January 11, 2013 8:07 pm

Five of the best: Montreal steak-frites bistros

A taste of classic French cuisine on the streets of Canada’s francophone capital

Le Maistre

In Monkland Village, a busy commercial district teeming with restaurants, this relaxed bistro is compact but light and minimalist, graced by a chandelier and flowers. Juicy escargots, stiff with garlic and parsley, were followed by flank steak with shallot sauce. Both steak and frites were impeccable but, at $34, a little steep. There is also a pretty outdoor terrace and a small bar.

5700 Avenue de Monkland, Montreal, H4A 1E6; +1 514 481 2109

. . .

Leméac

Leméac is an à la mode bistro serving French classics to a young and vibrant crowd. Sitting at the long, sleek bar, we watched the bartenders make expert Martinis. Fish soup with croutons was sublime, followed by top-notch beef tartare with fries. The menu also tempts with crab cake, snail stew, and hanger steak. We finished with a sticky Vacherin with walnut bread and fruit compote.

Leméac, 1045 Avenue Laurier Ouest, Montreal, H2V 2L1; +1 514 270 0999

. . .

L’Express

L’Express is famous for offering a little bit of Paris on Montreal’s own Rue Saint-Denis

L’Express

The constantly busy L’Express is famous for offering a little bit of Paris on Montreal’s own Rue Saint-Denis. The bar runs the length of the narrow but sizeable room with its glass, gleaming brass and buzzing atmosphere. Black-and-white-clad waiters dish out good bread and home-cured pickles. The oysters, small, chewy and salty, were served with shallot vinegar and lemon and the onglet and frites could not be faulted, the former daubed in creamy garlic butter. The Ile Flottante was a sizeable island, but delicious nonetheless.

3927 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, H2W 2M3; +1 514 845 5333

. . .

L’Entrecôte St-Jean

The frites here are the best I have ever eaten. Cooked until golden in peanut oil, they were the width of a matchstick, perfectly salted and piping hot. At tables placed snugly together, diners have simple choices – either soup or salad followed by steak and those frites, and a glorious profiterole dessert. The salad is scattered with crunchy walnuts and the steak rare and chewy, topped with a mustard sauce.

2022 Peel Street, Montreal, H3A 2W5; +1 514 281 6492

. . .

Bistro Duo D

The open kitchen at Bistro Duo D crackles with atmosphere and the smells coming out of it made me want to eat the menu. We had freshest smoked salmon on a bed of baby leaves with a tangy dressing, followed by confit de canard (black Angus steak and frites are also on the menu) and crème brûlée. Bare-brick walls and brown and cream décor could be a bistro cliché but here it works.

1380 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montreal, H3C 1K8; +1 514 657 7144

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