Les Cavistes

Les Cavistes is a new French restaurant with a stylish front terrace in Montreal's Plateau borough

Hands down, Les Cavistes has the greatest curb appeal of any new restaurant on the Plateau. The first time I saw it, on a crisp winter night, it stopped me dead in my tracks. The light glowing from the massive picture windows illuminated the happy diners inside like a Montreal version of the Edward Hopper painting, Nighthawks.

“I want to go to there!” I breathed, Liz Lemon-style.

By the time I finally did, it was spring and Les Cavistes’ curb appeal had grown even stronger. The small front patio was furnished with stylish wood-slat furniture, making the whole space feel like a display in a design store.

Inside Les Cavistes

The sleek interior is equally impressive, I discovered. There’s a long bar of cool white marble which has enough seating for 20. The ceiling is illuminated and the clean lines of the wood-paneled walls make the entire space feel like the interior of a designer wine crate. In a way, that’s exactly what Les Cavistes is.

After all, Les Cavistes is the only establishment in Montreal that is both a restaurant and a wine boutique, selling private imports (most between $18 and $30) at its little boutique by the front door. The name says it all—“les cavistes” means “the wine merchants.”

A Meaty Menu

The food at Les Cavistes is French and decidedly meat-focused (a warning to all my vegetarian friends out there: you’ll be eating pasta). The presentation is lovely and unpretentious, and the knowledgeable waiters can suggest pairings with any of the 15 wines served by the glass or the 50+ bottles. I had a lovely 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Coonawarra valley in Australia, which can be tough to find in Quebec.

The menu changes to keep pace with seasonal availability so visit the website to see what they’re serving at the moment. When I visited, the best appetizer I tried was the seared scallops with braised endives and bacon sauce (bacon sauce!!) and the best main was the rack of lamb, which was done with fantastic Middle Eastern seasoning.

I highly recommend rounding off the meal with the plate of three Quebecois cheeses, served with baguette croutons, balsamic reduction and seasoned almonds. It’s simple but with the right glass of wine, it’s the perfect end to a beautiful meal.

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Sarah Lolley

Sarah Lolley has travelled through 34 countries on five continents, and spent time living in France, Jamaica, Scotland, and Australia. She currently calls Montreal home. Her work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, ELLE Canada, the Montreal Gazette, Reader’s Digest and the Toronto Star. Her children’s picture book, Emilie and the Mighty Om (it’s about yoga), is due out this spring.

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