National Geographic : 1967 May
hurry-I dropped in at a spot that advertised itself as an "American quick lunch." With such a variety of establishments, eat ing out in Montreal can be delightful adven ture. I've long subscribed to the theory that second-floor restaurants have to be good to entice patrons up a tiring flight of stairs. On Notre Dame Street in Montreal's Old Quarter, I put that idea to the test. I climbed a narrow passageway in a none too-attractive building where a modest sign proclaimed Au Pierrot Gourmet. The rooms that years ago had been a home glistened with thick coats of paint over papered walls; plain chairs edged tables wearing red-plaid cloths. But the food was nothing short of marvelous. Owner Jean-Louis Larre, in spotless chef's jacket and pants, flitted from pots in the kitchen, where he presided, to patrons' elbows, where he solicitously inquired about the dishes brought out. My veal kidneys-cooked with bits of ham in a cognac-and-mushroom sauce -c ouldn't have been better, I assured him. He told me he had emigrated from the Basque region of France and, 15 years ago, had opened a cafe catering to workmen of Montreal's Old Quarter. Now he serves busi nessmen from offices a few blocks away and gustatory adventurers like me. In another restaurant on another day, at the suggestion of gourmet Montrealer Lucien Bergeron, I stuffed myself with a habitant platter-heaped helpings of pigs' knuckles, meatballs, boiled potatoes, and meat pie. My dessert was tarte au sucre-a pastry made of maple sugar, eggs, and cream. As I downed the last rich morsel, I couldn't avoid recalling the plight of an earlier visitor to Montreal. Iroquois Indians who welcomed Jacques Cartier to their palisaded village showered his longboats with gifts of fish and corn bread "so much of it," he wrote, "... that it seemed to rain bread." Even today, I decided, enticing Montreal believes that the way to complete the capture of a man's heart is through his stomach. THE END Celestial beings in bronze-sculptures adorning the main lobby at Montreal's new concert hall-gaze down on mortals enjoying refresh ments during intermission at a concert by the Montreal Symphony (above). Critics and performers say the hall is acoustically one of the most nearly perfect in the world. Patrons enthusiastically approve the arrangement of the hall's 2,963 seats-greater width between rows and placement so that everyone has an unobstructed view of the stage. The major component of the Place des Arts, the hall bears the name of Canadian conductor Wilfrid Pelletier.