Garde Manger is a small and unassuming restaurant located in Montreal’s Old Port. Unless you knew what you were looking for, you would never know that the restaurant with no obvious signage was one that belonged to Hughes.
The restaurant itself has a very cool and hip atmosphere, and although you may think that this would be a perfect spot for an intimate date due to the fact that the restaurant itself can only hold a handful of tables, think again. It is a very loud mix of music, talking, and sounds coming from the kitchen which is open for everyone to see.
Don’t expect them to hand you a menu either. The dishes that are available are marked on a blackboard that is hung up on the wall and the menu itself changes daily depending on what is most fresh and in season. The only items that consistently maintain a spot on the blackboard are their signature dishes such as the lobster poutine – a dish Hughes prepared while he was on the show, Iron Chef – and the deep-fried Mars bar.
The music playing was upbeat and classic, everything from Otis Redding to Sublime played in the three-and-a-half hours that we spent at the restaurant.
Now on to the food… I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed a meal as much as I did at Garde Manger. It is worth the month long wait needed to get a reservation as well as every penny of the gigantic bill that was presented to us at the end of the night.
As a group, we decided that we would all get something different. By the end of the night we must have tried about 90 per cent of the menu. We all unanimously agreed that the highlights of the meal were the lobster poutine, the seafood platter and the short ribs.
The seafood platter basically took up the entire table and was filled with some of the freshest seafood available in Montreal. The poutine lived up to all of our expectations; it was delicious and worthy of being the restaurant’s signature dish.
The drinks aren’t cheap – but they sure are strong. A drink will set you back anywhere from $13-15, but they are worth it. The drink menu offers a variety of exotic and cool drinks. On this particular night, I tried a cucumber vodka soda which was surprisingly refreshing and very appetizing.
Garde Manger is a good place to have dinner with friends or even to go and hangout at night. The music is great, there’s an inviting ambiance and the service is fantastic. Plus, there’s a chance you may just bump into Hughes himself.
Garde Manger is located at 408, Rue Saint-François-Xavier in the Old Port of Montreal.