Cozy up to these toasty fireplaces
This article was updated on November 15, 2018.
Montréal in the cold months is magical, wondrous, otherworldly… but it can get frosty! So, when your parka is seeming a little thin and you need a break from the sparkly white streets, duck into one of these hot spots – roaring fire included.
Want to feel like one of the city founders? Come to Gibbys, where the low ceilings, thick gray stone walls and pewter dishware (for the house salad, at least) feel like they haven’t changed since 1764. The working fireplace is an amazing thing to cozy up to on a cold winter evening, as you munch down on prime rib-eye with Monte-Carlo potato and warm challah bread with cold butter. Crown the whole experience with the chocolate profiteroles. (You’ll thank us.)
With its impressive stone walls and colourful artworks, this Old Montréal restaurant is an eyeful from the get-go. Each of L’Auberge Saint-Gabriel’s many dining rooms is different: tufted leather couches line one, while long communal type tables fill another. Ask for a table by one of the working fireplaces, and settle in as the chef creates your French inspired dishes – how about cheese fondue for an extra heartwarming experience? And don’t forget to stop by Velvet speakeasy (on-site) after your meal.
The intimate vibe at this Old Montréal hideaway nestled in Hôtel Nelligan is accented by the working fireplace and a stunning wine cellar, both things of beauty. Verses Bistro is perfect for a chic tête-à-tête, a fantastic brunch or pre-dinner cocktails. The food is French-inspired and as elegant as the surroundings: dishes like a lamb rack with vegetable curry, or guinea fowl cavatelli with wild mushrooms, Jerusalem artichoke and red wine sauce. Mon dieu!
This Old Montréal institution has been warming up the night for locals and visitors for over 30 years. Vieux-Port Steakhouse’s grey stone walls and roaring fireplaces make it an amazingly cozy spot to wile away hours over a juicy steak (aged à point) and a couple of great bottles of red. Or will you go for the VP burger or the fresh lobster? May we recommend its Sunday brunch: the buffet featuring omelet and hot-roast stations is famous for a reason.
A winning feature of the Ritz-Carlton downtown, this sophisticated niche by world-famous Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud is decorated in warm amber woods, leather bar stools and white linen tablecloths. Maison Boulud’s working fireplace by the bar adds to this overall warmth a hominess that will make it difficult to leave after your feast of European delicacies featuring Canadian ingredients. Try the duck with plums, beets, pistachios and pan-seared foie gras.
House of Jazz
Home to Canada’s finest jazz musicians since 1981, this club and restaurant in downtown Montréal is just the spot to duck in for some soulful warmth. The fireplace next to the bar sets the mood, but most of the heat at House of Jazz will come from the stage: live jazz at its very best. Lunch or dinner order the Southern style pork ribs or some coq au vin and soak in the dulcet tunes of both regular local musicians and out-of-town guests.
Kick off any day downtown right with a stop into this cozy café, which opens every day at 6:30 a.m. Nestled in the renovated Fairmont Queen Elizabeth hotel, Kréma Café features cushy sofas and chairs and a view on the downtown bustle through panoramic windows. The warm open space has a round glassed-in fireplace as its centrepiece, so you can Zen out to the flickering flames as you smell the heartwarming aroma of fresh-ground coffee all around you.
Want more fire?
The city’s winter festivals and outdoor events are great places to get toasty in the great outdoors! At Quartier des spectacles during MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, from February 21 to March 3, 2019, keeps the fire burning with light installations and interactive art pieces. Come and rekindle your inner flame! Place Jacques-Cartier warms up during the winter months with Les Zones Chaleureuses, outdoor fireplaces surrounded by deck chairs. Get toasty as you watch Old Montréal life go by. In Parc Jean-Drapeau, Fête des neiges de Montréal runs on weekends from January 19 to February 10, 2019 and presents family fun ranging from a giant ice boat to dog racing to zip-lining – and fire pits, of course. And last but not least, the hottest event of the winter, Igloofest, gets the party cooking on weekends in the Old Port from January 17 to February 2, 2019 with outdoor fireplaces to roast wieners or marshmallows, not to mention more world-class EDM acts than you can shake a glow stick at.
Isa Tousignant, blogger
Isa Tousignant is an art and lifestyle writer based out of Montréal’s ecclectic Park Ex neighbourhood. She is Contributing Editor for Canadian Art magazine and freelances full-time for a wide variety of magazines and brands. She’s also a jewellery designer and passionate about animal costumes and their role in contemporary art.
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