For as far back as I can recall, the Queen Elizabeth hotel has been the standard for buffet brunches in town; New York has the Waldorf Astoria, Montreal has the Queen E. In an attempt to remain relevant and branché in the face of Airbnb and boutique hotels, the hotel recently went under the scalpel and reopened last summer reinvigorated.
The restauration, food and drink spaces have been completely revamped as well – not unlike the Ritz and W – and now comprise a diverse food hall, elegant café, swanky bar and Le Montréalais' successor, Rosélys. The replacement proved as popular as before, as a long lineup of diners anxiously awaited the opening of the doors for the 11AM brunch service – those without a reservation were sent packing!
Gone is the guitarist endlessly playing flamenco renditions of your parents' favourite oldies, the restaurant's ambiance has been catapulted to the 21st century! The mezzanine level has also been brought down, giving the Parisian art deco space an airy, luminous feel. As for the crowd, the brunch service still seems to draw the usual tourists and families-with-kids – what child doesn't enjoy a buffet?
tagged: BRING THE KIDS
Montreal's best buffet can still make that claim! The offering is much more diverse and rich than before. The raw/seafood station has particularly expanded by adding makis, lobster rolls, red tuna, beef tataki and grilled calamari to the usual lineup of smoked salmon and Matane shrimp salad.
Otherwise you will find the regular stations for salad, made-to-order eggs and crepes, hot food and – improved – desserts. The roasting counter now boasts pork loin and duck magret in addition to roast beef. Newly introduced are thin-crust pizza and a self-serve candy smorgasbord.
Not everything is perfect – this is a buffet after all – but most of what I tried was satisfactory or better, save for a tough-as-rubber fried chicken finger. Given the enhanced selection, it is not surprising to see the price per adult balloon up to $49 – kids are either free or half off, depending on their age.
tagged: ALL YOU CAN EAT
One of the advantages of a buffet meal is not having to wait after staff for food to arrive. With that being said, a waiter can still affect one's experience with drinks, refills and plate/cutlery changes. Our waiter for the day did a fine job with all of the aforementioned. Moreover, stations were well-stocked and being refilled promptly from what I could tell.
Even if it feels as though an old-school classic is gone, the time was ripe for a fresh start for Le Montréalais. Yes, the buffet price has gone up; but given the variety and refinement on offer, I feel it is justified. Compared to the Sofitel's $56 and the Ritz's $75 at one end of the spectrum, and around $40 for the mediocre likes of Chateau Vaudreuil and Portovino at the other end, Rosélys' $49 is spot on.
Now I still need to try its regular bistronomie – how I hate that term – menu; but as far as brunch goes, it's tops!
Price per person: $49
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.