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The city’s bellwether bistro feels even more indispensable since the untimely death of founder Colette Brossoit in 2014.But the oh-so-classic French offerings at this day-and-night favourite have stayed just as good, from tartare to steak.In Montréal Plaza, ex Toqué chef Charles-Antoine Crête, with partners Sébastien Blanchette (front-of-house) and Cheryl Johnson (chef), wanted to provide a place where “people feel welcome and good, like at home.” The menu can be surprising, yet simple — items like whelk gratiné with miso butter are light on bells and whistles, but not on flavour.Exactly who serves the best pho in Montreal is a debatable question (this place and Pho Lien on Côte-des-Neiges are two top contenders), but where humble Vietnamese restaurant Pho Tay Ho gets the edge is the rest of its menu.With a menu that centres around small plates and plenty of seasonal fare chef David Ollu’s colourful, creative plates keep the elements limited, and let the ingredients speak for themselves. Nearly a decade on, Marc-André Royal and newer chef Lindsay Mc Laren have yet to slow down.French technique meets high-end bistro fare and Québécois produce on a satisfyingly earthy menu that feels both classic and adventurous, all in one.

Bring a group, as the food is eminently shareable, and prepare yourself for flavour bombs from the rich, tangy shanklish salad to a za’atar-seasoned grilled swordfish.

It’s difficult to remember where Montreal’s restaurant scene was before Martin Picard wrote his love letter to Quebec cuisine in the form of Au Pied de Cochon, open since 2001.

Picard has been credited with elevating poutine from a maligned, greasy snack to a Québécois culinary icon with his foie gras-laden take on it, but there’s much more to Au Pied de Cochon than that (although there is a This immaculately white 20-year-old temple of French gastronomy has a “save it for a special occasion” rep, but the food is more playful than most imagine; items like the beloved corn-lobster soup are decidedly French, but not mired in classicism.

All in all, it’s not just for that yearly anniversary dinner.

Antonio Park’s eponymous restaurant may be the best known place to munch on high-end maki in Montreal, but it would be unwise to overlook chef Junichi Ikematsu’s Mile End restaurant.

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