Travel Blog

27 May

Spotlight on new Québec cuisine: five excellent picks

The first time you set foot in Québec, the clichés about its cuisine abound. Montréal, mecca of poutine, beaver tails and pâté chinois. A paradise where rich dishes and heaping plates help protect you from the cold? Perhaps. But this description feels a little overcooked.

OmnivoreAnd ever since Toqué—the restaurant that redefined Québec cuisine—opened its doors, the culinary scene continues to chart daring and creative new territory, so much so that the Omnivore food festival has been firing up Foodlab for the past three years now. Who are the chefs to watch? The restaurants not to miss during your next visit to Montréal? Our recommendations:


Manitoba is situated smack dab in the middle of the Mile Ex industrial district, in an up-and-coming neighbourhood that’s very popular among Montrealers. This delightful rustic-chic restaurant, which takes a walk on wild side, boasts a menu entirely dedicated to Québec terroir cuisine and feels entirely one-of-a-kind. The restaurant, created by the design firm La Firme, ushers the flora and fauna of Québec to its open kitchen past a slender dark wood bar and an intricate cedar ceiling. It’s pleasing to the eye, friendly and accessible. The menu changes according to product availability. Go there to savour delicacies like a fern-infused trout with parsnip puree, fiddleheads and lovage sauce, rabbit livers with peppery green alder bacon and wild cranberry, or maple brulé bone marrow with elderberry, maïtake mushrooms and toast. Oh-so sublime!

Mimi_la_nuitMimi la nuit

Jeff Stinco (Shinji, Rufus Rockhead, Mangiafocco, Drinkerie Sainte-Cunégonde) and Edward Zaki (Thazard, Chez Victoire, BarBounya, La Récréation) are the masters of ambiance, wizards who are always one step ahead of the next big thing. They’re genius at re-imagining the culinary experience and every restaurant they’ve opened skyrockets to success. They are also behind Mimi la Nuit, a recently-opened speakeasy that’s already the darling of Old Montréal.  In the kitchen, chef Eloi Dion (Club 357C, Van Horne) concocts a menu comprised of small gourmet dishes that’s available until 3 a.m, Sindie Goineau builds a wine list of carefully-selected private imports while Patrice Jackson and David Schmidt (co-owner of Maïs, le Mal Nécessaire, Maison Sociale, Datcha, Kabinet, Thazard) work their wonders with signature cocktails. A white-hot team whose projects bump up and often overlap. A great spot for everyone: locals, night owls and you.

Pastaga_625x400Pastaga, vins nature restaurant

At the heart of Little Italy, Martin Juneau, winner of a Gold Medal Plates 2010 (best chef in Canada) opened Pastaga, a restaurant singled out as one of Canada’s 10 best restaurants in 2012 by the magazine enRoute. This airy space offers two types of ambiance: a light-filled experience in the dining room that rocks a near-Scandinavian vibe with brushed wood tables and an immense window, and a “showtime” atmosphere, with front row seats to the kitchen. You can share small dishes slightly more copious than an appetizer and inspired by Québec flavours, such as pan-fried scallops from Îles-de-la-Madeleine accompanied by a celeriac, bacon and maïtake mushroom carpaccio; guinea fowl from La Mauricie with mushrooms and celeriac root, roasted whole and sliced, or one of the house specialties, pork belly glazed with maple, pancake and parsnip marinade. A delight!

Vin_PapillonLe Vin Papillon 

In 2013, the buzz was all about the new wine bar that opened in Little Burgundy: Vin Papillon, a paradise for vegetables and carefully selected natural wines. Here, the spotlight shines on small producers, and dishes come in an exquisitely crafted tapas-like format that evolve according to the seasons. Little sister of Joe Beef and Liverpool House, the neighbourhood’s flagship restaurants opened by the dynamic duo of David McMillan and Frédéric Morin, this intimate little retro-style bar, with its antique mirrors, white brick walls and shelves creaking with vintages, is led by Marc-Olivier Frappier in the kitchen and Vanya Filipovic on the wine list. An awesome spot that has meats, charcuteries and seafood tucked up its sleeve for carnivores too. First come, first served!

Patrice_patissier_625x625Patrice Pâtissier

Patrice Demers is Québec’s sweetheart and a maestro with desserts.  With a prestigious resume to his name (Laloux, les 400 Coups), he opened up his pastry shop Patrice Pâtissier not far from the Atwater Market in Little Burgundy in 2014. In this combination gourmet boutique, go-to lunch spot and classroom that offers cooking lessons and wine tastings, Patrice dazzles foodies and shares his knowledge with fun and passion. We drool over (and eventually give in to) financier cakes, praline cakes, pecan shortbread (oh joy!), kouign-amanns, desserts in ceramic cups and many other delicacies. A beautiful portrait of Québec’s sweet treats.

Hotel_HermanMust restaurants:

On Plateau Mont-Royal, La Fabrique and Majestique.

In Mile End: Le Comptoir Charcuteries et Vins Hôtel Herman.

In the Quartier des spectacles: Foodlab and Bouillon Bilk.


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