Montreal is a great city all year round, but it truly comes alive in the summer when festival season starts in the Quartier des Spectacles, an area filled with outdoor stages, art installations, street performers and more. With so much vying for your attention, it can be hard to decide what to do, let alone figure out what to eat, so here are my suggestions for some great nearby restaurants…
Bistro Le Balmoral: The Balmoral is the Quartier des Spectacles’s official bistro. Its French-inspired cuisine is well executed and tastefully presented and highlights seasonal and local ingredients. Its terrasse is as close to the action as you will get and becomes a venue itself during “festival season” by featuring small jazz bands every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. It is interesting to note that the Balmoral is a non-profit restaurant with all surplus revenue helping to finance free activities in the Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan.
Bouillon Bilk: The words that come to mind when I think of Bouillon Bilk are fresh and beautiful. The plates are like works of art and the food is fresh, seasonal and absolutely delicious. Set in a simple, minimalist décor, the beautiful food is the only flashing accessory this little bistro needs. The private import wine list will please all wine enthusiasts. Whether you stop by on your way to a show or after one, you are sure to enjoy every minute of your dining experience at Bouillon Bilk.
Brasserie T!: Toqué! Restaurant’s little sister Brasserie T! serves up classic French bistro fair in a contemporary space that looks like a refurbished shipping container. From seasonal, local seafood to the excellent homemade charcuterie, everything is executed with excellence. The garlic whelks and the carrot cake are absolute must haves. Brasserie T!’s biggest asset though is its terrasse located in the heart of the action and from which you can watch some of the shows while dining. Reservations are recommended.
F Bar: Brasserie T!’s next door neighbour F Bar is located in the same kind of contemporary, elegant and luminous space and offers Mediterranean fare with a Portuguese influence. F Bar is the latest venture from restaurateur Carlos Ferreira and is more casual than the original restaurant. Chef Gilles Herzog’s cuisine is fresh but full of flavour with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients. F Bar’s terrasse is also a great spot to watch some of the shows during festival season or for a great view of the QDS’s fountain off-season.
SAT FoodLab: The FoodLab is a “culinary lab” where chefs Michelle Marek and Seth Gabrielse have a lot of fun creating great menus around specific themes that change every few days. This experimental space hidden on the 3rd floor of the Société des Arts Technologiques is one of the best-hidden secrets in the city. The kitchen may not be state-of-the-art but the food is absolutely delicious, and the wine pairings spot on. The eclectic music and the beautiful and cool crowd add to the charm of this great space. The FoodLab’s rooftop terrasse is another great reason to stop by for a drink or a bite on a hot summer night.
Bistro Le Balmoral, 305 Ste. Catherine Street West, (514) 288 5992
Bouillon Bilk, 1595 Boulevard St-Laurent, 514 845 1595
Brasserie T!, 1425 Rue Jeanne-Mance, 514 282 0808
F Bar, 1485 Rue Jeanne-Mance, 514 289 4558
SAT FoodLab, 1201 Boulevard St-Laurent, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayssam is the food and travel writer behind the blog Will Travel for Food. Born and raised in Lebanon, she’s lived in New York City before settling on Montreal as her home. She roams this fair city of hers – and the planet! – for delicious culinary discoveries. From Michelin-starred restaurants across the planet to the latest hole-in-the-wall down the street, she wants to taste it all!