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Help! Two Dinners in Montreal – What’s the Best?

I’m going to be spending a couple of days in Montreal on the way back from eastern Canada. I’d like to identify a couple of dinners, probably with at least one at an upscale fine-dining restaurant (see additional comments below about my research thus far). Cost is not a significant decision factor. Geography isn’t a factor either; I have a car and will be staying in the suburbs, but expect to spend most of the time in downtown/Old Montreal and possibly elsewhere around the city. I’m also open to places that are not super expensive/fancy, so please don’t limit your recommendations to the most high-end places. In a nutshell, my question is this: WHAT ARE THE TOP 2-3 PLACES YOU WOULD RECOMMEND TO SHOW THAT MONTREAL HAS AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS FOOD?

I’m fortunate in enjoying many different kinds of food back home, and my taste is generally pretty wide. But please, no recommendations for steakhouses (too pervasive), no sushi (don’t like it), poutine (yuck), pizza (I live in Chicago), or Montreal-style smoked meat (I’ve had it, don’t hate it but don’t seek it out, and yes I’ve heard of Schwartz’s). FWIW, other places I’ll be dining on this trip before reaching Montreal include the White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport, the Press Gang in Halifax, Lot 30 in Charlottetown, and Restaurant Initiale and/or Restaurant La Cremaillere in Quebec City, as well as a bunch of more casual spots along the way.

In the fine dining category, I’ve been doing searches trying to uncover the best that Montreal has to offer, but it seems like there’s no consensus at all. Every source I look at names different places as the city’s best. I’m a bit surprised, because even in the biggest and best cities for food, you usually hear a handful of names mentioned over and over again as “best of the best”, but that does not appear to be the case with Montreal. These places were listed as tops in four different non-Chowhound sources, with only Toque mentioned in more than one of those sources (and even there, only in two):

Toque!
L’Eau a la Bouche (EDIT: closed - thanks JohnnyGe)
La Porte
La Chronique
Le P'tit Plateau
Tapeo Bar à Tapas
Europea

Then when I looked at this Chowhound discussion, I see an entirely different group of restaurants recommended, with zero overlap with the previous group:

Another Special Occasion Post.... - www.chow.com/topics/881541

Joe Beef
Quartier General
Monsieur B
Dominion Square Taverne
le Filet
400 Coups
3 Petits Bouchons
Lawrence
Tuck Shop
La Salle A Manger

As for places that aren’t the fancy expensive ones, I haven’t got a clue where to even look. But I’m hopeful that Chowhounds can point me to a few restaurants where the food is absolutely divine despite a more casual atmosphere and a less lofty price point.

I appreciate any recommendations and advice anyone can provide. TIA!

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  1. L'Eau A La Bouche is no more.... closed its doors a couple of weeks ago. RIP

    1. Pastrami is not Smoked meat. Different curing processes. Just wanted to correct some misinformation you had in your post.

      1 Reply
      1. Some notes to help you choose.

        Tapeo and Le P'tit Plateau do not fit in the "fine" dining list.

        Toqué and Europea are more "international" type of high-end restaurant; La Chronique has a more bourgeois feel and smaller.

        You are missing Le Club Chasse et Peche (big brother of Le Filet) in Old Montréal.

        "Les 400 Coups" is one of the best in the City, and the best dessert; that would be my pick along "La Salle à Manger".

        2 different styles, 2 different neighbourhoods, both high quality without breaking the bank too much.

        1. My picks would be:
          Le filet, club Chasse et peche, 400 coups, 3 Petits bouchons and la salle a manger. They are all very unique and delicious. These restaurants have a very Montreal québécois vibe that do not feel kitschy in any way, no smoked meat poutine!

            1. re: EaterBob

              Thanks Bob! I didn't see those topics in my searches, but sometimes fine dining gets discussed in topics where you can't tell that from the titles.

              Thanks also to others who have posted replies. Keep 'em coming!