Looking back on 2023 and forward to 2024 in Montreal's dining scene

How the city's writers and photographers viewed the past year, and what they think is coming next for Montreal's dining scene.

J.P. Karwacki

J.P. Karwacki

December 31, 2023- Read time: 4 min
Looking back on 2023 and forward to 2024 in Montreal's dining scenePhotograph: Scott Usheroff / @cravingcurator

The dining scene in Montreal's always evolving, with new developments and transformations on the horizon with each and every passing year. That's why we've asked local writers, bloggers, and photographers who are eating and drinking their way across the city about where they see restaurants and dining trends headed in 2024.

What's more, the only way to know where you're going is to know where you've been, so we've also asked how they'd summarize the last year.

If you could sum the past year's food and drink scene in a word or sentence, what would it be?

Alison Slattery, photographer, @twofoodphotographers: It would be more like a thank you to the staff and chefs who made so many delicious meals for me to enjoy with family and friends.

Michael Grande and Alessandro Rea, food bloggers, @mangiabeneboys: A world of fusion. We’ve come across quite a few fusion style restaurants this past year, it seemed like a pretty big trend.

Tommy Dion, food writer, @lecuisinomane: In Montreal? Same, but different.

Ivy Lerner-Frank, writer, @ivylernerfrank: Consolidation. Chefs are delving deeper into their influences, heritage, and intuition, and cooking from that vision. From Marc Cohen’s exquisite British-inspired menus—and desserts!—at Lawrence, to Juan Lopez Luna’s homemade tortillas at Alma and Tinc Set, and Mon Lapin’s unabashed commitment to St-Hubert chicken and seafood from the St-Laurent, Montreal chefs cooking what they feel and getting even more local with sourcing. It’s all good.

Daniel Bromberg, co-founder of The Main: The pandemic is over. People are out and wanting to eat and drink in our restaurants and bars, which is great. On the service side, definite improvements compared to 2022. And the collaboration model between restaurants and chefs continues.

Phil Tabah, co-founder of The Main: Hearty.

Got any predictions for the food and drink world in 2024?

Alison Slattery, photographer, @twofoodphotographers: No idea - maybe something around coffee and cooking with caffeine.

Michael Grande and Alessandro Rea, food bloggers, @mangiabeneboys: We think we are going to be seeing a lot more wine bars and cozy, low-key spots open up in 2024, with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients and products.

Tommy Dion, food writer, @lecuisinomane: The continuing love affair with bitterness, whether it's with negronis and amaro, or fruit and vegetables such as radicchio, endives and rhubarb. We'll also see the rise of vermouth from small producers. I expect to also see more crème caramel, Basque cheesecake, and lasagna.

There are also nods to the great classics of French cuisine: Sausage and mash, roast chicken, aligot, leek vinaigrette, and pasta everywhere: Fresh in brodo, carbonara, Gricia, ravioli, ragù, etc.

Scott Usheroff, photographer and writer, @cravingcurator: I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more unique or one-off collaboration-based experiences. These events foster a creative environment for the experimentation and exploration of new ideas and concepts. They also create the opportunity for customers to experience plates from a chef or restaurant they may have never otherwise had the chance to try while at the same time bringing together and building a solid community.

Ivy Lerner-Frank, writer, @ivylernerfrank: I’m hoping for more collaboration across interests, cities, and cuisines. We need more Chinese regional food in this city, so I’m super curious what Anita Feng will be bringing back home after her trip to Guizhou, Sichuan, Shanghai, and Guangdong. I’m also keen to see where Filipino food will go with JoJo Flores’ new upscale resto Jun in Little Burgundy.

Daniel Bromberg, co-founder of The Main: I'm guessing we might still see another year of openings and closures, with many restaurants still operating in losses. As far as trends go, I'm banking on a return to simplicity, with more "diner style" restaurants popping up that offer limited menus, small drink list, and modest decor. There might still be room for 300-seaters, but for your average restauranteur, the simpler the better.

Phil Tabah, co-founder of The Main: Predictions? Not sure, but I'm noticing a lot more middle-eastern inspired dishes in restaurants and it's about damn time Lebanese food starts getting more recognized in Montreal beyond Boustan and Amir.

So, where to from here?

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