After nearly a week of intensive reader voting, today we announce the winners of the eighth annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs and restaurants that made the largest impact on all 24 Eater cities over the past twelve months.
Here now are the establishments — from neighbourhood bistros and sake bars to natural wine purveyors and pastry places — that have taken the Montreal food world by storm. Thank you to everyone who voted last week, and congratulations to the winners of the readers’ choice and editors’ choice awards. Read on to learn more about this year’s best of the best. Editor's Choice winners will receive an illustrious tomato can trophy via FedEx, along with a full feature on Eater in the coming year.
Restaurant of the Year
Tiradito, 1076 Rue de Bleury (Downtown/Place des Arts)
October 2016 gave Montreal its first Nikkei restaurant in the form of Tiradito, where chef Marcel Larrea and team set about fusing Japanese and Peruvian cuisines into one exciting new offering. It was something novel for the city’s dining scene, for sure — but novelty alone doesn’t make a great restaurant, and Tiradito dutifully checked many other boxes.
Strong gastronomic offerings helped garner Tiradito its Eater Award: Larrea comes with experience at famed Lima restaurant Astrid y Gaston, and had already made a name for himself locally at now-defunct Village restaurant Mezcla. And Tiradito felt fresher than ever, with sharp ceviches, meaty anticuchos (grilled skewers of duck heart and more), and the eponymous tiraditos (a more Peruvian version of sashimi). Creative cocktails replete with pisco, and a sharp design that draws on art déco elements (see: a stunning centrepiece in the form of a nine-foot metal palm tree) all seal the deal on a great addition to downtown Montreal.
Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Tiradito
Chef of the Year
Bistro Rosie, 1498 Rue Bélanger (La Petite Patrie)
2017 was quite the return for Jérémy Daniel-Six: the chef and co-owner of Petite-Patrie newcomer Bistro Rosie seemed to go dormant after the closure of his hit Village brunch spot Ma’tine in 2016. And while some were no doubt pining for Daniel-Six to make a return to brunch service, he instead carved out a new niche for himself.
Rosie is a small dining room, and Daniel-Six correspondingly keeps a short, ever-rotating menu. And it’s a wise approach: it gives the chef room to devise new creations and more importantly, it ensures those dishes work before making it to customers’ mouths. Daniel-Six has somewhat of a classically French set of techniques, but shakes things up with dishes that often wade into sharper or spicier territory (satay sauces, galanga, and more), all the while dodging any sort of “fusion for the sake of fusion” issues.
Chef of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Marcel Larrea, Tiradito
Design of the Year
La Femme Fontaine, 6568 Boulevard St-Laurent (Little Italy)
With no shortage of professional designers in the city, numerous new restaurants and bars in the city have emerged with tightly-curated dining rooms, interiors with not a decorative object out of place, and (to be frank), aesthetics that are highly geared towards Instagram-friendliness. This year’s winner doesn’t really do those things — but La Femme Fontaine’s completely bizarre, yet endlessly engaging space conveys a greater sense of place than many other more-refined venues, and it’s all DIY, with the co-owners furnishing the space with thrift store objects and finds from the street.
It’s less chaotic than its predecessor (Bethlehem XXX), even though it’s headed up by the same owner, Brett Stabler. The 40-seat restaurant has a distinctly sultry, den-like feel to it, walking the line between casual restaurant and an aestheticized version of a slightly seedy afterhours sex dungeon. It’s all leavened by a collection of art objects centred around wholesome images of the feminine body: a clam on a pedestal, a mannequin converted into a light fixture, and various artistic nude sketches (then there’s the screens playing looped, red-hued videos that may not always be appetizing, but are certainly attention-grabbing). And it’s all bathed in a seductive red light. Other restaurants take note: there’s more to lighting than just dimmer switches and candles.
Design of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Kampai Garden
Affordable Restaurant of the Year
Café Bazin, 380 Victoria Avenue (Westmount)
It was great year for cheaper and more casual dining establishments in Montreal. Of particular note was the fact that many of those newcomers — from fresh pasta spots to fast casual salads — managed to captivate diners without peddling flash in the pan food trends. And part-patisserie, part-lunch bistro Café Bazin did it with flair.
As the name implies, pastry pro Bertrand Bazin is a key part of the operations — and it’s simply fantastic that his offerings are now available in a setting that’s regularly accessible to locals, instead of behind the elites-only walls of private dining club 357c. It’s boosted by chef de cuisine Takashi Horinoue on the savoury side, who also sticks to classics from vichyssoise to bourguignon — all in all, another restaurant that (co-)owner Antonio Park can be proud of.
Affordable Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Porco
Bar of the Year
Gokudo, 630 Rue Cathcart (Downtown)
Doing good drinks (be it cocktails, craft beer, wine, or otherwise) is obviously key for any good bar, but an excellent one needs more: it should have a certain welcoming ambiance, it should be conducive to socializing, and it needs a certain X-factor to make it special. And Gokudo gets the closest of any candidate this year. The cocktails, centred around sake, imported Japanese liqueurs, and generally novel elements like peppercorn syrup, feel fresh and well-composed. They’re not trying too hard to be out-there, yet there’s no feeling of having seen it all before. Add a chic — but not snobby — interior, and it’s a new boozy gem for the city, right in the heart of downtown.
Bar of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Snowbird Tiki Bar