Toqué is arguably Montreal’s most revered restaurant. It is a white tablecloth institution that has long been known for its fabulous service, contemporary décor, and extraordinary tasting menus. I’ve celebrated some special occasions here, including a very romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. (Note to any gentlemen readers: My date got bonus points for having superb taste in venues.)
Good news for the business crowd: Under the masterful eye of culinary star chef Normand Laprise, Toqué’s posh dining room in the International Quarter is now open for lunch. Local nine-to-five folk – and savvy out-of-towners – can now enjoy haute cuisine midday, between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., in a relaxed yet refined atmosphere.
Lunchers will enjoy Laprise’s fine-tuned, local produce vision; plus wines by the glass, conveniently available in full or half servings, respectively 4 oz or 2 oz. This means having, let’s say, a demi-verre of Vermentino 2009 Alta Mesa with your beet salad (as I did) and switching it up with a Douro 2006 Muxagat for your beef bourguignon – and not going back to your desk on wobbly feet.
The restaurant has also remodelled their bar. It now seats up to 15 people in a dynamic U-shaping setting: perfect for less formal rapid-fire meals. (Come Dec. 1st, Toqué will also introduce a special bar menu for evening bites – a good spot for a first date, in case you’re worried about committing to a full-on, sit down meal with a total stranger.)
Just to be fair, I’ve also listed three more restaurants that offer, fast and classy midday meals. If you have an important client to wine and dine for a working lunch, or you just want out of the daily cafeteria grind, each one is definitely an address to impress.
Chef: Normand Laprise
Prix fixe: From $25
Menu includes: 4 starters + 4 mains + regular coffee or tea, cheese and dessert are extra.
Time: Tuesday to Friday, 11:30 to 2 p.m.
Address: 900 Jean-Paul-Riopelle Place
Ambience: An elegant and contemporary space in warm hues
Neighbourhood: International Quarter
Call to reserve: (514) 499-2084
Nearby hotel: InterContinental, 360 St-Antoine St. W.
Business brief: The restaurant faces the Convention Centre (Palais des congrès), making it super simple to walk across the street for lunch.
Chef: Graziella Battista
Prix fixe: $25
Menu includes: 4 starters + 5 mains, coffee and dessert are extra.
Time: Monday to Friday, 12 p.m to 2:30 p.m.
Address: 116 McGill St.
Ambience: Modern, bright interior in natural tones with an impressive 20-foot ceiling
Neighbourhood: Old Montreal
Call to reserve: (514) 876-0116
Nearby hotel: St-Paul, 355 McGill Ave.
Business brief: Private rooms are available for working lunches; they can accommodate 6 to 25 people with access to a projection screen and WiFi.
Chef: Costas Spiladis
Cuisine: Greek, seafood
Prix fixe: From $20.10 (to honour the current year)
Menu includes: 8 starters + 6 main + dessert, the menu is online.
Time: Monday to Friday, 12 p.m to 3 p.m.
Address: 5357 Parc Ave.
Ambience: Open concept market kitchen and white spacious dining room
Neighbourhood: Mile End
Call to reserve: (514) 272-3522
Nearby hotel: Le Germain, 2050 Mansfield St.
Business brief: A little bit uptown but definitely worth the drive if you love seafood.
Chef: Jérôme Ferrer
Cuisine: Market with French influence
Prix fixe: $23.50 to $29.50
Menu includes: An amuse-bouche, 5 to 6 starters + 9 mains, cheese or dessert is extra.
Time: Tuesday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Address: 1227 de la Montagne St.
Ambience: Victorian mansion with contemporary décor
Call to reserve: (514) 398-9229
Nearby hotel: Vogue, 1425 de la Montagne St.
Business brief: Private room is available for 25 -30 people with projection screen.