We did reserve at Toque for our upcoming visit. We will be dining a
la carte if we dine at all. We have also downsized our list to include: Les Chevres
Au Petit Extra
We love great food but think the atmsophere at Toque sounds pretty stuffy. Will Les Chevres or any of the other places I've listed give us just as good food without the "chill" of Toque's dining room especially since we do not plan on getting Toque's tasting menu?
Of the restaurants you've listed Brunoise will give you the closest thing to a fine dining experience. I haven't eaten at Les Chevres since they dropped their "veggie focused" concept. I can tell you that Lesley C. of the Gazette gave their new menu a very positive review this past Spring and Patrice Demers is still the best pastry chef in the city. Ferreira is upscale Portuguese. If you like expertly, if simply, prepared seafood and a huge selection of wines and ports, this is the place is for you. Garde-Manger is, as far as I can gather from others' remarks, a bar with good food that's served in very playful ways. The other two on your list are simply cuisine bourgeois serving bistros of which Lemeac is the more upscale.
I would not go to Toque if I were you. I went once and spent 150$ and it was not worth it all. Go see another one of my posts where I recommend Yoyo. I had a spider in my soup at Toque and the waiter did not even apologize. They charged me for it and did not offer me a drink or anything. They were not gracious at all. We were 5 people and spent at least 150$ per person and we had the feeling that that was not enough. You should go with the other choices above like Lemeac, les Chevres, Yoyo, La Brunoise.....Forget Toque....
haha. It's really unfortunate that you had an experience such as that at a place like Toque. That being said, I have to say that Toque! is serving the best food in Montreal, at least if you do the tasting menu. The cooking is the most technical, most exact, and best balanced I had in the city. Indeed, the food there is the best I've had in either Toronto or Montreal. Also, the place is not overly formal or stuffy, instead it is sort of cold and corporate and yes, I've found the service to be distant although very compotent.
Lots of foodies rave about Toqué! but I've never had a meal there that wowed me. A dish or two, yes, but not a meal. And a couple of dishes were as uninspired, off-putting even, as any I've ever been served in a destination restaurant. Plus you have to put up with the soulless and self-conscious decor and haughty service. (An acquaintance of mine says he's been treated well since he started reserving under the name Rothschild; whether or not the story is true, the fact that it could be speaks volumes.) Well, not on my dime.
For a far more engaging and slightly more affordable Cartesian* dining experience, head to La Chronique.
*By which I mean essentially French and intellectually stimulating if not necessarily soul-warming, a category into which both Toque! and La Chronique fall IMHO.
Funny how Toque! seems so polarizing. Foodwise, everything I had there was tight and the courses all played off each other. Plus I loved the way Laprise would toss off some 'post-modern' (or whatever they're calling it) culinary technique or rare ingredient like it wasn't the point of the dish (which it never was). Plus it was delicious. But yeah, service and decore were cold and distant. Either way, I think Anise is where it's at right now. It's got a little more passion and warmth. And you'll leave both thinking and feeling good about the world. Descartes by a fire maybe?
If you go out of Montreal and go in the Saguenay region, I had dinner at a BYOW that was way better than Toque. It is in Chicoutimi and is called Le privilège. The chef is a woman, Diane Tremblay, and a couple of years ago we had the tasting menu (7 services) and it was 55$. I had a lamb tartare and I never tasted anything like it. Toque is definitely not the best restaurant in Quebec.
I really have to second the recommendation of Anise. The food is French with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern roots and is extraordinarily subtle and refined. The atmosphere is soothing. The service is professional, yet friendly and gracious. It is a unique place that refects the personality of its chef/owner Racha Bassoul. I urge you to try one of her wonderful tasting menus.