Restaurant Roundup continues its journey through la belle province this week with our second stop in Montreal. Today, Montreal Food Divas show us where to splurge on dinner in Montreal. Previously, Jason Lee from Shut Up And Eats took us on a tour of Montreal's best BBQ joints. And if you missed it, check out our last Quebec post where Marie Asselin showcased Quebec City's bistros!
These days, it seems that every restaurant guide lists the same thing: cheap eats, best pizzerias, and where to get gourmet burgers. But sometimes you need the perfect restaurant to splurge on that fabulous dinner that you later tell your friends about. You know, those friends who didn’t want to splurge, and didn’t come to that fabulous dinner. Their loss! When we think about our dinners at Au Pied de Cochon, Park and Le Filet, our mouths water and we get a dreamy look in our eyes, one that only the memories of our meals at these restaurants can produce.
Au Pied de Cochon
Au Pied de Cochon, affectionately called PDC by Montrealers, is foodie heaven. It is the place where, when all Montreal foodies die, they would love to spend eternity. The genius behind this restaurant is Chef Martin Picard who can be found in the kitchen of his restaurant or in his sugar shack by the same name.
One of their most popular dishes is their famous duck in a can or canard en conserve: ½ a magret de canard, 100g of foie gras, 60ml of balsamic meat glaze, 180 ml of buttered cabbage, half a roasted garlic head and 2 branches of thyme. Sounds simple enough? Well it isn’t. All of these ingredients are stuffed in a can and then cooked to perfection. The waiter arrives at your table with the can, a can opener in hand and opens it in front of you, plops it on a plate and the aromas wafting out are more intense than grandma’s Sunday cooking.
But PDC is about more than its duck in a can. Montreal draws a lot of its culture from French cuisine, and foie gras is a staple in many a French Montreal restaurant. One of the recurring specials of the night at PDC is their pan seared foie gras with goat cheese and raspberries on a buttery brioche. Decadence does not properly describe this dish. The sauce was simply exquisite and the goat cheese was strong. Each element created this dish’s perfection.
But Chef Picard did not stop there. The pièce de resistance of our meal at PDC remains the Plateau PDC which showcased tons of their seafood. Littleneck clams, two types of oysters, fried clams in an amazing creamy tartar-like sauce, mussels with a marinara stuffing, grilled octopus, squid, etc. Oh and these amazing stuffed oysters filled with crunchy tempura and a creamy, cheesy sauce.
Au Pied de Cochon is neither stuffy nor pretentious, and though your meal will be on the pricier side, consider it an investment in your happiness.
Au Pied de Cochon 536 Duluth Est, Montréal, H2L 1A9
If we had to choose a chef to create our last meal it would be Chef Antonio Park. The Omakase menu at Park is translated to mean chef’s choice. All your foodie-dreams can come true at Park restaurant. Speechless is a state not often associated with the Divas. So rare in fact that we cannot think of another moment that we could say that a dinner was so exquisite that we were left in utter silence.
When you go to Park restaurant, try to sit at the counter, where Chef Antonio Park is in plain sight working his magic in front of you. He creates dishes such as venison tataki seasoned with Japanese seven spice served with slivers of radish and crème de foie gras, or BC uni in a thick pool of sweet onion and carrot purée, with basil and micro sorrel leaves. These dishes will change your definition of delicious.
But what is Park restaurant famous for? Their sashimi of course! Bright orange Chinook salmon decorated with Japanese mint, Yellowtail belly, and wild sea bass topped with a slice of crunchy baby truffle peach, acupunctured red snapper and silver eye sea bream all served in a tosazu sauce. Sounds like a mouthful? It truly was. The fish is always fresh, always sustainable, and always perfect
We can’t even begin to describet his nigiri without caving and calling to get a reservation immediately. Still craving some of that French inspired foie gras? Chef Park incorporates the Montreal culture into his cuisine; we adored his nigiri made with seared foie gras, shiso leaf, wasabi and edamame purée with Japanese plum sauce. Park restaurant is like entering Narnia as a child, you didn’t know that restaurants like this really existed. But they do! Trust us, you will not regret enjoying Chef Park’s omakase menu.
If Montreal French restaurants are an ode to their Parisian forefathers, Le Filet is where you go for that perfect French dinner with a Montreal flair. This place made salad taste amazing; well it wasn’t exactly a boring green salad, but a house smoked duck salad. The duck was cooked until the perfect shade of pink, the green beans were still crisp, and the raspberry vinaigrette was just tart enough to pair perfectly with the sweet amaretti cookie crumbs. The sourness of the raspberry reduction coupled with the sweetness of the amaretti made for a perfect combination with the rich duck.
But of course there is more! How about a mushroom and snail puff pastry tart, or our favourite, their cavatelli with foie gras and veal cheek. The contrast between the hot pasta and the cold, shaved foie gras torchon was amazing; it simply melted in your mouth.
There was even a squash gnocchi dish with sweetbread, lobster and porcini that still makes our hearts race. Each dish at Le Filet was a complex mixing of ingredients and somehow each flavour stood out on its own, but also meshed well together. All the dishes were enjoyed tapas style meaning that there was tons of variety.
So when you feel like splurging on a fabulous dinner in Montreal, don’t hesitate, choose either Au Pied de Cochon, Park or Le Filet. These are the eateries that Montreal foodies dream about before their next pay check.
The Food Divas have been frequenting Montreal restaurants on Thursdays since November 2011. In some (most) circles, we are known for causing trouble, therefore, our Thursday nights are reserved for plotting (bitching), drinking (getting tipsy) and eating great food (gluttonous indulgence) with great company (an unholy alliance). We just love food and want to share our Montreal dining experiences.