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Jul 25, 2013 08:03 PM

Local summer restaurant ? Great chef ? (visiting from SF)


I'm working on my homework for enjoying a long weekend in Montreal (starting today), and I'm hoping for some recommendations.

I've read a lot of the standard lists including the Poutine place, the montreal bagel places, the beer places, the markets, all good - check, check. We do not need Vietnamese.

I desire : newer "local twist on quebecois" type restaurants, local produce, innovative chef, etc? Expect good wine list, we eat everything.

For SF savvy, something like Commonwealth, Saison, Atelier Crenn, Rich Table, State Bird. ie, we're jaded already so if we're making a trip, it better be excellent.

Challenge: we have no reservations and want to eat this weekend, so are willing to call around or "sneak in early and sit at the bar".

We will be staying roughly in the Old Port neighborhood, plan to have no car, but are intrepid with our Google Maps, Metro passes, taking taxis. Anything from downtown to old montreal to plateau or near a metro stop is certainly fair game.

No price limit.


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  1. is a good starting point for you to start asking specific questions.

    9 Replies
    1. re: kpaxonite

      Thank you, I appreciate the pointer to the thread. I had done a bit of searching, but this is really the thread I'm looking for.

      These kind of "help I need a recommendation!" last minute threads are common on the SF board, so I figure I'm due after answering so many :-)

      APDC seems VERY french, and not as "local", correct? It's also listed as "not stuffy" but that menu is straight-up french.

      The 400 Blows - at least I've seen the film - has reservations available on OT on the early and late side, might be our target for Saturday night.

      Food Lab looks pretty cool - might be a friday night under the stars option, although I noted the FoodLab -> 4C two-fer.

      But... here's what I'm wondering.

      In northern VT / Burlington, where I have and aunt and uncle, and in western MA, there are a number of small places driven by very local produce, such as tied to specific local farms, and some innovative cooking.

      Is there anything similar in the Montreal area?

      1. re: bbulkow

        "APDC seems VERY french, and not as "local", correct?"

        Completely incorrect, although it has its critics, APDC is about as Montreal as it gets. He uses Quebec ingredients as much as possible.Nothing to do with French food either.

        But you will not find a restaurant like Waterbury`s Hen of the Woods in Montreal I am afraid if that is what you are looking for.

        1. re: jfprieur

          Ah. Perhaps the style of menu is throwing me off, it seems like the kind of menu that is kept year round, impossible with a restaurant focused on seasonal changes and using what is fresh that day.

          The restaurants I mentioned in SF have daily menus and, on the web site, examples from previous days or seasons.

          It seems that's not the style here.

          1. re: bbulkow

            That is in part because the specials aren't on the online menu. If you go I recommend ordering of the daily special menu for the most part... things like duck in a can are for tourists and the novelty factor. If you aren't familiar with the restaurant watch Bourdain's trips to montreal on youtube ... APDC also runs that type of farm thing you mentioned except it isnt open now, its a sugar shack in the spring and an apple orchard in the fall (sorry I don't know any other farm restaurants, I know there are some but they aren't super popular).

            As for your challenge, I suggest you do what other posters said- late rather than early.. and at places like apdc the bar seats are reserved.

          2. re: jfprieur

            While a lot of the restaurants that get a lot of love on this list use local ingredients, they will not necessarily list the provenance of each ingredient on their menu. Toque does, or at least it used to. Club Chasse et Peche often does as well.

          3. re: bbulkow

            what does this mean? "Food Lab looks pretty cool - might be a friday night under the stars option, although I noted the FoodLab -> 4C two-fer." (the last phrase means what?)

            1. re: williej

              I infer this to mean that FoodLab and 400 Coups are proximal and could be a dinner->drinks or snacks->dinner possibility. This is true, but would have to be tonight, and with FoodLab closing early, it'd likely have to be the first stop.

              1. re: Fintastic

                Yes, a two-fer would be hitting two well regarded places in a single evening. I have sometimes done an evening of nothing but appetizers at several places - like, 4 restaurants, all apps, no deserts. Like a tasting menu on wheels.

            2. re: bbulkow

              One more point about farm-to-table: Vermont is basically one big forest and farm, and most residents own cars, thus I think it is fairly common to have the direct farm-restaurant associations as they are much more accessible. The population of Vermont is also uniquely health and environmentally-conscious. San Francisco also has a leg up in this regard as it basically has a year-long growing season. Near Montreal things only grow from the ground for 6 months a year and many city residents have limited options for reaching farmland, so I think such restaurants are rare because they aren't sustainable. Thinking of things to serve in February becomes more of a challenge with dishes based primarily on roots, tubers, and greenhouse produce.

              That said, when coming from California one might also have to adjust their measures of farm-to-table. Meat is Quebec's produce. Although this time of year we have any great fruits and vegetables, it tends not to be the primary focus. When you go to Lawrence and order duck hearts or calf brains, you know that these have been acquired from their local partners and butchered in-house. When you go to APDC and order the foie gras, or seafood platters, or anything with pig and maple syrup, you know these products are coming from their sole duck supplier, by plane directly from Magdalen island fishermen, and APDC's own production farm, respectively. Because restaurants can get duck and pork products year-round, menus like APDC's may seem stagnant, although the ingredients themselves are certainly not. It is simply a different approach to farm-to-table than you might be used to.

          4. SAB Food Lab is worth a try. Its not far from Vieux Montreal (the proper name for the 'Old Port'). It's on St. Laurent and Rene Levesque.

            1. If you want a "local twist on Quebecois" places I would suggest the following, with the chef's name in parenthesis (in no particular order):
              Les 400 Coups (Marc-André Jetté), 400 Notre Dame E 514–985–0400
              Le Sinclair (Stelio Perombelon), 125 St Paul O 514–284–3332
              Le Renard (Jason Nelson), 330 Mont Royal E 514 508–2728
              Evoo (Sophie Ouellet & Peter Saunders), 3426 Notre Dame O 514.846.3886
              Bouillon Bilk (François Nadon), 1595 St Laurent 514.845.1595
              Comptoir vins et charcuteries (Ségué Lepage), 4807 St Laurent, 514-844-8467

              If you're not going to be making reservations I strongly urge you to eat later rather than earlier. Most restaurants here are extremely nervous about filling tables before a reservation. Things get much more relaxed after about 9:30 - 10 o'clock.

              Have fun and please report back and let us know where you ended up eating.

              1. "Hotel Herman", "La Salle à Manger" could be 2 good choices.

                Both have good wines; both are "québécois"

                1. Doesn't Joe Beef have its own garden that it uses (herbs, etc) so that would be as local as it gets!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: williej

                    Joe Beef and all its associated restaurants are closed for vacation.