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Oct 31, 2009 08:52 AM

Most Unique/Local Montreal Foodspots?

My wife and I have decided to embrace the cold this year, and are driving from Washington, DC up to Montreal for the Christmas/New Year's holiday! We are both big foodies, and have been gathering recommendations. However, rather than focusing on the best/nicest/most trendy places in Montreal, we are really focused on finding the most authentic/unique/local food experiences that there are.

We have already been recommended to Au Pied Du Cochon and Schwartz's, and are looking for more similar recommendations -- Where can we try uniquely Canadian/French fare, and really get a sense of the authentic cuisine of Montreal?

Also, keep in mind that since we'll be there for Christmas and New Year's, anything that's particularly appropriate/active around that time of year would be great.

Thank you!

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  1. I am visiting in late November and am interested in similar restaurant recommendations, so I will loop into your thread. A friend of mine just came back from Montreal and actually preferred L'Express over PDC, saying it was a must visit. I trust his eating tendencies and am originally from DC as well, preferring places like Palena and Komi over Citronelle. Was also recommended Toque, and came across:

    Can anyone compare PDC to L'Express? Thoughts on Toque and Le Club Chasse et Peche?

    Also, anywhere particularly known for seafood and vegetables? Like Manresa in California

    L'Express Restaurant
    3927 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC H2W2M4, CA

    2 Replies
    1. re: justtryit

      You cannot and should not really compare L'Express and Pied de Cochon.

      L'Express is a french type bistro, fast service, quick french classic food, good wine list. Pied de Cochon is not really a bistro in the classical meaning; the food type and quality is completely different.

      Personally, I don't recommend L'Express unless you really don't know what a french bistro is; the food is just ok; I go there 2, 3 times a year, usually on sunday evenings when I want a steak/frite.

      For better "french" food, I would suggest Lemeac, even Chez Lévêque is better IMO.

      BUT, I would skip them all and go for places like "5ème peché", "La Montée" and "Club Chasse Et Peche"; they represent more what montreal can do.

      L'Express Restaurant
      3927 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC H2W2M4, CA

      1. re: Maximilien

        I agree with the above post.

        LÉxpress is bistro type fare. I was disapppointed the last two times I went with very unimpressive dishes.

        PDC on the other had is uniquely Quebec and has some great dishes. If you like Fois Gras, this is the place to go!

        Lemaec is great, better if you go for the 22 after 22h menu. Similar food at half the price.

        Chasse et Peche is in another class all together. Great French, the dishes are little masterpieces! Pricey but worth it for a fancy night out. This is definately the top tier of Montreal Cuisine.

        Also fabulous but on the pricey end is Joe Beef. Good for small groups (its a small space).

        Schwartzs for a fast sandwich or Le Banquise for a quick stop poutine are also very Montreal things to do.

    2. This is a difficult question because its hard to corral the Canadian bit of it. In terms of classic French there is not much in Montreal that stands out. In terms of French bistrot/bistrot influenced L'Express and Lemeac are the obvious names and I would agree that Lemeac is the (much) better choice, but I'm not sure that French bistrot is what you are really after.

      Au Pied de Cochon is the most well known proponent of a rediscoverd cuisine Quebecoise, reliant on local ingredients and on updating traditional homestyle dishes (kind of like cuisine paysanne is being re-discovered in Paris). It is well worth it as an experience. Other restaurants that (to a lesser extent) share this space include Salle A Manger and Cocagne (which I strongly recommend). This is a trend that has greatly expanded in Montreal over the past few years and a lot of restaurants are doing it poorly (reflected in so many restaurants mangling a poutine and acting like its a fine dining experience).

      I would describe Club Chasse et Peche (also well worth it) and Toque as more contemporary and technical cuisine. These restaurants serve cuisine similar to New American. A lot of the best dining experiences in Montreal are in this space. Some names I like are La Chronique and La Montee. Also a great value but still a bit under the radar is Mas Cuisine. These restaurants are not particularly Canadian/French but I think these are the restaurants that (as Maximillien noted) best show what Montreal can do. Joe Beef falls into this category but in my experience it is over-rated.

      Schwartz's is closer to fast food and well worth it. Banquise or Ma'am Bolduc for poutine is another strong choice and you may even want to locate a Dic Ann's for a very local interpretation of the hamburger.

      In terms of seafood, there is not much interesting, especially at a reasonable price point. Vegetable focused menus are also not something that are big in this climate come November.

      Check out my website for more information by clicking through my profile.

      Enjoy your trip!

      Joe Beef
      2491 Rue Notre-Dame W, Montreal, QC H3J1N6, CA

      L'Express Restaurant
      3927 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC H2W2M4, CA

      Mas Cuisine
      3779 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G, CA

      7 Replies
      1. re: thelonious777

        Where does Kitchen Galerie fit into your typology? Secondly, anyone know anything about the place near JTalon Market where you make reservations and eat in the chef's house? Is it worth it?

        Kitchen Galerie
        60 Rue Jean-Talon E, Montreal, QC H2R1S5, CA

        1. re: williej

          The typology as it were, is a bit of a work in progress. I have really struggled to try to define the major threads of North American cuisine in Montreal for my website but I haven't come up with anything truly satisfactory.

          In my experience, it would fall more in the first category (local, market cuisine, simple homestyle cooking that is well done) but there is nothing particularly Quebecois about the influences. It actually feels a lot like it could be part of Paris' bistronomie scene.

          The chef's house thing near JTM is interesting in that eating at someone's house is a different act than eating in a restaurant. One tends not to "judge" the food because inviting someone into your home is not a commercial transaction but a social interaction (incidentally, I think this is a normal and good thing). It seems like these people are trying to blur that line and make money in a setting in which criticism is not on. Personally, I have no interest. First, because I hate the idea of blurring that line and, second, because I think reports of amazing meals are probably colored by the fact that diners have been invited in someone's home and had a personal interaction (i.e. only good things can be said).

          1. re: thelonious777

            Do you have a name or contact info for this chef who cooks from his house? I would have an interest in blurring that line! :)

            1. re: kimberleyblue

              It's called Hidden Market, and they have a website - you sign up to receive e-mails with menus etc.

              1. re: cherylmtl

                Any idea what the approximate cost is?

                1. re: williej

                  I haven't been yet, and I haven't got a clue what the cost is - it seems to be some sort of secret. Anyone else know?

        2. re: thelonious777

          I second the recommendation of Mas Cuisine. Great food and a nice atmosphere.

          Mas Cuisine
          3779 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G, CA

        3. If you want poutine in a classic casse-croute, the best place to go is Paul Patate on Charlevoix in Pointe St. Charles. Not only is their poutine the best in town their spruce beer is amazing. Spruce beer and poutine is an unbeatable quebecois combo and there's no better place to get it.

          Paul Patate
          2606 Rue De Coleraine
          Montreal, QC H3K 1S7

          Paul Patate
          2606 Rue De Coleraine, Montreal, QC H3K1S7, CA

          1. Great thread! Thanks everyone. I'm heading up Dec. 25 & Dec. 26 with the in-laws for the weekend in Montreal. I'm a little concerned about getting a rez for dinner on Christmas Day. I found this list ( but I'm not recognizing any of the establishments - aside from Babbo. Any standouts on this list?

            On another note, anybody have any activity suggestions? My mom-in-law would particularly appreciate some Christmas carols/chorus. I was also thinking of taking them to see Cirque du Soleil, but the current show is not particularly "Christmassy." Thanks so much!

            4 Replies
            1. re: middyboo

              That isn't necessarily a list of restaurants open on Christmas, just those that have special Christmas menus (often for groups going out for office parties, etc.). And it's not the same Babbo as the one in NY.
              There is a recent thread somewhere here about places open on Christmas and New Year's - if you do a search, you should be able to find it.

              1. re: cherylmtl

                Oooo...thanks. Did not realize that. I did do a search for Montreal and Christmas. Maybe I need to do a little more digging.

                1. re: middyboo

                  Here you go:

                  Good restos for dinner Chritmas Eve and Christmas