We finally tried the infamous Montreal bagels on our third day in Montreal. We picked St. Viateur over Fairmount, because the name sounded nicer (sometimes that's all it takes!), but we hear they are fairly interchangeable. The bakery is very straight-forward, with one fine gent manning the deep ovens with crazy long wooden paddles, and releasing them when ready into the bagel abyss.
And one man working off a giant slab of bagel dough by hand. And that's really all it takes.
To get these beauts ! Left, sesame seed, right everything !
St. Viateur does not prepare the bagel for you, like New York shops. The side refrigerator has all the fixings for you to buy, so we grabbed a container of Quebec cream cheese and smoked salmon, walked next door to David's Tea, ordered a refreshing iced tea, and went to work!
This is me lacking any patience to resist biting into my bagel sandwich before photographing. And it was so good. I do prefer the Montreal bagel to New York because I like a thinner bagel with more focus on the baked crust. It's also sweeter, and we all know, I. Love. Sweets. And god that cream cheese and salmon was just so fresh ! Why am I still talking about this? I really loved it !
We walked a block away to also grab a few snacks from Cheskie Boulangerie. The chocolate babka is what they are known for but we couldn't walk away without trying these beautiful ice cream cone shaped pastries.
The crust was nice and flaky and the custard so smooth and not too sweet, so you can feel fine finishing all of it !
With our ice cream cone pastry in hand, we walked to Mont-Royal park to check out the famous tamtam drum circle that forms around George-Étienne Cartier Monument every Sunday beginning at noon. Thousands come and spectate the characters that bring the beats !
Looking at the size of that man's belly dance for an hour made me hungry, so we walked to Schwartz's, a Hebrew delicatessen (and another Montreal institution), to check out their smoked meat sandwiches. The line at Schwartz's was insane, dozens deep in the sun. The line for takeout was a little shorter. We waited about 20 minutes to order two beef briskets, two orders of fries, one fat sour pickle, and Cotts cherry soda.
The smoked meats were pretty tasty. They meat was moist and tender, and fairly flavorful, but Katz's smoked meats do have a deeper smokiness. Still delicious, but maybe not worth the wait. Also, order only one set of fries if you go (pretty large portion and kind of bland), but definitely get the Cotts cherry cola. So good washing that meat down !
With a heavy load of meat in our bellies, why not go on a 22 km bike ride around Montreal? And that's what we did. We rented bikes from Ca Roule Montreal, which is right along the water of Montreal - putting you conveniently near the canals and water-edged bike paths. They mapped our trail for us which included having us traverse the canal, ride across two islands, and the Formula 1 track. Strong recommend, if you visit Montreal - the bike paths are nothing short of amazing. As are the ample spots to eat delicious treats like this picnic bench under a weeping willow.
Stash Cafe. Ate the kielbasa (I want to have mustard duty!),
the pickled herring (cold, lemony and light!),
a mixed plate of pierogies with a lovely, chewy skin (meat one was best),
some stuffed cabbage (don't recommend, was fine),
and slices of apple cobbler with a heavy pour of sweet cream. We mainly ordered this when we saw an elderly couple, nearing 80, both eating their own slices of cobbler. If 80 year olds don't want to share, neither do we! The apple slivers were so thin, stacked intricately inside, and the overall dessert was so light and easy to polish off.
St. Viateur Bagels
263 Rue Saint Viateur Ouest Montreal, QC H2V 1Y1, Canada
359, rue Bernard Ouest Montréal, QC H2V 1T6
3895 St Laurent Blvd Montreal, QC H2W 1L2, Canada
200, rue Saint-Paul Ouest - Vieux Montréal