New cuisine from Québec: Our Montréal restaurant picks

Laure Juilliard

When you first step foot in Québec, you enter a place rife with food clichés. But the province's cuisine has come a long way since poutine, pouding chômeur (poor man’s pudding) and pâté chinois (shepherd’s pie). Named the new foodie destination of North America by Town & Country in 2016, Montréal has slowly but surely established its own culinary signature. Québec's food scene is an energetic and creative mix of multiple influences that places a high value on fresh and original ingredients. For the top chefs and must-visit restaurants on your next trip to Montréal, we've compiled a list of the cuisine destinations you will not want to miss.

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Wood, rocks and wind

Set against the industrial backdrop of the Mile Ex, a popular Montréal neighbourhood, Manitoba offers a taste of nature in a stunning rustic-chic setting. The restaurant's unique cuisine is inspired by Québec's natural ingredients and traditional roots. Designers from La Firme created a space that evokes the feeling of a Québec forest. The kitchen opens up to a slender torrefied-wood bar and a cedar-plank ceiling lets light filter through. The space is equal parts attractive, friendly and accessible. The menu varies depending on available produce and currently includes an appetizer of seal tataki, elderberry, smoked butter and kohlrabi and a main course of suckling pig, grilled cucumbers, thyme emulsion and ground ivy. Truly stunning!

As local as possible

Working with local products is sometimes a challenge in Québec. This is especially true during winter. But one restaurant is doing a superb job with its unique and high-quality cuisine. Candide, run by chef John Winter Russell (La Salle à Manger, Pastaga), is located in a former church building in the Little Burgundy neighbourhood. The restaurant offers a fixed-price four-course menu made “with love and precision, warmth and refinement” that changes according to seasons and market arrivals.

Experience with a Capital E

For more spectacular creations and culinary delights, head to le Mousso on Ontario Street in the Gay Village. The unique fixed-price menu created by chef Antonin Mousseau-Rivard offers amazing dishes full of beauty and unexpected flavour. Pure joy!

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Dinner like the locals do

If you're venturing outside the city's more touristy areas, stop by for a meal at Montréal Plaza, a delicious venture by chef Charles-Antoine Crête (Toqué !, El Bulli, Brasserie T !, and others) that has done much to revitalize the commercial area of Plaza St-Hubert. With its half-country house, half-chic French brasserie décor and perfectly executed dishes, it's easy to see why this place is never empty.

A contemporary industrial atmosphere

If you're the adventurous type, make your way to the Technopôle Angus district in Rosemont for a meal at Hoogan & Beaufort, the sublime new restaurant by chef Marc-André Jetté (Laloux). You'll be treating yourself to fresh and delicious cuisine served by friendly, stylish and professional staff amidst a majestic, brightly-lit décor set beneath an impressive high ceiling.

All the rage

Heading back toward the Mile Ex, check out the latest creation by chef Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly (Toqué !, Réservoir, Pied de cochon, Fedora and Chez Sardine). With an ambiance that combines elegance, tradition and modernity, Marconi serves up sophisticated, rich and textured tapas-style dishes that you’ll savour to the last bite.

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Kitchen views

In the heart of Montréal's Little Italy, chef Martin Juneau has created a spacious restaurant that offers two choices of ambiance. Pastaga features a bright dining area with an almost-Scandinavian finish of brushed-wood tables and an enormous bay window, and also offers a show-style atmosphere where guests get a ringside seat next to the kitchen. The generous tapas-style servings are a celebration of Québec flavours. The specials include pan-seared scallops from the Îles-de-la-Madeleine served with celery root, bacon and maitake mushroom, Mauricie guinea fowl with mushrooms accompanied by celery root that has been roasted whole and sliced, and maple-glazed pork belly served with a pancake and a parsnip marinade. A real culinary celebration!

An ode to the vegetable

Local dishes paired with natural wine make for a delicious combination. Located in the neighbourhood of Little Burgundy, Le Vin Papillon specializes in original creations centred on vegetables and carefully selected natural wines. This restaurant, staffed by chef Marc-Olivier Frappier and sommelier Vanya Filipovic, honours the work of small-scale producers with finely-crafted tapas that reflect seasonal availability. The youngest sibling in a culinary family that includes legendary neighbourhood joints Joe Beef and Liverpool House, this intimate wine-and-dine spot created by power duo David McMillan and Frédéric Morin features a retro look with antique-style mirrors, white-brick walls and shelves practically overflowing with wine bottles. It all makes for an explosive natural cocktail. Carnivores will not be left out, with meat, charcuterie and seafood also on the menu. No reservations at this restaurant: first come, first served!

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Québec's favourite pastry chef

Patrice Demers is a culinary star in Québec and a champion of desserts. Building on his impressive track record at Laloux, Patrice Demers has opened a bakery not far from Atwater Market, a farmer's market located in the Little Burgundy neighbourhood. Patrice Pâtissier is simultaneously a gourmet boutique, popular lunchtime spot and baking and wine-tasting workshop that delights food lovers and shares its craft with joy and passion. You won't be able to keep your eyes—and taste buds—off the almond cake, praline cake, pecan shortbread, kouign-amann, dessert ramekins and many other sweet offerings. A wonderful journey through Québec's dessert landscape.

Weekend brunch

The weekend brunch is an indispensable part of your trip to Montréal, offering you a chance to kick back, relax and socialize. Book your table at La Récolte Espace Local today. The restaurant offers organic, local and responsible cuisine featuring a seasonal menu. Delicious!

Other recommended restaurants

Plateau Mont-Royal: La Fabrique, Chez Victoire and Majestique

Mile End: Lawrence, Buvette chez Simone and Arts Café

Entertainment District: Labo culinaire, Cadet and Bouillon Bilk

South-West: Foxy, Le Fantôme, Buvette Ludger and La Bête à Pain Griffintown

Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie: Rose Ross, Cul Sec Cave & cantine, Le Diplomate and Chez Chose

Ahuntsic: Le St-Urbain and La Bête à Pain

Hochelaga-Maisonneuve: Chez Bouffe and Les Affamés

Downtown: Mr Mme and Maison Boulud

Outremont: Les Fillettes, Provisions and Boxermans

Villeray: Comptoir Sainte-Cécile

 

Laure Juilliard

Laure Juilliard, blogger

Laure is a writer, community manager and the founder of the blog Une Parisienne à Montréal. She’s also an epicurean globetrotter who’s always on the hunt for innovative concepts and must-try restaurants. In 2016, she co-founded Slow Journeys, a webzine that focuses on ecotourism and design.

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