Travelling for business or pleasure? Celebrating an anniversary or just celebrating? Montreal has you covered.
L'Orignal 479 Rue Saint Alexis (Old Montreal); 514-303-0479; restaurantlorignal.com
Foodies hunting for a taste of Quebec terroir will love this woodsy watering hole, tucked into a side street in the historic part of town. With its stone and wood panelled walls, L'Orignal ("moose" in French) feels like a glam hunting lodge, complete with wooden moosehead watching over the bar, and eighties rock music to set the mood. The menu changes daily, but there is always a selection of gamey dishes, from deer tartare to braised boar shank and roast bison. Chef Marco Santos favours simple preparation and fresh, subtle flavours. Vegetarians may be at a loss, but seafood lovers have several choices including an excellent tuna tartare and one of the best raw oyster selections in the city.
SEALING THE DEAL
Le Club Chasse et Pêche 423 Rue Saint Claude (Old Montreal); 514-861-1112; leclubchasseetpeche.com
Around these parts, business deals are best done in shady circumstances, which is why Le Club Chasse et Pêche's covered terrace, in the garden of the Château Ramezay museum, is a favourite among local wheeler dealers at lunchtime. The restaurant itself, across the street from the terrace, has a dark, almost subterranean feel - just the sort of look you'd expect at a members-only society for wealthy industrialists. The food isn't bad either: appetizers the likes of scallop ceviche, with grapefruit mousse and segments, dusted with fennel pollen; or mains like bacon-wrapped Kobe beef, with Portobello and red-wine reduction.
XO 355 Rue Saint Jacques (Old Montreal); 514-841-5000; xolerestaurant.com
Couples seeking a one-of-a-kind date night could do worse than the dining hall at Hotel Le St-James. Reopened in November after an extensive renovation, the opulent space looks less Louis XIV, more Prince music video: purple lighting, bright-yellow stained-glass windows and National Film Board documentaries on sixties-era Montreal projected on the walls. All very jet-set and exclusive, but without the brashness of a supper club, especially the intimate tables for two that line the mezzanine balcony. There are services at just about all hours, but the nighttime tasting menus are where it's at: six haute-cuisine courses for $98, or $89 for the vegetarian version. The wine list boasts 190 entries, including a bottle of Romanée-Conti for $25,000 (hint: drink s-l-o-w-l-y.)
DO BRUNCH - WITH THE KIDS
Basi 77 Avenue Shamrock (Jean Talon Market); 514-750-0774; restaurantbasi.com
Travelling with kids can be a challenge, especially for parents who enjoy dining out. The Jean Talon Market may be a trek from the downtown core, but it's a great place to keep your wee ones occupied, as well as a way to pique their curiosity about food. The place is buzzing with activity in the summer, and most produce vendors offer samples of fruits and veggies that your kids can try. For a more comfortable environment, with fewer distractions and less room to run around, consider Basi, across the road. Seating on the covered terrace is piled high with fluffy pillows, and the interior has a wall of plush banquettes. The weekend brunch menu features Italian dishes like panzanella - scrambled eggs with milk-soaked bread, tomatoes and fresh basil - and ricotta-stuffed crepes with berries.
COOL AND CASUAL
Le Chien Fumant 4710 Rue de Lanaudière (Plateau Mont-Royal); 514-524-2444; www.lechienfumant.com
Hipsters of all ages and linguistic backgrounds can be found at all hours of the day hanging in, out and around this tiny sliver of a resto-bar in a residential neighbourhood. But things don't really pick up until 9 p.m., probably because the kitchen keeps pumping out orders until 2 a.m. People come as much for the bar, which specializes in early-19th-century cocktails like French 75s - brandy, lemon juice, sparkling wine and lemon twist. The menu changes daily, occasionally during service, according to the whims of chef Maksim Morin, formerly of Joe Beef. Expect dishes such as Portuguese pork and clam braise, or Korean fried chicken with kimchee. Regulars agree the best plan is no plan, so consider letting your server choose your meal.
Picapica 1310 De Maisonneuve East. (Gay Village); 514-658-2874
Fun seekers of all persuasions come from far and wide for the massive open terrace and tapas: tobiko-crusted shrimp with saffron cream sauce; bacon-wrapped, garlic-stuffed dates; and Asian grilled pork and julienned mango salad, to name a few. However, people stay for the cocktails and the impromptu salsa dancing, which happens spontaneously just about every night. The lunch and after-work crowd is heavy with local media personalities, but Lionel Richie and various international DJs have swung by in the past before or after a gig. At dinnertime, you'll find a mix of Village locals, former Plateau scenesters and youngsters fuelling up before an night of even harder partying. Do yourself a favour and try the sangria - it's a very different drink than the plonk served elsewhere.
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