We know: you’re here for smoked meat, poutine, and tourtiere. And you can get all that. But Montreal is a foodie’s paradise, so if you want out of the box, Montreal delivers.
Some restaurants spend a lot of time thinking about things like décor and lighting. O.Noir doesn’t have to, because at O.Noir, you eat in the dark. No flashlights, phones, or lighters. Part of the rationale is social justice; O.Noir’s entire wait staff is blind, so you get to eat a meal in their shoes, as it were. The other side of the point is that eating without sight lets you focus on taste and flavour, which is why you’re in a restaurant, anyway. Oh, and if you’re truly adventurous, you can order a surprise entrée.
What’s more mobile than a restaurant but not as nomadic as a food truck? That’s right, a shipping container. We live in a throwaway world and Muvbox, build in a recycled shipping container, won’t stand for it. Their restaurant is transportable, sets up in a few hours, and is designed with green credentials in mind, with other recycled or sustainable materials, solar panels, and smart water management. They have two locations in Montreal, selling lobster rolls and porchetta, and they’re looking to expand.
What are you into trying tonight? Food from the Czech Republic? Spring Quebec fare? Spanish tapas? Izakaya? Mongolian? Are we just going to recite the theme section from Yelp? No matter what your hankering is, Foodlab can help you out, because they’re a different restaurant every month. The above listed culinary styles have all been done at the restaurant, which changes its theme monthly. We can’t recommend anything to you because we don’t know what kind of restaurant Foodlab will be next.
Why would we include a classic French bistro on a list of unique dining experiences? Because ‘bistro’ has come to mean ‘upscale bar’, and fusion is more popular than classic French cookery—and we certainly aren’t complaining about those things, but sometimes it’s nice to visit one of the few proper French bistros left. L’Express has been at it for thirty-two years, you get a menu written out in fountain pen by the chef, and bistro staples like calf’s liver and pot-au-feu are made traditionally and consistently well—no modernist flare, no sly pop-culture ‘takes’, and no trendy upgrades. And if you’re having wine with dinner—and why wouldn’t you?—note that there are 11,000 bottles in the cellar.
5. Qui Lai Cru
What would a Montreal dining experience list be without a fromagerie? Not only does Que Lai Cru stock more cheeses than you can hope to sample in a visit, but they specialize in that ultimate cheese prize: raw milk cheese. It’s hard to find outside of France and Quebec, where it’s legal to sell raw milk cheese that’s been aged fewer than sixty days. Be sure to take at least an hour to explore the store, where the staff are happy to hand out samples and suggest wine pairings.