F&W's roundup of the best restaurants in Montreal, including a minuscule market-inspired spot mere yards from the city's biggest and best food market. For more great restaurants, check out our guide to the world's best places to eat.

October 17, 2011

Restaurants

Au Pied de Cochon

Chef Martin Picard's seven-year-old restaurant deserves all the plaudits it gets, thanksto his instant classics like stuffed pied de cochon (pig's foot), duck poached in acan and foie gras–topped poutine (the signature Quebecois dish of french fries andcheese curds smothered in gravy). Recently, Picard has been sourcing his seafood from EasternQuebec and the Canadian Maritimes, transforming his place into the city's finest fishemporium from late spring through early fall.
We loved: Stuffed pied de cochon; duck poached in a can; foiegras-topped poutine; plateaux de coquillage (shellfish plates).

Bistro Bienville

This unassuming newcomer in the residential section of the Plateau Mont-Royal has only 25 seats,seven of them at a counter overlooking the open kitchen. Co-chefs Jean-François Cormier andSebastien Harrison-Cloutier bustle between the single oven and six-burner stove to cook bistrodishes like roasted Cornish game hen with braised chanterelles and asparagus.
We loved: Scallop carpaccio with micro-cilantro and salmon roe; steakbéarnaise for two with sautéed Chioggia beets, carrots, fingerling potatoes and wildmushrooms.

Bouchonné

Restaurateur brothers Hugo and Patrick Duchêsne—who are also behind the relaunched LaMontée—recently debuted this charming wine bar in the Mile End area. Chef Julie Rondeau produces remarkable creations like a saladwith maple-syrup-glazed pork ribs and fingerling potatoes. Bouchonné's enthusiasticstaff will serve virtually any wine on the extensive French- and Spanish-focused list by theglass.
We loved: Fennel salad with air-dried skirt steak; deviled quail eggs for 75cents a pop.

Buvette Chez Simone

With its young, energetic vibe, reasonably priced wine list and menu of small plates meant forsharing—like chef Eric Bélanger's superb spicy cod fritters—this wine bar(along with its neighbor Bouchonné) has made the hip Mile End area the city's newestoenophile hangout.
We loved: Butternut squash and broccoli rabe risotto; roast chicken (the housespecialty), available in quarter, half or whole portions.

Fairmount Bagels

The original and still the best Montreal bagels—fresh, chewy and with a hint ofsweetness—are found at Fairmount. But steer clear of any of the concessions tomodernity—like the blueberry-and-flax bagel—and stick to the classics.
We loved: Sesame-seed and poppy-seed bagels.

Graziella

Graziella Battista, formerly of the much lauded Il Sole, has quickly established her OldMontreal restaurant as one of the city's finest modern Italian dining rooms. In a bright,high-ceilinged space, she serves heavenly Grana Padano gnocchi and an ingenious take onfonduta (fondue)—melted cow's-milk caciocavallo cheese topped withrum-soaked, practically paper-thin orange slices.
We loved: Duck carpaccio with pear mostarda (a mustard-flavored fruitconserve).

Kitchen Galerie

Chef-owners Mathieu Cloutier and Jean-Philippe St. Denis set up their 35-seat operation mereyards from Jean-Talon, the city's biggest and best food market. With Axel Mevel, they handleevery aspect of running the restaurant, from selecting the wines and waiting tables to cookingmarket-inspired French dishes.
We loved: Foie gras à la lave-vaiselle, which is poachedin the steamy heat of a running dishwasher until it's incredibly creamy, then served with anaromatic pepper gelée; seared tuna with lardons, roasted salsify and a poached egg;lobster-stuffed ravioli with asparagus.

La Salle à Manger

The latest venture by Samuel Pinard, the chef behind Réservoir, is this bright, spaciousrestaurant in Mont-Royal East. A glass meat cooler displays house-made charcuterie and meticulouslysourced cuts—the backbone of the adventurous meat- and game-centric menu. Pinard's foiegras torchon is quite possibly the city's best, especially when it's served withhomemade raisin-bread toasts, an iced honey sabayon and tiny cubes of honey gelée.
We loved: Venison carpaccio; veal sweetbreads "lacquered" with asherry reduction and served on a puree of potatoes, parsnip and leeks.

McKiernan

This 20-seater is the newest addition to the mini empire that Fred Morin, David McMillan andAllison Cunningham have built in the Little Burgundy neighborhood (they started with the much-lovedbistro–oyster bar Joe Beef). The feel is luncheonette by day, wine bar by night, with a menuof house-made charcuterie, affordable oysters and deluxe sandwiches. The best dish at the inspiredSaturdays-only brunch is sautéed shrimp with biscuits, poached eggs and a gravy loaded withthick chunks of bacon. The original Joe Beef—with its delirious eclecticism—seems tojust get better with age.
We loved: At McKiernan, chicken tikka sandwich served with two chutneys; theMcKiernan salad with arugula, pickled yellow beets, blanched green beans and asparagus, tomatoesand Parmesan. At Joe Beef, signature lobster spaghetti made with a 2-pound lobster; massive roastedos à la moelle (bone marrow).

Schwartz's

Montreal's great contribution to the world of delicatessen meats is smoked brisket, aRomanian-Jewish concoction with Montreal roots that go back roughly a century, and Schwartz'sis a no-nonsense shrine to the real thing.
We loved: The "Insiders' Combo," a sandwich with full-fat ormedium-fat smoked meat, half-sour pickle and hot pickled cherry peppers, served with french friesand a cherry cola.
Insider tip: Lunchtime is usually packed, so come after 2 p.m.

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