For those who adore great food and design, there’s nowhere more exciting to dine out in North America than Montreal. The city has a unique art and architecture scene and highly innovative cuisine. Experiencing the two together in this metropolis provides an exhilarating window into its cultural soul.
We’ve selected 10 of Montreal’s most beautifully designed restaurants. Expect a headstrong fusion of old-school sophistication and new wave chutzpah, with a twist.
Considered one of the coolest spots to eat in Montreal, Le Serpent is located at The Darling Foundry – an old metal workshop in Griffintown, the former industrial fringe of the city’s downtown core. Adorned with lovingly curated contemporary art by friends of the owner Hubert Marsolais and Claude Pelletier, Le Serpent’s interior is designed by architect Annie Lebel of Montreal’s award-winning Atelier in Situ. The menu is predominantly contemporary Italian, the atmosphere friendly and the service impeccable.
Le Filet is another foodie gem designed by architect Annie Lebel in collaboration with restaurateurs Hubert Marsolais and Claude Pelletier. The Montreal restaurant’s dining room is dark and moody with bronze and aluminium striped walls and artwork curated around the theme of the sea. Considered by many to be the place to eat in Montreal, it has an exquisite menu mainly comprising seafood. If oysters are your thing, don’t miss them served with jalapeño and maple crisp.
It’s hard to write about great design and food in Montreal without including Milos, a Greek restaurant beloved since it first opened back in 1979. Its current serene interior – with linen drapery and a long white bar – is designed by architect Alain Carle. The restaurant group prides itself on serving only the very freshest ingredients, with fabulous fish caught locally and imported directly from Greece. Carle has also lent his touch to Milos branches in London and New York.
This highly anticipated new French restaurant from Richard Bastien – owner of the adored Montreal classic Leméac – has already established itself as a Montreal dining landmark. Located in a former hotel in the old port, Monarque is also designed by architect Alain Carle. It has two main sections – a relaxed brasserie at the front and a more formal 80-seat dining room at the back. The brasserie serves food all day, while the upscale restaurant offers weekday lunches and dinners from Tuesday to Saturday. Gourmand et inspiré was promised – it certainly lives up to the billing.
The SSENSE café
Ssense café opened in early May in the heart of the grey-stoned streets of Old Montreal, around the city’s port. Designed by British architect David Chipperfield, the café is on the fifth floor of the fashion retailer’s new flagship store. The interior is an essay in restrained contemporary concrete and bathed in natural light. Food is an eclectic mix by the celebrated Montreal restaurateurs Kabir Kapoor and Jason Morris. The space is vintage Chipperfield and already a place of design pilgrimage.
Being the go-to choice for senior world leaders isn’t necessarily the best advert for a restaurant, but when it’s President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau things are a little different. Liverpool House – the sister restaurant to the perhaps better known Joe Beef – has lately been voted in the top 10 best places to eat worldwide. The eatery’s exceptional menu is curated by chef Ariel Schor with a changing list of tasty dishes with a middle-eastern hue. The cosy interior of the Montreal restaurant, located in trendy Griffintown, is designed by Canadian artist Peter Hoffer and bedecked with unusual pieces.
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The chic sophisticated interior at Elena – a new Italian brasserie in the St Henri district – is designed by Kyle Adam Goforth of Montreal’s Sid Lee Architecture. Much thought has gone into the details, from the flooring laid in different directions to the petrol blue colour carried from the velvet dining chairs to the tops of the eclectic bar stools. The menu is simple but delicious, offering home-made pizzas and pasta.
Perles et Paddock
Perles et Paddock is a former car garage that’s been transformed into a graceful eatery in the Griffintown district by architect Maurice Martel and Studio FX Design. Frequented by young families and hipsters alike, the Montreal restaurant does a wonderful Sunday brunch with sumptuous traditional dishes given unexpected twists. The interior has a large central marble bar, white stools, a tall tree and wooden tables all top-lit by a spectacular apex roof-light. See more on its adaptive reuse.
Crew Collective Café
Architect Henri Cleinge’s thoughtful reworking of the sumptuous 1920s banking hall at the former Royal Bank of Canada headquarters is considered one of Montreal’s most beautiful interiors. It includes the Crew Collective & Café – a truly great place to sit and take in this magnificent building. The idea behind the café is to present visitors to Montreal with a taste of the best of the city, and it serves dishes from a variety of other gourmet suppliers as well as its own prix-fix menu.
The cool interior in deep blue by Alain Carle at Île Flottante befits its spot in Mile End, one of the city’s trendiest neighbourhoods. There is nothing extravagant in the design here, but the overall impact of the blue walls, dark tables and black metallic windows makes for a refined understated beauty. Food choices at the Montreal restaurant are based on tasting menus with an emphasis on vegetarian. The name pays homage to the World Exposition that took place in Montreal in 1967 and its ‘floating island’ location.