As I set out on a chilly Thursday evening to Montreal's new Hiverside ice bar, my mind was filled with scenes from the James Bond movie Die Another Day. In this classic early aughts spy romp, our hero, Mr. Bond, is invited to the villain's ice palace (which is somehow also a diamond mine) and hijinks ensue. And though I lack the martini-fueled charm of Pierce Brosnan, I was about to feel like Bond himself at this quirky Montreal ice bar.
What the movie didn't show you was that under that tuxedo, James Bond was wearing several layers of thermal underwear. Me, on the other hand? One measly layer of pants. I was shaken. But despite my lack of longjohns, Hiverside definitely stirred me up.
Now, many of you might be thinking, "c'mon, just how different can this be from any other themed bar?" Believe me, this is like nothing you've ever seen before in Montreal.
As you walk into the massive inflatable igloo, the first thing you'll notice is how remarkable the sculpted ice really is. From the tables and benches to a literal piano, the ice has been carved to absolute perfection.
It should come as no surprise since the ice was sculpted by the renowned Julien Doré, the artist behind Quebec's Hôtel de glace.
Flanking both sides of the bar are two sets of tables with enough room for about six people per table. The benches are covered in recycled furs that after a prolonged sit-down, don't do much to keep your butt from going numb. Luckily, at the back of the bar is an open area with heating lamps that got packed really fast.
With the music pumping and people spilling in, my friends and I were lucky enough to nab one of the last remaining tables. First up on the drink menu was a sort of vodka spritz made with cotton candy. While I'm not big on sweet drinks, the cocktail managed to strike a good balance and wasn't overpowering.
Next up was the hot chocolate cocktail. Now, I'm no mixologist, but mixing alcohol with hot chocolate is kind of a strange idea. At first, the drink was tasty but quite heavy on the alcohol. Unfortunately, hot drinks don't do too well surrounded by ice and what started out as a tasty drink became an abhorrent swirl of alcohol and cold hot chocolate. But maybe that's your thing?
I was so glad the next drink, the hot toddy cocktail, redeemed the hot chocolate. On the first sip, I forgot all about my numb bum and was whisked away to a planet made of warm duvets. It was classic, delicious, strong but not destructive, and the perfect thing to drink while sitting on an ice bench.
If you're looking for a fun night out to get drinks with friends in a mesmerizing environment, this is the place for you. My only advice is to layer up!
Is Hiverside worth it? Most definitely.
Hiverside Ice Bar
Price: $60/person for a reservation; Hiverside also accepts walk-ins
Where: Riverside bar, 5020, rue St-Ambroise, Montreal, QC
Boucherie Slovenia, a boulevard Saint-Laurent institution for 50 years, will soon serve its last spicy sausage.
The iconic home of enormous Eastern European-style sandwiches — Slovenian sausage and towering cold-cuts were staples — will close its doors forever on January 29, said the owners, Lourdes Rodrigues and Jean Teixeira, in a Facebook post.
"Thank you to all our loyal customers, for the wonderful years," they said.
With a menu overflowing with huge, yet affordable, meat and mustard sandwiches — sauerkraut, pickles and Cherry Cokes were also standard — Boucherie Slovenia is the latest of the Main's iconic old-school institutions to close.
The beloved Moishes steakhouse announced its closure under the strain of the pandemic in the summer of 2020.
The Boucherie Slovenia Facebook post asks readers to share their memories of the restaurant and butcher shop, with many offering childhood stories of visiting for a pepperette sandwich or their "underrated" smoked meat, which is "the best in the city," according to one commenter.
Many apparent long-time customers said they wouldn't know where to go to find dishes comparable to Boucherie Slovenia's treasured menu items.
Others remarked on how yet another classic Montreal restaurant is closing its doors. "Nothing replaces these fantastic old shops," said one person. "It's a loss. The rich character of the boulevard is disappearing."
If you've ever taken stock of Montreal's countless sushi spots (despite that the city is nowhere near an ocean), you might've gotten the hunch that Montrealers love sushi — and, according to a new ranking by Chef's Pencil, you'd be right. Montreal was just named the 11th most "sushi-crazed" city in the world outside of Japan, which means we're officially sushi-obsessed.
Sushi is one of those foods that works well for just about any occasion. Celebrating a birthday? Sushi. Catching up with old friends? Sushi. A random Tuesday night? Sushi. No wonder it's so popular here.
Since simply reading this article has likely brought your perpetual sushi craving up 10 notches, here are some of Montreal's best sushi restaurants. You're going to want to try them because a city that's this into sushi has only the highest of standards.
Why You Need To Go: Chef Antonio Park has made a name for himself — both here in the city and also around the world — thanks to his amazing sushi. One meal at his namesake restaurant in Westmount is enough to see why.
Why You Need To Go: Not one but two locations bring you bright, colourful fusion maki creations — from Bob Marley rolls, made with fish tempura and yogurt sauce, to Marvin Gaye rolls made with fried shrimp, sweet miso and lobster. As it says on the Saint Sushi website, "At Saint, it's good vibes only!"
Who needs a trip to Italy when you've got a taste of it in Montreal's very own Verdun? In the age of COVID-19, with dining rooms currently closed, we've got you covered on a must-try spot that is bound to fulfill all of your takeaway needs. BOSSA is an Italian restaurant and grocery store that prides itself on being family-run, and their signature sandwiches certainly set them apart.
Located on rue Wellington, BOSSA offers over 20 varieties of hot and cold sandwiches. From their sausage and peppers mix ($11.95) and prosciutto mortadella ($12.95) to their roasted chicken sandwich fixed with pesto, dried tomatoes, and a balsamic reduction ($12.95), you'll be salivating just thinking about it — we certainly are!
BOSSA owner, Daniel Lo Manto had been working in the restaurant business for over six years and figured it was time the neighbourhood got a much-needed "Italian centred" lunch spot. In addition to the restaurant's fully packed sandwiches, their menu also includes an array of authentic Italian pasta dishes and pastries made with fresh ingredients — items the BOSSA owner said stem from the recipes and techniques of his grandparents.
"There's a lot of heritage in this place, and a lot of love!" Lo Manto told MTL Blog.
When asked about the recipe he's most proud of, Daniel boasted about the porchetta sandwich ($11.95). However, in terms of popularity, it comes in second to their must-try chicken parm ($12.95), made with basil oil, mozzarella, chicken cutlet, parmesan and hot peppers.
It's always good to have go-to food spots with dishes that taste just as good whether you eat them there or bring them home. But knowing which Montreal restaurants have the best take-out is even more important during a pandemic when restaurant dining rooms flip flop between being open and being closed.
These local eateries serve food that travels well, which makes them perfect picks when enjoying a meal at home (or in a park, or at a friend's house or in a car or... you get it).
Why You Need To Go: Not only does this restaurant serve up some of the tastiest and most interesting plates — Peruvian cuisine prepared using Japanese techniques — but menu items like ceviche, dumplings and crispy chicken are super easy to take them home... not to mention super delicious.
Why You Need To Go: This popular plant-based restaurant makes sushi you'll absolutely love whether you're vegan or not. Plus, you won't have to worry about keeping your sushi warm (it's supposed to be room temperature), it won't spoil quickly since it's not made with fish or meat and bite-sized pieces make it easy to consume anywhere you go.
Why You Need To Go: Excite your tastebuds with some of the best Romanian snacks and meals you can find in the city. Street food style sliders, burgers and sausages make for comforting eats that keep well on the go.
Why You Need To Go: This spot is perfect for when you're craving that really doughy, cheesy, old-school pizza. They also have amazing burgers if you're in the mood for that instead... but who says you can't have both.
Why You Need To Go: Serving charcoal-cooked chicken packed with flavour, this Outremont spot's African recipes make every bite taste like a masterpiece. Depending on how hungry you are (and how long you want the leftovers to last), DJ Poulet offers whole chicken, half chicken, and quarter chickens meals.
Why You Need To Go: On the lookout for fresh dumplings that pack up nicely and taste great? You've come to the right place. Yum Yum has homemade dumplings, noodles, bubble tea, soup, soup dumplings and more — all available for delivery.
Address: 54, rue Saint-Viateur O., Montreal, QC & 4549, rue Wellington, Verdun, QC
Why You Need To Go: Falafel Yoni may be relatively new to the city, but it's already made quite a name for itself with its warm, flavourful, light and crispy falafel pitas that are also nice and portable.