FOOD AND DRINK
Where to Dine Finely in Montreal
Like most cities, fine dining in Montreal has become more casual and a hell of a lot more fun. From gems nestled in inconspicuous spots to restos frequented by the city’s elite (read: Habs players), here are five top choices for an exquisite dining experience. Book them in advance.
Located on a gritty block of lower St. Laurent, first-timers usually breeze right by, consult Google maps then do an about face. The sleek, white room is a welcome oasis from the grungy strip, and the substantial bar is a terrific spot to dine alone. Chef and co-owner François Nadon has established himself as one of the city’s top talents with innovative plates like his lobster salad gorgeously accessorized with gazpacho gelée, pea puree, avocado, tomato and chili. He has a way with duck, serving the breast crisp of skin and rosy of flesh with a juicy duck dumpling, salsify puree and an orange-spiked jus. The by-the-glass program is a wine wonk’s dream with Gallic gems like an ethereal Sancerre rosé. First-rate service rounds out the first-class experience.
1595 Boulevard St-Laurent, 514-845-1595
On a weekend night, the room fills quickly with the beautiful people, who greet by air kiss and knock back two drinks before looking at the menu. Run by the same crew behind Le Club Chasse et Pêche – which is outstanding, by the way – it’s a small plates format, so you can enjoy a four-course meal without adjusting your belt. The scampi and shitake risotto is stunning – lovingly stirred, it’s enriched with mascarpone and brightened with tiny lemon segments. The succulent duck and porcini roulade is also brilliant, served atop black rice and sautéed apples. A lot of love went into the wines-by-the-glass: each one is elegant, food-friendly and a delight to drink.
219 Avenue Mont-Royal O., 514-360-6060
Since opening in 2012, this Mile End restaurant has become one of the most exciting places to dine in Canada. If there are just two of you, do book at the bar, a double-sided affair that provides the pulse of the svelte room. Each dish is portioned as a large appetizer, and if you share, as you should, the staff will pace it perfectly. There are only hits on chef Marc-Alexandre Mercier’s menu, like a deftly seasoned venison tartare, crunchy with tiny croutons and amped up with shaved venison jerky, or fat spears of sweet asparagus paired with smoked eel and a brown butter beurre blanc. Start with an expertly mixed cocktail – a rare bird in Montreal – and match the exquisite cooking with unique natural wines.
1862 Rue Ste-Catherine O., 514-278-7000
Follow Antonio Park on Twitter or Instagram, and the social media savvy chef will dazzle you will beautifully sourced seafood and sashimi platters sculpted like Frank Ghery buildings. It’s an amuse-bouche to actually dining here, which is a must for sushi fanatics. The Westmount hot spot is a pit stop for visiting A-listers, and judging by Park’s feed, half the Montreal Canadians are regulars. Dinner caters more to high rollers with multi-course omakase menus and a four-ounce, $200 certified Wagyu steak. At lunch, bask in the bright, airy room, and tuck into the Nigiri Park Lunch that might include buttery albacore tuna or sea bass topped with chimichirri on pitch-perfect rice. If sake isn’t your thing – the list is extensive – cold beers and crisp whites have got you covered.
378 av. Victoria, 514-750-7534
Tucked away on a residential street in Griffintown, the clubby, wood-paneled room is such an anachronism that you expect to see Don and Roger knocking back Gibsons at the bar. You would do well to order a cocktail from said bar, or any bottle off of Ryan Gray’s affordable wine list that celebrates small producers from Italy and France. Chef Emma Cardarelli cooks local, seasonal Italian with North American bravado. Someone at the table must order pasta, especially if they’re running chili pappardelle with sweet lobster in a heavenly emulsion of lobster stock and butter. The rabbit loin is superb, done porchetta-style atop a garlicky ragout of white beans. Service can flirt with inattention, but it’s hard to care with food this good.
1391 rue St-Jacques O., 514-419-6672