In my fantasy life I keep clearly organized folders of clippings, weblinks, and friends’ recommendations, collected over the years, about noteworthy restaurants and singular out-of-the-way hotels all over the world. That way, when one day I go to Sicily, Copenhagen, Singapore, or Atlanta, I will know just where to stay and what to eat.
In my real life I have no folders, I don’t always buy a guidebook in advance, and we rarely book a hotel before we leave. It’s charming and spontaneous, as vacations should be, and sometimes leads to unexpected, memorable moments like sleeping in a thousand-year-old manor house nestled on Dartmoor in the South of England. But not always.
So our family of five drove up to Québec over Fourth of July weekend in what may well be the last trip of our aging VW Beetle. The only room we were likely to find in Montréal during a weekend that turned out to be not only the height of the jazz festival but also Canada Day, was in a large nondescript hotel. And, despite the fact that since I acquired the cookbook five years ago the legendary restaurant “Au Pied de Cochon” alone seemed worth the trip up to Québec, I hadn’t booked a table.
We saw a lot of Montréal in a day and a half. We walked more than was reasonable with three young children, from the old port up past the recent Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec toward Parc La Fontaine and finally to Parc du Mont-Royal before heading to the jazz festival.
In the end we barely stopped for lunch, and didn’t plan for a civilized dinner; but we did eat two exceptional breakfasts. I would have stayed weeks longer just for the granola, the scones, and the apple cinnamon bun.
Le Cartet has a store in the front with a large relaxed restaurant in the back. Everything on the breakfast menu seemed tempting and it was hard to choose. It’s the type of breakfast I like. You don’t have to decide for just eggs or just granola (though you can certainly opt to simply eat two soft-boiled eggs with toast).
The brunch plate I ordered included ginger granola with cashew nuts, yogurt, and blueberries; poached eggs on mesclun salad and whole wheat toast; cheddar; figs; and fresh fruit. And a very good cafe latte.
106 McGill St
Montréal, QC H2Y 2E5
Open Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, Sat-Sun 9am-4pm
Olive+Gourmando was crowded on Saturday morning, as it apparently often is, so we decided not to wait and rather take our breakfast out to a small park around the corner: coffee, croissants, scones, and an apple cinnamon bun to put all apple cinnamon buns to shame.
The blueberry scones, too, were probably the best I have eaten, perhaps thanks to a generous amount of lemon zest and, I would guess, a respectable quantity of butter.
351 Rue Saint Paul Ouest
Open Tues-Sat 8am-6pm