Quebec Isn't So Bad
I've spent most of this last week in Montreal, Quebec doing on-site training and installation. Honestly, the whole language thing had me a bit intimidated. Not only do I not speak French, but I heard from a certain friend that they're a bit snooty about it in these parts. Montreal, however, appears to largely be an exception to this rule. I didn't get a chance to really tour the city and there wasn't a lot of time to look around Quebec City while I was up there. What I did see and experience, however, was enough to make me seriously consider coming back should the opportunity arise.
Montreal, if you didn't know, sits on an island in the middle of the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers. I stayed in Longueuil on the east side of the river and discovered on my first day that it was a mere stone's throw from the Montreal temple. (It's clearly visible from Route 132.) The road system out here would make any Californian confused. Ever been through MacArthur Maze in Emeryville? Pretty much every freeway I drove on was like that except that all of the street signs are in French. If it wasn't for the GPS, I'd have ended up fishing in Nova Scotia the entire week.
I did find, however, that Montreal is a worthy place to visit if you happen to be a fellow gourmand. The first night I ate at a pretty good Italian place down the street from the hotel. (Trivia: There's enough Italians in Montreal to form a Little Italy downtown. Who knew?) My last night I had what was arguably the finest meal of my life at Moishes, a steak house that apparently earned its legendary status. To call the dining epic wouldn't do it justice.
Since I had a good chunk of my per diem left, I went all-out. Starter course? You betcha. I had a grilled mushroom salad that could have easily been mistaken for a steak salad. Mushrooms that good are no accident. Then came the entree: a medium-rare filet mignon with grilled shrimp, stuffed baked potato and grilled asparagus. The steak was fork-tender and each of the shrimp were the perfect texture (and a ridiculously large four bites a pop). And dessert? I decided on the house-made pastries. They brought out a plate with about a dozen different choices. The one I picked rivaled The Bakery in downtown SLC, just slightly exceeding it. The meal may have been $80 plus tip, but it was worth every red cent.
Moral of the story? If you love dining and don't mind either learning conversational French or stick to downtown Montreal, Quebec is a pretty nice place to visit.