As is tradition at Eater, we close the year with a survey of food critics, writers, bloggers, and people about town. This year we posed eight questions, from meal of the year, to top restaurant newcomers. All will be revealed by the time we turn off the lights at the end of 2017. Responses are unedited, except for grammar.
Q: What was the biggest dining surprise of 2017?
Lesley Chesterman, Montreal Gazette dining critic:
For a change, a surprising number of excellent desserts.
Jean-Philippe Tastet, Le Devoir dining critic:
Bistro Rosie and Baumann Smokehouse [in Sherbrooke].
Marie-Claude Lortie, La Presse dining critic:
I don’t think I had one single huge restaurant surprise in 2017, but I had a really cool surprising lunch at Le Butterblume, where Julie Romano and Nadine Boudreau do a really cool job at making sure you’re well fed in a really simple and esthetically pleasing environment. I love that they also sell objects they love. I went there last winter and I was not expecting much, and I was tired and fed up with the slush and the cold. I sat there by myself and the egg dish arrived and it was just perfect. And everything else around me was cool and calm. And I left with a huge smile.
Ian Harrison, Ricardo magazine; Eater Montreal founding editor:
Hôtel Herman's shutter.
Mallory Frayn, Eater Montreal contributor:
I ate at Hôtel Herman about a week before it closed, and still regularly think about the final course they brought us. My description won't do it justice but it was a melange of sea buckthorn granita, chocolate crumble, and who knows what else. It didn't look like much, but wowed in the flavour department. I typically don't opt for "lighter" desserts but it was the perfect balance of acidity, sweetness, and just a touch of cocoa that satisfied my chocoholic heart.
Iris Paradis-Gagnon, La Presse restaurant reporter and critic:
Young chefs that moved to Montreal and brought their refreshing influences and skills to the scene. I’m thinking of Saad Fouad Bahbahani at Café Melbourne and his ridiculously good looking brunches, Jeff Downs at Parasol, the summer pop-up at Maïs, and the trio of owners at Fieldstone, originally from Vancouver, but with Mexican and Cambodian origins.
Élise Tastet, Tastet blog:
Bistro Rosie. Having these nice people back in a restaurant was a great surprise. And Foodchain — I think the concept is brilliant. I also thought the food at Épicerie Pumpui was delicious. And I am very happy Phil Viens finally has his charcuterie spot [Aliments Viens].
Mélanie Boudreau, La Pique-Assiette blog:
Pop-up restaurant Parasol, located inside taqueria Maïs in Mile End. Good food, good wine, good vibes.
Risa Dickens, Senior Community and Marketing Director at Yelp Montreal:
Cuisine Bangkok reopening in the Village, like a glorious phoenix from the rat filled ashes of the Faubourg.
Allison Van Rassel, food columnist at CBC/Radio-Canada Quebec City (note: these are Quebec City restaurants):
Fin Gourmet’s brunch menu was surprisingly one of my favourite experiences in Quebec City in 2017. I have never been offered such a simple, yet extremely delicate dish of scrambled eggs in any other restaurant. Fin Gourmet is definitely Quebec City’s best-kept secret for brunch. Or was until now.