Minuscule restaurants, chef-run sandwich spots, wine bars with reasonably priced pours: Montreal continues to deserve its reputation as an exciting place to eat.
Chef Martin Picard’s seven-year-old restaurant deserves all the plaudits it gets, thanks to his instant classics like stuffed pied de cochon (pig’s foot), duck poached in a can and foie gras–topped poutine (the signature Quebecois dish of french fries and cheese curds smothered in gravy). Recently, Picard has been sourcing his seafood from Eastern Quebec and the Canadian Maritimes, transforming his place into the city’s finest fish emporium from late spring through early fall.
Chocolatier Chloé Gervais-Fredette’s stunning truffles, handmade with Valrhona chocolate in flavors like fleur de sel, espelette pepper and burnt caramel, have been Montreal’s finest since her namesake shop opened in 2003. In October, Gervais-Fredette moved into a bright, beautiful new location on a stretch of cobblestoned Duluth, near Au Pied de Cochon.
The newest addition to the mini empire that Fred Morin, David McMillan and Allison Cunningham have built in the Little Burgundy neighborhood (they started with the much-loved bistro–oyster bar Joe Beef). The feel is luncheonette by day, wine bar by night, with a menu of house-made charcuterie, affordable oysters and sandwiches like chicken tikka with two chutneys. The best dish at the inspired Saturdays-only brunch is sautéed shrimp with biscuits, poached eggs and a gravy loaded with thick chunks of bacon.
© Nicole Schilit
This sandwich spot in the gentrifying Lower Main, run by chefs Samuel Lu and Mark Richmond Tan, bakes all of its breads on the premises. Specialties include a lamb sausage wrap with eggplant spread and chicken confit on focaccia with oven-dried tomatoes and a devilish piece of crackling.
With its young, energetic vibe, reasonably priced wine list and menu of small plates meant for sharing—like chef Eric Bélanger’s superb spicy cod fritters—this new wine bar (and its neighbor Bouchonné) has made the hip Mile End area the city’s newest oenophile hangout.
The latest venture by Samuel Pinard, the chef behind Réservoir, is this spacious restaurant in Mont-Royal East. A glass meat cooler displays meticulously sourced cuts, the backbone of the adventurous meat- and game-centric menu. Don’t miss the venison carpaccio.
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 and Sebastien Harrison-Cloutier bustle between the single oven and six-burner stove to cook bistro dishes like roasted Cornish game hen with braised chanterelles and asparagus.
Chef Graziella Battista, formerly of the much lauded Il Sole, has quickly established her Old Montreal 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 on fonduta (fondue)—melted cow’s-milk caciocavallo cheese topped with rum-soaked, practically paper-thin orange slices.
© Yanik Dery
This Old Montreal restaurant takes its name from the first letters of the first names of its two owners, both formidable talents: sommelier Alex Cruz and chef Derek Dammann (left). Dammann’s resumé includes training at England’s Fat Duck, but his two-year stint as head chef at Jamie Oliver’s Italian-inspired Fifteen in London appears to have most informed his dishes at DNA. They include lusty Sicilian-style squid; tender, lightly breaded veal sweetbreads in agrodolce (sweet-and-sour sauce); luscious braised pork belly with turnips alla romana and wilted fennel; and house-cured salumi.
Chef-owners Mathieu Cloutier and Jean-Philippe St. Denis set up their 35-seat operation mere yards from Jean-Talon, the city’s biggest and best food market. With Axel Mevel, they handle every aspect of running the restaurant, from selecting the wines and waiting tables to cooking market-inspired French dishes. One of the mainstays of their daily-changing menu is the foie gras à la lave-vaiselle, which is poached in the steamy heat of a running dishwasher until it’s incredibly creamy, then served with an aromatic pepper gelée.
Restaurateur brothers Hugo and Patrick Duchêsne—who are also behind the relaunched La Montée—opened this 20- to 25-seat wine bar in the Mile End area. Chef de cuisine Julie Rondeau works in the tiniest of open kitchens, producing remarkable creations like a salad with maple-syrup-glazed pork ribs and fingerling potatoes, as well as fun bar snacks, like deviled quail eggs for 75 cents a pop. Bouchonné’s enthusiastic staff will serve virtually any wine on the extensive French- and Spanish-focused list by the glass.