Head to Montreal for a weekend of gluttony. Beyond classics like Joe Beef, Au Pied de Cochon, Schwartz's, St. Viateur and Fairmount Bagels, we've got your guide to where you need to be this 2016 in Montreal.
1. Brunch At Lawrence
A popular lunch and brunch spot by British expat chef Marc Cohen, Lawrence serves Canadian bistro classics with British influences and no pretensions. You can’t go wrong with their full English breakfast, stuffed beignets, and Bloody Mary’s, and we love their beef kidney and baked eggs, too. With exposed pipes, Roman blinds, and slate-colored walls, the décor resembles a hipster rendition of a diner. Get here close to opening on the weekends if you don’t want to wait.
2. British Inspired Market Fare At Maison Publique
Maison Publique is a gastropub and weekend brunch destination where chef Derek Dammann serves up rustic, market-fresh dishes with British influences. A corner spot with a tin ceiling and no menu – dishes are posted on a bulletin board for all to see – it draws a laid-back but fashionable crowd. Expect delicious pancakes with real maple syrup and thick slices of bacon, spot-on quiche, and blood sausage. If you go on the weekend, get here early.
3. Late Night Poutine At La Banquise
No visit to Montreal would be complete without a taste of poutine, especially the poutine at La Banquise. A no-frills 24-hour diner in Mile End, they serve more than 30 versions of the iconic late-night snack, and delicious craft beers to go with them. You might have a hard time choosing between options like the Regal (with hot peppers), La Kamikaze (with merguez, hot peppers, and Tabasco), and La Boogalou (with pulled pork, coleslaw, and sour cream), but we can’t resist the classic, with perfect fries, gravy, and squeaky cheese. Expect a line, but know it moves quickly.
4. Casual Mediterranean Fare At Sumac
Sumac in the Southwest, St Henri district of Montreal has trendy, Mediterranean food down pat. The bright and airy restaurant has the smell of spice floating through the air, which will have your mouthwatering before you get to the counter to order. Incredible falafel, shawarma, dips (this is not your basic hummus and baba ghanoush), and char-grilled pita are a step above standard Mediterranean food. If you’re in the mood for something casual, but still buzzy, check out Sumac.
5. Local Cuisine At Foodlab (Labo Culinaire)
Head to the third floor of the Société des Arts Technologiques (SAT) and you’ll find Labo Culinaire, otherwise known as the Foodlab. The locally driven restaurant is spacious and diverse, with casual high-top wood tables and an open kitchen that contrast the large rooftop patio filled with picnic tables. Don't let the Foodlab moniker confuse you, they actually showcase simply prepared, local ingredients with themes that change bi-weekly (think meals designed around maple syrup and Swedish smorgasbord).
6. Innovative Tasting Menu Dinner At Le Mousso
Le Mousso is a hot new dinner-only restaurant in Ville Marie with a single tasting menu, 34 seats, minimalist décor, natural wines, and a moody, pulsing soundtrack. The brainchild of young chef Antonin Mousseau-Rivard, the restaurant’s menu centers around his very personal cuisine, prepared with a sharp technique and a range of surprising ingredients. Expect dishes like celery root mousse with smoked trout and cinder dust, paired with a Petit Chablis. Reservations are essential.
7. Seasonal Small Plates And Great Drinks At Hotel Herman
Named one of the best restaurants of 2015 by the Montreal Gazette, Hotel Herman is part of a new generation of eateries that’s helping to redefine fine dining in the city. Less about posh and more about flavor sensations, it’s the kind of place where you can expect glam-retro cocktails, house-made bread, privately imported biodynamic wines, and a menu with a dozen small plates that’s divided into meat, vegetable, and fish sections. Dishes like beets cooked two ways (slow-roasted and simmered) with elderberry, lavender, and crème fraîche and braised beef cheek with cabbage and marrow are simply stunning, as is the U-shaped bar in the middle of the dining room, surrounded by metal chairs and mustard-colored banquettes.
8. Nose-To-Tail Dining At Lili Co.
Lily Co. is a trendy, date-night restaurant in Mile End where the menu focuses on market-driven fare and offal, along with craft beers and cocktails. It’s a casual spot where most of the seating is on stools facing the open kitchen where you can watch chef David Pellizzari work his nose-to-tail magic. Don’t miss the lamb testicle - sliced thinly, fried to a golden brown, drizzled with honey and paired with radishes and aioli – or the venison brochettes with cashew butter and sesame seeds.
9. Cocktails In Mason Jars At La Distillerie
La Distillerie, with four locations throughout Montreal, serves delicious cocktail concoctions that only the bartenders know the secret to (they’re served in 4-oz and liter-large mason jars). The No. 1 Rue Ontario location is known for having the best drinks in the city along with a cool, laid-back atmosphere. The beautifully designed and personalized menu will tempt you to try every drink they offer, but we recommend ordering the Pouding Chomeur for a bit of local flavor (it features locally produced whiskey and maple syrup liqueur).
10. Japanese Whisky & Cocktails At Bar Big In Japan
Big in Japan Bar is an eclectic spot that’s affectionally referred to as BIJB by locals. With a red door serving as the only exterior identifier, BIJB is the secret bar associated with the restaurant of the same name. The bar is equal parts elegant, cool, and intimate since it’s quiet, dark, and illuminated by a huge collection of dreamy candles. The Japanese-themed cocktails are balanced, satisfying, and easy to sip — making BIJB the ultimate nighttime hangout. Tip: If you're a returning customer, you can buy a bottle of Japanese whiskey and they'll keep it for you by attaching it to a magnet connected to the ceiling.
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