If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know by now how much of a fan of Montréal I’ve become. I first visited this city in the summer of 2013 and fell in love with it in an instant. My second visit, in February 2014, in the throes of winter, only reinforced the reasons why I love this city. In the summer heat or the winter freeze, Montréal truly is special. It’s the friendly people and the charming ambiance that sets this city apart from its North American peers, and there’s another factor: its vibrant food scene! Montréal is perhaps most famous for its poutine and bagels but look farther and you’ll discover a colourful culinary culture that encompasses traditional ethnic favourites to cutting-edge gastronomy. One of the best ways to learn more about the history of Montréal and its people is to go on a food tour, which includes one of Montréal’s most famous institutions: Schwartz’s (humongous smoked meat sandwiches). The food tour was the perfect introduction and since then, I’ve had the opportunity to revel in the city’s diverse culinary scene. Here are five restaurants in Montreal that I can highly recommend:
Les 400 Coups
Perhaps my favourite restaurant in Montréal, Les 400 Coups (400 Rue Notre-Dame East; tel.: 1-514-985-0400) is situated in Old Montréal and charms guests with its warm, cosy atmosphere the second they walk in. The cuisine is refined and the service is polished. The menu changes with the seasons, inspired by local ingredients and steered by local culinary talents. The fresh ingredients and exquisite blend of flavours made for an unforgettable meal. If it’s on the menu, try the Duck Magret – it’s gorgeous!
Foodlab (Labo Culinaire)
The Foodlab can be found on the 3rd floor of the Society of Arts and Technology (1201 Boulevard Saint-Laurent; open on Tuesdays to Fridays; tel.: 1-514-844-2033). This restaurant, where guests sit at long tables, is a platform for culinary explorations (both local and international) in which the exchange of rural and urban influences plays a central role. The menu changes every two weeks but no matter what’s being served, you can rely on quality ingredients and superb flavours.
EVOO (3426 Rue Notre-Dame West; tel.: 1-514-846-3886) was founded by three young people whose passion for food visibly shines through in their creations. They serve contemporary French and Mediterranean cuisine using both traditional and modern techniques, and incredibly fresh ingredients. The presentation of the dishes is gorgeous and adds to the stylish ambiance. My favourite dish: the Cocoa Ravioli (with braised oxtail, pineapple quince, Madeira and parmesan) – simply beautiful!
Located in the Little Burgundy district, Joe Beef (2491 Rue Notre-Dame West; tel.: 1-514-935-6504) is an homage to Charles “Joe-Beef” McKiernan, 19th century innkeeper and Montreal working class hero. This colourful restaurant specialises in ‘surf-and-turf’ so make sure you try a bit of both. Start with one of Joe Beef’s famous cocktails (I can still conjure the flavours of that tantalising ‘Bloody Caesar’). The scallops, oysters and the hearty steaks are sensational. In the warmer months, you can sit in the back of the restaurant right next to the restaurant’s very own organic vegetable garden. And before you leave, make a pitstop in the restroom for a good laugh!
Le Banquise (994, Rue Rachel Est; tel.: 1-514-525-2415) is somewhat of an institution in Montréal. During my first visit, I asked which place served the best poutine and many people answered… yes, you guessed it! I wasn’t disappointed. At La Banquise, poutine isn’t just a dish of fries with cheese and gravy, it’s a culture. More than 20 different types of poutine are served, from the Classic (fries, cheese curds and BBQ sauce to La Elvis (with ground beef, mushrooms and peppers) and L’Italienne (tomato meat sauce). My favourite: La Kamikaze (sausages, hot peppers and tabasco – wow, what a kick!).
One more tip: visit Taste MTL for more foodie tips.
Note: this post is the result of the #LoveWinter blogger trip, a collaboration between iambassador, Quebec Tourism, Tourism Montreal and the Canadian Tourism Commission. As always, all views expressed above are mine, and mine only.