No. 13: Le Vin Papillon
2519 NOTRE DAME STREET WEST, MONTREAL, QUEBEC
Vegetables continue to bask in the restaurant spotlight, and there are few better places to enjoy them than at Le Vin Papillon, the wine bar and little brother of Montreal’s renowned Joe Beef.
In a world full of raw vegan salad bars and kale juice cafés, Le Vin Papillon offers a refreshingly different and far more delicious approach to eating greens. This is not a vegetarian restaurant, though. There is no banning of dairy products or gluten, and seasonal seafood is served along with selected meats. Thinly sliced house-cured ham topped with shaved Avonlea cheddar and a drizzle of beurre noisette is a signature dish. Young chef Stéphanie Cardinal departed in late February, and while Jesse Grasso is now ruling the open kitchen, at press time he was showing no signs of making any major changes. If it’s in season, try the fried gnocchi with crème fraîche, chives and freshwater fish roe from Abitibi.
You can also forgo dessert and dive instead into the cheese plates composed of generous pieces of Quebec dairy marvels with fresh honey directly from the comb. Sommelier extraordinaire Vanya Filipovic has put together a finely curated natural wine list served with warmth and gusto by maître d’ Alex Landry. In the summer, the terrace is full of foodies and creative people, and maybe even some stars of the food world like Massimo Bottura, Ruth Reichl or Martha Stewart. In the winter, the cozy decor—including furniture salvaged from a convent near Rimouski—makes it feel like home. This place should win awards for atmosphere.