Jul 2, 2010

Garde Manger restaurant in Old Montreal, owned by celeb-chef Chuck Hughes, rocks!

By Alexandra Forbes

Every time anyone younger than 40 asks me where they should go to eat well AND have a very fun time I answer Garde Manger without thinking twice. It's pretty much the only place I know that manages to walk the fine line that separates fun, clubby restaurants from clubs that try to serve decent food (hello, Velvet Speakeasy, hint, hint!)
Booking a table or even a seat at the bar is a pain in the ass, to be perfectly honest - especially since chef and co-owner Chuck Hughes went from being a Montreal celebrity to a North American celeb-to-be (his TV show Chuck's Day Off has just been picked up in the U.S.).

Don't let that obstacle stop you from going, though. Be patient, call far ahead. And be aware that they only do a very early seating (6h30) and a late one (9pm), so if you go early they'll expect you to be outta there by 9h30 and, therefore, miss the party that unfolds after 11.

Garde Manger is small and unassuming, with no sign on the door other than a strange pink rectangle haning above the door. Instead of menus, dishes are written down on boards hanging on the walls. The cuisine is market-fresh: they cook up whatever looks good at the market. But they also keep on the menu a few of their signature dishes.  
They're justly famous for their seafood platters, which are served in big wooden crates filled with crushed ice. I also love their tartare, the meat cut quite coarsely, the capers huge, the fries, light-brown and ultra crunchy.

The most famous dish of all is the all-out super decadent lobster poutine, served in a cute cast-iron skillet, the sauce tasting of bisque, intensely "lobstery".

But come 11 p.m. all talk of good goes out the window, as revellers arrive for drinks and flirting and the party kicks off. Co-owner Kyle (who also happens to know a lot about wine and is almost always behind the bar) spins the tunes and often you'll see pretty young things dancing on the banquettes.
It's basically as fun as it gets here in Montreal!

Garde Manger: 408, Rue St. François-Xavier, 678-5044


  1. You're invited to meet celebrity chef Chuck Hughes, owner of restaurant Garde-Manger and host of the TV show Chuck's Day Off. Chuck will be supporting Team RockStarr's Faceoff for a Cure charity hockey game on Saturday April 30th at 7pm at the LCC arena located at 4099 Royal Avenue, NDG.

    The game between the LCC Lions and the CTV Sports Knights will feature Chuck as a guest player. After the game, Chuck will hold a meet and greet with fans. You could also win a copy of his newest cookbook or a gift certificate to Garde-Manger in the raffle.

    Tickets are only $5 and may be purchased at the door. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Segal Cancer Center through the Montreal Weekend to End Women's Cancers.

    For more information, please visit www.teamrockstarr.com or http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=211693705523287.

    Hope to see you on April 30th!

  2. Honestly, this presentation of Garde manger is over-rated. How can you expect that Poutine with lobster will become fine cuisine. I followed my family to give it a try because the teens wanted to, but what a disappointing address for food. Noisy, expensive, and horrible service. Montreal offers much better addresses at such price. Very low professionalism. And don't forget to ask the price of each thing you will order out of the black board if you don't want to have bad surprises on you bill.

    I would say that this restaurant is mostly for wealthy young people who have very little thing to say to each other in a dinner.
    Expensive: better if you have dollars in pocket
    Very noisy: excellent if you don't have much to say to each other.
    Young music: for young people only. Over 40? Run away!