The Eating and Drinking Guide to Montreal
Canada’s second-largest city has fast become a gourmet hotspot, one that matches its awe-inspiring Old World architecture, thriving arts scene and cutting-edge music. Want a little taste of Europe close to home? Allons-y.
Local cider, microbrews and a handful of local Canadian wines are the draws at Casa Del Popolo, an alt-music hangout in Le Plateau. Arcade Fire’s unofficial clubhouse in their early days, it has an alluring and electric-charged nocturnal bohemian vibe.
Somms know to hit up L’Express in Le Plateau for its French and Canadian wines. The duck confit and beef tartare are a must.
Another outstanding Canuck-driven list (especially the ice wines) is at at Jérôme Ferrer’s downtown eatery, Europea. Pair some Mistelle de Cidre de Glace, or Felseck Vineyard Chardonnay, with almost any of his haute French fare.
Canada’s craft beer (no, not Molson) scene rivals ours, but strict import and export laws mean most of its artisan suds don’t make it past the border. So, even if you’re a mild beer fan, take advantage of Montreal’s small-batch brews. Les Soeurs Grises in Old Montreal makes some of the region’s best. Check out its 10 cask varieties and the Ninja IPA.
Nearby at Sarah B., absinthe is the focus. While located in the basic InterContinental Hotel, the eclectic list—and the bartender’s artful sugar-on-spoon serving ritual—more than make up for it.
Big in Japan in Le Plateau is a sleek and sexy cocktail bar with a speakeasy vibe that still feels current. The artfully mixed house Old Fashioned is life changing.
Manitoba, in the Mile-Ex neighborhood, has a punk-rock-meets-food-geek vibe, and is a mecca for foraged fare, seafood and wild game. Try the pickled clams with whelks and bacon, and the deer steaks with celery root purée and squashberry. For dessert: the Deer Turd truffles—a mash-up of chocolate, apple and green alder.
Bright, bustling and full of eye candy, Old Montreal’s Le Cartet is a breakfast haven, serving up massive plates of its Brunch des Canton with eggs, country ham, sausage and roasted potatoes with duck liver. The drink: the maple latte. It’s a demitasse of decadence.
In the Quartier des Spectacles, Foodlab is the project of local chefs Seth Gabrielse and Michelle Marek who create a new themed menu every two weeks and offer organic wines to match. Recently, the menu featured local wild salmon caviar, apple-glazed pork chops and roasted pear yogurt. Best part: The prix fixe is $40. Be sure to dine on the big-view deck when the weather allows.
The foie gras version of poutine (a Québécois dish of fries, gravy and other indulgences), and the Duck in a Can at Au Pied de Cochon in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, are reasons alone to visit Montreal. Also, do not fear the delectable bison tongue. Trust.
The smaller, denser Montreal bagels, which are traditionally boiled in honey water, then wood-fired, will make you rethink your allegiance to the standard New York City-style carb bomb. The best are baked fresh at Le St-Viateur Bagel in Mile End. The savory rosemary-and-sea-salt bagel is a must-try.
Maison Christian Faure in Old Montreal has the city’s best patisserie-style sweets made by its namesake chef. The pastel macarons, meringues and signature strawberry tarts are off-the-hook delicious and almost too pretty to eat. Almost.