RIP: 19 shuttered Montreal bars and restaurants that we'll miss
With the most restaurants per capita in North America, and more watering holes than a person could reasonably frequent in a lifetime, it’s little wonder that there are frequent closures in Montreal's dining & drinking scene. This year, however, we saw an unprecedented number of iconic places shuttering their doors -- here’s a roundup of some of the better Montreal bars and restaurants to have flipped the sign permanently...
With the huge changeover around St. Laurent, it’s only somewhat surprising that Biarritz did not survive the onslaught of new tapas restaurants. It will nonetheless be missed for the care that its staff has shown to diners, for its incredible brunch, and for being a reliable go-to place for a good meal.
The supper club and bar opened by Simple Plan guitarist Jeff Stinco closed in September after a cease-and-desist order from the family of legendary nightclub owner Rufus Rockhead. It turns out that the Rockhead household didn’t exactly authorize the use of the name for Stinco’s establishment. But fear not, for Stinco announced that Shinji, the wildly successful sushi place next door, will expand onto the premises.
Another famed old-timer shut its doors this December, and with 82 years (!) in business, this family-owned restaurant is the longest-surviving eatery on our list. We will miss Magnan’s hearty roast beef -- arguably the best of its kind in Montreal -- and its old-world feel.
Le Paris Beurre
This iconic French bistro will be shutting its doors on December 23rd after 30 years in the biz. Despite the excellent menu and honest Parisian fare, the restaurant has found difficulty attracting new customers and has been seeing its diners aging and dwindling over the years.
With the fall of Restaurant Globe, Montreal loses another high-end dining institution. The Globe closed its doors on Oct. 11th, 2014, after 21 years on The Main. It leaves behind an illustrious history as one of Montreal’s most well-known supper clubs, and many disappointed fans.
The Beaver Club
When you close the doors on a restaurant that has fed the likes of Fidel Castro, the Dalai Lama, and Queen Elizabeth II, you know the times, they are a-changing. After more than 50 years of serving gourmet meals to very rich fur traders, the oldest gastronomic club in Canada officially closed its doors in March -- only to become even more exclusive and focus on small private events.
For the longest time, you could always count on getting quality and healthful Mexican food at Itacate. However, after moving shops and expanding a few years back, this eatery seemed to have lost its footing and never really recovered.
Pho Nam Do
Montreal saw another very popular family-run place close down with the loss of Pho Nam Do. Always welcoming and often full, it’s unclear why it shut its doors after 15 years. Whatever the back story, we will miss the restaurant’s homey, generous portions of steaming Vietnamese pho.
Showing that it’s not enough to have a diverse menu, kosher options, and fancy ingredients, Jessie’s Brulangerie closed its doors in the fall. Gone are the gluten-free cookies, vegan wraps, and layered salads -- they will be missed.
Borne out of a team of industry heavy hitters and spearheaded by Chef Simon Mathys, Racines served small, appetizer-style plates that showcased well-executed simple ingredients. Initially closed for the summer, Racines simply never reopened.
Golden Square Mile
It seems that too big to fail is not a concept when it comes to Montreal’s restaurant scene. In fact, it seems like Frunchroom went too big, too fast, and consequently failed. We will miss the Chicago-style pizzas and jazzy, French Montreal-inspired ambiance.
David Schmidt’s brainchild Cafe Sardine/Iwashi quickly became one of the most popular establishments in the city. Though the complex shut its doors just this fall, it is not goodbye for good: Sardine is being transformed into Maison Sociale, while Iwasha moved to the newly opened, glitzy late-night eatery Thazard.
This choice location for all-you-can-eat sushi and Chinese/Thai fare closed in March. This place stood out because not only could you fill up on sushi at a very reasonable price, but the rolls were plump, the ingredients fresh, the choices extensive, and the execution consistently good.
Au Bon Jack
The sandwich shop that named all of its wares after famous Jacks, including reviled serial killer of women Jack the Ripper, closed its doors in April by municipal decree after several run-ins with authorities.
What was at one point the city’s best Italian restaurant, whose cellar held an estimated 35k wine bottles, served its last plate of pasta on September 12th. The end came after more than 30 years and a recent heart-wrenching decline, brought on by the departure of founder Moreno de Marchi in 2010.
This popular Montreal club, which has been a gathering spot for some of the most fashion-forward members of the gay and straight communities, unexpectedly said goodbye to its friends with a last hoorah on July 5th.
The Claremont Cafe
After 10 years of serving standard bistro fare with local influences and ingredients alongside inventive specials inspired by world cuisine, the owners have finally called it quits. But we will miss the restaurant’s bold flavours and ever-changing menu.
If 2014 was the year that Montreal’s bistros closed, then Le Continental was undoubtedly one of the biggest losses. We will greatly miss one of the city’s best bets for consistently good food, flawless execution, and classic dishes -- a place that had been a mainstay for 27 years.
An acclaimed and very busy lunch spot in Old Montreal that became well-known for its clean design, refreshing juices, and mouth-watering sandwich combos closed in June in order to look for a bigger space. We hope to see it back on the block.