Holder – Old Port Bistro meets Brunch
Now this review is actually a few months old and seems to have gotten lost in my pile of reviews so I figured I should post it now. This goes back to a special event that I had for my website’s 1 year anniversary. The idea was to find a spot that would offer a decent brunch in a nice area and that would take reservations for 20 people. It is important to note that reservations for brunch is not an easy thing to come by especially if you know that not everyone would show up on time. I know some places do smaller reservations but for 20 people that would be a stretch. So, I went over all the places that could fit a group of this size and then Holder came to mind. I had never eaten brunch here before and I had heard that they recently began serving brunch. Since I have eaten dinner there a few times and was quite satisfied with the food, I figured I would try out a new review with my anniversary gathering. They had no problems taking such a large reservation so I contacted my friends and the anniversary brunch “Bonanza” was on track.
At 1st glance
When you walk up to Holder you notice this larger building with an almost inconspicuous entrance. You first enter a lobby to what seems like an apartment building or corporate building but if you turn to your left you notice Holder and it’s lovely layout. With its high ceiling, collection of wine bottles, large bar, well lit windows and plenty of seating area, you are actually speechless for a little bit. The inside is really nicely done; it’s a combination of refinement and comfort. So, after all the group showed up we were ready to make our selection and see if the food matched the atmosphere.
With around 12 items on the menu, Holder somehow manages to offer something for everyone. There are choices including pancakes ($10.25), French toast ($10.50), various egg dishes ($11.50), eggs Benedict ($13.25), yogourt, ($8.50), croissants ($4.50) and some options that are little more on the lunch side. The menu does have a bistro influence which is easily applied to a brunch serving. You will find your dishes have certain items like pancetta, rum sauce, caramelized onions and duck as focal ingredients. Although the menu seems to be on the fancy bistro side, it is not as expensive as can be expected. In fact, most items are in the $10-$12 range and there are only two that are more expensive – one of those has duck in it so barring those two outliers, the menu is decently priced considering this is in the Old Port where prices tend to be more. Not to mention they also have a kids menu which is nice touch. It has 3 simple items: French toast, pancakes, eggs all priced at ($7.25). This I felt is a little more expensive than a normal kids menu item but once again this IS the Old Port, and to be honest I did not see or try the dish, on account that restaurants refuse to let me order the kids menu items no matter how nicely I ask.
The eggs Benedict ($13.25) came on a croissant, with a choice of ham or gravlax (that’s salmon), along with some roasted potatoes and caramelized onions. The idea of using a croissant is pretty amazing as it manages to hold in the eggs while still giving it a delicious buttery taste. The potatoes were excellent and you can’t help but finish every bit. The only down side was that the portion size of the potatoes was not enormous and the fruit could have been more generous. But overall, the taste of this menu item scored a 10.
Next came the two eggs, pancetta ($11.50), gratin dauphinois with fruits. The eggs were good and the pancetta is a nice twist as opposed to classic bacon. You will find this often being served rather than bacon especially in the old port. The gratin was very nice and made this plate quite unique. Once again, the portion size could have used improving since I would have liked some more to taste.
Another order included the sun dried tomato frittata ($12.00) which has spinach, gruyere, arugula, peppers and onions. This is one of the few places that offers a frittata since it is different from an omelette and is a nice vegetarian option. The frittata is also more filling than an omelette, which, is always welcomed in my world. For those omlette lovers don’t worry! Holders also has a delicious goat cheese and roasted tomato omelette ($12.25) that includes pine nuts, gratin dauphinois and fruits. The omelette was quite tasty and the gratin was a nice compliment.
Lastly, came the seared apple French toast ($10.00) served with caramel and rum sauce. I was somewhat concerned when I read that it was rum sauce which seems quite odd but it does not overpower the dish. They also managed to successfully use a baguette style bread for the French toast while keeping that “French toast” taste. This, I believe, is nothing short of a miracle since I have seen many places fail in this attempt. Holder also goes that extra bit by adding apples abd making it even better and more unique.
I have to point out that bistro brunches generally scare me. I always worry that they will focus too much on presentation and forget that it’s a breakfast dish at heart. Holders managed to do an amazing job in constructing it’s menu. It is still rather “breakfasty” while keeping some bistro accents like the gratin and potatoes and along with some other finer touches like the croissant. I would have liked to see more varied fruit and larger portions on some of the items but this is something I have grown accustomed to from bistro places that do brunch.
The service was good and our waiter was prompt in explaining the various menu options especially since we were such a large crowd. He even joked around with us a bit. Refills were frequent and that kept everyone happy. I also liked the fact that we were not pressured to finish up and leave; one of the best things about brunch is being able to take your time.
Although this place is very much focused on the Old port Bistro style, which usually implies meaty plates, this is not the case. Well, over half of the menu is vegetarian and there is even a salad section with a good amount of selection that you can order from. However, none of the salads can qualify as vegan since they have some cheese in them.
Overall, Holder is decent place for brunch: the décor is nice, service is good and if you want to have a large group where you wont be rushed then this definitely a place you will not have trouble with. The menu has some choice and the food is really tasty. The price is a little much but in that area I would say that it’s actually average. I do like the fact they have a kids menu and it is nice to go to old Montreal on a weekend for brunch since it allows you to walk around after and relax.
| 407 Rue McGill
Montreal Qc H2Y 2G3
Sat-Sun 10:00 a.m.- 16:00 p.m.
View Holder Restaurant Bar in a larger map
|Bottomless Cup Of Coffee||YES|
Parking Meter / street