Travel: Bon mangé in Montreal

Five-star haute cuisine at Renoir adds European elegance to Montreal’s food scene.

For night-owl foodies, Le Chien Fumant in the cool Mile End neighborhood is the perfect oasis. It is where chefs themselves eat after hours and it stays open until 1 a.m., serving braised lamb with gnocchi, roasted rabbit and even horse steak with bone marrow for intrepid diners. Homemade tonic adds a new twist to cocktails and a unique selection of non-alcoholic drinks quenches bar patrons’ thirst.

It is just one of the many excellent restaurants in Montreal. In recent years the city has gained a reputation as international culinary destination. Its annual High Lights Festival in February showcases the vibrant food scene with a weeklong celebration of special menus and guest chefs. This year the theme was “Celebrating Women” and the festival hosted 56 of the world’s top female chefs for special events, along with many other demonstrations and tastings of local delicacies.

Indeed, local products are savory highlight of French-Canadian dining. Les Cavistes, a charming neighborhood café on Rue St. Denis, exemplifies this trend. Chef Stéphanie Gagnon changes the menu six times a year to reflect seasonal ingredients, and makes use of products from Quebec’s Charlevoix region such as duck, emu and foie gras. Those seeking European five-star cuisine have plenty of choices. Renoir, led by executive chef Deff Haupt at the Sofitel, brings the Joel Robuchon lineage to the city’s food scene with beautifully composed plates.

Exploring food and drink in Montreal

Marche Jean Talon
The largest food market in the city is a sensory delight. Food stalls serve fresh crepes, savory dishes and pastries galore. Where: 7070 Avenue Henri Julien; Metro Station Jean-Talon.

Les Cavistes
Epitomizes the local neighborhood food scene; great place for brunch. Where: 4115 Saint-Denis; Metro Station Mont-Royal.

Le Chien Fumant
Serves up hearty fare to after-hours epicures. Where: 4710, Rue De Lanaudiere; Metro Station Laurier.

Five-star fine European cuisine in modern light-filled dining room, also with a sleek hotel bar and lounge near McGill campus. Where: Sofitel, 1155 Rue Sherbrooke West; Metro Station Peel.

Hipster McGill students and a bilingual hottie crowd drink microbrews at this friendly bar. Where: 5322 Boulevard Saint-Laurent; Metro Station Laurier.

Bily Kun
DJs spinning chill electronic music on weekends and live jazz on weekdays, and selection of Czech beers make this lounge an excellent choice to get cozy. Where: 354 Avenue du Mont-Royal Est; Metro Station Mont-Royal.

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