On St-Laurent boulevard near Montreal’s Little Italy, lies Douro restaurant, a little corner of Portugal serving authentic Portuguese food in a casual, yet refined ambience. Douro is a hidden gem with its minimal signage, but once inside the bright and airy space it feels as though you’ve discovered something quite special.
The decor is tasteful and not over-the-top Portuguese, with artwork consisting of azulejos (Portuguese ceramic tiles) adorning the walls. The floor and bar are made up of black and white tiles resembling the stone pavements of Portugal and the dramatic curve in the bar is reminiscent of the ocean’s waves. Douro’s menu speaks for itself so they don’t need to have an overly Portuguese atmosphere to prove the authenticity of their cuisine.
My husband and I have been curious about Korean food, particularly Bibimbap, for a while now. I just so happen to have a niece who is somewhat of an expert on all things Korean. So when the opportunity to visit my family in my hometown of Montreal arose, I knew a venture into Korean fare would be on the proverbial menu.
My niece has been raving about GaNaDaRa in downtown Montreal and has introduced it to friends and family. Her parents (my sister and brother-in-law) have become converts. When this place first opened two years ago, it was an immediate hit with the student population due its big portions and decent prices. However, word has gotten out that this is not just a studenty cheap-eats kind of place. GaNaDaRa serves up some delicious Korean specialties. They do it well and they do in with great efficiency. When we popped in here for lunch last week, there was a mix of customers: students, business people on their lunch break and us (the tourists, so to speak).
The place is small but the tables turn over quickly. We were a group of 5, considered large for an establishment of this size, so we made a point of arriving at noon before the queue formed at the door. We were seated at the back near the TV that, as my niece explained, showed K-pop videos. This really added to the charming ambience and I enjoyed reading all of the cute sayings painted on the walls.