A meal at Jardin Nelson is like dining in Mother Nature’s home. Surrounded by hanging gardens overflowing with flowers galore it’s a unique al fresco dining experience when visiting historic Place d’Armes in Old Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Location: 407, place Jacques-Cartier, Old Montreal (Quebec)
Menu: It sounds like a cliché, but Jardin Nelson does feature something for everyone. With offerings that include wings, nachos, ribs, sandwiches, pasta, and pizza; the 20-page menu is likely so extensive to accommodate the many tourists, large groups, and families that fill the restaurant. In my opinion, steer away from the ordinary fare that you can get back home and choose something uniquely French Canadian such as a savory or sweet crêpe, duck leg confit, duck pâté chinois, or pouding chômeur.
Thoughts: We first stumbled upon Jardin Nelson because it was across the street from our hotel. The street side patio, although very welcoming with all the many flowers, makes the entire restaurant appear small on first glance. It’s misleading because once inside, the walls of the restaurant open up to a stunning view. Tiered levels of patio seating within a shell of exposed brick walls, surrounded by flowers and trees, and sparkling lights everywhere; it’s no wonder that the line up to get inside goes down the street. With no roof, the restaurant is open only during the warm months of May to late September. In inclement weather, the heaters get turned on, and the massive patio umbrellas are free to fill the sky. When it’s overly sunny and hot, these same umbrellas offer shade and fans provide a welcome breeze. Lucky for us tonight is beautiful – not a cloud (or umbrella) in the sky.
Live entertainment is available nightly, and tonight the quartet is playing a combination of classic pop and jazz covers. As we dine the sun goes down, the sky turns dark and twinkling stars slowly appear. The atmosphere and mood changes at this point as if by the magic of the night and the buzz of families disappear replaced by the quiet conversation of couples; it’s a romantic setting.
A few favorites to try:
- French onion soup au gratin with Emmental ($10.25 CAN)
- Râble de lapin Crêpe (Rabbit Crêpe) ($18.50 CAN) – Saddle of rabbit, button mushrooms, cheddar and mozzarella cheese in a white wine, mustard and cream sauce. A Montreal classic is the rabbit, and yes it tastes like chicken! The crêpe is savory, buttery, crisp, and it compliments well with the tender rabbit and the rich sauce.
- Poke ($19.00 CAN) – Avocado, edamame, cucumber, lettuce, white rice, vegetables, nori sesame, tobiko, wakame, kimchi, gari, spicy mayo with sashimi grade Yellowfin tuna marinated in spicy sesame and soy sauce. It’s fresh, filling and very healthy.
- Pouding chômeur Maison – similar to a bread pudding, this homemade Quebec favorite is served with vanilla ice cream and pure maple syrup. A sweet, rich end to a meal.
The restaurant is busy, and a long wait for a table is to be expected if you haven’t made reservations. Seats on the patio facing Place d’Armes are not as high in demand as tables on the interior as you lose the view and the ambiance of the charming inner courtyard.
Dining at Jardin Nelson is like dining in the shell of a building where Mother Nature has taken over. It’s a memory you won’t soon forget.
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