3 Must-Eat Montreal Restaurants

Montréal has long offered delights to fans of gastronomy, but there’s a major difference between the culinary scene of today and even just a decade back. Whereas Montréal used to be chock-a-block with amazing, homey French-style bistros and holes in the wall, today’s Québecois chefs have truly embraced the region’s indigenous farm-to-table bounty and flavors, and married them with contemporary technique and innovation.


Montréal’s craft-beer scene easily warrants its own feature article: there are some 35-plus-brew pubs within the city at present, and around 150 microbreweries throughout the Québec region. A lesbian-owned, three-year-old brasserie and microbrewer, straddling the Mile Ex and Little Italy neighborhoods, Brasserie Harricana represents a fabulous spot to give some of these brews, ciders, liquors, and even local kombucha a whirl. As indicated on the drinks menu, some draughts are served at specific temperatures, with alcohol content indicated. The Brasserie’s space is lovely, and be sure to crane your neck and glance upward at the ceiling’s enlarged images of women’s body parts, which are partially obscured by wooden panels resembling window shutters. I created my own flight with tastes of several Harricana brews, including a sour-apricot wheat beer, a Berliner Weisse infused with coffee from artisanal local roasters Dispatch, and a raspberry milk stout, plus lip-smacking ice cider from rural Québec’s Cidrerie Milton. The food menu, meanwhile, encompasses gastropub fare: deviled eggs, ale-braised lamb shank, beer-roasted chicken, and generous veggie options. Weekend brunch sees crêpés, stuffed French toast, a bacon and egg brekkie sandwich with potato latkes, and decadent ribeye eggs Benedict. 95 rue Jean Talon West. Tel: 514-303-3039.www.brasserieharricana.com


Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018, this Montréal game changer helped bring a farm-to-table, sustainable ethos to the city and launched many chefs and restaurateurs’ careers in its kitchen, including local superstars David McMillan and Frederic Morin of Joe Beef, and CharlesAntoine Crête, and Cheryl Johnson of Montréal Plaza. Toque co-owner Christine Lamarche apologized that co-owner and chef, Normand Laprise, would not make an appearance during my meal since he was deep in Québec’s forests shooting a French television segment (as good an excuse as any for a foodie). What Toque’s chefs do with all of their seasonal, local ingredients is absolutely gorgeous and elegant, and has certainly evolved with the times to represent 21st-century Instagram-worthiness. My lunch included a gorgeous Arctic char tartare with lime crème fraiche, radish leaf purée, cucumber, and daikon, bursting with flavor, freshness, and texture. Housemade lemon gnocchi were dainty and succulently saucy, complemented by shiitake mushrooms, cherry bomb pepper, and Parmigianino. Desserts were equally stupendous and artful. 900 Jean-PaulRiopelle Place. Tel: 514-499-2084. www.restaurant-toque.com


Visiting Asian-fusion spot Kozu during its opening week in June 2017, the place was abuzz and packed to the gills, as if already a neighborhood fave. It’s no wonder, given the team’s impressive experience and followings. Restaurateur David Schmidt of 2016 hit Tiradito, chef Olivier Vigneault of Jatoba and Québec City’s Yuzu, and sommelier Maxim Laliberté of Daniel Boulud’s Maison Boulud, plus an expedient, personable front of house largely culled from service-forward hotels. Dishes can come flying fast and furious from the open kitchen, which is utterly fascinating to watch from the marble chef’s counter. Located in the Plateau neighborhood a few blocks off rue St. Denis, the space, once a bar called Rachel Rachel, has been transformed by designer Amlyne Phillips to evoke a “chic Scandinavian cottage” with loads of beautiful, detail-rich wood finishings and potted greenery. Meanwhile, Vigneault’s menu draws inspiration and ingredients from all over Asia, although it heavily leans to Japan. I adored the red tuna tartare, served in four taco-like nori “shells” with shredded cucumber, mizuna, avocado, and a tempura-flake topping. A soft-shell crab bao is tinged with heat from red-eye chili, while shrimp and pork gyoza (there’s an entire dumpling section on the menu) came perfectly crisped outside. The oven-roasted black cod, tender and moist yet succulently seasoned with Chogo miso marinade and touch of char may be the tastiest iteration I’ve savored in North America. Plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options are also available, while big parties can order up the six-person, $300 “La Totale” feast. Don’t forget the yummy cocktails! 500 rue Rachel Est. Tel: 514-524-4446. www.kozumontréal.com

Keep reading over at Passport magazine online for more amazing Montreal restaurants. 

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