10 Places to Visit in Montreal
Le Vin Papillon
“We’ve been serving meat and offal at Joe Beef for 10 years; we wanted to start eating our veggies,” says Vanya Filipovic. She’s the co-owner of this vegetable-centric wine bar, an offshoot of Joe Beef that recently underwent an expansion. Whole roasted cauliflower is cooked and seasoned like a roast chicken (and adorned with crispy chicken skin); celery root gets sliced carpaccio-thin and paired with a creamy anchovy-caper sauce. The wine list focuses on natural bottlings from cooler climates, like Strohmeier’s crisp, cloudy, zero-sulfur Trauben, Liebe und Zeit. 2519 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest; vinpapillon.com.
“Most of the time we go to the butcher and ask him what he’s having difficulty selling,” says Catherine Draws, co-owner and maître d’ of this neighborhood joint in Lower Mile End. Order the signature drink—a stiff concoction of gin, Byrrh and Chartreuse—and you might not be fazed by the veal penis or the lamb testicles on the menu. Those couilles d’agneau are delicious sliced thin, fried and drizzled with local honey. 4675 Boulevard St-Laurent; restolilico.com.
Fans of Damas’s Syrian cuisine were dismayed when the Parc Avenue restaurant was destroyed in a fire. But within the year, it reopened with a bigger menu in a large, beautiful Outremont space with hand-blown hanging lamps. Main-course lamb and fish dishes are braised, confited or grilled and served with Syrian specialties like smoked wheat (not to be mistaken for Montreal’s signature smoked meat). 1201 Avenue Van Horne; restaurant-damas.com.
Dinette Triple Crown
Until recently, the only way to have the fried chicken and biscuits at this counter spot in Little Italy was to order them in picnic baskets (complete with plates and tablecloths) you could take to the park across the street. But now there’s a place to eat inside, thanks to co-owner Nicole Turcotte’s dad. Recently in Montreal on a five-day vacation, he took it upon himself to turn the unused staff room next door into a dining room. 6704 Rue Clark; dinettetriplecrown.com.
This place was originally conceived of as a casual “seafood diner,” a companion to celebrity chef Chuck Hughes’s Garde Manger (with an all-reggae all-the-time soundtrack that was quickly ditched to preserve the staff’s sanity). But since opening, Le Bremner has evolved under chef de cuisine Danny Smiles into a cozy, market-driven spot. Housed in a 19th-century former stable in the Old Port, the basement restaurant feels like a sailor’s tavern, albeit one with an extensive wine list. Expect ultrafresh fish (like halibut dashi clam chowder, with the fish served seared and crisp atop the broth) and creative vegetables like a Caesar salad with roasted broccoli swapped in for the romaine. 361 Rue Saint Paul Est; crownsalts.com/lebremner.
Antonio Park named his new venture after his father’s factory in Argentina, which produced acid-washed jeans for Levi’s. Using a mix of Japanese, Argentinean and Quebec charcoal, Park chars homemade chorizo, short ribs, sweetbreads and Kobe beef flown straight from Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture—he is the only Canadian chef with an import permit. 374 Avenue Victoria, Westmount; lavanderiaresto.com.
Coffee impresario Chrissy Durcak got her start delivering homemade cold brew concentrate by bicycle. She eventually began serving coffee from a truck; then, in 2014, she opened a roastery and café in a garage in the part-industrial, part-art-student-filled Mile-Ex neighborhood. She and her staff brew single-origin coffee with a third-wave-style focus (light roasts, bright flavors) while an in-house pastry chef makes refined takes on Oreos and olive oil cake. 267 Rue Saint Zotique Ouest; dispatchcoffee.ca.
For too long, downtown Montreal was a restaurant wasteland. Then, in 2009, the retro-styled Dominion Square Tavern helped revive the neighborhood. Now the owners have opened a cocktail bar right next door. Drinks are a unique blend of Italian and northeastern, featuring ingredients like homemade balsam fir syrup. The kitchen serves flatbreads from the wood oven alongside other Italian-style choices like arancini and pork osso bucco. 1237 Rue Metcalfe; lebalsaminn.com.
Le Mal Nécessaire
A minimalist neon pineapple greets you at the top of the stairs leading down to this Chinatown bar, a sign of its angular, modernist take on tiki style. Lured by the neighborhood’s cheap rents and untapped nightlife potential, co-owner David Schmidt says, “It felt right to do a Polynesian theme in a basement in Chinatown.” To that end you can get your Abacaxi mai tai served in a frozen pineapple or order fried wontons and pork dumplings from Fung Shing, the ’70s-era Chinese restaurant next door. 1106B Boulevard St-Laurent; lemalnecessaire.com.
This sophisticated cocktail lounge is an offshoot of the nightclub Bar Datcha next door. The Russia theme means a portrait of Rasputin on the wall, a solid vodka collection and cocktails like a classic Moscow mule and the Bloody Czar (a take on the Clamato-powered Bloody Caesar). 92 Avenue Laurier Ouest; barkabinet.com.