julia dimon/for metro toronto
With so many amazing restaurants in Montreal, it’s hard to know where to go first. As I had only a weekend to spare, I got some tips from friends in the know and hopped around the city sampling some great eats:
Le Club Chasse et Pêche
With a cozy and cavernous hunting lodge decor, Le Club Chasse et Pêche in Old Montreal is a very cool choice for a night of fine dining. The menu is exquisite with appetizers like duck foie gras, braised piglet risotto and yellowfin tuna with truffle oil. Dishes are delicate and dreamy, but it’s the type of place you can drop $200 on dinner and leave craving a Big Mac.
- Le Club Chasse et Pêche, 423 Rue Saint-Claude, Old Montreal, www.clubchasseetpeche.com.
If Buffalo Bill (the fictional serial killer from Silence Of The Lambs) opened a vegan restaurant, it would probably look like Spirit Lounge. The decor is drag-queen-meets-Hindu- shrine-meets-sociopath. But this eatery also delivers wholesome food, great prices, feisty service and lots of eye candy. There’s no official menu, but $15 buys you a delicious three-course meal of organic soup, main dish and dessert. But remember the house rule: finish everything on your plate, or no dessert.
The server eyed my left-over zucchini. “What are we going to do about this?” he scolded. His eyes narrowed, and the lecture began. Consumption, waste, politics, I get it — but what’s three little chunks of mushy veggies? I left feeling awkward, shy and shamed out of ordering the dessert I’d paid for. It’s a cool spot and well worth a visit, but be sure to finish every morsel or, at least, bring a big purse.
- Spirit Lounge, 205 Ontario E., 514-522-5353. Call ahead for reservations.
For party people in Montreal, dinner is often in liquid form. For killer martinis and potent cocktails, Wunderbar in the trendy W Montréal draws a scenester crowd looking to mingle, pound shots and dance to house beats. Saturday nights are jammed with hotties looking to see and be seen. Dress to impress and arrive early to get in.
- W Montréal, 901 Square Victoria, 514-395-3100, www.whotels.com.
This French bistro in Old Montreal is gourmet food without the pretension. The vibe is warm and relaxed. Exposed brick walls are lined with spice jars and pickled preserves; crisp white table clothes are off set by Granny Smith apple centerpieces. In addition to a yummy daily menu, Chez L’Épicier also sells high-end premade food to go, perfect for those looking to picnic near the port.
- Chez L’Épicier, 311 St. Paul E., Old Montreal, 514-878-2232, www.chezlepicier.scom.
Looking to indulge in a little deep-fried Quebecois tradition? Some of the city’s best poutine can be found at La Banquise, a sunny neighbourhood hangout in the Plateau district. They serve 22 kinds of poutine, such as the Galvaude (turkey and green peas), the Mexican (hot peppers, tomatoes).
- La Banquise, 994 Rachel Est. 514-525-2415.