That's definitely the reality for many of us, but not all, because there are Montreal restaurants solely reserved for the ritzy, or those who want to pretend like they are for a night. If you're like me, you probably fall into that latter category, saving up for weeks to spend on a single evening of fine dining.
Once you do have the funds required, however, a night out at one of Montreal's premiere high-class eateries is truly an amazing experience. For some inspiration (or simply to salivate) check out these eleven Montreal restaurants you wish you could afford.
1227 de La Montagne
Headed by chef Jérôme Ferrer, Europea offers a French dining experience that is truly like no other. Order the "signature" 12-course tasting menu for about $120, and you can enjoy such delicacies as red risotto with shrimp and beets, pan-seared scallops with sesame sauce, a braised beef sundae with béarnaise sauce, cornish hen cooked in breakable clay, and so much more.
Of course, you can order à la carte, but you'll still be spending a fair amount of money. Even the poutine (made with Québec BBQ pulled pork, porto reduced gravy, béarnaise sauce and foie gras shavings) will cost you $22.50.
240 Laurier W
In comparison to some of the other spots on this list, Plateau wine-bar M.Mme is actually somewhat affordable, with main dishes costing you about $30. Or you could get a 4-course tasting menu for 75$, letting you try dishes like marinated leeks, mozzarella di buffala, roast duck with beetroot puree, and rôti de porc au lait.
But M.Mme is a wine bar, so you can't really enjoy a meal there without a few glasses of red or white, if not a bottle. And with M.Mme's incredibly extensive list of wines, you'll no doubt find a bottle that will compliment your meal, while adding a fair bit more to your bill.
Le Club Chasse et Pêche
Walk into Le Club Chasse et Pêche and you know you're in for a fine-dining experience. Outfitted with a lodge-esque ambiance, the low lighting and sleek-yet-rustic decor prepare you for an array of colourful flavours.
While anything on the menu is a solid choice, patrons of Le Club Chasse et Peche rave for the braised piglet risotto with foie gras, an appetizer that will start your meal on the right foot. Add in the roasted duck (served with sour cherries in a balsamic sauce) and the one of the restaurant's amazing desserts (recommendation goes to "The Bomb, a caramel-chocolate tart with 80& chocolate sorbet) and you'll completely forget about the $100 bill (and that's just for you).
900 Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle
Ranked as one of the top 100 restaurants in the world (and the only Canadian restaurant on the list) by Elite Traveler Magazine, Toqué!'s reputation truly precedes itself. And the restaurant's distinction as one of the best in the city isn't exactly new. Opened in 1993 as a culinary establishment focused on market-fresh ingredients, Toqué! has consistently received numerous distinctions, including a CAA Five Diamond Rating.
When it comes to the actual food, Toqué! boasts a regularly changing menu, along with a tasting menu that will let you sample the best dishes for $129. There's even a wine-pairing option, allowing you to perfectly accompany every dish with a glass of vino. Of course, the wine will cost you a bit more, putting your bill close to the $200 mark.
426 Saint Gabriel
Built in 1688, Auberge Saint-Gabriel is the very first "auberge" on the continent, and one of the oldest bars, as it received its liquor licence in 1754. Modernly, Auberge Saint-Gabriel is a monument to fine Québécois cuisine. Veal cheek braised in Porto ($34), squid ink ravioli ($29), suckling pig from straight from a farm in Quebec City ($49), and trout confit ($14) are but a selection of the high-quality dishes you can order, all made with the freshest ingredients you can find.
Rib 'N Reef
When going out for steak, you need to be prepared to drop some serious dollars if you want quality. And while Montreal is home to several esteemed steakhouses (like Moishe's), Rib 'N Reef remains a premiere option, even after 52 years of service.
Ageing their beef in-house, using both the classic "wet aging" and old-world "dry aging" methods, Rib 'N Reef's steaks are a cut (pun alert) above the competition. Every cut of meat will cost you at least $50, but if you want to get real ritzy, order the Sirloin “Flambée Au Poivre” for $74.
Rib 'N Reef is also well known for their seafood menu, too, boasting dishes like Alaskan King crab legs, grilled jumbo shrimp, and à La Provençale scallops. You know, if your dining party isn't into red meat.
Les 400 Coups
400 Notre-Dame E
We've already seen several restaurants on this list claim to uphold the tenement of "fresh and local ingredients," and they do, but Les 400 Coups takes things a step further. Headed by Chef Guillaume Cantin and pastry chef Brian Verstraten, both of whom use seasonal flavours as inspiration, Les 400 Coups menu even goes as far as to saying where the dish's ingredients actually come from.
St-Pierre Lake catfish, rabbit from Besnier Farm, and duck magret from La Canardière Farm can be found on Les 400 Coups menu, a showcasing of the restaurant's commitment to fresh and locally produced cuisine. Order a five-course tasting menu for $75 (an extra $45 for wine pairings) and enjoy the best the restaurant has to offer.
1228 Sherbrooke W
Sharing a space with the Ritz-Carlton, Maison Boulud boasts a culinary adventure rooted in traditional French cuisine with a New York City flair thanks to head chef Daniel Boulud's rich experiences. With a brunch, lunch, dinner, and bar menu, Maison Boulud has dishes for almost every time of day, but for the best experience, go for the $98 6-course tasting menu for supper.
Razor clam salad, German butterball potato truffle gratin, a plethora of handmade pastas, and roasted rack of lamb with artichoke puree are among the taste-ables on Maison Boulud dinner menu, all of which beg to be paired with the large list of wines the restaurant always has on-hand and ready to pair with your meal.
156 Laurier W
Taking sushi to new heights of class, Jun I offers a Japanese eating experience that is like no other in the city. At first glance at the menu, which offers a selection of appetizers, sashimi, and makis, you may not consider Jun I to be that expensive. But once you factor in the fact that you'll be ordering multiples of everything, the bill certainly racks up. Not that you'll be complaining, because Jun I offers the freshest and most delicious sushi and sashimi in Montreal, save only perhaps for Park.
104 Laurier W
Simple, yet elegant, the cuisine of La Chronique isn't necessarily over-the-top or indulgent, but it is purely delicious. Headed by one of Montreal's most esteemed chefs, Marc De Canck, along with the younger but-no-less-talented Olivier de Montigny, the two-story Laurier street restaurant has long since been regarded as the epitome of fine dining in Montreal.
Serving both lunch (which is a tad bit more affordable) and dinner, La Chronique's menu offers an array of classic French dishes, with many featuring a modern twist. Monthly set-menus are available at La Chronique, ensuring you can enjoy the freshest flavours available, set at $90 and $150 with wine pairings. And given the very extensive wine list at La Chronique, splurging on the wine pairing menu is definitely well worth the added price.
2491 Notre-Dame W
Far more than just a steakhouse, Joe Beef is the culinary gem of the Sud-Ouest, a title its maintained for years. Headed by Frederic Morin and David McMillan, Joe Beef may not seem like a ritzy dining restaurant, at least not upon entering and looking at the menu.
But while the atmosphere is laid back and the list of dishes include such gluttonous creations as a Foie Gras Double Down sandwich and lobster spaghetti, Joe Beef is all about high-class eating, as you can see from the prices on their chalkboard-style menu. Using fresh ingredients prepared by expert chefs, the tastes of Joe Beef are well worth the price.