For the past few years, Montreal has seen the proliferation of the wine bar concept, where one can discover some great bottles or revisit favourite ones. Most of these wine bars offer a list comprising of predominantly private imports and quite a few of them have chosen to work with natural, organic and/or biodynamic products…
For the purpose of this article, I went looking for places where the food and wine are created with the same reverence. Here is what I found…
Les Cavistes: Les Cavistes is comfortably located on that strip of Fleury Street West that is surely becoming a great foodie destination. It may be a bit out of the way but it’s well worth the trek. The kitchen is open 7 days a week for dinner with lunch being served on weekdays and brunch on Sundays. Chef Joe Frey cooks up a classic neighbourhood bistro menu interspersed with a few creative daily dishes. Owner and sommelier Robert Herrera has created an extensive wine list with private imports only and quite a few wines by the glass. Les Cavistes also doubles as a wine workshop spot and a boutique where you can purchase that great bottle of burgundy you had with your steak frites.
Pullman: Pullman will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in a few months. This downtown Montreal establishment was the first one of its kind and has contributed to the proliferation of wine bars in our fair city. The original concept of a wine bar offering small but delicious dishes is still going strong today with offerings such as snacks, classics (like the now-famous grilled cheese sandwich and mini bison burger), seasonal dishes, cheese and dessert on the menu 7 days a week. Head sommelière Véronique Dalle chooses her international selection of wines – including some pretty interesting Canadian picks – carefully and includes mostly private imports, from natural and biodynamic choices to more substantial crus.
Accords: Open since 2010 and located in the heart of Old Montreal, Accords has earned a spot among the top wine bars in Montreal. The funky decor, old stone walls and beautiful terrasse contribute to the overall charm of this restaurant/wine bar. The very extensive wine list (over 400 varieties and up to 45 wines by the glass!) is comprised of mostly private imports organic, natural and/or biodynamic wines that are organized by country and region. Some great Canadian choices always make it into the lot as well. Everything on the eclectic and creative menu is made in-house, using mostly Quebec ingredients. Chef Marc-André Lavergne and sommelier Charles Marquis’ unusual food and wine pairings is a testimony to the playful nature of Accords.
Le Vin Papillon: Le Vin Papillon is Joe Beef’s little sister and the latest endeavour from chefs David McMillan and Frédéric Morin as well as their partners in crime, sommelière Vanya Filipovic and executive chef Marc-Olivier Frappier. The wine list at Le Vin Papillon is carefully selected by Filipovic and features mostly private imports from small producers who work with a certain ecological conscience. It’s a great place to discover some rare bottles you won’t find anywhere else in the city. And the food here is not cast as a supporting role, au contraire! Chef Frappier’s menu is definitely “more feminine” than its Joe Beef counterpart. It’s fresh, simple, features a lot of seasonal vegetables and is meant to go well with a wide choice of wine so you can taste as many as you like. Just let Vanya guide you through it…
Buvette Chez Simone: A classic Montreal institution, Buvette is the self-described spot where one “can eat a little and drink a lot”. It has been serving up some of the best bottles in the city for the past few years and the crowd’s undying enthusiasm is a testimony to the consistency and quality of its offer. Although the menu is limited, it is filled with a few good choices like Quebec cheeses, great charcuterie and antipasti and their famous roasted chicken. The best part about Buvette though is definitely the electric ambiance created by the fabulous décor, the great staff and the young and hip crowd. Tip: go early if you want to find a table.
Photo credits: Amielle Clouâtre (Pullman and Buvette Chez Simone)
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