Restaurants in Canada

Recommended
(you really should go)
You really need to go
(really – you do)
Excellent wine list Bring money
(relative to locale)
Bring lots of money (you’ve been warned)

 


Montréal

Les 400 Coups
400, rue Notre-Dame est
Montréal, QC
H2Y 1C8
Tel : +1 (514) 985-0400
   
Blackstrap BBQ
4436, rue Wellington
Verdun, QC
H4G 1W5
Tel : +1 (514) 507-6772
Email : info@blackstrapbbq.ca/address>
 

The latest contender in the Big Croissant’s exploration of American barbecue, Blackstrap emphasizes Memphis-style traditions and puts out a good product that’s making people want to schlep to Verdun. I was fortunate enough that my brother went to get me some takeout, though that declaration of being a Memphis adherent was a little puzzling when we started tasting because their best product is the beef brisket. Smoked turkey and pork side ribs (cut St-Louis style) were also good, but the pulled pork was surprisingly dry. Pickles are nice, coleslaw is okay and collard greens isn’t the sweet style, but the bread is an afterthought so just use it as a vehicle to mop up the meat juices. Offered sauces are a molasses-based sweet (which works nicely with turkey) and an overly-vinegar-y spicy (which I found didn’t work with anything).
Get there early; they’re packed within 30 minutes of opening.

Bouillon Bilk
1595 boulevard Saint-Laurent
Montréal, QC
H2X 2S9
Tel : +1 (514) 845-1595
  A modern French/Québeçois smack dab in what is still a pretty seedy part of town. The small menu is fish-centric but actually flows well from starters to mains to desserts and there is care taken in plating – no brown with giant pools of brown.
Open Mondays and also open for weekday lunch.
Callao Restaurant péruvien
114 avenue Laurier ouest
Montréal, QC
H2T 2N6
Tel : +1 (514) 271-3095
 

Raza is dead, long live Callao. Launched a bit later than expected thanks to the local monopoly’s shenanigans with licensure, my pal Mario Navarrete Jr. leaves Nuevo Latino and resurrects his Laurier space as an upscale Peruvian eatery. Ceviches more than make the cut and he’s now placed anticuchos one the menu after years of my asking to see them. Unfortunately he’s wimped out as there isn’t a beef heart option, but then again the straights on the Big Croissant aren’t really ready for “variety cuts”.
The wine list makes a return to his restaurant. I still have to get there to pass judgement but I have seen photos from my brother’s visit and the photos from the website. The splat has to go.

La Chronique
99 avenue Laurier ouest
Montréal, QC
H2T 2N7
Tel : +1 (514) 227-8712
  One of my favorite fine dining establishments irrespective of location; Marc de Canck now oversees the kitchen with his son-in-law Olivier de Montigny manning the stoves. Excellent wine list (this is where I first encountered Au Bon Climat) and if they ever do the duck breast and lobster, go for it.
Le Club Chasse et Pêche
423, rue Saint-Claude
Montréal, QC
H2Y 3B6
Tel : +1 (514) 861-1112
   
Le Comptoir
4807 Saint-Laurent
Montréal, QC
H2T 1R6
Tel : +1 (514) 844-8467 
  Small plates and charcuterie! Wine! This is a place you go for a good conversation with the food and the booze to keep it going. The plates have gotten much better since they first opened, and they now have porchetta di testa if you’re looking for a little snout (don’t order this unless your date’s not squeamish). Open Mondays
Décarie Hot Dog
953, boulevard Décarie
Saint-Laurent, QC
H4L 3M3
Tel : +1 (514) 748-7213
  This mainstay of the Saint-Laurent dining scene has been around for decades with few if any changes (okay, the prices went up). This is about as close to street food as it gets on the Big Croissant, and they do a fish-on-Fridays thing if you’re interested in something other than tube steaks.
My post on their signature dish: One all-dressed “steamé”
Open Mondays, though probably not the ideal place for say, a business meeting or a “hot date”. Cash-only.
Europea
1227, rue de la Montagne
Montréal, QC
H3G 1Z2
Tel : +1 (514) 398-9229
Email : info@europea.ca
  Jérôme Ferrer’s place is one of the few places on the island where molecular gastronomy has been successfully integrated into its haute cuisine menu. The main room is all understated modern classicism but I suggest reserving the Chef’s Table and going for the Menu dégustation. If you don’t want to do that, at least experience the Calamar.
Open Mondays.
Le Filet
219, rue Mont-Royal Ouest
Montréal, QC
H2T 2T2
Tel : +1 (514) 360-6060
  A fish-centric offshoot from the Clube Chasse et Pêche group, it’s an interesting place for an eclectic meal.
Hôtel Herman
5171, boulevard Saint-Laurent
Montréal, QC
H2T 1R9
Tel : +1 (514) 278-7000
  Opened by the same people who brought you La Salla à Manger, l’Hôtel Herman is not a hotel (surprise!), but is a hipster eatery on its own with small plates of interesting stuff like sea urchin and horse tartar. Think of it as a wilder variant of its elder sibling but without the schoolhouse look. The winelist is heavily anchored by offerings from the private importer Rézin.
Open Mondays but closed Tuesdays.
Joe Beef
2491, rue Notre-Dame ouest
Montréal, QC
H3J 1N6
Tel : +1 (514) 935-6504
  Don`t look at me – this eatery is listed primarily for visitor benefits. I disliked both times I’ve been to Joe Beef because of the “we’re the cool kids and you’re not” attitude of the staff and ownership, and also the presumption that the error-ridden meal they placed in front of me was actually “perfect”. The Anglo variant of APDC, it’s another establishment pushing excess with large plates and lots of brown. The service staff is very attractive and very vapid, which seems to be a hallmark of MacMillan’s places. The other locals and gastro-tourists *love* this place, though I’ve noticed that the ones who sing its praises do the “I’m with the cool crowd” thing.
Laloux
250, avenue des Pins est
Montréal, QC
H2W 1P3
Tel : +1 (514) 287-9127
  Considered by many to be one of the nicest rooms in the city, Laloux has come a long way from the Parisien bistro wannabe with Édith Piaf and the torturous service that stood out from my first visit many years ago. Sort of a revolving door for chefs presently, but amazingly enough they remain consistent.
Lémeac
1045, avenue Laurier ouest
Montréal, QC
H2V 2L1
Tel : +1 (514) 270-0999
  One of the most professionally-run bistros currently in Montréal; consistently strong kitchen brigade and a smooth and easy dining experience. While there are bistro classics on the menu, go for the more interesting plates on offer. And ask for a table in Étienne Guérin’s section and then let him take care of your wine picks – you won’t be sorry.
Open Mondays.
Madre
2391, rue Masson
Montréal, QC
H1Y 1X5
Tel : +1 (514) 315-7932
Email : info@restaurantmadre.com
  The second of my friend Mario’s restaurants, Madre is a Nuevo Latino bistro but just don’t call it that in front of him. Rodrigo Flores is back in the kitchen, meaning that this BYOB is packed – reservations are effectively essential. Also open for Sunday brunch, now open Mondays with $29 prix fixe menu.
John Sconzo’s impressions of Madre (external link).
Madre sur Fleury
124, rue Fleury ouest
Montréal, QC
H3L 1T4
Tel : +1 (514) 439-1966
  À Table is dead and in its place is Madre sur Fleury, a BYOB relaunch in Ahuntsic for my friend Mario. It’s a nearly identical menu to the original Madre: pick your choice of starter and your choice of main for whatever the price is listed for the main. Ceviche is a supplemental charge but worth it to have some fish to power your brain. Madre sur Fleury continues to offer one significant advantage over its sister restaurants – free parking and plenty of it. Also open for Sunday brunch, and now open Mondays with $29 prix fixe menu.
My impressions of Madre sur Fleury.
Niji Sushi Bar
Quartier Dix30
9385, boulevard Leduc, Suite 5
Brossard, QC
J4Y 0A5
Tel : +1 (450) 443-6454
Fax : +1 (450) 443-3679
Email : info@niji.ca
  I was a little fearful when I realized where this place is located: the Dix/30 is this splayed chez nous version of the West Edmonton Mall, and the other eateries in the main restaurant complex are associated with castaways. The restaurant tries for this pan-Asian chic and does Westernized Japanese, so it’s all very non-threatening in a lemony kind of way. Get a vodka martini and an order of ika mongo. Chatting about your heavily-modified Civic puttputt is optional though not necessarily a good idea depending on who is within earshot. I mean I’d certainly laugh at you. Niji is not a bad option if you happen to find yourself in Brossard, but it’s better with good company.
Open Mondays.
Au Pied de Cochon
536, avenue Duluth est
Montréal, QC
H2L 1A9
Tel : +1 (514) 281-1114
Fax : +1 (514) 281-1116
Email : aupieddecochon@qc.aira.com
  For good or bad, Martin Picard’s eatery has essentially redefined Montréal cuisine and Québec gastronomy. You want pork? Or play with the minds of your vegetarian dining companions? Order le pied de cochon, which is a deboned leg that’s been restuffed with pork and foie gras (served with lentils and mash in case there aren’t enough calories). I personally blame Picard for the death of tablecloths and nice-looking plates, and because of APDC’s success new restaurants seem to do nothing but offer brown comfort food in brown sauce, house charcuterie and biodynamic wines from obscure producers. Then again, APDC’s success has drawn significant tourist dollars to the Big Croissant so good on them for that. I also have new-found respect for him after he passed out on camera while drunkenly defending the relative artistic merits and honor of Céline (I’m not a fan of the diva; I just thought the clip was interesting).
Sakura
3450, rue Drummond
Montréal, QC
H3A 1B1
Tel : +1 (514) 288-9122
  This is about as close as you’re going to get to “authentic” Japanese flavor profile on the Big Croissant. Sakura is not the place to go if you’re into weird strawberry-filled makizushi creations, but it does properly-prepared hot dishes and is the only local place that does kaiseki ryori. You should do it to experience it, but be prepared to work with their chef to plan out your meal. I just wish they’d bring back the tonkatsu.
My post on their shōyu rāmen: Quest for noodles
Open Mondays.
La Salle à Manger
1302, Mont-Royal est
Montréal, QC
H2J 1Y5
Tel : +1 (514) 522-0777
  Interesting place which reminds me of my second grade primary school in Fort Collins. I had a raucously good time with my pal Butter Boy, which was okay for him too until I took the bill and our waitress told him that it was okay for the young to pick up the tab sometimes (oops). Their charcuterie platter is considerably larger than expected but really tasty. La Salle à Manger also offers an entire roast suckling pig for $500, but it requires advance notice and reservations for a party of 12; it’s a bargain when broken down across the lucky dozen though there will be fights for the crackling.
Open Mondays.
Les Trois Petits Bouchons
4669, Saint-Denis
Montréal, QC
H2J 2L5
Tel : +1 (514) 285-4444
  Combination restaurant and wine bar which tries to adhere to the locavore route and one of the few reason for me to willingly go and immerse myself amongst the Plateau-ites. Creative small plate dishes along with some little surprises like tartiflette and the buffalo surf and turf. It’s now quite hard to get a reservation but worth the effort.
Open Mondays.

 


Québec

L’Échaude
73, rue du Sault-au-Matelot
Québec, QC
G1K 3Y9
Tel : +1 (418) 692-1299
   
L’Initiale
54, rue Saint-Pierre
Québec, QC
G1K 3Z9
Tel : +1 (418) 694-1818
   
Laurie Raphael
117, rue Dalhousie
Québec, QC
G1K 9C8
Tel : +1 (418) 692-4555
  Daniel Vézina’s flagship restaurant in the provincial capital.

 


Saskatoon

Bliss Fine Food
1002 Broadway Avenue
Saskatoon, SK
S7N 1B9
Tel : +1-306-477-2077
Email : blissfinefood@sasktel.net
  I have this deep-seated fear of being stranded in Saskatoon but the arrival of Bliss calms that fear down (unless it happens to be Sunday or Monday, which is when they happen to be closed). Part of the culinary awakening of Saskatoon, Bliss offers a bistro-inflected menu with several Asian notes liberally sprinkled through. If you spot the return of the Korean barbecue chicken taco with coriander slaw, give it a go.

 


Toronto

Scaramouche
1 Benvenuto Place
Toronto, ON
M4V 1H3
Tel : +1 (416) 961-8011
Fax : +1 (416) 961-1922
Email : scaramouche@rogers.com
  Keith Frogget’s place has a great view of the Toronto skyline that complements and excellent dining experience. There’s a more casual pasta bar and grill, but do yourself a favor and stick with the Dining Room, as it’s one of the better haute cuisine experiences remaining in the GTA.
Open Mondays.

 


Vancouver

HK BBQ Master 明家燒臘專家
4651 #3 Road
Richmond, BC
V6Y 1N3
Tel : +1 (604) 272-6568
  Probably the best Chinese barbecue in the greater Vancouver area, and since YVR is now one of the best places to each Chinese cuisine in the world, well, you get the line of reasoning. Get the BBQ Master combo plate if you can’t decide: there’s roast pork with great crackling, barbecue pork and duck over rice. But if see that there’s goose available, you know what you have to do. A takeout order is a must to occupy the piehole because YVR traffic can be brutal. HK BBQ Master is a tiny location so don’t think about going in a group.
Open Mondays but closed Wednesdays. Cash-only.
Kalvin’s Szechuen Restaurant 松林居
5225 Victoria Drive
Vancouver, BC
V5P 3V4
Tel : +1 (604) 321-2888
  Yes, there is the stereotypical typo in their name but surprise! Kalvin’s is actually a Taiwanese eatery. Actually some authentic Taiwanese cooking to be had here, but if you’re pressed for time, order the Taiwanese beef noodles (niu rou mien) and the scallion pancakes.
Open Mondays but closed Wednesdays. Cash-only.
Liu’s Taiwanese Restaurant 台灣美食
1423-8388 Capstan Way
Richmond, BC
V6X 4B5
Tel : +1 (604) 214-0366
  Two words: fried chicken! fried chicken! fried chicken! Taiwanese-style fried chicken is the best and this is a good place to get some. You can order some milk tea to go with it if you happen to like the stuff.
Open Mondays. Cash-only.
Motomachi Shokudo 元町食堂
740 Denman Street
Vancouver, BC
V6G 2L5
Tel : +1 (604) 609-0310
  Stand in line for hours if you have to; this is one of the best bowls of ramen you can get. Three base ramen (shōyu, shio, miso), with multiple configuration options depending on how many toppings you need. However, order the shōyu-ramen with extra organic hanjuku egg, especially if you like spicy onion oil, because if you get shio-ramen, the oil’s not an option. The gyoza’s also good and will keep you going while they prep your ramen customizations.
My post on their shōyu and shio rāmen: Quest for noodles
Open Mondays but closed Wednesdays. Cash-only.
Sun Siu Wah Seafood Restaurant
102, 4940 No. 3 Road
Richmond, BC
V6X 3A5
Tel : +1 (604) 273-8208
  Top notch dim sum (no pushcarts; one orders off the menu) and excellent live fish if you’re into that for dining options. Though parking in that particular strip mall is a real b*tch, I like the Richmond outlet better than the downtown one, so I’m only providing that address.
Open Mondays. Bring plenty of cash if you elect to go for abalone, shark fin or live seafood.
Tojo’s
1133 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
V6H 1G1
Tel : +1 (604) 872-8050
Fax : +1 (604) 872-8060
Email : info@tojos.com
  This is a place that makes me happy. Tojo Hidekazu is the chef credited with creating the California maki roll, therefore introducing squeamish North Americans to one aspect of Japanese food. But this isn’t the reason you go to his namesake restaurant – you go for the culinary genius that is omakase. Make a reservation for the bar, dress well and be respectful. He’ll appreciate it if you don’t come across like an uncultured troglodyte. Once you sidle up to the bar, be open-minded and just let him keep it coming until you can’t take anymore. Good wine list with lotsa BC production, but an even better sake selection.
Open Mondays.

 


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