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Food Writers Name the Top Montreal Newcomers of 2014

Not too shabby a year for new restaurants.

Le Serpent makes the cut
Le Serpent makes the cut
Randall Brodeur

As is tradition at Eater, we close the year with a survey of food critics, writers, and bloggers. This year we posed eight questions, from meal of the year, to top restaurant newcomers. All will be answered by the time we turn off the lights at the end of 2014. Responses have been cut, pasted, and unedited, for the most part. Readers, please do add your survey answers in the comments.

Q: What were your top newcomers of 2014?

Lesley Chesterman, The Gazette fine dining critic:
Manitoba, Salmigondis, Shinji.

Ève Dumas, La Presse food writer:
Balsam Inn, Gema, Bishop & Bagg, Majestique, June Rose, Salon Cardinal (big time!).

Andrée Harvey, ex-Voir food critic:
Mercuri, Serpent, Tapas24, Lili Co.

Marie-Claude Lortie, La Presse restaurant critic:
Ma'tine stands out as a really tasty and cool new spot for lunch and breakfast. Great space, fun dishes. I still remember my cold soup with melon and saucisse de Morteau from last summer. Brilliant!

Le Serpent quickly imposed itself as a fantastic addition to the dining scene. Great service, good wines, gorgeous space. Tasty food of course, although it is really the mix of all the ingredients that brings the experience to that next level. At first I was not too sure about the decor -- I just loved their predecessors and had to mourn Cluny for a bit -- but then I fell in love with the Pierre Dorion painting in the back and it made me love the space.

Manitoba wowed me from the start. The space is very nice: big and full of air and light and a bit rustic yet classy. I love how they cook wild ingredients in a very creative way. They don't stop making that extra efforts just because they think it's so hot to do foraging. They go further, they cook, they try stuff and they look for good flavors and that's important.

Sumac: great Middle Eastern flavors in a very casual but beautiful modern space near Atwater market. Great addition to the West end.

Saka-Ba: I just love ramen and this place, overseen by Japanese chef Junichi Ikematsu, makes really good ramen. And I love the manga atmosphere created by designer Jean-Pierre Viau. Only problem with the place: I wish it were open for lunch.

Patrice Pâtissier for just incredible desserts.

Gildas Meneu, Voir food critic, creator of le gourmet galopin blog:
L'exotisme et les saveurs de Sefa. Le décor et l'ambiance de la Brasserie Bernard. La générosité des plats du Salmigondis. L'audace culinaire du Manitoba. La finesse toute italienne du Barcola. La folie sympathique du Majestique.

Sarah Musgrave, The Gazette casual dining critic, enRoute magazine editor:
Gia Ba, Ma'tine, Sumac, Gema, Cafe Parvis, Sammi & Soupe Dumplings.