We have both a love and hate relationship with Montreal Oysterfest, it’s our favourite festival of the year, so we love it. But it signifies the end of summer, so we hate it! This was our third year at this fun festival, you can read about last year’s boozy and oyster filled experience HERE. Things were a little different this year, Montreal Oysterfest had moved over to Peel Basin instead of Bonsecours Island in Old Montreal, but we didn’t mind because we got a gorgeous view of Farine Five Roses, which is oh-so-very Montreal!
Tickets purchased in advance were $40 which included the entrance and 2 Oysterfest coupons (valued at $5 each), the larger package was $70 which included the entrance and 10 Oysterfest coupons (valued at $5 each). All additional tickets were 5$ each, but this year that didn’t matter as you could use cash at most food booths, so you did not have to actually buy tickets. Valued at around 5$ a food item, with some exceptions for lobster and other specialty items, Montreal Oysterfest is a fun weekend that’s very affordable.
And if eating and drinking and shucking isn’t enough for you, the money from Montreal Oysterfest is for a good cause, it benefits the Open Pier Conservatory. This non-profit group works to protect the world’s waterways and aquatic life. Daniel Notkin, the founder of Montreal Oysterfest is the charismatic organizer and the ferocious leader behind this non-profit. All that is fine and dandy but we’re Food Divas so of course we were there for the food!
Painfully hung over after Goldie’s birthday, Diva #1 and Sweet Pea from montreall.com arrived a little broken at the 7th Annual Montreal Oysterfest with Tanya-Kay, lifestyle blogger in tow. There they met up with Diva #2 and the boys of Day Jobs & the Night Life who had arrived earlier. We have never eaten at Houston Bar & Grill but after seeing their dynamic booth at Oysterfest we are more than intrigued. The most delicious BBQ ribs and peppers were grilling on a large BBQ at their booth. The staff manning the booth was charismatic, the food absolutely mouth-watering and we caught ourselves wondering why we have never checked out Houston Bar & Grill.
That’s another reason that we love Oysterfest, we always discover new restaurants by first going to their booths, loving what they have to offer and then quickly making a reservation at their restaurant. Houston Bar & Grill even had a section of their BBQ devoted to grilling oysters, they were taking surf n’ turf to the next level, with plenty of bright and gorgeous fresh vegetables grilling alongside the oysters.
Of course besides experimenting with new restaurants, we’re loyal girls and we love to return to our faves! Lately we have been having an ongoing love affair with Le Slang in NDG. Although we had just eaten at their restaurant the night before, we were still very eager to check out their booth at Oysterfest. They had a few options on their menu, but we opted for their General Tao calamari, a Le Slang favourite of ours. The calamari is crispy and tossed in a general tao sauce with lime juice and sesame seeds.
The two chefs from Le Slang are Carlo Amalfi and Giancarlo Martino, not only are these young guys amazing chefs, they’re also super friendly. Giancarlo even whipped up a delicious Vietnamese coffee for blogger Tanya-Kay, check out the pic of both of them above. She’s just so F-A-S-H-I-O-N in her Beatles band shirt. Anyway we can’t seem to get enough of Le Slang lately, and every time we bring new friends they get obsessed and drag us back a few weeks later.
Le Slang was sharing a booth at Oysterfest with another one of our favourite haunts, Tripes & Caviar. We were lucky enough to try their fun cotton candy. They had both sassy apple and wacky watermelon as fun flavours, we felt like kids again walking around a sunny day with cotton candy making our fingers sticky and colouring our lips. Tripes & Caviar is another one of our favourite restaurants in Montreal!
Of course Montreal Oysterfest is also about the competitions, similar to last year, there was a plating competition, oyster shucking competition for different levels, and many mixology competitions. With music from Jonas, and a DJ spinning in between various performances, the mood is high energy. This year we only saw the Bloody Caesar competition, we were too busy eating for the rest.
Like Columbus and Magellan, Diva #1 and Sweet Pea discovered more new spots at Oysterfest. 753bt Cucina Romana was one of those places, they were serving the most delicious looking porchetta. Focusing on the cuisine of Rome and Lazio, Giuseppe Sacchetti is the founder of 753bt Cucina Romana and they know how to serve Italian meat!
Suite 701 has been a haunt of the Divas for a while, their food booth was not their usual menu but their brunch menu. We have heard good things about their brunch but we have never been ones to wake up early and go for a nice weekend brunch. Please! After trying out their fried chicken on a doughnut with a sweet glaze, we may just set that alarm to try Suite 701’s brunch.
And if their fried chicken on a doughnut wasn’t enough to sway us, Tanya-Kay had their shrimp bacon pogo which she loved. And if you know the Divas, you know of our affinity for pogos, especially homemade gourmet pogos. Alright Suite 701, you have us convinced! We will wake up before noon and join you for brunch!
Dirty Dogs had a booth with lovely gourmet hot dogs. They had a delicious sausage with homemade bruschetta, a drizzle of pesto and fresh mozzarella stuffed in a fresh bun. It’s a beautiful world that we live in when pogos and hot dogs are being made into delicacies, Dirty Dogs is the ultimate example of how comfort food does not necessarily mean junk food.
And never forget that Montreal Oysterfest is, after all, truly about the oysters. Many booths were selling both raw and cooked oysters with different mignonettes; we had oysters at quite a few. A favourite was La Bêtise, their booth had plenty of oysters and we have always had a good time at this funky tapas restaurant. Check out La Bêtise on Monday nights when they sell their oysters for 1$ all night long!
Definitely worth two Montreal Oysterfest tickets, Diva #1 fell in love with Bocata’s lobster roll. We had always loved this Old Montreal restaurant, but we hadn’t gone back in a while. Their lobster roll was full of sweet lobster meat, with minimal fillers, and it thankfully was not swimming in mayonnaise. With plenty of fresh herbs and carrots for extra crunch, it made us want to make a reservation at Bocata ASAP.
La Société has been on our radar for a few months, with a second location in Toronto and an extensive menu with many interesting options, it keeps climbing up our list of must-try-restaurants. With a burly tattooed gentleman overlooking the vertical meat on a spit, our olfactory senses were tickled in anticipation. What can we say? We can’t resist a man who can handle his meat! It’s about time we visit La Société and see what the fuss is about.
In the end, is it not all about Daniel Notkin, the founder of Oysterfest, who recently opened his own oyster and seafood restaurant called Notkins. We still haven’t visited this new Montreal hot spot but we tried their large Rockefeller oyster at Oysterfest. We were impressed that they used such large oysters and the stuffing did not take away from the salty and meaty oyster.
And just like last year, you could have a half lobster with corn and potato salad, also from Notkins. Montreal Oysterfest is about so much more than just oysters, it’s about the seafood, and Notkins knows a thing or two about fresh seafood. Okay okay we’re convinced, we have to visit them soon!
The paella from Toro Toro looked too good to just walk past it. Cooked in the traditional large iron skillet, they served a generous portion of creamy rice with large shrimp, plump mussels and calamari rings. Everything was cooked perfectly but you definitely had to sit down to eat it or risk covering yourself in delicious sauce! Toro Toro is an authentic Spanish tapas restaurant in Old Montreal, definitely another spot to check out.
As the day wore on, our hangovers were getting the best of us so we started to head back towards the oyster shucking station for more oysters and some much needed shade. Diva #1 had fallen in love with Sinai Gourmet habanero hot sauce at last year’s Oysterfest. She was almost out and she was eager to buy a new bottle. This year Sinai Gourmet had a new hot sauce to enjoy with your oysters at Oysterfest; they truly make the perfect accompaniment to oysters.
Forget Tabasco, Sinai Gourmet is revolutionizing hot sauces. They aren’t fermenting peppers with vinegar, over cooking the peppers or adding a ton of salt, they are creating hot sauces with natural flavours and by combining peppers. Can you tell that we’re in love? And they’re a Montreal brand, and we absolutely love buying local. Click HERE for a list of where to buy Sinai Gourmet products in Montreal.
Traiteur Phoenix Catering had a lovely little stand with fresh bite size doughnuts and more importantly… oyster shooters! Sweet Pea got rather excited, we love anything combined with oysters. Montreal has tons of catering companies, so it’s good to know what’s available. Traiteur Phoenix Catering also had gazpacho soup that you were supposed to down, and then eat the oyster with the kimchi. We would have preferred a shot of booze to go with this little amuse bouche but we loved it all the same!
Diva #1 was getting dehydrated and sleepy at this point in the long day. She found herself wandering around near the Santos Tapas Bar booth where she got the most delicious and refreshing sorbet mojito, it was sour and topped with fresh mint. A little upside down cone lay on top of the sorbet that was the perfect treat in the hot sun. We forget that Santos Tapas Bar has food too, we consider this Old Montreal restaurant more of a bar!
Another new contender was Maison Sociale, a Mile End community spot offering a radio lounge, café and pub – they are sort of a jack of all trades! Tanya-Kay was intrigued by their dessert and she ended up ordering their ice cream sandwich with sprinkles and a fun toasted marshmallow. Never mind that it looks melted in the picture, it was delicious! Maison Sociale is quickly gaining in popularity, and it’s a fun concept to check out. We’ve gone for drinks and want to return to try the food.
Another successful Montreal Oysterfest for the books, with more food booths to choose from, fun competitions and plenty of oysters and seafood, it’s no surprise that we keep coming back for more. The prices are fair, everyone is boozy and friendly, and it gives you a chance to try Montreal restaurants that you’ve been meaning to visit, and to return to old favourites. See you there next year, we’ll be back, but this time not hung over 🙁
Tagged: 7th Montreal Oysterfest, Bloody Caesar, Bloody Caesar Competition Oysterfest, Bocata lobster roll, Daniel Notkin, Giancarlo Martino, Houston bbq ribs, La Bêtise, Le Slang, Lobster, Lobster Roll, Maison Social, Montreal, Montreal Event, Montreal Festival, Montreal Oysterfest, Montreal Restaurant, MTL, Mtl Oysterfest Peel Basin, Notkins, Notkins Montreal Oysterfest, Old Port Fishing Company, Open Pier Foundation, Oyster Shucking, Oysterfest, oysters, Santos, Shucking, Suite 701 Brunch, Surf n’ Turf, Tanya-Kay, Toro Toro Paella, Tripes & Caviar