Where to Dine Out in Montreal Right Now - August 2023
The article highlights the latest and most exciting restaurants in Montreal as of August 2023. The city is experiencing a surge in new dining establishments, ranging from fine dining to casual dive bars.
Now that Little Italy’s Ratafia has made a point of transitioning away from being solely about wine and desserts, its original concept’s been revived at NaNaNa mere blocks away—just with less sitting down. At this takeout counter, classic cake recipes are back, like the Crunchy du Ratafia with honey, saffron, labneh, orange blossom, and tamarind, or the Medovik (a layered Soviet honey cake). They’ve also ventured into the world of ice cream with seasonal flavours, so all told, it’s all not a sit-down spot per se but it’s a great dessert stop that doubles as a go-to place to order a whole cake.
Taking over the space that once housed Cafécoquetel, Sae Low comes from chef Minh Phat Tu of Mui Mui and Anemone. True to its address’s former tenants, it’s a café and wine bar doing simple, small plates with pan-Asian influences on plates of seasonal Quebec products (a hallmark of Minh’s work). Think salmon tataki salads, or donburi-style bowls with spicy tuna, shiso and cucumber or roasted oyster mushrooms with peanut sauce. It’s simple and fresh with a wine list and coffee menu to match as well, making this place just as good for afternoons as it is for late evenings.
A multi-tiered hospitality concept taking over the upper floors of Place VIlle-Marie, Hiatus has truly set itself up to do it all: An outdoor terrasse with Mediterranean raw bar dining on the 44th floor, a bar with snacks on the 45th, and a full-fledged restaurant on the floor above that (the 46th and highest in the building) cooks up Japanese and French plates with technique interplay between the two cuisines. That translates to things like ramen or nori tacos as well as foie gras tartelettes and arctic char. With ambitious interior redesigns by Sid Lee Architecture, Hiatus has among the highest and most highly-prized tables in the city when it comes to lavish dining.
An Choi Plaza brings an upscale Vietnamese to the city’s wine bar scene. Run by Michelle Vo of the Pasthyme ghost kitchen, Vien Man Cao-Tran (Bar Otto and Otto Ramen), and Douglas Tan (La Bêtise) on the Saint-Hubert Plaza stretch, the restaurant does good by Montrealers both day and night. During lunch service, you’ll find daily soups filled with dumplings and noodles, while the gloves come off at night: Sharing plates of dishes like lemongrass chicken skewers, carpaccio-style beef salads, and fried rice with soft shell crab hits tables with a lot of natural wines and cocktails.
Picking up the baton dropped by departed dive bars like PrimeTime, Snack N’ Blues, and La Petite Idée Fixe, Double's Late Night takes a slightly more chic approach to reviving the cheap beer ‘n’ eats-type of establishment. While you still can grab a cold bottle of Labatt Bleu, being run by Victor Petrenko of Pasta Pooks and Danny Smiles with A5 Hospitality backing means you’ll get well-executed takes on comfort food like hot chicken, burgers, blooming onions, and fried pork chops served up with a bottle of HP sauce. Believe it or not, you can reserve a table here.
Following their runaway hit Krapow (where pandemic-era takeout was flying out the door), Kevin Larken’s Indo-Malay restaurant Sat Lagi slows things down and refines it with this gluten-free, Indo-Malay concept. Launched with a cocktail menu by drinkf master Tao Zrafi and curated wines that pair well with the food from chef Jerome Villarasa—props to dishes like the fried chicken with kefir butter, satay sticks of beef and chicken, classic rendang, and a gnarly whole fried red snapper—this is a big arrival for the Plateau.
The standalone wood-fired restaurant Hoogan & Beaufort has already made Angus Technopole a destination in Montreal, but with Annette, there’s a cherry on top when heading out east. It’s a plant-filled, wine-forward spot with live entertainment and a finessed menu where chef Marc-André Jetté can really shine, full of comparably smaller plates fed by the chef’s own butcher shop. That means you can expect dishes like boudin croquettes, beef tartare, sweetbreads, and lamb chops alongside lighter vegetarian dishes to round it all out.
A class act of a seafood-forward restaurant taking cues from its former iteration of Ikanos, Garde-Côte takes things in a slightly different direction. In addition to platters of oysters and fresh-from-the-net towers, some of the dishes use fish put through a dry aging process not found at many other restaurants in the city, resulting in meat losing water while becoming silkier with crispy skin once cooked. There’s turf here as well, thanks to two Spanish charcoal ovens for low and better controlled cooking of dishes of dry-aged steaks. Precede all of this with some oysters Rockefeller or butterfly prawns, plus a magnum of good Greek wine, and you’re set.
If there’s one style of dining that Montreal will never eschew, it’s the French brasserie. One would think that if famed Montreal chef Antonin Mousseau-Rivard takes up that kind of project with Le Molière par Mousso, even the name’s "by Mousso" implies the cuisine will get its own conceptual and/or personal twists, but the chef isn’t trying to reinvent the classics of Escoffier and Bocuse here. Instead, you’ll have your Doré Meunière, chicken liver mousse, soupe à l'oignon en croûte—only it’ll be executed with absolute finesse.
Chef David Ollu of Hélicoptère and Hélico’s gone and done it again with Aube, a Hochelaga bakery run with pastry chef Stephanie Gagnon-Laberge and baker-chef Adrien Allard. Bright and beautiful, it’s a place where the best baked goods for Ollu’s operations can be made and amplified through a baking lab of sorts, serving seasonally-inspired viennoiseries, breads and pastries. The menu’s full of daytime-forward offerings like a croissandwich and muffaletta alongside fresh breads and Hélico classics like croissants and kouign-amann.
Just when you thought Saint-Henri couldn’t possibly squeeze in another place to eat, Bonheur d’Occasion landed earlier this year with a splash. Maybe it’s the simple and comforting corner bistro ambiance, the steady café noshes cakes and sandwiches during the day, or maybe it’s the “take my money!” dishes they create for dinner services, but chef Philippe Gauthier and pastry chef Victor Adnet are bringing their A-game and then some.
It’s no coincidence that this fifth floor lounge’s name is the same as the late night softcore movie that’d broadcast late at night in Quebec: Designed by Zebulon Perron, Emmanuelle is full of plush velours, buxom leather couches, and smooth, rounded edges, but there are sultry qualities to explore in the menu, too. Think tartare made with wagyu and coated in caviar, or striploin with pomme soufflée and a bordelaise sauce. Pair all that with superb cocktail work by Dimitry Saint-Louis in their four-season terrasse, and this one’s a winner for a night out.
Don’t miss this lunch and weekend brunch spot inside the multidisciplinary art space of Maison Alcan in the Golden Square Mile. Coming from the team behind the Italian destination Beatrice, Chef Michael Coppa’s designed a crowdpleaser of a menu at Améa that is genuinely playful. Bombolone sandwiches with cream cheese and smoked salmon? Lafayette croissants? Stacked brioche French toast loaded with whipped pistachio cream and macerated strawberries and savory crostinis? It looks good, it tastes great—you couldn’t want much more than that.
Coming from the folks behind the Thai stylings of Mae Sri, Le Garden Room’s sub-basement spot facing Concordia University is a posher option from the restaurant family: An in-house fountain and lots of greenery create a secretive, in-the-know ambiance, while a menu with all the greatest Mae Sri hits—and then some—bring the flavour. Fried chicken and papaya salads, Hainan steamed chicken, curries, classic plates of pad Thai, and heaped plates of kuay tiaw haeng (bowls of noodles with no broth) packed with spice, aromatics, and fresh herbs. Pair all that with some boozy drinks, or iced coffees and green tea milk if you’ve got work in the morning.
Set inside the Sheraton Hotel downtown, the long lounge of Stanley is set below its towering three floors of windows looking out onto René-Lévesque Boulevard Ouest. Operating at just about all hours of the day, it ain’t just for people staying at the hotel, and that’s a good thing: Their menu is uniquely set up with different single-person and sharing portion options with only slight bumps in price. Want that steak or tartare platter for three or four people? No problem. Wolf it down for yourself? That’s an option, too. Thanks to its chef Alexandre Martin, all of it is cooked with an absolute precision you love to see in a hotel setting.