a peek inside the fishbowl

10 May, 2012

Mother’s Day and Montebello

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Ottawa|Publishing/writing/career stuff|Recipes and Food

Today’s Savvymom piece is a mock letter to the dads out there. I thought it’d be fun to collect a few simple Ottawa-related Mother’s Day related suggestions in a way that can be easily shared with the Chief Organizer (a.k.a. Dad). :)

But to be honest, I’m a little lukewarm about Mother’s Day. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been bombarded with a thousand different Mother’s Day related pitches this month. Frankly I’m tired of the build up and faux-alarm that has been created by Big Business Everywhere. BUY! MOM! STUFF! Here’s the thing: I don’t want a truckload of presents for Mother’s Day, and I don’t want to cause my husband and kids any gift-related anxiety. All I want is (a) to spend some time with Mark and the kids doing something fun (b) not have to make meals and clean up afterwards (c) extra hugs and kisses.

Anyway, yes, one of the things I suggested in the article was the Sunday brunch at Fairmont Chateau Montebello. We went there a couple winters ago for a special adventure and we went back a couple weekends ago in the name of research. I wanted to write more about it here and share a bit more about what we did.

Montebello has been called the world’s biggest log cabin. Built in the 1930s, it’s rustic-style luxury hotel tucked away in a woody part of Quebec. We’ve never stayed overnight there, but it’s a very pretty setting. The brunch at Montebello is one of their best-kept secrets, and you don’t need to be a hotel guest in order to go. But it’s not cheap, especially when there’s a larger family involved. It’s $46/per person, half price for children 11 and under. Mark and I talked a lot about whether or not it was worth the big bucks. Personally I think that the food, the presentation, the setting … it weighs on the side of luxury and this is the price you pay for that. We could not afford to do this very often, but I think Mother’s Day is the perfect reason to go. And I’m glad we did.

The food ranges from traditional breakfast-type food (sausages, bacon, eggs benedict), to lunch/dinner type things (roasts, curry dishes, seafood, salads galore), cheeses and breads, tons of fruit and veg, and of course a whole array of desserts. I wish I took more photos, because it was all gorgeous.

I am fairly certain I put away $46 worth of food and beverages.

First course:

Montebello brunch, first serving of many!

The smoked salmon (they also had cubed raw salmon) was a melt-in-your-mouth experience. The eggs benny: Best. Ever.

It’s very easy to get excited about the food here. And with good reason.

Behold my crepes, drizzled with a rich and buttery homemade sugar sauce, real whipped cream with fresh strawberries on the side. (Why yes, that IS a cube of maple fudge on top. I’m glad you noticed.) This was a delicious part of my meal but it was also a very serious tactical error. Whipped cream is very filling, and I should have kept it to one crepe. But, that would have been impossible so I should stop beating myself up about it.

Oy. The crepes!

There was more, er, quite a bit more but I have no photos to show. :)

The kids ate a ton of great food. (Alas, no photos of their choices but as I recall Sarah ate a lot of cheese.)

Mark had one of his favourite desserts, a twist on the traditional Mille-feuille. Note: this is a ridiculously challenging food to share.

Mille Feuilles

Instead of going back for something sweet at the end I choose take the cheese route (with a small cranberry/coconut square on the side) and, ahem, a second croissant. How could I not? I am all about the savoury stuff.

Montebello, the final cheese

Oh, it was delicious.

What you need to know:

  • There are only two seatings every Sunday and you must make reservations ahead of time. We were seated in a sunny wing off the main dining area, and it was very pleasant.
  • This is a table-cloth and silverware setting, not a crayons-on-placemats kind of experience – but don’t let this be a turn-off. I think that kids should be exposed to this kind of thing and also be expected to behave. And please, if your impatient toddler starts to roam, I beg you to remove yourself and the toddler from the situation. It puts the kid at risk for a collision with harried servers (and possibly pots of hot coffee and trays of dishes) and disturbs the other diners. All of whom paid $46 plus tax and gratuity to be there.

As I said, it was delicious, memorable, special. We stuffed ourselves to the gills and waddled away. It was sunny day so we decided to explore the grounds a little bit. I’m glad we did because it would have been a “my-pants-are-too-tight” kind of trip back home.

It was chilly the day we went, but we didn’t mind. There’s a lot to see:


Montebello, exploring the grounds



We could have also worked off our brunch by renting bikes or taking a swim in the hotel pool (there’s an extra cost for both of those things) but we didn’t do either.

After our walkabout we packed up and went on our merry way, feeling happy and filled up… in more ways than one.

3 Responses to "Mother’s Day and Montebello"

1 | Misty Pratt

May 10th, 2012 at 12:17 pm


This definitely wouldn’t be worth the cost with a crazy toddler running around, but would love to do this when the kiddies are older!! Sounds lovely :)

2 | Giulia

May 10th, 2012 at 12:45 pm


We’ve done this several times and it’s always a hit. Please note that it actually IS a crayon and place-mat kind of place. We gone with our kids as young as 1 and they always hand out colouring books and crayons and the little ones eat free. You can even order a la carte on a children’s menu and they bring the kids drinks in plastic cups as well as extra napkins.
They’ve been super kid friendly every time and at Christmas they even set up a special kids entertainment area with bouncy castles etc.

3 | andrea

May 10th, 2012 at 1:04 pm


Misty: It was really special. Why wait? :)

Giulia: Really? That is good stuff to know! Thank you for chiming in! I don’t know what age qualifies for free but I would hope that a one-year old would fall into that category. :)

comment form:


Stay in touch

Me and my pet projects

Ottawa Bucket list

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!


Connect with me at these places too!

On the nightstand

All hail the mighty Twitter