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The Top Complaints About Dining Out in Montreal in 2019

Bad service and “unicorn food” were just two annoyances on the food scene this year


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 your biggest dining grievance of 2019?

Jean-Philippe Tastet, Le Devoir dining critic:

There seems to be confusion between “restaurant” and “night club”, with unbearable noise levels.

Joanna Fox, Montreal Gazette dining critic:

Being told I should order more dishes than I actually need. I can’t stand the waste of food, and money.

Mallory Frayn, Eater Montreal contributor:

Despite simple, homey food being “on-trend”, paying top dollar for a restaurant meal that I could just as easily make at home is always a kick in the pants. There still needs to be some sort of cheffy touch.

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

De la nouveauté, c’est bien. Mais plusieurs se lancent dans l’ouverture d’un restaurant sans évaluer sérieusement leur chance de survire après un an et proposent des concepts peu originaux ou sans véritable identité. D’où les innombrables fermetures de l’année. Ne s’improvise pas restaurateur qui veut!

Novelty is good, but a lot of people open up restaurants without seriously evaluating their chances of surviving beyond a year, and they put forward unoriginal concepts, or ideas without a strong identity — hence the innumerable closures this year. Being a restaurateur is not something to be improvised.

Amie Watson, Montreal Gazette food columnist:

Too many chefs doing vegetable-based small plates without the complexity of their meat or fish dishes. These ended up often being overly simple small plates that you could make at home with market-fresh vegetables and knife skills. Just because it’s vegetarian, doesn’t mean it should be boring.

Isa Tousignant, Montreal Gazette food columnist:

I’m just not feeling that grievance-ish right now! I guess low support for mainstays, with diners’ constant focus on new, brighter, better? That’s more of a societal problem. Do your local restaurants a favour and show them some love over the holidays. Bring them a card, tell them they’re awesome, give them big tips!

JP Karwacki, Time Out Montreal editor:

Big-box restaurants, where there’s more investment in a place’s design than there is towards essential aspects like the quality of a menu. For example, eating poorly conceived dishes in Westwood; the restaurant itself looks beautiful, stunning even, but don’t put kimchi in a Thai beef salad. That’s just wrong.

Élise Tastet, Tastet blog:

People’s egos, always. Never take yourself too seriously ;)

Mayssam Samaha, Will Travel For Food blog:

Bad ventilation, noisy restaurants, those ice creams or milkshakes with the content of a small fridge as a garnish.

Daniel Bromberg, Eater Montreal contributor:

For me, this always boils down to service. Some kitchens can have an off-night here or there, but when the service is consistently underwhelming, it ruins the experience entirely.

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

Too many restaurants. “Unicorn” dishes and all kinds of coloured food.