Here is an article I wrote for Marginal Boundaries. You can find it in its original form here.
For those who have never visited Canada, it is a place filled with gorgeous architecture, good food and a nearby border. On account of these factors, it was not entirely clear that I was in another country during my first visit to Montreal in the fall of 2011. At first glance, it resembled a number of other large cities, like Denver for example, with a large number of shopping areas, parks, and roads. I had the chance to visit St. Joseph’s Cathedral, situated up in the mountains, which has an astounding view of the city of Montreal from the top of their stairs. I did not think, however, that I would end up experiencing some of the best meals of my life in Montreal, especially a few that are dishes I have enjoyed in the U.S.
It was ironically my first meal in Canada which was by far the most memorable, and still possibly the best meal I have ever had to this day. I enjoyed a three-course lunch at the restaurant inside the Hilton Garden Inn where I was staying; this included a light vegetable-beef broth soup, a duck confit salad, and a coffee cake desert (of course not without a Bloody Mary for good measure). It has been ages since I have had any multiple-course meal, and clearly this Montreal restaurant knew what they were doing. The soup was perfectly portioned and light, which was pleasing especially for myself, since I often over-consumes appetizers and ruin the main dish. And the dessert of coffee crumble cake was particularly delightful, considering I had not had a crumble cake since I was a child. But it was the main course of duck confit that truly was an experience. I had never had duck before then, and it was soft, juicy and sweet. It went perfectly with the leafy greens it was placed next to, and I took the time to enjoy every morsel of this previously unknown dish.
I did get the chance to try a dish that is unique to Montreal, called Poutine, which consists of French fries covered in brown gravy, ground beef, and onions (if ordered traditionally), but there are a million other ways to order Poutine. I found it to be a greasy, heavy and very filling specialty, but I was determined to try some local cuisine, and I am glad I did. But I will never forget my lunch experience at the hotel, and it just goes to show you that you never know where you will have the best meal of your life.