Mike CohenMtlRestoRap

Last year at this time I was previewing the annual Montréal en Lumière (montrealenlumiere.com), which was set to return to a full in-person format. Then, the omicron variant of COVID-19 reared its ugly head. Fortunately, when the programming began restaurants were permitted to open their dining rooms, albeit with a limited capacity.

COVI9-19 is still very much with us, but government restrictions of any kind related to the virus seem to be gone for good. That is good news for the 2023 edition of Montréal en Lumière, presented in collaboration with Scotiabank, set to take place February 16 to March 5 under the theme Discover the Best of Montreal in Winter! Some 40 Montreal restaurants and venues will be welcoming international and local chefs and producers, while downtown will be buzzing with gourmet activities.

For this 24th edition, the Air France Finest Tables will welcome more than 30 chefs, including a dozen from northern Europe. Among them are Benoit Neusy (Michelin star chef,  restaurant l’Impératif au Domaine d’Arondeau, France) at La Chronique; Romain Meder (Michelin star chef, Domaine de Primard, Guainville, France) at Mastard; Ina Niiniketo (Sikke’s, Helskinki) at Ratafia; and Lionel Lévy (Michelin star chef, InterContinental Marseille) at Osco!

Wine growers, such as Julien Labet, who will be welcomed by Menu Extra, and Laurent Cazottes at Chez Victoire, will also be joining in the festivities. In addition to traditional tasting menus, the Air France Finest Tables will feature other palate-popping experiences, such as exclusive lunches, brunches,  5 à 7 (happy hours), not to mention delicious confections in partnership with Cacao Barry and Esprits libres, a rare treat for those with a sweet tooth out there.

Okeya Kyujiro

Okeya Kyujiro is Montreal’s first reservation only OMAKASE restaurant

The participating restaurants are: Au Petit Extra, Auberge Saint-Gabriel, Bar George, Barroco, Beaufort Bistro, Beaver Hall, Bivouac, Blanc Bec, Cabaret L’Enfer, Chez Victoire, État-Major, Ferreira Café, Foiegwa, Foxy, Galaxie Brasserie, Hélicoptère, Ikanos. Kamùy, La Chronique  on Laurier,  Le Mousso, Le Virunga, Lloyd, Maison Boulud, Mastard , Menu Extra,  Monarque, Monème, Mon Lapin, Okeya Kyujiro, Osco, Pastel, Ratafia, Renoir at the Sofitel Montreal,  Restaurant de l’ITHQ, Restaurant h3, Rosélys at Hôtel Reine Élizabeth, Rose Ross, Terrasse Nordheimer  and Toqué.

Once again this year, visitors will love the popular Couette & Gastronomie packages. Hotels and restaurants will be taking part to whet everyone’s appetites with gourmet tasting experiences indoors. A dozen or so hotels will be welcoming guests. They include: Auberge du Vieux-Port (and its Taverne Gaspar restaurant), DoubleTree by Hilton Montréal, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth. Hôtel Monville, Hôtel William Gray (and its Maggie Oakes restaurant), L’Intercontinental Montréal, Le Petit Hôtel and Lofts du Vieux-Port

The Quartier Gourmand will take place for the first time in the hall of Place des Arts (Espace culturel Georges-Émile Lapalme).  Over the course of two weekends (February 18-19, and 25-26, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.), this special site will offer over 20 free activities, including conferences, tastings as well as culinary demonstrations and workshops.

Go to montrealenlumiere.com to access the complete program.

 Follow Mike Cohen’s  culinary adventures at www.MtlRestoRap.com. He can be reached at [email protected]