Montreal has so many fabulous restaurants and places to take in delicious fare that its hard to know where to begin, particularly if you only have a few days. Below are my top picks, which are based on personal sampling, more in-depth reviews I did on-site and a couple of strong recommendations from foodie pals with high standards.
Here are my top 15 picks.
1. Pied de Cochon on Rue Duluth is by far my top pick. This isn’t likely news for foodies who have been to Montreal, since its a top pick for many travelers and food lovers alike.
Known for its “duck in a can,” it also has a number of other classic delicacies such as duck carpaccio (served with a raw egg on top), roast suckling pig, putin foie gras, liver mousse guinea fowl, pie sausage and their infamous fries coated with duck fat. Watching them prepare the food from the bar is my recommendation but obviously tough to do if you go with a group.
2. Barroco Restaurant on Rue Saint-Paul in old Montreal. Think old world, brick walls, romantic, incredible service, tons of French and Italian wines and am ambiance to die for.
3. Bocata Restaurant (and Bar a Vin) also on Rue Saint-Paul is a sister to Barroco. I’m a fan of foie gras so try to taste it wherever they have it on the menu since its tougher to find in the states. I absolutely loved the salmon tartare served with a lemon vinaigrette, the duck roquette pan-seared with pralin de noix, the mushroom tartine with pesto and the halibut and mushroom duxelle, which is an artichoke and lobster ragout. Are you in heaven yet? If you still have room, order the lobster and sweet corn served with apple wood poached bacon, red oak, pickled shallots & tomato emulsion. Try to get a seat by the open doors if you’re there when the weather is nice. A call out to Josh who helped us make decisions every step of the way, including which wine to pair things with. Chef is Benjamin Leonard.
4. Boris Bistro on Rue McGill has great ambiance and outside terrace if you’re there in the summer or fall. While they have light dishes worth a try such as the Mediterranean Chicken Salad and Beef tartare, their more original dishes include buffalo carpaccio, a duck confit sandwich, duck risotto with creamy mushrooms, sage and orange, and a duo sausage with onion compote. Even heavier, but how can you resist is the duck breast with espresso cardamom sauce and the rabbit braised in white wine on a creamy polenta with bacon.
5. Buvette Chez Simone on Avenue du Parc. As crazy as this sounds, we rode our bikes to this place at midnight through the park and up a steep hill. Because it’s open until 3 am, we arrived just in time and the buzz was in full force. It’s more of a bar than a restaurant (for ambiance), and it mixes old world (the bar, the wine and the food selections) with ‘happening bar’ and odd music that doesn’t quite match its core. We heard everything from hip hop and house to a song from Jesus Christ Superstar.
They have a number of fabulous small plates and the way to go here is to sit at the bar, start with a medium-bodied red and then the best damn bold red on the menu and go to town with the charcuteries. For starters, they do smoked meat which you can get as a half portion or a full portion. Follow up with a mousse de foie, perhaps some prosciutto to share, the rillettes de canard maison (YUM – duck is everywhere in Montreal), the terrine paysanne (my favorite) and the sauteed mushrooms. They also have a ravioli which looked good though I didn’t have a chance to try it. (not everything is available on the menu that late at night).
6. Les Pyrenees Restaurant on Rue St. Paul Ouest. More brick, more old world – can you tell that I’m craving for a little of that old world charm, so missing from America’s west coast? But in all seriousness, how can you go wrong with a menu like this? Wild boar stew with chestnuts, duo rabbit sauce with figs, cassoulet in toulouse, bullinada fish in catalan, cod steak grotin with olive oil and garlic, and a duck leg gratin served with goat cheese and red berry coulis. Obviously there’s a strong Lebanese influence mixed with French cuisine favorites.
7. Laurie Raphael on Rue Mansfield. This restaurant is tucked inside the Germain Hotel which is where I stayed this time around. I reviewed this restaurant in-depth on the blog and did it in two sittings, a dinner and a lunch sitting. An unusual preparation of salmon tartare is a good place to start. Here, chef Daniel Vezina serves it with lobster oil, cucumber jelly and sorbet.
His scallop tartar is served with a strawberry pudding and basil pearls. We tried the poached stripped seabass with yuzu fish broth and sea plant , the beef carlotte tataki with marinated fiddleheads and foie gras; nitrogen foie gras as a peach melba, which was topped with apricot compote and rasberry lacquer. I didn’t have a chance to try the Muscovy Duck but it was my first choice….it is served with Lac St. Jean blueberry sauce, a potato salad and a grilled heart of romaine. My favorite was probably the lunch portion of the Quail surpremes (2 legs were fried and 2 were grilled), on top of a mixed salad and mixed vegetables.
8. Europea on Rue de la Montagne. Chef Jerome Ferrer pays attention to details and you don’t come here to have fun, you come to eat…..slowly. Top picks: seared Quebec foie gras with root vegetable puree, the north shore scallops in a buckwheat crepe with parsnip and meringue and white asparagus filament, the cornish hen served with hay in a casserole infused with galanga and the tagliatelle of calamari served with a poached quail egg and lemon caviar. More in-depth coverage can be found in my restaurant review including photos.
9. Bistro L’Aromate. Here, go for the mulard duck foie gras au torchon with dried cranberry chutney, the seared calf liver with maitre d’ butter and cordial rose lime caramel, their grilled lamb kafta brochette, over spinach, feta cheese tomato and olive salad, the demi-glace au thyme Linguine with duck confit, mushroom fricassée and thyme demi-glace and the yummy veal cheek Bourguignon, with caramelized pearl onion cream sauce. Whoahh Nelly. Ready to board a plane for Montreal yet?
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.
She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.
Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.
Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.