We will be in Montreal for my wife's birthday and our anniversary from 24 May through 28 May. This is our first trip, and were thinking of Toque, APDC, or la Porte. Any thoughts?
But we would also like to try a place which has a new, adventurous chef. La Salle de Manger seems to be getting mixed reviews now. Does anybody have recommendations about Cafe Sardine? Any other places? We eat about anything, and love offal but also well prepared vegetables.
As Fintastic mentioned, Cafe Sardine is no longer serving dinner. (On a side note: when I was last there they said they'd keep on serving the hot dogs in the afternoon, and they are to die for - even for someone who, like me, is not a fan of hot dogs.)
As it's your first time in Montreal, APDC is definitely as typical as it gets, so I'd definitely recommend it (it looks like you've already done some work and read a tad about each place, so I won't repeat things you're probably tired of reading).
Now, you should bear in mind that APDC could be seen as not particularly ideal (with regards to "fanciness") for an anniversary dinner, if you're looking for a place with a romantic ambiance. It can get REALLY loud. In fact, this is the only point which would put La Porte in a position of advantage (I did not care for their food): its ambiance.
I also particularly love Maison Publique (another place Fintastic mentioned) and would recommend it for people wanting to try "adventurous" local stuff. But it would follow somewhat the same style as APDC: more of a casual atmosphere.
Toqué!, on the other hand, has the fancy factor working for it. I just think their food is highly overrated (same for Laprise's other restaurant, Brasserie T!). So I would personally advise against it, although some people would fiercely disagree with me.
If I may add one suggestion, you should check out Au Cinquième Péché, on St. Denis. They do a lot of local (terroir) products and offal (duck heart, veal tongue, sweetbread). If you're lucky, they could have seal sausage or jerky available (really great!). It is usually quiet and has great service and ambiance. I'd go there for dinner though. Even though they are now offering a lunch menu, I found it not to be as good as the dinner one.
More on the "gimmicky" side, you could consider Europea. In spite of their kitschy decor, it is a place where you could have a quiet romantic meal (the tables are set far apart from each other, unlike most new MTL restaurants, which usually have a crammed feel). Its chef is not new nor adventurous in the sense that you meant, but it could be an interesting (if theatrical) dinner, with a mix of local (but classic, not usually too adventurous) products, with unusual presentation and hints of molecular cuisine.
Cafe Sardine no longer serves dinner as of tonight, so that's likely not an option.
Of the other places you mentioned, I don't think any is doing anything particularly new or adventurous. As you've not been to Montreal before, APDC, Joe Beef, or Salle a Manger might be fairly unusual, and with 4 dinners you might as well try one of them. I'd push for APDC given its history.
For the most part Montreal restaurants aren't doing anything particularly cutting-edge recently. Hotel Herman is probably the newest and most innovative of the bunch, though you might also consider Maison Publique for unique Brit-Quebecois combinations. Herman and Salle a Manger have the same owner, and the head chef was briefly at Noma before coming here. The time he spent in this Danish palace has clearly influenced some of his choices in the kitchen.
By the time you visit here a new place called Tripes & Caviar will be open in Verdun (a quiet neighbourhood with virtually no tourist presence). My limited experience suggests that this will be something entirely different: it looks like it will focus on traditional cooking methods with truly local ingredients. Not so much farm-to-table as locally foraged and hunted. Or perhaps this is just wishful thinking.
One of my favourites of the past year is 400 Coups. It is perhaps not doing anything ostensibly groundbreaking, but its spectacular.
Hopefully these few ideas help.
I would skip Cafe Sardine and stick with other choices you listed.
And with spring weather in May maybe some side trips for bagels, kem coba for ice cream (next to Fairmont Bagels) or even better Olivier Potier pastry shop on Sherbrooke street downtown for special pastry to celebrate.
For Brunch l'arrivage in archeology museum has nice view of old port if you ask for table on their
small balcony (reservations needed)
There happens to be a small festival around same building during that weekend, some different foods to sample and activities free (food at kiosks has small charge
Sunday will be very busy downtown as museums free May 26 so lineups all over