Montreal has emerged as an ultimate foodie destination (check out these foodie tours) in North America, and that romantic French flair has much to do with a certain epicurean notoriety.
We’ve nabbed a reputation as the “Paris” of North America and, travelers come to Montreal with certain expectations of cultural and culinary offerings dancing in their heads.
There are a couple hundred French Bistros in Montreal; they vary in price, location, design, and of course, approach to food. Here are ten of our French restaurant choices for 2010.
“A big, brash brasserie with loads of atmosphere and awfully good French food.”
Chef Simon Laplante offers up a classic bistro menu, which as solidified him as one of the top restaurants in Montreal. The dark wood provides a masculine, but welcoming interior. Tuck in to warm up on a brisk autumn day. 407 McGill Street.
“Classic French with local twists and outward-looking inspirations.”
The trendiest (and in my option, classiest) bistro in the Gay Village; you can bring your own bottle of wine and dine leisurely at the 6 or 9 PM sittings. Chef Noé Lainesse does a mean filet mignon. Reservations a must on the weekend. 1112 boul. de Maisonneuve East.
“There’s nothing more exciting to a food lover than walking into a new restaurant with a great location, a brilliant chef and a bustling ambience.”
Their “Night Owl” menu starts at 10 PM, and allows you to get an appetizer and main dish for $22. That’s a steal of a deal for the quality of food that you’ll get at one of Montreal’s most iconic restaurants. 1045 Laurier Avenue West.
“Not only the place is quite beautiful and the food excellent, but also the fries are worth the price of admission all by themselves.”
In the heart of the business district rests a delightful Parisian brasserie. If you want lunch, go after 1 PM to avoid the bustle of the business crowd. Try the French Onion soup. 1454 Peel Street.
“There’s no need to call attention to itself, since all of Montreal knows exactly where this most classic of Parisian-style bistros is.”
L’Express is the critic’s darling, thus making it an obvious choice for a lot of locals – it was voted Best French Restaurant by readers of alt-weekly, Montreal Mirror. Yet with no visible restaurant sign, it might be easy to miss for the average traveler. If you’re adventurous, try the bone marrow. Seriously. 3927 Rue St-Denis.
“Nothing has changed much at Le Paris since the Poucant family opened it in 1950. And why should it?”
Perhaps best explained as the grandfather of all contemporary Montreal French restaurants, Le Paris definitely wins the award for time-honored French charm and ambience. Nothing too flashy, just mouthwatering fried steak and other carnivorous delights. 1812 Sainte-Catherine West.
“The dining room is filled with leather banquettes, breezy planted palms and mirrored columns. There’s plenty of French crooning on the sound system.”
As a fashionable restaurant inspired by the style and spirit of Paris in the 1940′s, Le Pois Penché is one of the best French bistros downtown. And if you’re looking for an upscale bargain, from Monday to Friday they have a dozen oysters for $20 from 5 – 8 PM. 1230 De Maisonneuve West.
“It’s encouraging to see that a good measure of thought went into the planning and execution of dishes by injecting a little creativity into the mix.”
A delightful mélange of French tradition and local flair has given this unpretentious Mile End restaurant a reliable reputation among Montrealers. Arguably the most affordable choice on this list, the lunchtime Table d’Hote goes for $20. 5058 Parc Avenue.
“I was amazed by the beauty of the decor in each room of the restaurant, it was gorgeous!”
Take a step back in time to The Calvet house. Built in 1725, it’s the oldest historical house that is open for public accommodations in Montreal. The restaurant serves up French cuisine, but influenced by Quebecois discoveries. Truly a historic experience. 405 Rue Bonsceours.
“Mostly locals, or tourists who know what’s up. Au Petit Extra met and went beyond my expectations.”
Chef Nathalie Major keeps it classy and delicious; it’s comfort food in a friendly atmosphere. It’s sort of like L’Express (see above), but easier to get a table. Menu varies — the warm chevre salad is a crowd favorite. 1690 Rue Ontario East.