Greatest Overall Tasting Menu
My husband Jay and I are traveling to Montreal for the first time next week. We'll only be there for two days, so we won't have a whole lot of time to try different restaurants. After some perusal here, the NY Times, Fodders, and TripAdvisor, we've decided to try:
- Au Pied de Cochon, mostly for their foie gras poutine and because it's very close to where we'll be staying. Neither of us have ever tried poutine before!
- Fairmount Bagel. Also close to our hotel and I like that it has more varieties than some of the other places.
- Le Bilboquet for the ice creams and such, if we have time.
- Tapeo or Europea for lunch, unless we're steered otherwise...
And the leaves us looking for a special tasting menu. We were considering Toque or La Montee de Lait or anywhere else on offer. I know there are some atmosphere/service (and sometimes cuisine) issues with both of these selections, but I'm not entirely concerned with how pleasant the wait staff is, what the dining room or guests look like, etc. The food... the FOOD! So who has the best tasting menu? We're looking for playfulness, unusual ingredients, risk taking (even if it results in a few failures), presentation, and at least a few unforgettable flavors. I prefer less meat-heavy tasting menus, if that makes a difference. I'm pregnant, so we don't have to worry about wine this time. And price isn't a huge issue, but I've noticed LDML is about $25 less expensive for the dégustation than Toque.
Would definitely recommend Toque--and unlike some posters, we have found the service excellent. We only dined at Club Chasse & Peche once, but will not return---the food was disappointing and the service horrid. Haven't tried Europea, but have only heard good things about their tasting menu.
If I were to differentiate between the two tasting menus, I would say Toque's is a little more seasonal and inventive, thus leading to some sporadic hit-and-miss dishes but also more complex, interesting experiences. Europea is a little bit safer in its ingredient use and so it's tasting menu satisfies a wider range of palates but some "boring" dishes. This being said, I much enjoy both places and would add La Chronique as another suggestion.
i would like torecommend another option: l'epicier's 7-course tasting menu is quite quite awesome, and they can expertly pair wines for you, too. They also personalize the menu (someone I know is vegetarian and they served special creations just for her!!).
As for the poutine, the one served at PDC is not a traditional one at all. If you'd like to try a real quebecois poutine, head for a local fast food joint, or even better, try out La Banquise on Rachel street.
have a nice trip!
Hate to disagree, but my experiences at L'Epicier have been superior when ordering a la carte. The tasting menu I had there was B- at best. Have not been to Monte de Lait so I can't comment. I've heard good things.
Toque is the "best" tasting menu in the city. I'd say that it's the only high end restaurant in the city that can compete with the best of NYC in terms of food. However, the setting and service are not up to the standard of the food.
It's little reported, but Club Chasse et Peche will do a tasting menu. My girlfriend and I consistently find it to be the most pleasurable dining experience in Montreal (and one of our favourites in North America). A word of warning, some dishes will be served to share while others will be presented individually. The service team there is both the most relaxed and professional in town. Wine pairings are really creative (we had an intentionally oxydized wine with our cheese course there last time we went). I also strongly believe that letting the service staff there leads to a superior experience than ordering a la carte. Usually the total cost for this is between $300 and $350 although the food cost is relatively low, so you can pay less if you tell them to go for cheaper wines.
Other top tasting menu options are La Chronique and Bronte.
Well, I can't speak for La Montee de Lait, but my husband and I had the tasting menu at Toque last week and we thought it was fabulous...we rank it up with one of our best meals ever. It was not at all meat-heavy...3 fish courses, 1 squab, 1 duck, 1 cheese and a dessert (plus a cold tomato soup with herb foam as an amuse bouche). One of the fish courses was a tuna tartare, which was fabulous, but if you didn't want the raw fish, they were very accomodating to substitute something else for any course/any reason (I had mentioned that I couldn't stand either cilantro or coconut and they told me that none of that was on the menu, but it wouldn't be a problem if it were...).
The menu was creative without being too "cute-sy" or too over the top.
I'd highly recommend it!
You other choices sound like good ones....I never got a bagel there...I'm a former NY'er and I wanted to see what the difference really was! :-)
Have a great time!