Beautiful Vieux Montreal: Now Open for Summer Fun

Great news for those who love this lovely city–the dining rooms and terraces of Montréal’s wonderful restaurants are now open. It’s time to sample the culinary delights of the recently re-opened Experience Old Montréal restaurants (note that each restaurant makes a determination as to how many patrons can be served both inside and outside in order to respect the two-metre physical distancing rules, unless the patrons come from the same private residence or there is a physical barrier between them). Many Montréal restaurants continue to offer takeout and delivery service. Bars have been allowed to reopen since June 25, although they must respect the same sanitary protocols as restaurants and patrons must be seated – no dancing or standing at the bar. All bars must now close at midnight.

For those new to this beautiful historic section of the city, this is the perfect change to explore some of the most beloved restaurants and bars in Old Montreal. Not matter what meal– breakfast, lunch, dinner or brunch or what cuisine–French brasserie or bistro, Italian and pizza, Japanese izakaya and sushi, along with some of the best steaks in Montreal–it’s all there. Montreal bars are also perfect for a night out for drinks with friends or your office happy hour!

Enjoy the steaks and patio dining at Vieux-Port Steakhouse; the Paris-inspired menu from the Golden Age of French brasseries at Brasserie 701,

Dine overlooking the Saint-Lawrence River at Taverne Gaspar located on de la Commune Street, right next to the Auberge du Vieux-Port.

Gaming establishments like the Casino de Montréal and its restaurants such as Ajia, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Pavillon 76 and will hopefully be opening soon. L’Instant, the deli, is scheduled for opening on August 3.

For jazz there’s the atmospheric Modavie, the city’s hottest jazz bar and bistro. Enjoy live music while dining and stay for a drink or two to continue enjoying the sounds of some the best jazz musicians around.

History and elegance combine at L’Auberge Saint-Gabriel with its arched stone entrance and glossy red facade. Built in  built in 1688 by a French soldier, it was the first auberge (the French term for inn) in North America to receive a liquor licence, on March 4, 1754. Specializing in French and Quebecois and just steps away from the NotreDame Basilica, it’s location and style–stone walls and rich materials creates that wonderful sense of being in Old Paris when dining here.

To get in the mood to visit the restaurants of Old Montreal, may we suggest cooking a classic cassoulet as a start. So turn on your favorite jazz riffs, open a bottle of French wine, prepare the meal and, oh yes, most importantly, book a flight to Montreal.

The following is adapted from a recipe by Thomas Keller, Chef/Owner of the famed The French Laundry.

Photo courtesy of Williams Sonoma.

Thomas Keller’s Slow-Cooker Cassoulet

  • 4 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 8 pieces and trimmed of excess fat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 cup panko
  • 4 oz. thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped yellow onions (about 3 medium onions)
  • 2 cups dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 can (35 oz.) peeled Italian plum tomatoes, drained and
      coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 12 cups cooked Great Northern beans or other small white
      beans, drained
  • 6 fully cooked or smoked chorizo or garlic sausage links,
      about 1 1/2 lb. total, each halved on the diagonal
  • 1 garlic head, halved crosswise
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1 lb. baguette, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing
  • Coarse sea salt, such as sel gris, for garnish

Season the pork generously with kosher salt and pepper; set aside.

In the stovetop-safe insert of a slow cooker over medium-high heat, combine the canola oil and panko. Cook, stirring constantly, until the panko is toasted and golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the panko to a baking sheet and season with kosher salt and pepper.

Add the bacon to the insert and cook until crisp on both sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Reserve the bacon fat in the insert.

Add half of the pork to the insert and brown on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a platter. Repeat with the remaining pork.

Add the onions and 1 tsp. kosher salt to the insert and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and softened, about 7 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes and broth. Remove the insert from the heat and add the beans, pork, chorizo and garlic.

Place the insert on the slow-cooker base, cover and cook on low until the pork pulls apart easily with a fork, 9 to 10 hours. Skim off the fat, and remove and discard the garlic. Fold in the panko and the 1/4 cup parsley. Adjust the seasonings with kosher salt and pepper.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat the broiler.

Brush the baguette slices with olive oil. Arrange the slices, oiled side up, on top of the cassoulet, overlapping them. Broil until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes.

Let the cassoulet stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle each serving with the reserved bacon, sea salt and parsley. Serves 8 to 10.

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