The food of Montreal restaurants reflects the city’s early shifting alliances, with explorers and foreign governments all angling to take control of the lucrative fur trade operating along the shores of the Saint Lawrence River. The local cuisine is a melting pot of influences from indigenous, English, and French roots which has been reinventing itself for centuries.
The harsh winters meant that interlopers from Europe were ill-equipped to feed themselves and could not have survived without the help of the local inhabitants. From their intimate knowledge of land and environment, members of the local tribes educated the new arrivals on how to grow, preserve, prepare, and cook the foods that enabled a reasonable existence over the winter.
Montreal Restaurants — Our Four Best
So it’s no surprise that Montreal’s food culture is rich in Native Indian influence and very local-centric. A word that you hear often when talking with Montreal chefs is “terroir”. What does it mean? People who cook and eat terroir will always prefer to use ingredients that were produced in the region. It signifies that a place has a unique flavor which is cultivated by growing in situ, from the local dirt, breathing the local air. You hear this term bandied about in reference to wine but it can apply to anything grown or raised. Hearing it mentioned is a good sign that you are in the presence of someone with a fine-tuned sense of flavor and local culture, who’s going to whip up some great food!
Off we go then on our hunt for the four best Montreal restaurants that approach their menus with a strong emphasis on terroir.
It’s lunch time and we are heading to HÀO: Comptoir Asiatique (Asian Counter) in Plateau Mont-Royal, a former working class neighborhood famous for its colorful houses, and now the home to many young professional “Montrealers”.