Where are you going to eat well during winter in Montreal?
It's a season of darkness: For months, the sun will be dropping well below the horizon early in the evening. Then, there's the snow, the rain, the cold, the ice—hardly an inviting time, and with the advent of delivery apps and takeout, it's a time of year that's as hard for diners to feel compelled to go out as it is for restaurants to survive.
There are some restaurants, however, whose ethos lends itself to an embrace of winter. They keep a fire burning in the city's urban tundra (literally and figuratively) with hearty eats, warm drinks, and ember-kissed dishes.
Brave the cold for any one of the following addresses, and you'll be well-served.
FOXY: FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS
A wood-burning oven's been integral to the identity of Dyan Solomon and Éric Girard's Foxy ever since it first opened. Call it rustic if you want, but as its light creeps across the restaurant's angular interior design of black and gold by the local firm M.O. Workshop, it doesn't take long to see that's it's far more refined than that—rustic chic, even.
As the restaurant highlights seasonal cuisine sourced from farms ranging from Montreal, North Hatley, Les Maskoutains and Hemmingford to as far flung as Newfoundland, the winter season brings with it fatty cuts of pork, seafood, fish, winter greens, and preserves and fermentations culled from months prior.
Nearly everything here is treated to their flames, as as the menu's use of local resources and vegetables will cause it to change often, mainstays remain like a perennial flatbread, house pasta, and thick slices of protein.
Between these menus, the whiffs of woodsmoke that'll flow through the dining room, and its dark and almost brooding environment that lends itself well to date nights and groups enjoying bottles curated by sommelier Véronique Dalle? Foxy finds that perfect space somewhere between a swank chalet and a speakeasy.
HOOGEN ET BEAUFORT: GATHERED AROUND THE HEARTH
Walking into this absolute transformation of the CPR Angus Shops-turned-Technopôle Angus by Appareil Architecture, Hoogan et Beaufort's interior of exposed concrete columns and red brick seem to absorb the heat of the fire burning front and centre of its kitchen.
The space's design, however, is a sign of what's to come when dining here: Much like how the restaurant polishes a gem it dug out of the industrial rough, its food—while absolutely informed by the fire burning bright inside—is more pyromancy than anything.
Suffice to say, while cooking on fire can seem and feel chaotic, it's a factor from which exceedingly refined and contemporary food is made.
This restaurant is where Marc-André Jetté kindled and stoked his own fire before it burned well and bright on its own after years of chef tenure at other spots. Food here is all done with finesse, the now-classic new Quebec cuisine only the best have a capacity to cook.
The province's terroir is front and center here—save for a mouthwatering PEI beef rib steak to share—and moves with the seasons, but remains consistent through the menu's structure of pasta, fish, seafood, and vegetables spun into artful plates. It's all testament to how the restaurant's named after the farmers who once called the land it stands on home.
KAMÚY: BRINGING THE HEAT
It was poetic when the Jacmel-born, Montreal-bred chef Paul Toussaint took over the centrally located glass box in Place des Festivals that once housed a restaurant of his own culinary tutor Normand Laprise. It was a passing of the torch, and it's a perfect place to eat well after skating the ice of Esplanade Tranquille, or walking through the sculptures of Luminothérapie.
Kamúy is the chef's love letter to his homeland and an exploration of its cuisine's influences, neighbours, and aspirations by pulling from the islands and the mainlands of South and Central America—and it's perfect for Montreal's darkest season.
Toussaint's signature recipe for dishes like jerk chicken and shrimp, crisp and crackling griot, accras, and Haitian lambi au gratin are paired with a range of dishes that change with the seasons, from djondjon risotto with lobster to crispy pork shanks, whole grilled fish with a passion fruit buerre blanc, and dombrey dumplings.
If you want the chef to bring the heat, he will, making a meal here just the thing come wintertime. Whether it's too hot for you or you want to embrace a southbound escape, ti-punch—of course—is regularly available.
PROVISIONS: STRAIGHT FROM THE BUTCHER'S BLOCK
Nothing is quite as comforting and a hug in the stomach like a well-cooked piece of butchery, and few places in Montreal can hold a candle to Provisions and their in-house line to everything from sausages and cuts to whole chickens and ducks, snouts, trims, and tails.
Through local farmers, fisheries, dairies, and beyond, chefs Pablo Rojas and Hakim Rahalit have created a restaurant which has singlehandedly made the steakhouse cool again: Want to precede your meal with martinis and a platter of oysters? No problem. Order a heaping plate of medium-rare beef with roasted vegetables? Absolutely. Another bottle of natural wine? Right away. A hot fudge sundae for dessert?
...Would you like one to share, or just keep it all for yourself?
Not only does this restaurant's provisions (see what they did there?) make for just the right amount of meat sweats-inducing eats that comfort you in the depths of winter, but their butchery recalls all the warmth and camaraderie that only a neighbourhood business can have.