Last week Andy and I had a gluten-free getaway to Montreal. We haven’t done something like that, just the two of us, since before Zoe was born (12 years ago)! Andy’s parents live just 2 and a half hours from Montreal on Lake George, New York. So, on Wednesday the 9th we left our girls with their grandparents, and we hit the road north. For most of the drive we cruised along the forested highway without so much as a house or barn to be seen. It’s reassuring to see such large spaces left in their natural state!
Day 1 – Wednesday
Our trip was planned last-minute. We used airbnb to find a place to stay. We picked a small modern apartment on Île des Soeurs. Nuns’ Island is convenient to downtown, but nice and quiet at night. I was a little nervous at the language difference. Andy took French in high school, and knows enough to order food. He tried starting off conversations with a “Bonjour,” but locals could quickly tell that we weren’t native speakers, and they switched to English.
The first thing we did in the city was visit Baked2Go on Boulevard Saint Laurent. All the bagels, bread, cookies, and cakes in this bakery are gluten-free. I don’t usually eat grains of any kind, but this was vacation 🙂 The sugar-free biscuits proéinés à l’orange were my favorite!
We then walked to a nearby bookstore that Andy wanted to visit. The architecture of the homes along the residential streets is charming. My friend Leanne at Healthful Pursuit suggested we should try Crudessence for dinner, which is 100% vegan and 100% gluten-free. It was aaammmmaaaaazing! Even Andy, and avid carnivore, loved his Samurai bean noodles. I got lasagna made with zucchini noodles and nut-ricotta, which came with a fantastic salad too. They gave us samples of their green smoothie. Mmmm! I wish we had remembered to return for more smoothies the next day!
Day 2 – Thursday
We woke up late on our first morning in Montreal. For breakfast we simply walked down from the apartment and had some coffee and tea at a cafe. Lots of readers suggested we visit Schwartz’s for lunch. There is always super long line to eat at this deli, so decided to grab some of their fantastic smoked meat to go. We took it to eat at Mount Royal Park, using gluten-free bagels from Bakery2Go to make sandwiches.
After lunch we drove to the Jardin botanique de Montréal. The gardens are definitely a must-see in Montreal. We started with a relaxing green tea in the Chinese Garden, and walked for hours along winding paths leading through a variety of types of garden. They was such a variety that Andy joked that they should have a section for poisonous plants. We walked a little farther and found that they do!
We grabbed a coffee at Saint Henri before our dinner date. We noticed that the staff and patrons were all speaking English. We soon learned that this west part of Montreal tends to be English, while the rest of the city speaks French. The coffee was great, and I was excited to see they have lait d’amande!
We had 6pm reservations at Grumman 78 on Rue de Courcelle, thanks to the suggestion by Lindsay Eberts on Instagram. The name “Grumman 78” comes from the make and year of their popular food truck. The restaurant is in an old garage, and it is completely adorable. Like really, really, really adorable. The tables are re-purposed wooden shipping pallets or cable spools, and the color palate is black and white (with shades of grey and off-white too, which makes it warm and inviting). We got beef tacos, sweet potatoes, and cocktails. The beef was perfect, and I skipped the tortillas, but indulged in the sweet potatoes, which contained some cheese (which I hardly ever do). For dessert we each had a mint chocolate French macaroon, raspberry marshmallow, and caramel. Phenomenal all around.
Day 3 – Friday
We stayed in for breakfast, eating store-bought coconut yogurt, berries, and sliced almonds. Our first stop was a book store that Andy wanted to visit. Drawn and Quarterly is a comic book publisher in Montreal, which also runs a cute bookstore on Rue Bernard West. (Andy bought Petty Theft, which is a comical graphic novel taking place on that very street in Montreal.)
While Andy was browsing I walked around the neighborhood and stumbled upon another gluten-free bakery on Avenue du Parc by accident. Mi & Stu is run by two moms who have kids with food allergies. While I waited for Andy I got to talk with Mi, and she’s delightful. We bought buns for lunch. I couldn’t leave Montreal without eating Schwartz’s smoked meat one more time. It’s so delish.
We drove over to the historic Vieux-Port de Montréal and ate our sandwiches on a park bench facing the St. Lawrence River. We walked along the historic Rue Notre-Dame, which is lined with old French-looking stone buildings. We eventually stopped at an outdoor cafe for coffee, but we wished we had instead walked just a bit further to Le Magasin Général et Bistro on Rue de la Communion. That shop/cafe was super charming. We wished we had drank our coffee there, but it was still nice to browse.
It was a fantastic trip (apart from the traffic we hit while trying to leave the city at rush hour). By evening we were back at the family cabin on Lake George, where we will be staying for two more days. Then it’s back to SoCal!
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