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Montreal’s hippest restaurants, bars, nightlife! Maison Boulud restaurant review, Europea menu, PY1 pyramid club.

mexican goth, gothic day dead makeup costume skeleton tights

Dead inside… and on the outside as well!

I’m so, so ready to celebrate Day of the Dead in Mexico with Borderline Projects and Morbid Anatomy. (See details of my Halloween trip in this post).

Read on for a sugar skulls teaser, as well as a guide to the best French-Canadian restaurants in Montreal.  

day of the dead nail arts, dia de los muertos nails

To get in the Day of the Dead spirit, I went to Glam Nail Studio in Richmond, BC (Vancouver area). I asked for Mexican sugar skulls nails… and here’s what they delivered! 

sugar skulls nail art, gel nails halloween day dead

Glam Nail Studio is world-famous for their intricate Japanese nail art. Can you believe these sugar skull faces and cobwebs are hand-drawn?

The salon used Bio-Sculpture Gel on my nails to create a rainbow ombre, glitter, and 3D effect with cute skeletons. These Day of the Dead nails are perhaps my favorite ones ever — thank you to the Glam Nails team.

sugar skull goth makeup mexican day dead facepaint

I played around with Dia de los Muertos makeup, for a party before the trip.

Love everything about Halloween season. Here’s a fall outfit featuring a Jawbreaker bat cropped sweater, Erbert Chong leather skirt, Strathberry East/West with white edge crossbody purse, and Lack of Color bucket hat.

hermes silver collier de chien bracelet, hermes paris cdc small cuff jewelry

Close up on my Halloween-themed sugar skull nail art designs. Sailor Moon and Goth skull rings by Sapphire Studios, silver collier de chien bracelet by Hermes Paris. 

mexico goths, gothic fashion blogger, mexican sugar skull makeup

Here’s the full outfit for Dia de los Muertos, with a Cyberdog dress and skeleton bones leggings. I made the grinning sugar skull sign myself.

See you in Merida, Campeche and Mexico City — can’t wait to join the parade of the dead!

Europea best restaurant montreal, Jérôme Ferrer

Now, let’s go back in time to Montreal, Quebec: I was here over the summer. If you’re looking for a guide to the city’s most innovative fine dining, then I’ve got you covered.

Let’s start my Montreal food tour with lunch at Restaurant Jérôme Ferrer: Europea. The famous eatery recently moved to a gorgeous new location, with high ceilings and modern furnishings.

Europea is described as a “universe,” as the experience includes a bar, take-out corner, brasserie, afternoon tea, and “grand table” for fine dining.

Chef Jérôme Ferrer cookbook

Chef Jerome Ferrer is a Montreal icon; he has several restaurants in Quebec and abroad, including in Sao Paulo.

The revamped Europea is a collaboration with stage director René Richard Cyr, who oversaw Cirque du Soleil shows. Together, they brainstormed a theatrical dining experience.

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The surprises begin as soon as you’re seated. I found a “hardcover book” on the table — when I opened it, there was truffle popcorn inside! The table is set with avantgarde cutlery and butter platters, and the napkins are hidden in a sliding drawer by your waist.

europea restaurant decor, Jérôme Ferrer cafe

Europea’s decor is upscale, yet playful. The white spiral staircase is an architect’s dream, and complemented the custom paintings throughout the rooms.

(I wore a silk Emilie Shanghai Nights dress by Realisation Par, and a black lace cape jacket by Pheren Couture. See more on my Depop closet sale.)

menu lunch europea, prix fixe menus Jérôme Ferrer

Europea isn’t just about flash (although every dish is beautifully presented). Every item I tried on the lunch menu was marvelous, with a delicate marriage of flavors and garnishes.

The prix fixe changes weekly; I was lucky I got to try the citrus-marinated tuna and watermelon in lemonade and Thai basil, with pretty red quinoa and edible flowers.

 europea jerome ferrer afternoon tea

Europea is known as a fine dining restaurant for special occasions. However, the brasserie set menu is surprisingly well-priced at $35 Canadian.

You can also order drinks and small plates at the bar area, or get take-out from the Comptoir.

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Quebecois cooking can be on the heavy side, so I was happy to receive a main course with grilled turkey breast, and plenty of greens. The dish comes with seasonal asparagus, and a tasty cheese potato mousseline.

quebec creative fine dining europea

Europea’s lunch menu usually includes a fish option, which I recommend. I’d come back any time for this striped bass fillet with a Parmesan herb crust, vegetable spaghetti, and saffron fish soup.

The white wines are two of my favorites — Sancerre and Chablis — perfectly chilled.

europea desserts, dessert menu lunch

And now… dessert, served with holographic spoons! You can imagine the difficulty I had in choosing between the lemon meringue, berry mousse, white chocolate cheesecake, tiramisu…

montreal afternoon high tea pastries europea

… so why not try them all?

Our server also brought us foamy cappuccinos, and a platter of freshly baked pastries. (Europea has an afternoon tea option as well.)

Jerome Ferrer’s Europea menu combines art, technology and gastronomy — and the results get a standing ovation, if you ask me.

maison boulud ritz-carlton exterior

I also had the pleasure of dining at one of the top-rated restaurants in Canada, Maison Boulud at the Ritz-Carlton Montreal. This elegant hotel dates back to 1912: a perfect setting for the fine French approach of Daniel Boulud. 

boulud montreal chef Riccardo Bertolino

Perhaps you’ve heard of Boulud’s legendary NYC restaurant, called Daniel, or seen his appearances on Anthony Bourdain’s TV shows.

Montreal’s Maison Boulud is headed by Chef Riccardo Bertolino (above, with his team). The kitchen is lined with jars of spices from around the world, hinting at the global flavors in the contemporary French approach.

ritz-carlton maison boulud fine dining

The restaurant’s decor is posh, yet modern and warm. Maison Boulud has an extensive wine cellar, and the staff can recommend excellent pairings for your dishes.

ritz-carlton montreal duck pond

Be sure to explore the outdoor terrace. The duck pond in the back adds to the memorable atmosphere.

cocktails appetizers maison daniel boulud restaurant

Boulud’s menu is all about seasonal ingredients from Quebec’s local purveyors. We began with colorful cocktails: the “Cosmo de l’Orient” has white cranberry juice with a ginger and coriander infusion, and a purple flower in a giant ice ball! 

The oozing amuse bouche — arancini with peas, mint, and smoked mozzarella — instantly made us eager for more.

appetizers maison boulud menu

The chef’s Japanese inspiration shows in the starters, which include a hiramasa sashimi with ponzu sauce, and a red snapper ceviche with pineapple. The burrata was as fresh as the ones I’ve had in Italy, and came with wild arugula and basil oil.

ravioli daniel boulud pasta

One of the most finely executed and delicious dishes was this one. A single egg yolk raviolo (somehow, it’s perfectly runny inside), with sheep milk ricotta and parmesan froth.

fish dinner maison boulud

Boulud dips into the Middle Eastern spice jar for this dish: a mouthwatering sea bass with za’atar herbs, chickpeas, raisins, and lemon.

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Montreal’s Maison Boulud serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with special thematic menus such as “Singapore Vibes.” Diners can also choose three, four, or eight course “discovery” tasting menus.

maison boulud madeleines  dessert cake

Don’t leave without trying the freshly baked madeleines, which you can dip in the warm chocolate coulant cake with gold foil. I also couldn’t resist a trio of sorbets: raspberry, sea buckthorn, passionfruit.

Without doubt, Chef Daniel’s Maison Boulud deserves its 5-star reputation among foodies.

py1 astral plane nightclub pyramid

As you know, I was recently in Egypt… but I’ll never get tired of visiting pyramids, especially if there’s a wild party inside! 

This triangular behemoth is PY1, the latest project of Guy Laliberté, founder of Montreal’s Cirque du Soleil. In the daytime, you can go inside the pyramid to see a one-hour multimedia show, called ‘Through the Echoes.”

cirque soleil pyramid club, guy laliberte

At night, the PY1 pyramid turns into a futuristic club night. The temporary event is located at Montre Clock Tower Pier, in the Old Port of Montreal. It’s impossible to miss after dark, as the peaks light up with trippy projections.

cirque soleil nightclub party clubbing

PY1 Nights have seven different club themes, with music and visuals to match. I went to Astral Plane, which is all about intergalactic visions. The local DJs were terrific, and spun a never-ending mix of minimal techno and electronica.

digital light projections club montreal py 1

When you’re inside the spacious tent-like venue, you can look up and see fog, shifting lights, lasers, and image projections from every angle.

py1 nights pyramid immersive nightlife

The visual effects were spectacular. Imagine this mandala “flower” blossoming and morphing, in time to the electro music beat.

py1 through the echoes movie pyramid

PY1 Nights is adults-only, but anyone can come during the daytime to see “Through the Echoes.” This 60-minute multimedia show feels like a waking dream, as it immerses you in a tale of space, time, and possible futures.

py1 montreal review night club

Wouldn’t you like to rave inside a giant art-pyramid? PY1 is next heading to Miami, Florida to keep the party going. 

After, the pyramid will move to a new location… perhaps Egypt, or outer space…

bar royal montreal djs club

Montreal is a party city, and there’s an endless number of creative bars and music venues to check out. The two come together at Bar Le Royal, a speakeasy-style cocktail bar with a slightly hidden entrance.

The stylish bar is located in Plateau-Mont-Royal, a trendy district popular with students — making it a great spot to visit after dinner with friends.

craft cocktails, bar royal mont-royal

Bar Le Royal has an extensive list of craft cocktails, some with rather obscure flavors combinations. The staff excels at explaining the menu, and can help you pick something that suits your palate.

Try one of the drinks with an eye-catching presentation. “Le Joli Ghost Dog” is a spicy twist on a Moscow Mule: served in a bamboo steamer basket, with chopsticks and a side of pink pickled ginger. Behind, the mixologists topped “Meiji Le Grand” (sake, cane rum, orange liquor, orgeat, and my beloved yuzu juice) with a spoon of Asian rice crackers.

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A local DJ spins groovy records in the curving metal booth. The sound is never too loud, making Bar Le Royal a great space to chat with friends while enjoying music.

creative cocktails montreal bars

Bar Le Royal serves small plates as well, including Quebec cheeses that pair with out-of-the-box cocktails.

I had never tried a drink quite like “400 Dieux Lapins,” which comes in a glass coated with fine Aztec cacao! The chocolate taste and texture, combined with Mexican mezcal, Quebec liqueurs Shámán and Amermelade, and Japanese yuzu is indescribable… you’ll have to sip it for yourself.

mado cabaret nightclub montreal drag race canada

I wish I had more time in Montreal to go clubbing. I’d love to see a sassy performance at Mado’s Cabaret: she is Quebec’s most famous drag queen.

foufounes électriques goth bar montreal, gothic clubs

There are plenty of Goth clubs and bars in Montreal as well. Above, a duo of angry skulls peers down from Les Foufounes Electriques. I wish I had time to check out the new Gothic / alternative venue Cabaret Berlin… next time.

(I previously visited Montreal and wrote about the Goth nightlife, including Katacombes and other venues. You can see my Montreal clubbing guide here.)

montreal hipster clubs nightlife

Let’s end with a few photos I snapped while walking around the city at night. No matter where you are, you’ll encounter intriguing event spaces and public art.

montreal nighttime buildings lights city

Montreal had heatwaves during the summer, so I took Ubers during the day, and walked around at night.

octopus tentacle statue montreal

I came across a girl in a white dress, doing a photoshoot in front of this enormous tentacle-human statue.

montrael history app, city projections memories

I also passed by historical moving images on several walls. This is the “Cité Mémoire” experience: anyone can download the free app, and interact with projections that come alive after dusk.

montreal notre dame church light show

Notre Dame Basilica also gets the disco treatment. The church has a multimedia show called Aura Basilica, which projects neon lights over the classic architecture.

notre dame basilica chapel montreal

A final hail to Montreal, Quebec — there’s so much to love about this Canadian city.

PS: If you missed Part 1 of my MTL travel guide, which focuses on art and fashion, you can see it here. (My suggestions include Goth stores and futuristic museums!)

And now, off to Mexico! Enjoy my Day of the Dead updates on @LaCarmina Instagram / Twitter.

Alternative Montreal travel guide! Hipster Alt Hotel, virtual reality museum, Thierry Mugler futuristic Goth fashion.

montreal fashion blogger, quebec outfits

If you’re an alternative or artistic type, then Montreal is a destination you’ll adore!

Particularly in the summer months, the city has a full calendar of edgy events. I was excited to return to Montreal, and see more of the groundbreaking museums and Gothic stores. 

Read on for a guide to offbeat, hip travel in Montreal –– including close encounters with robots and aliens! 

reformation black tencel mini dress

My alternative travels began with a stay at the aptly-named Alt Hotel Montreal. These hip boutique accommodations have contemporary rooms, and art everywhere… I was pleased to find what looked like a pentagon Pokeball on my concrete wall!

(This black dress is by The Reformation, worn over a white baby tee like in the 90s. Sandals by Lola Ramona, and more dresses by Ref below…)

montreal hotels downtown view

Alt Hotel is conveniently located in Griffintown, which is a short walk from Quartier des Spectacles, the Gay Village, and other downtown districts.

I had a room on the top floor, with tall windows and these cool views of Montreal. From one of the panes, I could even see the experimental Habitat 67 by Moshe Safdie (the community housing that looks like a stack of Legos).

hotel room gift chocolates wine

The staff at Alt Hotel Montreal makes sweet efforts to give their guests a memorable stay. They knew I loved dark chocolate, berries, and local wine — so I found this welcome plate in my room, upon checking in.

alt hotel montreal rooms bed

I always prefer to stay in modern design hotels, and Alt checked all of my boxes. The bed was excellent quality (which is not often the case, in hotels), and the bathroom finishings were new.

Hotel Alt strikes a balance between luxury, design, and affordability, making it a nice choice for young travelers.

farine five roses view montreal

Be sure to head to the 7th floor, which is a covered terrace for guests. From the balcony, you can spot the Farine Five Roses sign (a local flour company, and Montreal landmark).

hotel alt balcony griffintown

Once a poor industrial neighborhood, Griffintown has transformed into a hip Montreal hub. I was happy to discover that Alt Hotel was a block away from Adonis (a Lebanese grocery store / deli), and La bête à pain (a spectacular French bakery / cafe).

(I’m wearing a black mini dress by The Reformation, and red shoes by Lola Ramona.)

montreal instagram murals walls rainbow pride

The lobby welcomes visitors with this cheery rainbow wall, which is made up of square photographs. Alt’s interior design is made for Instagram, with “selfie stations” and guides to trendy restaurants.

alt hotel montreal review, design boutique hotels

Salut Alt Hotel Montreal for the fabulous stay. I’m very happy that I made this cool boutique hotel my home-base.

centre phi virtual reality exhibit

Now, let’s teleport into the future… I went to Hum(ai)n, a Montreal exhibition that lets you interact with AI, and discover new worlds through VR! 

The high-tech installation is inside Centre Phi, an art space for avantgarde, multidisciplinary works. 

montreal goths japanese gothic street fashion

I went to the Humain exhibit with friends both old and new. As you can tell, we adore Gothic and Japanese street fashion.

robot learning montreal humain ai artificial intelligence

Many of the exhibits have an interactive element, such as Ophelia the robot lady. You can ask her questions in either English or French, and each conversation helps her learn what it means to be human.

At first, Ophelia’s replies were simple and “robotic” — but now, after speaking to hundreds of visitors, she responds with remarkable depth and humor!

phi center humain ai robots exhibit

There were about a dozen stations to explore, each with a different take on virtual reality, artificial intelligence, or biotechnology. Is the “rise of the robots” something to worry about? Only time will tell…

perfume maker machine robot

My friends and I participated in “Algorithmic Perfumery,” which creates a unique fragrance based on your answers to a series of questions. The data includes your preferences, personality, and response to multiple scents.

technology customized custome performe cologne

Then, the machine mixes the custom perfume. The results were hit and miss: some of us felt that the resulting fragrance wasn’t to their liking.

vr headset virtual reality games gaming montreal

The Phi Center is in a historic building, which was quite the contrast with the VR headset stations. This one is “Emergence” — when I look around, I see myself running in a crowd of thousands. Using the wireless controller, I can change my direction and try to race into vertical beams of light, which alters the pattern. 

japanese virtual reality video

Some of the immersive narratives were rather intense. “7 Lives” is a Japanese production that includes traumatic experiences (jumping off the Tokyo subway platform, and being berated by an angry Japanese mother).

centre phi humain robot ai videos

When you put on the VR headset and headphones, you find yourself immersed in a new universe (you can look around in all directions, and react to sounds and visuals like in real life).

immersive vr games movies gallery

The “films” range from fantastical toys in a gymnasium, to psychedelic ayahuasca visions in the Amazon rainforest. As you can see from our reactions, they truly transport you to a different time and place!

HUM(AI)N montreal artificial intelligence, biotechnology art

What does it mean to be human? Are we creeping closer to the singularity? Montreal’s Hum(ai)n exhibit lets you ponder these questions, and witness the latest developments in art and technology.

(PS: be sure to book tickets in advance from Centre Phias there are limited time slots.)

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts building, Thierry Mugler

I got to see another futuristic exhibit at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal. The fine arts museum houses the world premiere of “Thierry Mugler: Couturissime” — a retrospective of the imaginative designer. 

quebec Thierry Mugler fashion costumes Exhibition‎

The visionary French designer, photographer, and perfumer rose to fame in the 1980s and 1990s. At the time, Thierry Mugler’s garments looked like they came off a runway on Mars: he became notorious for his flamboyant, sci-fi and fetish inspired couture. 

Thierry Mugler Couturissime - Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal

Montreal’s “Couturissime” is set in several dramatically-lit rooms, which match with Mugler’s pomp and glamour. The first room showcased his visionary stage costumes for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, including oversized black ruffs and spiked codpieces.

david bowie dress thierry mugler music video costumes

Thierry Mugler made costumes for many musicians, including David Bowie, George Michael, and Lady Gaga. This skin-tight dress was worn by Bowie; the peaked shoulders are typical of his “power dressing” approach.

mugler couture dresses exhibit

The screen shows music videos and concert footage from over the decades, with artists wearing his creations.

thierry mugler famous goth dresses gothic

“Thierry Mugler: Couturissime” includes over 150 garments, over 100 photographs, sketches, and more. His gowns span a variety of styles; of course, I fawned over these Mugler Gothic dresses.

alien weird bizarre costumes thierry mugler

No wonder Mugler makes an Alien fragrance… he had quite the affinity for extraterrestrial space couture!

thierry mugler futuristic strange gowns

I loved seeing the decadent fabrics and details up close. Mugler liked to break conventions and had a sense of humor; one mannequin had a “beer can holster” attached to her thigh!

sequin dresses thierry mugler 90s

Wouldn’t you like to wear a sequinned creation by Mugler? (Below are some of his designs for sale; click to see.)

goth fetish latex leather thierry mugler

As you can see, Mugler was inspired by fetish and S&M subcultures. He incorporated latex, leather, flogs, and other paraphernalia into his designs.

matières fécales fashion fecal matter designers, montreal dress

The exhibition also included a showcase of local fashion designers. How cool to see Matières Fécales (above) featured in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

I hope these photos inspire you to see the Thierry Mugler exhibit for yourself.

creatures boutique gothic store montreal

Speaking of Montreal fashion…. if you’re a “creature of the night,” then you should stop by Boutique Creatures, a Goth store in the Mont Royal district.

joe mcharg cabaret berlin montreal, creatures goth

I met up with Joe McHarg, owner of Creatures. He also runs Cabaret Berlin, an alternative event space. The club has frequent Gothic and underground music nights, as well as a Tech Noir synthwave party (I’m so bummed I missed the date!)

montreal alternative goth clothing

Creatures stocks a variety of underground brands, inspired by Goth and punk subcultures. The boutique focuses on original, local designs — including their own Creatures fashion line.

creatures boutique mont royal montreal

In addition to Victorian dresses and hard shell bags, Creatures sells art and prints by Quebec creators.

goth montreal fashion blogger model

Creature’s fashion line is one-of-a-kind: Joe picks out the fabrics by hand, and everything is stitched locally. I’m wearing one of his dark creations, a long sleeved top with mesh panels and scalloped edges.

goth shops shopping Montreal quebec

From skull wallets to glitter backpacks, Creatures has something for anyone who loves alternative fashion.

silver gothic witch jewelry occult equinox art

The jewelry case features deadly earrings by Quebec’s Equinox Art.

leather fetish chokers necklaces handmade

The O-ring leather chokers are also made by hand. Love how Boutique Créatures focuses on quality items, and supports local Gothic artists.

montreal kitsch swell pin up boutique

Montreal has other terrific alternative fashion shops, particularly in the Mont-Royal area. Here’s a peek at Kitsch n Swell, a vintage / pin-up / retro boutique. (I featured them on Touring Bird, the new Google travel project I’ve been working on — you can see all my TB.D Montreal tips here.)

montreal gothic fashion clothes diabolik

Diabolik is another diabolical dark fashion shop. I spy Hell Bunny dresses in the window.

montreal hotel alt, art design hotels griffintown

Montreal’s fashion, art, and museums are out of this world! The city is also known for its food scene — and that’s what I will show you in the next post.

I hope this story inspired you to book a flight to Quebec… before the robots become our overlords…

(Dress by The Reformation, with more below. The white top and other designs are for sale on my Depop.)