I pulled my focus back to my own family for a minute, but perked up again when I overheard the window dude brag that he was 68. The middle table dude made a HUGE deal about how the guy didn’t look 68. I turned totally around, making it quite obvious that I was checking on the truth. Honest? He looked 68. I mean, he did. I wanted to scream my own husband’s age and say you want to see someone who looks great? But, I didn’t. Then I wanted to do my best Molly Shannon impersonation -- stand up, high-kick and scream, “I’m 60!!!” But, I didn’t do that either, and the truth is, I still have a month or so left to enjoy being in my fifties.
Sitting in Gibby’s, this throwback (think Lawry’s) old school establishment, I thought of the time our unofficial Quebecois tour guide drove us around St-Sauveur, pointing out the sights. When we drove past Gibby’s, he announced that all the “Jeweeesh” renters like to eat there. I made a quick mental note: must try this local deli. But it turned out to be a surf-and-turf, big-ass baked-potato-with-all-the-fixin’s, chilled salad-bowl-with-iceberg-lettuce kind of a place. So check your coat and knowledge of fat & cholesterol at the door. You have just stepped back, way back in time.
It’s a cozy, enchanting restaurant, dating back 40 years, with a few low-ceilinged, wood-beamed dining rooms to choose from. Tables are candlelit, and the rustic stone walls have picturesque window views. When I eat here, I think how wonderful and bustling it must be after a day on the ski slopes. The silver-haired waitresses, dressed in what seems like a costume, are extra friendly and accommodating. “Anchovies with your salad?” “YES,” I screamed. My husband and I shared a filet mignon and lobster tail. At no extra charge they threw in some extra food. The steak was significantly bigger than the same one my stepson Max had ordered. I wasn’t all that crazy about the lobster, but I’m really particular and The Palm it wasn’t. However, I love Gibby’s.
When the waitress asked if we wanted dessert, my husband said he didn’t have room for another thing. She responded with, “I hope you have room for the check,” which we assumed had been in her repertoire 40 years. Finally, I turned to those other diners and started up a conversation. I can’t help myself. I was on the edge of my seat all night getting ready for it. I told them I came all the way from Los Angeles to dine here. And guess what came of our little discussion? A great other restaurant recommendation. I told all of these people that my favorite restaurant in town is Lesvos, the Greek place. They said if we hadn’t tried Milos, in Montreal, we must. So, the following day, off we went into Montreal to try Milos. But, first a stroll on my favorite street, St Paul. As we were walking around Old Montreal, I was scanning the crowd, trying to find my childhood friend Amy Spies. We have this long-standing habit of running into each other on vacations all over the world. And, I could have sworn I saw her husband Gary.
Sitting in Olive et Gourmando, stirring my iced black tea, some dude keeps staring at me and asks if I’m Fredde. It’s always surprising to run into people you know from home in other countries. It was this kid -- now man -- named Matt who I knew nearly forty years ago in Malibu. Stunning that he even recognized me. He said I hadn’t changed at all. Again, I wanted to do a high-kick and scream my age. Instead, I announced, “No Botox, nothing fake,” as I grabbed my own breasts. He said, “Boy, you really haven’t changed at all.”
We went to Milos and ran into other people we know. Are you kidding? What are the chances? The meal was spectacular, as promised by those diners at Gibby’s. The fresh seafood is displayed on ice. We shared Dover Sole, simply grilled, which was perfection. To start, they bring you grilled bread (my favorite) and then pour Greek olive oil into a dipping bowl with fresh oregano that they snip in front of you. We also ordered our favorite paper-thin, lightly fried eggplant and zucchini with tzatziki for dipping and fried saganaki cheese. Milos is much fancier than Lesvos with white tablecloths and is seriously elegant. I will go back. I wish there was a Milos in Los Angeles.
I’m still the biggest fan of Lesvos, which has a few locations around Quebec. When we took our sons for the first time this summer, I introduced our favorite waiter, Filipo, to everyone, and he asked, “First time at Lesvos?” My son Oliver’s girlfriend Summer quickly replied, “No, this is not my first Lesvos experience.”
Fredrica Duke shares how she discovered her love of food while growing up in Los Angeles on her blog Channeling the Food Critic in Me.