By STEVEN HOWELL Press-Republican
---- — MONTREAL — Bon appétit!
Good taste abounds with Taste MTL, the second edition of Montreal Restaurant Week, which comes to town Friday and runs through Monday, Nov. 11. The foodie event features discounted-priced menus, late-night menu offerings, culinary tours and workshops.
The main premise of Restaurant Week is to offer specially discounted menus at 125 participating restaurants throughout the city. Each restaurant serves up a three-course meal — appetizer, main, dessert — at a great price. Depending on the restaurant, you pay $19, $29 or $39. Here are a few best restaurant bets. Reservations are highly recommended.
▶ Located in the Plateau, Au Cinquieme Peche offers indigenous Quebec nouvelle cuisine with a special menu that costs $39. For starters, sample foie gras parfait with maple glazed chestnuts and cranberry sauce. For mains, try the duck breast gnocchi-flette with maple lacquered Brussels sprout. Top the evening off with a wintergreen panna cotta and pistachio biscotti. The bistro space proves classy and intimate and comes with a song — singers of the Montreal Opera share a tune or two in the restaurant at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5. The restaurant is at 4475 St. Denis St. Call (514) 286-0123 or visit www.aucinquiemepeche.com for more information.
▶ Just down the block, another Plateau foodie fave is Bistro Cocagne, where the menu is oh-so French and the atmosphere is oh-so-laid back. Try the braised-meat ravioli, mushroom, caramelized onion and truffle oil appetizer followed by the white pudding bursting with puréed potatoes, mixed mushrooms and pistachio oil. The finale white-chocolate and vanilla-cream pot should hit your sweet spot just right. The menu costs $39. Bistro Cocagne is at 3842 St. Denis St. For details, call (514) 283-0700 or visit www.bistrococagne.com.
▶ Downtown offers a number of well-established eateries joining Taste MTL. Renoir, located at the Sofitel Hotel, is a best bet for a special date. On the appetizer menu is an autumn squash risotto highlighted with arugula and burgundy black truffle. For entrees, the island arctic char with buttered cabbages and roasted Jerusalem artichokes gets all warmed up with a maple water drizzle. And in keeping with the season, Naomi’s apple tart features hints of maple and oats. The cost is $39. The hotel is at 1155 Sherbrooke St. W. Call (514) 788-3038 or visit www.restaurant-renoir.com to learn more.
▶ After all these years, Newtown remains a Crescent Street downtown staple complete with lounge, terrace and full-on hipster vibe. The special evening menu is an absolute bargain at $19. The maple pumpkin soup with bacon and cheddar grissini, the free-range chicken confit cassoulet and the baba au rhum with maple chantilly cream is what to give a go. Newtown is at 1476 Crescent St. Call (514) 284-6555 or visit www.lenewtown.com for more information.
▶ Tucked away on Ontario Street in The Village, Le Carte Blanche is colorfully intimate on space and big on authentic French taste. Their special $39 menu includes a sautéed tiger prawn risotto with Parmesan and lime-zest appetizer; a beef filet with anchovy, tarragon and dried-tomato sauce trio main; and a traditional maple and old rum pudding chomeur that would make any Quebec grandma blush with envy. The restaurant is at 1159 Ontario St. E. For details, call (514) 313-8019 or visit www.restaurant-carteblanche.com.
▶ A few brew pubs add to the festive foodie week, too. The Montreal Brewing Co., located in the Pole des Rapides and Griffintown part of Montreal — the newest up-and-coming foodie neighborhood destination — offers a classy industrial vibe, refined resto-bar eats and hearty craft beer. Their $29 menu includes a Presqu’ile fondue with hearty red-pepper ketchup, a duck shepherd’s pie and a vanilla coffee stout pudding. The Brewing Co. is at 1485 Ottawa St. Call (514) 788-4505 or visit www.brasseurdemontreal.ca for information.
A number of culinary tours are also offered. An Evening Stroll in Old Montreal includes a 90-minute architectural walk complete with a sweet treat from Maple Delights, an appetizer prepared by the chef at Communion, and an after-stroll cocktail. It’s held Nov. 2, 8 and 9.
Other tours include Right in the Heart of Montreal on Nov. 1 and 7, An Evening Jaunt through Mile-End on Nov. 2 and 8 and Happy Hour in the Underground World of St. Henri on Nov. 1 and 7.
The 90-minute tours depart at 5:30 p.m. and cost $35. For more information and tour departure points, visit www.tourisme-montreal.org/tastemtl.
Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at iTunes.com.