Montreal is one of the great “Foodie” destinations in North America, if not the world. You certainly won’t go hungry. The restaurants I tried and recommend include:
Toque: I had a great lunch at Toque, 900 Jean Paul Riopelle Place. The chef Normand Laprise is well-known. They are now open for lunch which is a great option since it can be expensive at night. It is a bright, sleek contemporary space which I think better lends itself to lunch anyway. They also own Brasserie t at the Musee d’Art Contemporain where I went early in my stay. It is a sleek, contemporary cafe right outside the museum.
I went for breakfast one morning at Olive + Gourmando, 351 Saint-Paul Ouest. My Wallpaper* Guide said it had a great space and they were right. I loved the atmosphere plus the food was excellent. The croissants and pastries were wonderful!! The staff was friendly and helpful. I could have eaten there every morning.
I went just outside Vieux Montreal and into the Multimedia City area for brunch at Le Cartet at 106 Rue McGill. It is located in an old building that has great décor. It is part café, part specialty food store and it serves great breakfasts! I really liked the vibe and the communal seating in the center.
In The Plateau Mont Royal neighborhood, I recommend L’Express at 3927 Rue Saint-Denis. 845-5333. It is your typical French bistro in menu and decor that has been there for 30 years. You could be right in Paris. I enjoyed a salmon dish with spinach and a glass of French wine. I would say the food was basic and good. It was very crowded so make sure to make a reservation. Seating at the bar is a good option! They open at 8 am except on weekends when they open around 10 for brunch.
I loved dinner in The Plateau at Chez Victoire Bistro de Quartier at 1453 Avenue du Mont Royal Est (at Garnier). My waiter at Laurier Gordon Ramsay works here also and suggested I should try it. It had just been totally redone. I had a wonderful dining experience (except for a brief neighborhood power outage). Alexandre was my waiter again. To me it looked like a totally updated neighborhood French bistro with great ambiance. The food by Chef Alexandre Gosselin was wonderful and creative. The heirloom tomato salad with mozzarella that was made into a soft foam was to die for, the pappardelles maison with braised rabbit and a parmesan foam was wonderful and the chocolate mousse on top of Nutella, hazelnuts, home made cookies and pears was truly amazing. I would go back in a minute. Make sure you go!!!!
My last night I had dinner with a friend at Au Pied de Cochon at 536 Rue Duluth Est. Not part of the Paris chain, it is a small, attractive neighborhood restaurant and was packed. Almost a cult favorite, it is known for its fois gras and pork items. Go hungry since the food is on the heavier side. I liked the beet salad and the pork chop which was huge. Two doors down on the corner is La Colombe, at 554 Rue Duluth. I understand they have good lamb burgers from the host at L’Express. It is also a bring your own wine restaurant!!
This is a great neighborhood east of the Parc de Mont-Royal. It was recommended that I try Lemeac at 1045 Ave. Laurier Ouest. It is a great French bistro with a sleeker more modern décor than L’Express with large windows. I had a wonderful duck entrée with cherry sauce and sweet potato puree plus a great glass of French wine. The coconut basil sorbet was a first and also good. The service was excellent and it served a definite local French-speaking crowd.
I met two local women who are total foodies. They also recommend the following restaurants:
Estiatorio Milos: 5357 Ave du Parc. Originally from Montreal, this Greek restaurant now has branches in New York, Las Vegas, Miami and Athens.
Les Enfants Terribles: 1257 Rue Bernard Ouest.
Nora Gray: 1391 Rue Saint-Jacques.
Le Filet: 219 Ave du Mont-Royal Ouest. Featured in the New York Times.
Garde Manger: 408 Rue Saint Francois Xavier. Known for its great seafood and great decor.
Other friends recommended Pintxo Restaurant at 30 Rue Sainte-Catherine O, for Spanish tapas.
Still others getting great reviews and press from Food & Wine Magazine in addition to Le Filet, Au Pied au Couchon, Joe Beef and Brasserie t, include Kazu, Lawrence, Grumman ’78, Ferreira Cafe, Le Club Chasse & Peche, L’original, Maison Publique, Le Vin Papillon and Buvette Chez Simone.
Bon Appetit loves Bouillon Bilk as well.
For you fans of Open Table, I found that some of the restaurants offer bookings through Open Table. Otherwise just call the restaurant directly.