Where to go for a fancypants Montreal dinner on short notice?
November 3, 2009 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Where to go for a fancypants Montreal dinner on short notice? Details inside...

Hi Montreal MiFites! On short notice, my boyfriend and I are taking a long weekend trip to Montreal (the weekend after this one). Boyfriend wants to do a nice dress-up dinner one night, and neither of us has been to Montreal before, so I'd love your suggestions on where we should go. The main criteria are:

- He'll be wearing a suit and I'll be in a dress, so somewhere where we won't look stupid or out-of-place in our fancypants duds
- Preferably not insanely expensive. We'll probably do a shared appetizer, bottle of wine (... we tend to pick from on the lower end of the cost scale on these), and 2 entrees, MAYBE a shared dessert but only if dinner portions are small and we're still hungry. With tax & tip, it'd be great if this would cost around or under $150. (What is tax there, anyway?)
- Sadly we're not bilingual, so somewhere where the waiters are ... and, uh, bonus if we can read the menus
- We can still get a reservation (or don't need one) for a Friday or Saturday night
- Preferably French-influenced food, or at least something that's not a total import to Canada (no Chinese restaurants, etc).
- Totally open to BYOs as well, if you think that might be a good bet.

I keep reading about the apparent amazingness that is Au Pied du Couchon and I'd LOVE to try it, but it seems like a non-dressy place. We're usually pretty casual dressers/eaters, but since Boyfriend suggested it this time around I'd like to honor that thought. (Or do you think I'm wrong and PDC would work?) We'll be staying in the downtown area, but we do have a car & can drive if needed.

Is this doable, Montre-fites? What are your suggestions? Other thoughts on things we MUST do that weekend are also welcome, though I know there are tons of other threads on this subejct. Our current plans are just to relax in cafes, hang out, and eat poutine. Thanks, all!
posted by alleycat01 to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
PDC rocks, although it always seems to get a hard time around here.
I haven't been to Montreal for a couple of years, but I liked:
Le Club de Chasse et Peche

Any would be OK for dressing up.
posted by roofus at 11:49 AM on November 3, 2009

Oh lord, please just go to L'Express.

It's not the poshest place, but you won't be out of place in the slightest dressed as you are. It's just an incredibly classic place - my girlfriend is in Montreal (me in Chicago), and it's always our last-night-in-town treat.
posted by asuprenant at 12:02 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

PS Steak frites.
posted by asuprenant at 12:02 PM on November 3, 2009

PPS Sorry - PDC is tasty, but perhaps a tad overrated. It can often be packed, and the food is super-duper-heavy. But good.

I like roofus's recommendation of Toque; I've heard great things about that.
posted by asuprenant at 12:04 PM on November 3, 2009

I like asuprenant's suggestion of L'Express. It is classic and extremely reliable. It is always the place I take my out of town visitors (keeping in mind that I am not native to Montreal myself)
posted by unlaced at 12:23 PM on November 3, 2009

PDC is amazing, and while dressing up is not necessary, you would not be out of place there in nice threads.

That said, l'Express will give you a more sedate, refined experience.
posted by sid at 12:27 PM on November 3, 2009

There'd be no problem with a suit at APDC. And it's f'in amazing. I think it's easily the best restaurant in the country. A smartly dressed couple sitting at the bar dining without a resso would class the joint up. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed it there. Plus it's way more reasonable than a restaurant with it's reputation generally is.

Chase et Peche is superb. And dressy.

L'express is classic brasserie. Not fancy at all, but a dressed up couple wouldn't be out of place at all. Plus as noted above, it's very very good.

Maybe Joe Beef or Liverpool House would suit? I'd recommend either.
posted by Keith Talent at 12:31 PM on November 3, 2009

We've had good experiences at La Chronique and Les Infidels, which are both fabulous; the former offers great wine pairings and the latter is BYO. You won't be out of place at all dressed up.

Like asuprenant, I think Au Pied du Cochon is somewhat overrated. You go there for the decadent experience of eating incredibly rich and heavy food. Interesting and fun, but I wouldn't make it my only big meal for a quick Montreal visit.
posted by googly at 12:32 PM on November 3, 2009

Best answer: 1) No matter what nice-ish restaurant you choose, you will not feel out of place dressed up. Montreal takes all types and there are usually some suits (business or otherwise) out and about on Friday and Saturday nights.

2) No matter where you go the wait staff will be bilingual-- don't worry about this at all.

3) I agree- PDC=overrated. Heaviest food I have ever had. I can only handle it once/2 years.

4) My suggestions:
La Montee
La Club Chasse et Peche
La Salle a Manger
Au Cinquieme Peche

For BYO: try Les Infidels or Le P'tit Plateau

I also agree with almost all of the recommendations on this chowhound thread.

5) My fallback for out of town guests isn't L'Express, but rather Lemeac-- dependable, reliable, high quality, and tres French.
posted by picklebird at 12:39 PM on November 3, 2009

Oh, just thought of another great option: Laloux. Chic and delicious.
posted by picklebird at 12:44 PM on November 3, 2009

Well-dressed? Well priced, tasty, European-influenced food? Caters to English speakers? Well...um...you've pretty much described ALL of urban Montreal.

I suggest you just take a stroll through the Old Port and settle on whichever place you fancy. Other US or Canadian cities might take some research & planning to find a restaurant that meets all your criteria, but I guarantee you that in Montreal you'll be like a kid in a candy store.
posted by randomstriker at 12:49 PM on November 3, 2009

I was up in Montreal for business this summer and got taken out to dinner at L'Epicier, where I had the best salmon of my life. Tad expensive, I think, (I didn't pay, so I can't say what the price range was exactly) but the food was divine, the portions were generous, and the wine was very very good.
posted by lydhre at 2:07 PM on November 3, 2009

the old port has never impressed me. it's way, way too touristy. if you're looking for a stroll, St. Denis is good for an evening out (start at Beri-UQAM and head north) and during the day St. Viateur and/or Bernard between St. Laurent and Parc are great for wandering around.
posted by spindle at 2:08 PM on November 3, 2009

If you like steak frites, then you must go to L'Entrecote.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 2:52 PM on November 3, 2009

Thinking of your criteria, after nodding yes-no-maybe on the restaurants named here, I suddenly stopped on picklebird's choice: Laloux. Perfect.
posted by bru at 3:00 PM on November 3, 2009

My birthday dinner this year was at Europea. If you get the Discovery menu and a bottle of wine, it should work out to around $150 American. Maybe a little more, but believe me, it is absolutely worth it.
posted by Ruki at 3:03 PM on November 3, 2009

I'm fond of Upstairs myself - small but delish menu and good drinks. Excellent english-speaking waitstaff also.
They're not open on Monday, and if they have musicians in there may be a cover charge at the door - always worth it in my experience.
posted by Billegible at 3:11 PM on November 3, 2009

Avoid the Old Port. I don't like PdC, and I think Au Cinquieme Peche is overrated, too. Lemeac is very nice. Realistically, the recommentations here -- and in the chowhound threads that are always around about "nice night out" are all good. Checking for best menu or location online will be more than sufficient.

You can dress up to go anywhere and it won't be weird. Most places have English on the menu, but not all. The restaurants you are considering cater a bit to tourists (as well as to locals) and so are more likely to. All waiters will be bilingual.

Taxes are around 14% now. There is one line of tax that is occasionally (perhaps deliberately, perhaps not) read as the included tip (TPS). Tips are not included on your bill.
posted by jeather at 3:36 PM on November 3, 2009

Toqué will set you back $150 each, minimum. It is not for the faint of wallet.
posted by zadcat at 3:38 PM on November 3, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, all! Great suggestions upthread. I especially appreciate those with an eye toward pricing, especially as I've found that many restaurants don't seem to price out their wine lists online. This wouldn't be such an issue as I'd assume we could just get a decent bottle on the lower end, but I've also read a lot about how wine costs more in Canada b/c of import taxes + property taxes for homegrown wines (... or something. I'm probably messing that up entirely), and keep running across phrases like "we got a $150 bottle" on TripAdvisor reviews which ... yeah, there goes the budget.

Thanks also for the tax info & giving the OK on attire. I hate being overdressed and many of NY's most delicious restaurants have a decidedly casual air, so I appreciate the reassurance.

I can't wait. After looking at all these menus online, I want to be eating there right now.
posted by alleycat01 at 4:33 PM on November 3, 2009

Strongly seconding Au Cinquième Péché. Assuming you guys are both carnivores, try the seal - partially so you can say you've tried it, but mostly because it's delicious. I'd make a reservation, because the place is quite small, but the atmosphere tends to be cozy rather than crowded. You'll look quite at home all gussied up.
posted by Devika at 4:48 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

The best meal I've had in Montreal was at La Chronique. You won't be overdressed (though I've eaten there while dressed casually). The Menu Degustation with wine pairings is $150, so it's not cheap, but not unreasonable, and it's great.

Montreal is my favorite city for food. All the best restaurants are places that I can at least think of eating at. Many of the best restaurants in New York or Boston or L.A. are simply impossible to eat at if you're not ridiculously wealthy or on a corporate account.

And I'm going to toss in a pro-PDC vote, just to cancel out an anti- vote from one of the haters. Seriously, I cannot understand the mind of a person who would dislike tucking into a combo of foie gras poutine and a foie gras hamburger, started off with some deep fried foie gras. Well, for non-moral reasons, that is.
posted by painquale at 8:19 PM on November 3, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks again, everybody! We ended up at Leméac, where we had the most delicious pan-seared foie gras as an app, I had some fabulous roasted duck breast, and Boyfriend had filet mignon with bone marrow butter (!!! drool). We shared a great bottle of red and an absolutely ENORMOUS french-toast dessert (highly recommended), and the bill, post-tax but pre-tip, came to $153. So we went a little over budget with tip, but it was sooo worth it.

Again, I really appreciated all the suggestions and am very much looking forward to our next trip so I can try out all the other places!
posted by alleycat01 at 1:36 PM on November 20, 2009

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