The fastest way to experience sophisticated, urban French cuisine? Hop a flight to Montreal
, North America's most European major city, where French culinary heritage blends with the best of this continent's melting pot.
There are plenty of old standbys to visit -- of course, you'll hit Jean Talon market, and stand in line for smoked meat at Schwartz's. But like any world class city, Montreal's restaurant scene is ever-changing. Here are the best resources to track down the latest and greatest restaurants.
…an endless banquet
is one of the eminence gris of the food blogs -- it's closing in on ten years of dispensing the inside scoop on Montreal's food scene, as well as other destinations. But for these purposes, what you care about is "The List", an A-Z restaurant guide to Montreal that's so long it has to be broken into two parts.
There are also a few charming handmade maps
to help get you oriented.
Always a smart stop for opinionated conversation on a local restaurant scene, Chowhound's Québec board keeps track of restaurant openings and closings, offers feedback on foodie itineraries, and esoterica, including where to find civet coffee, feta and certain Danish pastries.
The Montreal Gazette has solid food and wine coverage, but what you'll want to take advantage of here is the restaurant guide
, which has picks for both casual and fine dining. There's also a restaurant search engine that allows you to select by neighborhood, cuisine, and special features -- for example, gluten free, Irish pub, dinner dance, and, most critically -- extensive wine list.
Also of note is the Gazette's food blog Shop Chop Eat. It's aimed at locals, as the name implies, but there's also interesting restaurant coverage.
This is not your standard tourist board blog -- it's actually interesting. The "where to eat"
section of the blog does cover a few tourist faves, like how to eat at Jean Talon Market, but it also includes interviews with up-and-coming chefs, profiles of new restaurants, and useful guides to food festivals. The blog does not have a restaurant search engine, but the tourist site for the province of Québec, Bonjour Québec, has one here
Everything depends on breakfast, in my opinion, and so how wonderful to find a blog dedicated to the most important meal of the day. Montreal Brunch and Breakfast
offers reviews of the morning (or early afternoon) meal, and offers handy maps so you can find your quarry pre-coffee. The best place to start is the latest year in review
, which names the site's favorites among restaurants both new and established, and the best breakfast and brunch dishes. I challenge you to read about crème brûlée French toast, or waffles and pulled pork, and remain unhungry.
The fantastic blog Eater does not have a dedicated site for Montreal, but its national blog covers Montreal (even though Montreal is not technically part of the "nation", but Canadians can stand down, since the national blog also covers London, Paris, Madrid and other notable foodie destinations.)
Here's where you'll find interviews with Montreal's notable chefs, restaurant gossip, and solid guides like this one, on where to drink wine in the city, with a few suggestions on where to score great cocktails and coffee too.