CLIMB THE TILED STAIRCASE to Poincaré’s third-storey patio for a fresh perspective on Montreal’s Chinatown. Chili plants and hops vines flourish next to rounded balustrades that echo the window arches of the heritage building across the street. Up here, you’ll find a gentler, softer food and drink ecosystem, one step removed from harder, faster street-level life. And you’ll get why crowds have warmed to this chill aerie — voted best in Canada for 2023.
As a nod to the neighbourhood’s Cantonese roots, start by ordering a sip of baijiu. The traditional Chinese grain spirit — which dates to the Ming dynasty, if not earlier — is offered neat (if you dare) or in a caipirinha, where just enough of the odd, balmy, boozy flavour of baijiu surfaces.
The finessed drink list features cult Quebec breweries (including Gaspésie’s Auval), bijou natural wines and clean-drinking cocktails. The herbaceous carrot gin and tonic is a perfect example. It’s matched by a bright menu showcasing fermentation and preservation techniques — sharp sauerkraut, Jerusalem artichokes and beets, sourdough toast, and canned mackerel. Chunky fries, lacto-fermented with cabbage for five to seven days, define pleasantly sour.
Another benefit of rooftop access: gravity-fed draft lines. The height of beer geekery, they guarantee top-notch pours of kölsch (by Les Grands Bois), served in the traditional Cologne style — your cylindrical glass will be cheerfully refilled with feathery lagered ale until you cap it with your coaster.
Poincaré’s well-versed team — Hugo Jacques, Francis Melançon, and Jeremiah Bullied — pushed through epic paperwork to finally get permits for this terrasse in 2021. Just one drink outside on a warm summer night, and all headaches, past and future, fade away.