I suppose one could call this beautiful, mostly open-air garden in Vieux Montreal a brasserie or bistro. It is a very casual place, with great ambience, good music, and food clearly aimed at a young, active crowd, with an intriguing assortment of salads and Canadian crèpes filled with everything from fresh cheese and spinach to veal, caramelized onions and mushrooms, as well as rabbit and confit of duck. Not surprisingly, they also have a wide pizza selection. We chose some hors d’oeuvres and stuck with pizzas and salads, all of which were excellent. Prices are very reasonable, and while I wasn’t in the mood for wine, we did drink some spectacular Quebec beer, most notably the Unibroue Blanche de Chambly. This is a Belgian ale-styled beer, but loaded with flavor, and for someone who rarely drinks beer, an impressive example of it.
I can’t recommend the casual Jardin Nelson enough. It is quite beautiful and only open during the warm weather months, given the fact that the entire ceiling is missing, but it is heavily adorned with trees, flowers, and lots of beautiful plants.
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Petit Louis Bistro
A lookalike, authentic French bistro, Petit Louis in Baltimore's Roland Park is the creation of restauranteurs par excellence Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman. You feel like you’ve walked into a bistro on the Left Bank of Paris when you enter Petit Louis. The food is classic bistro, and they do it well. All of the courses we had were flavorful, sometimes a trifle rustic, but delicious in their intensity. This was good comfort food prepared extremely well. The wines started with one of the major surprises for me over the last year, the 2006 sparking wine from Tony Soter in Oregon. I had this several times while I was out visiting Oregon, and I had always been impressed, but this is a 10-year-old sparking Rosé that is just sensational, and I’m talking world class—it’s that good. Something this good from France would cost at least two to three times as much, so kudos to Tony Soter. The 1995 Billaud-Simon Chablis Mont de Milieu was oxidized and undrinkable. The 1996 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos St. Urbain Rangen de Thann was sweet, and although it went well with the foie gras, it was just a little too unctuous and sweet a wine...