When you think of Montreal cuisine, you immediately think of French inspired food mixed with local favorites, like poutine. Neither, are currently on my diet regime and definitely fall on the heavier side of eating. On my last two visits to Montreal, I was pleasantly surprised to find a slew of modern, yet casual, restaurants that take advantage of all of the seasonal, local and sustainable options within the city. Here are my current top restaurant picks for any long weekend that incorporate fresh, local and seasonal ingredients in a relaxed and local city vibe. The best part is that all of these picks are located in Old Montreal, which is quaint and perfect for strolling the cobblestone streets, day or night, or along the Saint Lawrence River. You’ll find plenty of shopping, hotels and watering holes to keep you occupied for any long weekend.
1. Barroco: 312 Rue Saint Paul Ouest Montreal, QC (514) 544-5800 www.barroco.ca
I stumbled onto Barroco on my first trip as I was shopping in Old Montreal. Windows opened onto the street and the interior revealed a warm, yet rustic dining room with a definitive local crowd. Barroco is probably my favorite on this list as they equally specialize
in mixology, as they do their local cuisine. My friend and I sat at the bar on my most recent visit, and became fixated on our mixologist as she created one of the best tasting Pisco Sours I’ve had in awhile, whisking the egg whites to a cloud of foam.
Local fish and shellfish are standouts on the menu at Barroco, and Sundays feature Lobster. Definitely get the oysters to start your meal, which all come from local sources and pair well with the Arctic Char, which is accompanied by herbs gravlax, lemon pepper, mango vinaigrette, gremolata and fresh goat cheese, from the Caroline & Jean-Francois Farm in Q.C. For entrees try the Paella Barroco which is different from other paella’s I’ve had, which has less broth and more seafood including fresh scallops, lobster, shrimp, morcilla, chorizo, tomatoes, red peppers, green peas and saffron. If you’re really hungry opt for the Ribsteak which comes on a butcher block served with a delicious chimichurri. I would also suggest sharing the Ribsteak and trying several smaller plates if you’re in a beef mode.
2.Le Bremner: 361 Rue Saint Paul Est Montreal, QC (514) 544-0446 http://crownsalts.com/lebremner/
Le Bremner has been opened less than a year and is the second hotspot from Chef Chuck Hughes. His first, Garde Manger, which I’ll talk about later, attracts a very hip Montreal crowd, and Le Bremner is definitely not far behind. Featuring smaller plates to share, definitely try the daily amuse-buche and local oysters. My friend and I split the spicy raw salmon and kimchee snow crab with crispy rice crab. Both were beautifully presented and were bursting with fresh local flavors of the sea, while adding a nice surge of pure protein to our diet.
Since you’ll be sharing, go for one of the flatbreads in between your starter dishes and before your entrees. We tried the prosciutto cotta bread with pineapple and jalapeno which was divine. For entrees, try the Hake and clams. Definitely save room for dessert!
3. Chez L’Epicier: 311, Rue Saint Paul Est, Montreal (514) 878-2232 www.chezlepicier.com
Chez L’Epicier is just a few doors down from Le Bremner and has the look and feel of walking into a precious old home. As soon as you walk in you notice gourmet specialty products from Quebec on the shelves resembling a precious gourmet market. Two rooms makeup the dining room, but it is the gastronomic cuisine of Chef Laurent Godbout that made me come back again on my second visit to Montreal.
Food is definitely more refined than the other listings here, but it is never fussy. On my last visit, my friends had the special Greek yogurt gazpacho soup with pumpernickel bread which was delicious and perfect as a Summer starter dish. The fresh fish of the day was served over a very light risotto and broth with tomatoes and snow peas, that was perfectly seared and exploded with flavor. Chez L’Epicier is perfect for a romantic date or a group of close friends to catch up.
4.Garde Manger: 408, Rue Saint-Francois -Xavier Montreal, QC (514) 678-5044 http://crownsalts.com/gardemanger/
Garde Manger is Chef Chuck Hughes first restaurant and continues to draw local urbanites who appreciate good food with late night hours. Plates are more robust and large as compared to Le Bremner and with a late night cabaret license be prepared to stay and party into the night. Menus change daily and can be read on huge blackboards featuring the freshest local products, seafood and beef. For larger groups go for the seafood platters of oysters, scallops, shrimp and crab. Hungry? Go for Chef Hughes interpretation of the poutine, which piles on fresh lobster. The hip vibe, fun service and great food make this a must stop on your next trip to Montreal.
Plan your next trip to Montreal and stay at my favorite hotel: L’Place D’Armes Hotel & Suites, which is walking distance to all of the above restaurants. Use the travel widget below: