A look at the epic culinary scene in Montreal

Montreal Skyline at Night (Photo by �� Christopher J. Morris/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Montreal Skyline at Night (Photo by �� Christopher J. Morris/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images) /

Montreal is a heck of a lot more than just delicious poutine. Being a native of Montreal, I’ve had my fair share and its definitely great, but today we’ll be taking a small look at certain key players of the culinary scene in Montreal…the scene you should perhaps be willing to travel to come your next vacation….

Some would consider the city of Montreal yet another version of New York. Now while some might not agree, it certainly is a culinary capital and merits a top spot across North America for sure.

But OMG, where to begin? Simply put, the summer months in Montreal provide the eater with many options, and today we’ll take a brief look at just a few of the hot spots and the culinary masterminds cooking up a storm in their respective kitchens.

But trust me when I say you won’t be disappointed if you happen to finds a spot that isn’t on this list when you do arrive, bags in tow and your foodie caps on, as there are many hidden treasures in the city and many, many great chefs that I can’t at all fit in this piece.

You’ll have to visit the city and many times over to see and taste everything. Heck…you might as well move here if you love great food.

Where to eat when in Montreal: The top locations and chefs…

Acclaimed food writer, author and television personality, Anthony Bourdain visited many times. He once said of Montreal:

"“This is a great country because of this city. Without Montreal, Canada would be hopeless.”-Anthony Bourdain"

Chef Chuck Hughes

Chuck Hughes turned from a career in music to answer to a call from another of his passions…the art of preparing food. He of course also hosted and was part of a few shows on the Food Network, most notably Chuck’s Day Off.

And food is art, as Hughes himself believes; he once stated that food is the only art out there that needs the five senses for it to be enjoyed: taste, sight smell, hearing and touch…food delivers on all counts.

Garde Manger is in Montreal’s Old Port…one of the places to be for epic food and a great night out.

Chef Danny Smiles

The Willow Inn in Hudson, Quebec, which is about forty or forty-five minutes from the city. It’s a beautiful spot in which the gentleman in question is the executive chef; this after a career at the heart of the city’s old port culinary scene at Le Bremner.

If you want to sample his culinary delights you can also stop by at Doubles on Park Avenue, near Fairmount in the city of Montreal if Hudson’s a tad too out of your way and doesn’t quite jive with your travel plans.

If you ask me however, any bite prepared by Danny Smiles is worth the trip…even if it’s a long one.

Chef Martin Picard

And finally, we’ll look at Martin Picard of Au Pied du Cochon—an institution here in Quebec. To quote Bourdain once more (after all I have to, as he inspired me to write about food and was the ultimate authority on food writing…up there with Jim Harrison if you ask me). Here’s what he had to say about the mighty Picard:

"“Once every few decades, maybe every century, a nation will produce a hero. An Escoffier. A Mohammed Ali. A Dalai Lama. Joey Ramone. Someone who changes everything about their chosen field … Martin Picard is such a man. A heretofore unencountered hybrid of rugged outdoorsman, veteran chef with many years of fine dining experience, renegade, innovator. He is one of the most influential chefs in North America.”-Anthony Bourdain"

Au pied du cochon is a feast in and of itself…an experience you’re not likely to forget. It isn’t like your other types of cuisine found in the city. Picard serves a way different menu. Duck, foie gras, to a foie gras poutine, as well as blood pudding pie, and also a duck preserve.

I sit here now, rereading this piece and realize that as much as I may have tried to encompass what this city has to offer in terms of food, I can’t help but feel like I’ve failed a tad; there’s so much that I didn’t include…

The wonders of China Town, the East End and its plethora of Italian, Haitian and Greek locations…all decently priced delights. And who can forget the restaurants in Laval, the city just north of Montreal?

The illustrious Joe Beef, Schwartz’s Deli, Jarry Smoked Meat, La Banquise, Wilensky’s, St-Viateur Bagel…and the list only goes on from there. Montreal I failed you.

At the end of the day, the city and its surroundings have a lot to offer in terms of sights, and perhaps even more in the culinary department, but don’t take it from me. I’ll let old Anthony finish this one up for me:

"“…a great, great city with a great food culture…uniquely wonderful in its own way…Any visiting chef crawls out of here bloated and begging for mercy.”-Anthony Bourdain"

dark. Next. An ode to Burger King’s almighty Whopper

Have you been to the city? Where are some of your favorite places to eat, dear readers?