breakfast one morning at Le Gros Jambon; a tasty and reasonably priced lunch in a very crowded (read: popular) lunch spot called Le Marche de la Villette, and a nice, vacation ending dinner at Venti Osteria.

Montreal was the perfect destination for an autumn long weekend getaway. After just a two hour flight from Minneapolis, you can find yourself in a city that feels European, yet is very laid back, friendly, and English speaking!