Montreal is celebrated for being a vibrant multicultural city with loads of trendy spots. I’m a native who often takes the city for granted. I’ve been lucky enough to travel for work — writing about festivals, restaurants and trends on yummy foods — but there’s always one thing that excites me about coming home: the food. I'm hoping that if my face doesn’t freeze off (it’s been -20 C), I’ll to make it to these five spots.
If I can brave the cold, visiting all of these cool hotspots, you should too.
Not since State Bird Provisions in San Francisco have I heard so much hoopla about a restaurant, and you can thank mega food personality superstar, Jaime Oliver, for bringing it to my hometown where he decided to open up his first North American restaurant — Maison Publique. The restaurant has lived up to the hype with dishes like horse carpaccio, tartine au parfait de foie gras and smoked rabbit. I know the menu changes often, but I trust that Montreal chef Derek Dammann, who is not only Oliver's partner, but is also responsible for the palate pleasing menu, will turn out only impressive dishes. Now, I just need to score a reservation.
4720 Marquette, corner of Guilford
Flyjin is the “it” place to party these days, pairing elegant and cutting-edge décor with an eclectic menu. I used to frequent this spot when it was home to the über vampy, Cherry nightclub, and I’m excited to see what they’ve done with the place. From what I hear, they’ve replaced the lush, red velvet décor for something more flashy with lots of gold, courtesy of its affiliates L'Auberge St-Gabriel, Les Enfants Terribles and Le Confessionnal. I’m sure the ultra-lush izakaya-style Japanese restaurant and its impressive drink menu will leave me with an empty wallet; and somehow, I don’t even mind.
417 Rue St Pierre
Big in Japan
Devoid of a proper sign and distinguished by a big, red door alone, the secretive Big in Japan has been a favourite for quite some time now. I say it’s a secret because it’s nestled between a store and a restaurant on the corner of St. Laurent and Rachel, and if you don’t know what you are looking for, you’d miss it. The dim lighting produced by candles that line the entire bar, is quite the sight to see.
Fun fact: Big in Japan was featured in Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover. And if it’s one thing we all know, it’s that Anthony Bourdain is the bomb diggity.
3723 Boulevard Saint-Laurent
For those of you who want to avoid the stuffy wine bars, but are not quite down for lax pubs and bars, Drinkerie Ste-Cunegonde offers a happy medium. A comfortable combination between a classy and laid-back spot, this popular post in Griffintown supplies its customers with tavern-style food, moderately-priced drinks and sometimes, the Habs game on the big screen.
2661 Notre-Dames Ouest
With all the traveling I do, sometimes I just want home-style food that I don’t have to make myself. Surprisingly, Portuguese food is hard to come by in California. So, if I disappear for one night in Montreal, you can probably find me at Jano having a spicy bifana sandwich: a boneless, thinly-sliced pork cutlet, drenched in tangy Portuguese spices. Jano isn’t very large but what it lacks in space, it makes up for in the quality of its tasty favourites like Caldo verde, Chourico, and natas.
3883 Boulevard Saint-Laurent