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Best Restaurant Award 2024

Mon Lapin

From the very early days in 2018, there’s been alchemy here. This place is teamwork in action. The co-owners — co-chefs Marc-Olivier Frappier and Jessica Noël, co-sommeliers Vanya Filipovic and Alex Landry, and front-of-house manager Marc-Antoine Gélinas — bonded when working at the Joe Beef group’s Vin Papillon. From those generous, hospitable roots, they opened a modest restaurant on a street corner in Little Italy, hanging out their famed wooden rabbit shingle and setting out to explore Quebec’s terroir — and, most important, fashioning a unique dining experience.

We’re not a bistro, but it’s that vibe. It’s loud and there are no tablecloths. Mon Lapin co-owner — co-chef Jessica Noël

Menu descriptions are assertively minimalist and often mischievously confounding. Say, squash-blossom teléfono; chicken brined in sourdough; barbecued whelks; endives, seeds, pollen and caviar; Nanaimo bars with chestnuts and amaro. Each plate is a showcase for Quebec produce, as well as the chefs’ collective pleasure in juxtaposing unexpected flavour combinations.

Frappier and Noël finish each other’s culinary sentences — a garnish of lemon confit here or beans and bottarga there, veering apart only when he delves deeper into his Italian repertoire with something like a pillowy spinach strangolapreti, or she sets about creating a joyful dessert, say, a gloriously bright sour-cherry sorbet. No matter what, seasonality is key. Meanwhile, Filipovic and Landry plumb their close relationships with vintners from Andalusia to Nantes to Abruzzo, bringing us in on the secret of the latest what-have-you they’ve brought to town.

The menu shifts nightly. When it’s cold, expect something like tiny agnolotti del plin with cabbage and truffle butter. In summer, the streetside terrasse accommodates a spillover crowd eager to taste cucumber and verveine, or mackerel crudo with fresh favas, while a chef cheerily grills whelks and chicken wings beside the building.

What started as a 36-seat wine bar is now a humming 70-seater. And while the evolution, one thing remains the same: Mon Lapin is our best restaurant, for the second year in a row.

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