Top Montreal brUNCH (the lunchy kind)
Brunch is a word made up breakfast and lunch, we all know the breakfasty dishes like pancake stacks, waffles, and eggs Benedict but what about rolling out some gravlax, some sweetbreads, or some black codd in the morning? Maybe re-invent brunch and push the boundaries a little more towards the lunch side of brunch. The following restaurants are those that are definitely not your average bacon and eggs spots.
Lawrence (5201 Blvd. St. Laurent) made waves a few years ago when it broke out of their kitchen space in The Sparrow after having rave reviews and lineups. They moved across the street and settled into their current location on 5201 Blvd. St. Laurent. They take a fresh and local approach to brunch while making it refined. What this means is that they walk the tightrope between brunch and lunch. Do not expect your average eggs and bacon here, although do expect some incredible creations like a french toast that still has us line up to get taste, and dishes with a focus on fish that somehow work for brunch. There is no questioning that Lawrence has solidified it’s place as a Montreal go to spot, just look at the lineup of hungry patrons on the weekend. Should we draw any criticism it would be that the lineup is long, the menu is short and your bill can climb. That being said, you pay for what you get and the lineups are often there for a reason. Even if your choice may be limited I follow the Gordon Ramsay approach of a short menu and what’s on it is done excellently.
Lemeac (1045 avenue Laurier Ouest) is a monument to the fancy Montreal brunch, with an air of refinement, proper service, and exquisite meals. Lemeac does not do normal brunch – they take a French fine dining approach to brunch. For years they have been the go-to spot for a fancy brunch. Their french toast is the stuff legends are made out of with an imposing block of bread: sweet and delicious in every bite. It’s hard to find fault with Lemeac’s brunch and the only thing we can find is that the menu doesn’t really change much, so if you are looking for a place with loads of options then you will not find it here. Lemeac does what they do well – it’s great, it’s fancy, and they have one of the best french toast/pain perdu in the city.
Chien Fumant (4710 rue De Lanaudière) is small, funky and creative. They have inspirational brunch dishes and get really creative with the menu. Seating capacity is small, the decor is fun, and it is always a treat when bringing people in from out of town. Chien Fumant is a always a smart choice any time, no matter what the occasion. Items on the menu have a strong link to classic brunch dishes while managing to use fresh, tasty and seasonal ingredients.
H4C (538 Place Saint-Henri) is St Henri’s brunch heavy-weight in an area where restaurants are popping up constantly. H4C quickly established itself in having a solid brunch presence. Dishes here are creative and will have items not like your classic brunch. Sweetbreads amongst other items are something you can find on the menu showcasing that brunch is not only eggs and bacon but can use ingredients we often see at dinner time. Some people may get scared away by dishes such as sweetbreads and if the menu does not agree with you then you are out of luck. If you enjoy the items on the menu then you will adore H4C and keep coming back.
Maison Publique (4720 Rue Marquette) is Derek Dammann’s baby. Upon opening Maison Publique, they immediately started serving brunch. The dishes are hearty, filling and are more lunch that breakfast inspired. Some dishes like pancakes do bring it back to its morning roots. Although, every dish has a standout taste. The venue is large, you get that pub feeling and every dish is a winner. Of all the restaurants that are a little more lunch focused, Maison Publique, on some weeks, really comes closest to lunch. On some occasions, I have felt that they have almost forgotten the breakfasty part of Brunch.
Ma’tine, (1310 Boulevard de Maisonneuve Est) in very little time, has turned heads. This new project of the Daniel-Six brothers (Jérémy and Maxime), who brought us Micro Resto La Famile, has brought a wildly creative expression of brunch genius. With a constantly changing menu you are guaranteed a surprise every time you go. The menu has items such as bacon slabs which are closer to ham than bacon because of their incredible size, and blood sausage with a potato broth that are not your average brunch dishes. Their prices include tax and the bill is quite fair even though coffee is not included. The only negative item would be that true brunch purists may have to take too large a leap to try dishes with blood pudding or fish in the morning, so be cognizant of what you are looking for.
The Winner is?????
Having to chose a winner is tricky because you have some established places and some new ones. Each on this list is worth going to although Ma’tine is the one that took our breath away. As a new place, we were impressed even though we had seen the work of the Daniel Six brothers before. We walked in with the bar set high and they surpassed it. Creativity is at an all time high and the taste is not compromised in anyway shape or form.