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Best bets for dining in Montreal

Best bets for dining in Montreal:  Frommer's recommendations for every taste and budget
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Best Spot for a Business Lunch: Otto, in the new W Hôtel, 901 Square Victoria, at rue St-Antoine (tel. 514/395-3183), won't disappoint, especially the young, hip international execs who feel both the restaurant and the hotel speak to their needs and desires.

Best Spot for a Celebration: No need to rake in stacks of chips at the gambling tables in the casino to join the festive crowd at Nuances, 1 av. du Casino (tel. 514/392-2708), the gracious multistarred temple de cuisine on the top floor of the casino. You'll get superb service, astonishing food, and spectacular views of the skyline to boot.

Best Wine List: An award-winning designer bar, BU, 5245 bd. St-Laurent, at avenue Fairmont (tel. 514/276-0249), serves food, but wine wags the dog. The long card lists dozens of bottlings simply not seen anywhere else, and the manager has an encyclopedic knowledge of his cellar.

Best Decor: With its exposed brick-and-stone walls, ceiling-high shelves of wine behind the handsomely turned-out center bar, and candle flames flickering in the breezes through the big open windows along the front and side, Modavie, 1 rue St-Paul ouest in Vieux-Montréal (tel. 514/287-9582), pleases the eye at every turn.

Best Value: At lunch, the all-you-can-eat Indian buffet at Le Taj, 2077 rue Stanley, near rue Sherbrooke (tel. 514/845-9015), is a wonder. At dinner, even the expensive four-course table d'hôte at Le Bourlingueur, 363 St-François-Xavier, at rue St-Paul (tel. 514/845-3646), comes in under C$17 (US$14).

Best for Kids: On the assumption that a kid who doesn't like pizza is as rare as fish feathers, get over to Pizzédélic, on The Main at 3509 bd. St-Laurent, near rue Sherbrooke (tel. 514/282-6784). They have all manner of toppings, from the utterly conventional to just short of odd, and pastas too -- all to be eaten while looking out at the street, or while enjoying the open terrace in the back.

Best Italian Cuisine: Super-chic Buona Notte, 3518 bd. St-Laurent, near rue Sherbrooke (tel. 514/848-0644), may look as if it's more concerned with being a place to be seen than with what it sends out of the kitchen, but the pastas, focaccias, and risottos rival the occasional celebrity sightings.

Best Thai Cuisine: Chao Phraya, 50 av. Laurier ouest, near boulevard St-Laurent (tel. 514/272-5339), purveys examples of a most complex Asian cooking style at good value in a sophisticated setting that eschews snarling gold temple dogs.

Best Seafood: Few Montréal restos focus on fish, although most make a requisite bow to the sea. At Maestro S.V.P., 3615 bd. St-Laurent, near rue Prince Arthur (tel. 514/842-6447), land-based dishes are in the minority and the raw bar rules, producing a memorable plateau de fruits de mar. Another candidate is Café Ferreira, 1446 rue Peel (near bd. Maissonnueve) tel. 514/848-0988), which does extremely well by its repertoire of marine-focused Portuguese cuisine.

Best Guilty Treats: Poutine is a plate of french fries drenched with gravy with cheese curds, a bedrock Québec comfort food. At Au Pied de Cochon, 536 rue Duluth, near rue St-Hubert (tel. 514/281-1116), the dish is elevated to mid-haute levels with the addition of foie gras.

Best Pizza: The name says it all: Pizzédélic, where they do anything from same-old, same-old tomato and cheese to cutting-edge designer concoctions with unlikely toppings like snails.

Best Late-Night Dining: Plateau Mont-Royal's most Parisian bistro, L'Express, 3927 rue St-Denis, at Rue Roy (tel. 514/845-5333), doesn't need a sign out front, because it stays full nightly until 3am (Sun only until 2am). Simple but toothsome recipes prepared with the freshest ingredients keep the night owls coming.

Best Outdoor Dining: Serious food isn't the lure at Le Jardin Nelson, 407 place Jacques-Cartier (tel. 514/861-5731). Music -- classical or jazz -- is what draws the crowds, who partake of sweet or savory crepes or very good pizzas under the crabapple tree in the garden.

Best People-Watching: Any of a dozen cafes along St-Denis will fit this bill, especially on weekends, when the Plateau Mont-Royal boulevard comes alive. But Café Cherrier, 3635 rue St-Denis, at rue Cherrier (tel. 514/843-4308), might be the most fun, if you can find a seat on the wraparound terrace.

Best Steaks: Moishes, at 3961 bd. St-Laurent, near rue Prince Arthur (tel. 514/845-3509), has had decades to perfect its charbroiling techniques and uses only real prime beef. It's a pleasure to pull up a chair in the recently redecorated premises. Check your cholesterol concerns at the door and pay up your credit cards.

Best Brunch: Crepes with multitudes of fillings make for Frenchified brunches at Le Jardin Nelson, which are served in the garden, inside, or on the terrace facing place Jacques-Cartier.

Best Smoked Meat: It'll only throw another log on the local battle for the title of "best smoked meat," which has blazed for at least a century, but Chez Schwartz Charcuterie Hébraïque de Montréal on The Main at 3895 bd. St-Laurent, north of rue Prince-Arthur (tel. 514/842-4813), serves up the definitive version of this untransplantable deli treat.

Best Sandwiches: Open only from early morning to midafternoon, Titanic, 45 rue St-Pierre, near rue Le Moyne (tel. 514/849-0894), puts tasty, unusual ingredients between split halves of freshly baked baguettes with uncommon artistry. For burgers, it's impossible to argue with the local conviction that the biggest, juiciest ones are assembled at La Paryse, 302 rue Ontario, at rue Sanguinet (tel. 514/842-2040).

Best Bagels: Montréal's bagels are clearly superior to versions produced south of the border, and St-Viateur Bagel & Café, at 1127 av. Mont-Royal est, near rue La Roche (tel. 514/528-6361), is the place to assess that claim.

Best New Restaurant: Hotel restaurants are getting a good name with the ongoing appearances of such exciting rooms as Otto, in the W Hôtel, 901 Square Victoria (tel. 514/395-3183). Both guests and waitstaff are uncommonly attractive, and the progressive Italian menu is deeply satisfying.

Best Restaurant, Period: Ever-questing Normand Laprise and partner Christine Lamarche keep Toqué!, 900 place Jean-Paul Riopelle, near rue St-Antoine (tel. 514/499-2084), in a league of its own. It's postmodern, it's post-nouvelle, it's dazzling! Nipping at their heels, though, is Les Chevres, 1201 rue Van Horne, at avenue Bloomfield (tel. 514/270-1119), where vegetables and a very few meats and fishes are elevated to haute status.

For a complete listing of Frommer's-reviewed restaurants, visit our online dining index.

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