On my recent solo geographical cure, I visited Montreal during the week in mid-September. That time frame meant I didn’t have to make reservations at Montreal’s trendy new restaurants. Provided I arrived reasonably early.
I’ve gotten used to eating solo. I often sit at the bar. But I don’t mind. As long as the food is up to snuff and the decor appeals.
I had three fantastic dinners in Montreal. After getting scammed by an Air Bnb, I decided to treat myself to some gourmet cuisine. I was looking for trendy restaurants with cutting edge cuisine, not traditional fare or a white cloth formal setting. I found three that I loved — Le Serpent, Garde Manger, and Foxy.
One funny thing about all 3 restaurants, is they’re not that easy to find. None of them had distinctive signs on the doors. I had to go inside and make sure I was in the right place twice.
Best Restaurants in Montreal
1. Le Serpent
My first venture was to an industrial-chic Italian restaurant on the outskirts of Vieux Montreal, Le Serpent. Located in a cavernous ex-foundry from 1888 in gentrifying Griffintown, Le Serpent is like a diamond in the rough.
I loved the decor. And I must say the food delivered.
Despite traveling solo, the staff were incredibly attentive. I started with the burrata appetizer. Then I ordered the famed lobster risotto. I was impossiblely delighted and sated.
Address: 257 Rue Prince, Montréal
2. Garde Manger
The following night I went to a hip restaurant in Vieux Montreal featuring Montreal’s celebrity chef Chuck Huges. It’s a small nook, with an intricate oversized chandelier and distressed mirrors.
Though it opened to acclaim in 2006, Garde Manger doesn’t seem to have lost its hipness. The vibe here is English pub meets French bistro crossed with a California raw bar— complete with an ever-changing blackboard menu and bustling open kitchen. And it was packed.
As an appetizer, I had the heirloom tomato salad with fried haloumi cheese. My main course was scallops, with eggplant, corn and mushrooms, which were amazing. They also have a seafood menu and oysters. I was busy chatting with people at the bar, so completely forgot to take photos of my food.
Address: 408 St Francois Xavier St, Montreal
Foxy is a fairly new restaurant from the chefs at Olive et Gourmando on St. Paul Street in Vieux Montreal. The latter is a great spot for brunch or lunch. I went there twice actually, munching on an heirloom tomato salad and a Cuban panini.
Foxy seats 68, half of that at the bar, where I was seated. The vibe inside is dark, moody, and modernist. The ambiance is lively, but the noise level wasn’t overwhelming.
There are very cool hanging light structures. An omnipresent smell of smoke lingers in the air, which reveals the kitchen’s focus: wood-fire cooking.
The menu is small, but with well curated choices. I had the flatbread appetizer, an heirloom tomato salad, and the hanger steak. For the flatbread, envision a classy pizza topped with oyster mushrooms and cacio di bosco cheese. There’s also a great wine list. The service was excellent.
Address: 1638 Notre-Dame St W, Montreal
While in Montreal, I also went on a food tour with Secret Food Tours in what is perhaps Montreal’s hippest neighborhood, Mile End. I highly recommend it. It surpassed my expectations. In a carb filled afternoon, you’ll nibble on bagels, poutine, gnocchi, pastries, and crepes.
If you’d like to eat well in Montreal, pin it for later.