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Bits and Bites

Bits and Bites

Le Continental: Continental living at its best
Photo: Kate Hutchinson

Le Continental
(4169 St-Denis, 514-845-6842)

I’ve gone to Le Continental so often I almost forget how fun the décor is. Hearkens back to the golden era of the silver screen with its art deco and filmic homage to early air travel and globalization. Each week there are innovative takes on bistro fare, but also look to their solid regular menu with good standards like bavettes and tartares of beef or horse (my fave!), a hearty lamb shank, poached organic salmon, a few pastas and salads. The soups never fail me, nice wine list, and I always feel at home. Visit their fussy but entertaining website at www.lecontinental.ca. Fade to black… 4/5 (Maeve Haldane)

(1057A Bernard W., 514-213-1313)

One of our last classic delicatessens, Lester’s boasts authenticity and pure deliciousness every visit. Their smoked meat is the thin-sliced, tender kind (rather than thick, crumbly slabs of brisket), generously layered on perfectly fresh rye with mustard. It’s their own smoked meat (a rarity these days), and the fries, pickles, coleslaw and just about everything else on the menu are consistently great. Some of my favourite things to order are their hot dogs, karnatzel on the grill, and the smoked salmon, which is exceptional and made especially for Lester’s, but really pricey. The old-time deli atmosphere, good service and solid food bring back a time when great Jewish delis were easy to find here and smoked meat wasn’t something you went for at Nickels. 3/5 (Howard Chackowicz)

Tokyo Sukiyaki
(7355 Mountain Sights; 514-737-7245)

Hidden among a pack of auto-repair body shops and tire dealers, you would never know that a serene Japanese scene awaits you inside these doors. After removing your footwear (and donning flip-flops) to enter a Japanese garden complete with bridges and streams, kimono-clad waitresses lead you to your private room outfitted with tatami mats and shoji screens. This is where the fantasy ends. You are then fed an array of extremely bland Japanese food fit only for tourists looking for a taste of Japan in Montreal. Aside from the sushi, most of the set dinners consist of the same items (noodle salad, lukewarm miso soup, chicken yakitori, beef teriyaki, shrimp tempura etc.) served as appetizers, the only difference being that the main course comes on a larger plate. Sayonara. 1/5 (Peter Horowitz)

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  • by Eric St-Pierre - March 22, 2007, 4:07 pm

    Meaning the Tokyo Sukiyaki is living it down! Ouch 1/5 stars, that’s got to hurt. It’s out of the way too so this place is a no-go. Thanks hour! Continental seems more welcoming!

  • by Selena Lobo - March 22, 2007, 5:22 pm

    Atmosphere comes second to food. Though Tokyo Sukiyaki sounds like a beautiful place to eat especially if you get your own private room but if the food is second rate then there is no way I will go there. With so many great Japanese restaurants in Montreal who needs to settle for mediocre. There is not much to say about Lester’s that hasn’t already been said. Great food and classic delicatessen fare. The smoked meat sandwich is great but not something you can eat everyday!

  • by Reuven De Souza - March 22, 2007, 6:54 pm

    I think that there are always going to differences of opinion when it comes to smoked meat. those who will defend to the death the joys of eating at Schwartzs, The Main, (the late)Bens, Dunns, Snowdon Deli or Lesters. All I know is that I love the fact that there are so many options for Montrealers. While I personally extol the wonders of Scwartzs, I can easily savour a succulent piping hot smoked meat sandwich from any of the aforementioned joints. The mere thought of biting into a succulent smoked meat sandwich is enough to send my taste buds into overdrive. A medium with mustard, fries, pickle and a coleslaw on the side please. Lesters really is worth the trip. Plus while you are there take a pound to go…the best lunchtime sandwich you can have!

  • by Genia Chepurniy - March 22, 2007, 8:51 pm

    wow- the review for ‘tokyo sukiyaki’ sounded sooo amazing and worth the trek out to mountain sights, until that is, i got to the actual food descriptions part… how disappointing to end up with something akin to Japanese tourist food… sayonara indeed… the organic poached salmon on the other hand (served at le continetal), does seem lovely indeed and the decor sounds just as fabulous…

  • by Jennifer Carriere - March 23, 2007, 4:40 pm

    The review of Tokyo Sukiyaki is totally wrong. The setting is different, but the food is not bland or tepid as the review suggests. The yakitori has bite, tempura is light and fluffy, and the shabushabu is great! The desserts lack a little, but who goes to a Japanese resto for dessert (green tea ice cream is yummy though)? Who cares if the appetizers are the same, it’s meant to give you a taste of the things you didn’t’ chose as an entree. 1/5? That’s a joke, it’s at least a 3.5 on bad nights and 4 on the good ones. PS: it’s a block from Namur metro, hardly a trek anywhere.

  • by Michael Levine - March 23, 2007, 11:21 pm

    Tokyo Sukiyaki is more than a sushi restaurant. It is authentic Japanese food, which has a distinct style and flavor. So to give it a 1/5 is a a bad joke. It is like comparing MacDonald’s to a fine steak house and then saying that restaurant does not serve the kind of great sauce you get on a big Mac. This restaurant is for those who want to go beyond the box in Japanese cuisine.
    I give this restaurant 4/5

  • by Martin Dansky - March 24, 2007, 12:48 am

    Lester reminds me of the great Brown Derby legend, the sour pickle and coleslaw garnishing s lining a stacked smoke meat sandwich. But so much has been said for smoke meat eateries. Ought to try this one out for its smoked salmon as I would Beauties. Now th Continental is more inviting with its selection of tartared beef dishes and soup choices. Always love art deco but it’s the silver screen nostalgia that has me curious. What a poor report for the Tokyo place, guess variety would raise their ratings.

  • by Stephen Talko - March 24, 2007, 10:59 am

    After viewing the web site for Le Continental I am left with a bitter taste in my mouth. The choppy poor quality black and white videos with all those lines and other artifacts do not make it easy to read the text. The shifting light levels are also very distracting. The sound gets to you after a while and it takes some intelligence to figure out that the gramophone icon on the lower left turns it off and on. This stuff belongs in the archives of a museum to protect it from further deterioration. I would prefer instead to see colour pictures of the menu items and some testimonials from satisfied customers.

  • by Stephanie Ein - March 24, 2007, 11:02 am

    Tokyo Sukiyaki has been around for ages– I think it’s the first Japanese restaurant in Montreal. The ambiance is indeed amazing– I loved the decor, the privacy, and the great service. While I found the food to be less than wonderful, I did not regret my evening there. I felt like I had stepped into a time capsule to a more gracious time. No one would ever spend the money and effort to design a restaurant like this today.

  • by Charles Montpetit - March 24, 2007, 6:06 pm

    For a while, I was wondering whether the rating system for this column was struck at 3 out of 5, since this was so often what even glowing reviews came down to. I’m glad to see that this week’s installment is proving me wrong. However, the Continental rating now highlights yet another problem, though not in the online version: there is no indication of the maximum number of stars in the print version of Hour, thereby making it seem like *four stars* is a top-notch rave. Please correct this in future issues.

  • by Clara Kwan - March 24, 2007, 8:16 pm

    I also love going to the Le Continental, my parents and I love the selection of fresh seafood that they provide every time we go to the restaurant. You definitely must try their poached salmon, absolutely irresistible mouth watering dish. It is also a family run business, go try them out. You won’t be disappointed.

  • by Alison Naimar - March 27, 2007, 9:00 am

    If the food at the continental is anywhere near as playful, and fun as there website is, it is sure to be a very special treat. Next time I am celebrating a special occasion I will be sure to check it out. Lester’s is already part of my regular repertoire, I highly recommend the smoked turkey sandwiches, side of fries and a cott.

  • by David St Pierre - March 29, 2007, 6:55 pm

    Hey, I love Lester’s – no offense to Schwartz’s but I actually prefer their leaner and more thinly sliced take on the brisket to Schwartz’s thick, crumbly variation. Great deli, old-school ambiance too makes for a casual, nostalgic dining experience – even though it’s a bit far afield, it’s definitely worth the trip!

  • by Pedro Eggers - April 2, 2007, 2:11 pm

    I’ve got South American blood in me and half of my diet’s staple is fish so yeah, I try to keep my ears open for good fish joints but in all honesty I’ve eaten at Le Continental twice before, once under my own power and once because I was dragged there, and I was never bowled over by it. Good yeah but I’ve had better. 4/5? Maybe 3/5, if that.

  • by Anny Truong - April 10, 2007, 6:49 pm

    If you want to try good smoke meat (but isn’t patient enough to wait forever at Schwartz), then Lester’s is your place to be. Those smoke meat are to die for. Of course, the price is worth every bit. Just typing this makes me crave a good piece of smoked meat.

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