I had mixed feelings about celebrating Halloween in Canada as I always enjoy seeing the costumed children parading through the halls of my NYC apartment building.  So, I was thrilled to arrive back at the Loews Hotel Vogue after a day out exploring Montreal to find a note in my room paired with a decorated Mardi Gras-type mask inviting me to join in Halloween festivities at the Lux Bar adjacent to the lobby.

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Francine, Bar Chef at Lux Bar for over twenty years, was greeting regulars when I arrived.  The twenty-or-so folks seated around the bar area all seemed to have a great rapport with Francine and were dressed in the spirit of the holiday with colorful wigs and sparkly attire.  I found an empty seat at the bar and Francine was quick to prepare a Champagne cocktail for me, complete with a hibiscus flower.  I gladly sipped the refined cocktail while taking in the scene and watching Francine work the room to ensure all of her guests were enjoying their evening.

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I had a 7 p.m. reservation at Au Pied de Cochon and was running a little late due to the festivities at the Lux Bar at the hotel (It was hard to leave Francine and her delicious cocktails!), but finally I hopped in a cab and showed the driver the name of the restaurant. He wasn’t familiar…uh oh. Fortunately he called a friend to confirm and we were off for a 6-8 minute ride.  It was just out of walking distance, and the steady rain only reinforced that, so the $12 cab was well worth the investment.

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I arrived and instantly knew this was going to be an impressive experience.  The restaurant was packed to the gills and the hostess was lovely.  I was immediately seated at the bar overlooking the chefs’ work station which was the perfect distraction given I was dining solo.  I started with a medium body red wine.  I requested a light red but the server convinced me otherwise with his French-Canadian charm.

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After receiving my wine, I asked the waiter for his  recommendations in regards to the menu and clung to the words that I understood. Although he spoke perfect English, the dishes were very French and he rattled through them quickly and eloquently.  I, not so eloquently, proceeded to order the butternut squash appetizer.  I can’t really describe it as a soup, but it was served in a small Le Creuset pot and contained an amazing array of goodness: pureed butternut squash, very thin apple slices, cheese, chives, and small bacon bits.  Not only was it flavorful and tasty but it countered the cold, rainy fall evening perfectly.

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With my wine and appetizer, I felt cozy and relaxed as I sat at the counter hypnotized by the chefs hard at work behind the scenes.  In between courses I munched on warm crispy bread with butter.  This definitely tops my traditional Halloween evening…  As for my main course, I felt compelled to order a version of foie gras as it seemed to be a specialty, so I opted for the seasonal special which included a warm, baked apple.  The rich dish was so indulgent and scrumptious that it left no room for dessert.  A run will be in order tomorrow morning…


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