Montreal, Quebec – Olive et Gourmando

Restaurant: Olive et Gourmando
Cuisine: Bakery/Sandwiches/Salads/Brunch/Desserts
Last visited: November 9, 2012
Phone: (514) 350-1083
Location: Montreal, QC (Old Montréal)
Address: 351 Rue St-Paul Ouest
Transit: Montreal Central Station or Square-Victoria
Where I stayed: Le Place d’Armes Hôtel & Suites
Price Range: $10 or less, $10-20 ($10 sandwiches)

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 4.5-5
Service: 3
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 4.5
Additional comments:

  • Chefs from Toqué
  • Freshly baked goods
  • Seasonal menu
  • Daily/seasonal specials
  • Good quality ingredients
  • Local favourite
  • Award winning
  • Line ups at peak hours
  • Quick/Casual
  • Affordable
  • Healthy options
  • Vegetarian options
  • Gluten friendly options
  • Family friendly
  • Eat in/Take out
  • Wednesday hours 8:00 am–6:00 pm

**Recommendations: Mac + Cheese, Chicken &  Butternut Squash Soup (daily soup) and The Cajun Chicken Sandwich. The Cubain, Goat Cheese panini, Morning Glory muffins and brownie are supposed to be great as well, but I haven’t tried them.

Olive et Gourmando Montreal (21)I finally made it! It was on my list for Follow Me Foodie to Montreal & Quebec City and I regretfully missed it, so I made sure to get it in Follow Me Foodie to Montreal – Round 2! It’s one of those dining establishments that show up on everyone’s “best places to eat in Montreal” lists. It never fails which is no surprise since it’s opened by the chefs from highly acclaimed Toqué restaurant in Montreal.

I’m always sceptical of places on lists, but this one was legit and not touristy despite it being in Old Montreal which can be touristy. It wasn’t like Schwart’z Montreal Smoked Meat or Wilensky’s Light Lunch (which are also considered local favourites) and it’s too modern and young to be a Montreal institution, but it still comes highly recommended.

Another beloved spot for brunch in Old Montreal is Le Cartet, and although I haven’t made my way to that one yet, it more or less shares the same fan base as Olive et Gourmando.

Olive et Gourmando Montreal (1)As soon as I walked in it was promising already. Besides the 15-20 minute standard line up at lunch it was smooth sailing. Traditional French baked goods and American classics flourish the bakery counter and you just don’t know whether you should start or end with dessert… or both. They offer a wide variety of baked goods and nostalgic American childhood favourites, but I would still consider it more of a cafe than a bakery. There are so many excellent bakeries in Montreal and if you’re looking for Parisian baked goods than it does get better   than this, but this is still solid.

Olive et Gourmando Montreal (2)Olive et Gourmando might seem like a bakery at first glance, but I was actually more impressed with their savoury menu. The back features daily soups, hot and cold sandwiches and salads made with fresh produce and ingredients. It was very casual with a pay at cashier system, yet much more comfortable than a mall food court. For a Vancouver reference (my hometown) it was like a Brioche Bakery meets Finch’s Tea & Coffee House

The ambiance, food, and service wasn’t particularly out of this world, but it was the overall feel, quality and freshness of the food that made it a memorable experience. Everything was simple and just well made and there was a degree of care that didn’t come unnoticed. I could see it being a local favourite and if I lived in Montreal I would be rooting for it too. As a tourist I thought it was an excellent place for brunch or lunch, but if you’re looking for Quebecois specialities or something unique to Montreal then there are other options perhaps more suitable.

When I asked for recommendations I was told “everything was good”, and as much as I cringe at that answer it was more or less true based on the things I tried. It was a well thought out and manageable menu with no short cuts, and there were modern twists to keep things interesting and current. Everything was made from scratch and in small batches and it was more sophisticated than typical “homestyle”. It was professional yet charming, cozy and quaint.

It was on the pricier side for a pay at cashier cafe, but it was worth it based on quality and effort. It is a place I would return to even as a tourist who likes to try something new. It came across as reliable and consistent and better than your average cafe, and you can tell it has a loyal following. It stands out and I certainly wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to make a bigger dent in this menu. If you have 3-5 days in Montreal I would say Olive et Gourmando is a Follow Me Foodie must try.

On the table:

Olive et Gourmando Montreal (12)Raspberry Lemonade4/6 (Very good)

  • About $3.50
  • It was already November so I wasn’t too enthusiastic about seeing raspberry anything on the menu, but this was really good despite it not being seasonal.
  • It looked artificial, syrupy and like fruit punch, but it was very refreshing, light and not too sweet or sour.
  • It was made with real lemon and raspberry puree and it wasn’t carbonated or artificial tasting.
  • It was actually very natural with a nice tartness and fresh in flavour. I would order this again.

Olive et Gourmando Montreal (11)**Chicken & Butternut Squash Soup6/6 (FMF Must Try!)

  • $6
  • It has been over a month and I still think about this soup. I loved it!
  • It was made from scratch, loaded with ingredients and packed with layers of flavour.
  • There was shredded chicken, sweet potato, butternut squash and/or pumpkin, onions, peanuts, carrots, coriander, sour cream, green onion, chives, chili and a few other things.
  • It was very rich and hearty and the chunky peanut butter melts into the hot soup giving it an ultra creamy stew like texture. It was the perfect comfort food.
  • I’m pretty sure they were going for a traditional African peanut soup called “groundnut stew”, but they called it by something more approachable. Groundnut in African means peanut.
  • It seemed like it was thickened with cream, but if they used the original recipe then it was just thickened with sweet potato and peanut butter.
  • It was savoury, sweet and slightly spicy and the tang of sour cream was reminiscent of a baked potato soup.
  • The base was chicken stock and the vegetables gave it a natural sweetness.
  • The herbs and seasoning didn’t seem to go beyond bay leaf, thyme, ginger and garlic, but the ginger was very mild and almost undetectable.
  • The dollop of sour cream is traditional to some groundnut stew recipes.
  • I don’t have much to compare to because I have only tried this soup twice, but I really loved it.
  • It was incredibly flavourful and intense with aromatics and it was lick the bowl good.
  • If you want a similar experience in Vancouver you can try Chef Victor Bongo’s Famous African Chicken Peanut Soup at Establishment Lounge.

Olive et Gourmando Montreal (13)Smoked Trout Sandwich4/6 (Very good)

  • Warm smoked trout with capers and sundried tomatoes, spinach and herbed cream cheese. $9.95
  • Just look at it. It tastes as fresh and as good as it looks.
  • It was a cold sandwich and the bread was made in house and pre-grilled so it was not hot or crispy.
  • It was a chewy soft bread made from organic white flour cooked directly on the grill.
  • It was almost like naan meets ciabatta meets pita bread.
  • The trout was moist with no gloppy mayo or heavy dressing and it was very natural in flavour although it lacked a smokiness.
  • I prefer my trout more translucent, slightly undercooked and custard like in texture, but this was still good.
  • It was a decent ratio of each layer and it was pretty straight forward with good quality ingredients.
  • I wouldn’t have minded a couple more ingredients because it didn’t have “wow factor” yet, but it was enjoyable.
  • It was fairly small for a $10 sandwich and I know it looks like a fair amount of trout, but eating it I actually could have used a bit more.

Olive et Gourmando Montreal (14)**The Cajun Chicken Sandwich4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)

  • Grain-fed chicken breast with guacamole, cajun spices, tomatoes, and fresh mangoes. $10.95
  • This is a house favourite and even though imported mangoes are not the sweetest at this time, I still liked it.
  • I love sweet and savoury, mangoes and avocado, so I just knew this would be a hit for me.
  • It was a cold sandwich and the bread is pre-grilled and made in house, but served chilled so it is not crispy.
  • Again, the bread is a chewy soft bread made from organic white flour cooked directly on the grill.
  • It was almost like naan meets ciabatta meets pita bread.
  • It was generously filled with good quality and fresh ingredients and it was obviously more filling to bread.
  • It was savoury and sweet and very Californian with the avocado and I just wish those were slices instead of guacamole.
  • The chicken breast slices were moist and mildy spiced.
  • The chicken wasn’t particularly amazing, but it was decently seasoned and good quality.
  • Tomatoes are not in season and I’m not exactly a hardcore “localvore”, but I appreciate an emphasis on eating local.
  • The sandwich wasn’t anything you couldn’t replicate at home, but it was still very good.
  • It would probably taste better in the summer just because all the ingredients in it (minus the chicken) are better in the summer.
  • Again it was fairly small, but it is filling enough for an average appetite at lunch without weighing you down.
  • Spicy tuna sashimi, avocado, and mango is a popular combination on the West Coast at eclectic Japanese restaurants as well.

Olive et Gourmando Montreal (15)**Mac + Cheese - 6/6 (FMF Must Try)

  • Warm and cheezy macaroni with mushrooms, truffle tapenade, and caramelized onions. Served with green salad. $16
  • This was a home run. Just looking at it makes me want to cry. This was my favourite thing I tried.
  • I still think about this from time to time and crave it.
  • It is seasonal, but if it is on the menu you better order it.
  • I love mac and cheese and I love trying to find “the best” (or just my favourite which is less subjective).
  • It is good old American comfort food, but I am very particular about it.
  • This was probably “the best” mac and cheese I’ve had to date, but for a more homestyle one it’s probably the one from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Cafe – see their “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese.

Olive et Gourmando Montreal (16)

  • The top had an extremely crunchy gratin crust which is my favourite part.
  • Instead of just breadcrumbs and cheese they actually sliced a very very thin slice of bread, buttered it and then sprinkled it with more buttered breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.
  • They baked it so it was almost like a crostini or giant crouton sheet covering the top. I’m huge on texture so I loved this.
  • I also loved how it came in a shallow cast iron skillet because every bite of mac and cheese had that gratin crust and it maximized surface area for the crust. It also kept things hot.

Olive et Gourmando Montreal (17)

  • The macaroni noodles ended up being a bit overcooked, but it was better than most and they salted the noodles too which is ideal.
  • It was not too salty or greasy and there were generous slices of Portobello mushrooms throughout.
  • It was almost like a buttery bechamel cheese and mushroom sauce and it was creamy, stringy and saucy.
  • They used a whole bunch of cheeses which included emmental, aged white cheddar, parmesan, and blue cheese.
  • It was well balanced with the cheeses and there was not one particularly standing out.
  • The mushroom juices were infused in the sauce giving it an effortless umami.
  • There were sweet onions and I’m not keen on truffle oil (which is almost all synthetic), but this one wasn’t aggressive and the Portobello mushrooms gave it enough mushroomy flavour.
  • It was very rich so you didn’t need a big bowl of it and the salad was the perfect side to lighten things up.
  • The salad was made with kale, arugula, and parsley with almonds and red onions.
  • It was tossed in a house dressing which was a sweet and tangy honey mustard dressing. It was a great dressing!
  • It was a nice and light salad with sweet and pickled flavours to contrast the hearty and cheesy mac and cheese.

Olive et Gourmando Montreal (22)Almond Croissant4/6 (Very good)

  • $3.50
  • This is another house favourite, but I wasn’t as enthusiastic although it was good.
  • Being in Montreal there are so many excellent bakeries and I actually love the almond croissant from Première Moisson despite it being a chain (an excellent chain though).
  • A plain butter croissant is the best “test” and hardest to master, but almond croissants are one of my favourite pastries.
  • I’m extremely particular about them too, but I’ll never really turn one down.
  • It was crispy and decently caramelized and golden brown, but I prefer it chestnut brown and even more caramelized.
  • Only the ends were crispy and the rest was very soft and chewy.
  • The inside should be soft and chewy, but the outside should be crisp.
  • I also like the top to be covered in almonds; when I bite down I like to hear a crunch followed by a shattering of flaky croissant.

Olive et Gourmando Montreal (26)

  • The inside was nice and moist, but the centre was quite doughy.
  • I also look for an intense buttery flavour, but I didn’t really get that here.
  • The inside wasn’t filled with much ground almond paste which is my favourite part.
  • The almond paste kind of just melted into the dough which is natural, but I also like the layer of real ground almonds left behind.
  • It looked like it had thin and tender croissant membranes, but it was hard to tell because it took on a long and narrow shape.
  • My favourite almond croissants in North America so far are from Thomas Haas in Vancouver and Bakery Nouveau in Seattle.

Olive et Gourmando Montreal (24)Turtles Bar4/6 (Very good) 

  • About $3.75
  • This was another house favourite and it was recommended before the brownie which is another popular favourite.
  • Again, I wasn’t as floored by it although I did enjoy it like the almond croissant.
  • This was an American baked good and it was very homestyle.
  • They called it a “Turtles Bar” inspired by the Turtles chocolate (pecans and caramel covered in milk chocolate).
  • For me it was like a Turtles chocolate meets a Millionaires Bar.
  • Millionaires Bars are popular British dessert bars. It is shortbread layered with caramel and then layered with chocolate.
  • It was a soft and chewy bar with a harder crust and the texture was great.
  • The crust seemed like a shortbread crust, but it wasn’t that buttery or flavourful and I wish it was executed more evenly.
  • It was sweet, but not too sweet because the crust was thicker than the sweeter caramel and chocolate layers.
  • The caramel was excellent caramel and it was soft and creamy and buttery smooth, but it was quite sticky.
  • It was a thin layer of bittersweet chocolate ganache on top and I could have used more pecans, but it was enjoyable.
  • The pecans were pieces and whole pecans are always ideal.
  • The sprinkle of fleur de sel was a nice touch and it was as good as it sounds and fit for salted caramel lovers.
  • In Vancouver, The Last Crumb Cafe offers a very good Millionaires Bar if you want something similar (but that has no pecans).

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8 Comments

  • WS says:

    Mijune, you prefer your almond croissants with almond paste or almond cream(most of the ones I’ve tried in Montreal usually uses almond cream)? I just checked your review of Bakery Nouveau in Seattle. You describe Bakery Nouveau “excellent” almond croissant as using almond cream, but as you state it looks more like an almond paste. Thomas Haas’s almond croissant uses almond paste or almond cream? Have you tasted any great plain butter croissant in Montreal yet?

  • Mijune says:

    @WS – Yes I’ve tried some plain butter croissants in Montreal, but none that stick out yet, although it wasn’t a priority to find :)

    Regarding the almond cream, I mean paste not cream. It is almost always a almond paste (marzipan). Bakery Nouveau calls their’s a “almond cream” and it could be a cream and paste, but it depends what their definition is. If it is a cream then it melted and it tasted like a paste. If you read my description I said “It’s almost like a giant almond nougat or almond caramel because the almond cream isn’t really a cream but almost like a paste – I think it’s made with marzipan and ground almonds.”

  • WS says:

    I knew you have tried plain butter croissants in Montreal before(you have mentioned it previously), but curious if you have tried any great ones in Mtl.. Arguably my favourite plain butter croissants in Montreal are the ones at Olive & Gourmando, but it’s greatly different(much thinner etc.) than the vast majority of croissants I’ve tried. I can’t remember ever trying the O&G almond croissant. Never tried their Turtles Bar. Any great plain butter croissants in Vancouver-area?

  • Mijune says:

    @WS – I made a mistakes… sorry it IS actually almond “cream”, but the “cream” essentially melts into the croissants during the baking process and that’s what gives it the chew and additional sweetness. There is not actual cream after in bakes and all that is left is the almond flour which can seem kind of paste-like, but it is not marzipan. I’m still looking for an amazing croissant in Vancouver, but we have contenders.

  • Linda says:

    mmm this place kind of reminds me of burgoo too.. the soups and the sandwiches and the mac and cheese.. very comfort food ish :)

  • WS says:

    Mijune I tried the Olive et Gourmando almond croissant Tuesday(Jan 29). It’s not good(I couldn’t even finish it). I wouldn’t even rate it 3/6(Good). Even if I think they make the best plain butter croissants in Montreal. As you hinted in your write-up above, their prices are on a higher side. I would go further, their prices are borderline highway robbery(for at least their bakery items).

  • Tina says:

    Hey Mijune :)

    I absolutely love wheb you do “Follow Me Foodie speci” like Follow Me Foodie )to (insert place) ;) It makes me look forward to going to these different places!! I’ve had the chance to go Montreal and the places we tried were just excellent. I can’t believe that St Viateur bagels were were literally piping hot from the wood oven!! Olive et Gourmando was amazing as well; mac-n-cheese, like you said, was to die for! (glad that I followed tje Foodie since mac-n-cheese is honestly somerhing I wouldn’t order regularly. When I had the almond croissant I thought it was okay as well though it was highly recommended by the waitress; I still prefer the tradional ones. Didn’t try the cold sandwitches though they looked quite big to me, but their hot panins were very delicious (the bread was grilled to crispy perfection and the fillings so flavourful!) We also found this little pastry shop called Patisserie Rhubarbe that was offering some truly excellent and unique desserts (I thought it was on par if not better than some of the big names in Vancouver like Thomas Haas, Thierry, Ganache, Fabourg etc.)

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