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Food Writers Name Montreal’s Biggest Dining Surprises of 2019

Really good fried chicken was just one lovely surprise on the city’s food scene this year

A white paper bucket of fried chicken with Roch Le Coq printed on the front.
Fried chicken at Roch Le Coq, a surprise for blogger Élise Tastet
Roch Le Coq/Supplied

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 nine 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 2019. Responses are unedited, except for grammar and translations, which are italicized.

Q: What was the biggest dining surprise of 2019?

Jean-Philippe Tastet, Le Devoir dining critic:

The enthustiastic welcome given by customers to food halls.

Joanna Fox, Montreal Gazette dining critic:

Roch le Coq, who knew?

Mallory Frayn, Eater Montreal contributor:

The dessert tasting at Ratafia with drink pairings. Pairing drinks with sweets isn’t easy but they nailed it.

Iris Gagnon-Paradis, La Presse restaurant reporter and critic:

Des jeunes chefs inventifs qui n’ont pas peur de sortir des sentiers battus, d’expérimenter et d’essayer de nouvelles formules.

Young, inventive chefs who aren’t afraid to go off the beaten path, experiment, and try new formulas.

Amie Watson, Montreal Gazette food columnist:

How good food halls can be. Time Out came out of nowhere, it seems, though we should have expected it because the giant company has had time to perfect the concept in other cities. Now Le Cathcart has its work cut out for it.

Isa Tousignant, Montreal Gazette food columnist:

Hm, lofty question! I feel Maman kind of crept on the scene. It’s super chill and down-home, not revolutionary or anything, but it’s a real delightful little place with a very distinct flavour, both literally (Californian style salads and vegetable-forward freshness everywhere) and in terms of atmosphere. Light, bright, chill.

JP Karwacki, Time Out Montreal editor:

For me, it’s a tie between the floodgates opening on food halls in town, folks trying their hand at good New York-style pies, and the sudden explosion of vegan and vegetarian-friendly options — from fine dining and pub food to ramen and sushi — by mid-2019.

Élise Tastet, Tastet blog:

Roch le Coq — amazing fried chicken & Coq de l’Est — I wanted to go for a long time and it was amazing.

Mayssam Samaha, Will Travel For Food blog:

By far the biggest surprise was Vanya and Marc-Olivier leaving the Joe Beef family, what a surprise!

Daniel Bromberg, Eater Montreal contributor:

The cost! It’s hard to pay less than $50 per person for a casual night out. One plate, one glass plus tax and’s getting expensive no matter where or what you’re eating.

Tommy Dion, critic and writer, blogger for Le Cuisinomane:

Laval. First, Oregon wine bar. Second, Westwood. Yes, in Laval!


1950 Rue Claude-Gagné #312, Laval, QC H7N 5H9 Visit Website

Roch le Coq

1541 Avenue Van Horne, Outremont, QC H2V 1L4 (514) 637-2337 Visit Website

Le Coq de l'Est

8803, rue Hochelaga, Montreal, QC H1L 2N1 (438) 385-9455

Time Out Market Montreal

705 Rue Ste-Catherine O, Montreal, QC H3B 4G5 Visit Website


6778 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC H2S 3C7 (514) 543-8033 Visit Website


1524 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montreal, QC H3C 1L1 514-933-1412 Visit Website