Montreal is teeming with French restaurants and it can be very hard to know where to go when you’re craving a little bit of Parisian flair and fare. Below are 5 great French bistros, each with its own distinctive style and delicious options…
Chez Lévêque: Chez Lévêque is located on posh Laurier Street West, not far from Montreal’s best bagels. It’s an accessible French bistro and a great place to spend a fun evening. Whether you’re there for a private party, a tête-à-tête dinner or just to pick up a meal on the go, their classic French bistro fare is sure to please the most discerning palate. In the summer, the beautiful terrasse is a crowd favourite and a great place to do some people watching. Chez Lévêque offers a late night 2-course menu for $21 after 9pm.
Cocagne: Cocagne might have felt like it had big shoes to fill when it took over Toqué!’s old stomping ground on St-Denis but this charming little place needn’t worry. Talented chef Alexandre Loiseau’s creations are seasonal masterpieces with an emphasis on local products, which shine particularly well at this laid-back and fun bistro. Whether you’re in the mood for a full tasting menu, à la carte choices or the well-priced late night menu ($20 for a 2-course menu after 9:30pm), you are sure to fall head over heels in love with Cocagne, just like I did.
Leméac: Leméac is a favourite among Montrealers. Some of us will cite its amazing terrasse as the thing that makes us go back again and again and others will talk about its French toast with caramelized bananas and chocolate sauce as one of the best things to savour ever (and it is!). Leméac’s brunches are legendary but so are its dinners, with a classic bistro menu that’s been pleasing everyone for over a decade. Leméac’s great versatility and ability to adapt to your romantic dinner, family outing or girls’ night out adds to its popular charm. The late-night (after 10pm) 2-course, $27 menu is an affordable and delicious option.
Restaurant L’Express: Restaurant L’Express is the incarnation of everyone’s idea of what a French bistro should look like. The black & white tiles, the long bar, the cornichons and Dijon mustard waiting for you at the table, all are elements that will immediately transport you to Paris, where such vibrant, elegant yet accessible bistros abound. For 32 years now, Restaurant L’Express has been serving classic bistro food such as veal kidneys, ile flottante and onglet et frites – flank steak and fries, which, I might add, might be the best French fries in the city. Open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, L’Express really is one of the best bets in the city.
Laloux: Laloux has changed kitchen brigades often in the past few years but it has always managed to keep things fresh, delicious and classy. One thing that has remained a constant at Laloux is its gorgeous dining room, one of my favourites in Montreal. I remember falling for its old world charm the first time I dined in this lovely bistro. Current chef Jonathan Lapierre-Réhayem, formerly of La Montée de lait, has been at the helm of Laloux’s kitchen since last fall. Desserts at Laloux are pastry chef Stéphanie Labelle of pâtisserie Rhubarbe’s creations and are not to be missed!
Chez Lévêque, 1030 Laurier West, (514) 279-7355
Cocagne, 2842 St Denis, (514) 286-0700
Leméac, 1045 Laurier West, (514) 270-0999
Restaurant L’Express, 3927 St Denis, (514) 845-5333
Laloux, 250 Pine Avenue East, (514) 287-9127