As is the tradition with Eater, we close the year by asking a group of food writers, editors, photographers, and others from around town to reflect on the past year in terms of food. Your answers – unprocessed (excluding grammar and translation) and in no particular order – will be published in multiple posts by the end of 2021 clock. Here they share the best food they have eaten all year round.
Clay Sandhu, Food Editor, Cult MTL: This is a bit of a mess for me. I had an amazing meal at Beba that summer that made me realize that it is probably the best restaurant in town. However, the meal I would most like to repeat is one that I had at Pichai. I think a special mention should also go to Parcelles in the townships – I waited almost 4 hours for the food but damn it, talking about dinner with a view.
Erik Lejon, freelance writer, Montreal Gazette, Cult MTL, and other: I ate takeout at Fleurs et Cadeaux in Chinatown a couple of times when it opened, but nothing could have prepared me for the pleasure of eating there. The lively ambiance, cool music, chatty sake sommeliers, silky onsen eggs, stunning concrete-gray nanban sauce – even though it was the newbie to the block, it was such an enjoyable, fun, and finely tuned experience. I still think about the miso duck.
Elise Tastet, Founder and CEO, Tastet: The Montreal Plaza tasting menu for my birthday (wow!) And Mon Lapin was also one of the greatest nights of the year.
Alison Slattery, main photographer, Two food photographers: Tavern, Jun I, Brasserie Bernard and air-conditioned room
JP Karwacki, Editor, Time out Montreal: There were Beba and Pigor in Verdun, La Franquette in Westmount, Marcus (since Jason Morris took over the kitchen), Chinatown’s Dobe & Andy, dumplings from Chef Lee Downtown in the orchards of La Cabane d’à Côté, Ayla in Griffintown was great, a pasta pop-up in the tuck shop of Kira German and Will Weston’s upcoming Paradiso … I couldn’t possibly name just one.
Jason Lee, Foodblogger, Shut up and eat: This food is not necessarily that Bestbut it was the most memorable. It was the first time I was able to dine in a restaurant (not to mention a large box chain). After not going to a restaurant for over a year, I thought my first dining experience would be at one of my favorite restaurants. It was an impromptu working lunch. I didn’t have time to psychologically prepare for the experience and before I knew it I ordered a quarter chicken combo with creamy dressing. As strange as the situation was, it felt good to be feeling normal.
Rachel Cheng, Photographer and food safety and restaurant work activist: I cheat again and name two: Bika was a special treat when Fisun Ercan and her team conjured up vegetables with the locally grown vegetables and served the guests in a greenhouse. A wild storm hit in the middle of the meal and we lost power for an hour and somehow Ercan’s team was able to adapt and continue to bring out minimalist, thoughtful dishes that make their summer products shine. Otherwise, I’ve only had a few indoor restaurant meals this year and I’m so glad one of them was at Pichai. Every dish was surprising, the service is on point and omg the miang pia – whole fried trout garnished with ginger and peanuts. They also have advanced feel-good guidelines for their employees.
Daniel Bromberg, Eater Montreal contributor: Simple – Dinner on the beautifully decorated sidewalk of Maison Publique on a warm summer evening. Great food and excellent wine paired with wonderful company. In second place is Knuckles, who provided exceptional service for my birthday party in a boisterous setting. As always, Hélicoptère was another knockout.
Tommy Dion, Foodblogger, The chef: Pastel, Mon Lapin and Hoogan et Beaufort, to name a few – I have to say that chefs and restaurateurs have completely outdone themselves this year.
Iris Gagnon-Paradis, restaurant reporter and critic, The press: Definitely in La Belle Histoire, in Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson (Laurentides). This restaurant is just amazing: the food is superb, the wine list is spot on and the space so beautiful. Five stars!
Ivy Lerner-Frank, Eater Montreal contributor: Can a casse croûte meal be considered a restaurant meal? If so, I’m still thinking of the lobster guédille I ate at La Malbaie in Chez Chantal this summer. Still on that lobster theme, the umami-wrapped lobster butter mazemen in Bistro Otto was (extremely indulgent) comfort food. But probably the best restaurant meal of 2021 was my first restaurant meal, the first night, at Pichai. the lecker kai dao Salad with perfectly jammy duck eggs, the duck loaf and the Sai Krok Isan sausages with fermented sticky rice from Aliments Viens totally blew me away, as did the Thai tea tiramisu. Hooray to every Jesse involved in this place!