Montreal en Lumiere / Montreal’s Festival of Lights

Located in Downtown Montreal, Montreal en Lumiere, or Montreal’s Festival of Lights, is an annual celebration taking place in February that’s one of the largest winter festivals in the world!

Did you know? There are over one million attendees for this festival.

During the festival, the city comes alive and becomes magical! There are so many things to do during Montreal en Lumiere including activities and gastronomy.


Montreal en Lumiere / Montreal's Festival of Lights is one of the world's largest winter festivals with entertainment, free activities, and a gastronomy program that makes it a festival for foodies.

Watch the full YouTube video of Montreal en Lumiere (Festival of Lights) here.


Montreal en Lumiere Outdoor Site

The heart of the Montreal Festival of Lights is the free Outdoor Site which is accessible at street level or the Place-des-Arts Metro station. The site has lots of cool activities including zip-line, urban slide and Ferris wheel.

Quebec Maple Ferris Wheel at Night when moving during Montreal Festival of Lights
Quebec Maple Ferris Wheel

Best of all, they’re all free! I highly recommend to visit the site at night because that’s when everything comes to life with all the lights and sounds.

Dad and son riding the Urban Slide at Montreal Festival of Lights

You’ll want to come earlier if doing the free activities because the waiting line can be pretty long.

Festival views from Quebec Maple Ferris Wheel
View of the Outdoor Site from the Ferris Wheel located in the World of Incredible Maple area

Free entertainment is also available at the site like the RBC Voltigo, but be sure to check for the schedule of performances.

Voltigo Spreadeagle Jump during Montreal Festival of Lights 2020
Voltigo Jumping in daytime at Montreal en Lumiere 2020
Fire Dancer holding metal pyramid at Montreal Festival of Lights
Fire Dancer at Montreal en Lumiere 2020

On-site and nearby, you’ll get to experience Illuminart, a circuit of 13 projects fusing art, lighting and technology. This brings the Festival of Lights to a whole new level!

Watch the full YouTube video of Illuminart here. You can learn more about Illuminart here.

Illuminart: Apparatus Florius by Tom Dekyvere at Montreal en Lumiere 2018
Apparatus Florius by Tom Dekyvere. Located in Montréal’s Place des Arts, the structure symbolizes the instinctive flow of a plant, taking over the city in search of light. The work questions the balance between the human adaptation and digitalization of our natural environment.

Also Read: 3 Day Trip in Eastern Townships, Quebec


Montreal en Lumiere Shows

The outdoor site is not all there is about Montreal en Lumiere. There are a variety of shows and concerts happening all over the city during the festival including circus, dance, theatre and classical music.

Happening on the last night of Montreal en Lumiere is Nuit Blanche, the best-attended single-day event in Montréal every year.

Contortionist Sisters from TOHU's Coups de Coeur
Coups de Coeur is a circus show in TOHU featuring acts from world-travelling artists

Montreal en Lumiere Gastronomy Program

I was most surprised in learning that the Montreal en Lumiere is also a festival that’s perfect for foodies.

The gastronomy program during the Festival of Lights is impressive with over 500 chefs, wine producers and speakers taking part in workshops, tasting and conferences. Overseas chefs come to the festival to collaborate with local chefs on a unique menu specifically for the festival.

Michelin Chef Phillip Foss at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal Festival of Lights 2020
H4C par Dany Bolduc brought Michelin Chef Phillip Foss from El Ideas in Chicago

These are the gastronomy programs I got to experience, and they are but a taste of what’s offered during Montreal en Lumiere. This allows you try to some of the best restaurants in Montreal.

Montreal en Lumiere (Festival of Lights) is one of the world's largest winter festivals. Aside from its free outdoor site, shows and concerts and Nuit Blanche, find out why its fine dining program makes it a perfect festival for foodies.

Also Read: Nova Scotia Food Guide


Air France Finest Tables

The main attraction for foodies during Montreal en Lumiere is the Air France Finest Tables which offers a wide array of gastronomic activities with some of the world’s best chefs working together with local chefs and restaurants.

Bagel and Smoked Salmon at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu

Here, you get to journey around the world right in Montreal! What makes this experience even better is the offerings are only available during Montreal Festival of Lights which makes the opportunity much rarer.

2020

In its 21st Edition, Montreal en Lumiere 2020 took place from February 20 to March 1, 2020. I was there from Feb 28-Mar 1, and here were the tasting menu experiences I was able to try.

A Chef and His Graphic Novel at H4C par Dany Bolduc

At H4C, Chef Dany Bolduc welcomed Michelin Chef Phillip Foss from Chicago’s El Ideas for a 9-course tasting menu and 8 wine pairing for $305 ($200 without wine).

Table Setting and Green Wall Art at H4C par Dany Bolduc in Montreal, Quebec

This exclusive tasting menu for Montreal en Lumiere was called “a chef and his graphic novel” because Chef Phillip had just published “Life in El”, a graphic novel about his life as a chef with illustration drawn by his cousin Timothy Foss.

Life in El Graphic Novel at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu

For the tasting menu, both teams from Le H4C and El Ideas worked together in the kitchen to deliver the dishes, which were made by both El Ideas chefs Phillip and Joshua. The drink pairing was made by Le H4C sommelier Jonathan Benchetrit.

Raymond Cua, Chef Dany Bolduc, Michelin Chef Phillip Foss, Sommelier Jonathan Benchetrit at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
with the team of H4C par Dany Bolduc (Chef Dany, Sommelier Jonathan) and El Ideas (Chefs Phillip Foss and Joshua)

Chef Phillip’s goal with the tasting menu is to play on comfort food we’ve come to grow up and love. I loved the creativity and the use of molecular gastronomy on the dishes.

First course was a play on Mimosa. What was particularly special about this course is they brought the El Ideas tradition of making the guest pick up the plate with the first course to lick, which is a good way of loosening up the room.

Scallop Mimosa and Glass of Champagne at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Mimosa – scallop, jicama, blood orange, champagne, caviar. Paired with Bubbles : Spontané Blanc, Mesnier & Grosbois

Next course is Walleye, a play on the Waldorf Salad in the popular Waldorf Astoria in NYC. The Walleye was poached inside with a Dijon mustard beurre blanc, and was paired with a light red wine, Vino di Anna Février 15.

Walleye on Plate at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Walleye – celery, apples, walnut, mustard

The next was a play on Bagel & Lox. The salmon was gently poached with a little bit of olive oil, then topped with some bagel crumb and everything spice.

Below the salmon was a bagel puree. Around it were compressed cucumber, dots of a pickled onion gel, fried capers, and dill and cream cheese meringue.

This was paired with a white wine, Weingut Edgar Brutler’s Grunspitz (a rare local Romanian grape).

Bagel and Lox at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal Festival of Lights 2020 Tasting Menu
Bagel & Lox – salmon, cucumber, cream cheese, dill & everything spice

The next course was Mussels, which was a play on two things. The first was one of the chef’s favourite things to eat: a good bowl of mussels in a beer broth with a good sourdough bread.

The second one was a guilty pleasure based off Panera Bread’s famous broccoli cheddar soup inside of a bread bowl. This course combined both.

Spoon of Mussels with Broccoli Soup at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Mussels – broccoli, cheddar, beer, sourdough

The drink pairing for the Mussels was Le Darling Beer that’s made with champagne yeast. It’s creamy like a chardonnay but has great acidity to through the richness of the soup from the aged cheddar.

Cuvee Darling Beer at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Beer: Le Darling, Microbrewey Gainsbourg (A triple fermented belgian beer)

The next course is one of the most popular dishes at El Ideas: the French Fries and Frosty, inspired by Chef Phillip’s two daughters’ favourite snack of dipping french fries on milkshake or ice cream.

We got to see on the spot as Chef Phillip made the “milkshake” using liquid nitrogen and did a demonstration on what to do once we receive the course. You can check that out on the YouTube video.

Michelin Chef Phillip Foss doing Liquid Nitrogen at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
French Fries & Frosty – potato, leek, cream, vanilla

The next course is Nachos, a tribute to one of Chef Joshua’s favourite dishes, a big plate of nachos. This elevated version has guajillo chili, black bean puree, seasoned sour cream, avocado mousse, freeze-dried cheddar cheese, scallion powder, pickled peppers and house-made fritos.

Wagyu Nachos at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Nachos – Kobe A5 Wagyu, black beans, avocado, sour cream, chilis

And by elevated, it meant using A5 Kobe Wagyu Beef instead of ground beef.

A5 Kobe Beef Nachos at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Nachos – Kobe A5 Wagyu, black beans, avocado, sour cream, chilis

For the Nachos wine pairing, the Weingut Edgar Brutler’s Foldi orange wine has a meatiness that paired well with a very complex dish like nachos which has a lot of flavours going on: the guacamole cheddar, bean puree, tomato gel with chili and the wagyu.

Foldi Orange Wine at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Orange Wine: Weingut Edgar Brutler’s Foldi (a blend of Feteasca Alba and Riesling Italico)

The next course Lamb combined two concepts into one: The first concept is a French onion soup and the second one is a lamb wellington.

The seared lamb loin was smothered with caramelized onions, then wrapped in Swiss chard and Gruyere cheese. It was then rolled inside a puff pastry, baked off, then topped with more caramelized onions and gratinated Gruyere cheese then finished off with sherry vinegar to provide acidity.

Lamb Wellington at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Lamb – french onion, wellington

The wine pairing for Lamb was Kora Bella by Pivnica Brhlovce, a lush wine from Slovakia which added spice and peppery notes to an already rich dish.

Kora Bella Red Wine at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Red wine: Kora Bella by Pivnica Brhlovce (a blend of Alibernet, Pinot Noir and Blaufrankish)

The first dessert, Sweet Potato Pie, was inspired by sweet potato pie: on the bottom is whipped cream and on top is the sweet potato pie filling that’s been cooked out with maple syrup.

This was topped with an egg yolk that has been cured inside of a coffee syrup. And then outside, there were candy pecans and pie crust that’s been turned into a crumble.

Sweet Potato Pie Dessert at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Sweet Potato Pie – egg yolk, maple syrup, pecans, coffee

The Sweet Potato Pie was paired with Sherry Fino which is the palest and driest of Sherry to balance the sweetness of the pie.

Sherry Fino at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Sherry Fino: Alexander Jules

The last dessert was their version on a Baked Alaska, which was Baked Alaska but having all the flavours of a black forest cake. They took some cherry ice cream, rolled it in a flourless chocolate cake then topped with toasted meringue.

This was flambeed over the top with cherry liquor and rum, which you can see on the YouTube video. On the right side of the plate is a black cherry compote with dark chocolate.

Baked Alaska at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Baked Alaska – cherry, chocolate, meringue, rum

The pairings from sommelier Jonathan Benchetrit had been on point throughout dinner. I also loved that I got to try quite a bit of uncommon wines and beer that I haven’t had before.

Madeira at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Madeira Barbeito Mariage Parfait

To end the amazing dinner, the petit four was Mom’s Chocolate Batter. Just like the first course, we lick off the mom’s chocolate batter off the spatula.

Chocolate Cake Batter at H4C par Dany Bolduc for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Mom’s Chocolate Cake Batter

Watch the full YouTube video of the tasting menu with Chef Phillip Foss at H4C par Dany Bolduc here.

Website / Address: 538 Place Saint-Henri, Montréal, Quebec H4C 2R9

Also Read: The Restaurant at Pearl Morissette in Jordan Station, Ontario


Michelin Guest Chef Christophe Bellanca at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

I’ve been a big fan of Joel Robuchon restaurants, having been to the ones in Las Vegas, Macau and Montreal (during my first time in Montreal Festival of Lights). I got to give them A+ for consistency, delivery and quality all throughout my experiences.

Chef Christophe Bellanca in the Kitchen at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Montreal, Quebec

I was very excited to dine at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon again. This time Executive Chef Stephane Galibert and his team hosted Michelin Chef Christophe Bellanca, culinary director of Joel Robuchon USA.

The exclusive Montreal en Lumiere Tasting Menu was 9 courses with 7 wine pairing for $355 (or $255 without wine).

Christophe Bellanca, Raymond Cua, Stephane Galibert and Jean-Pierre Curtat in the kitchen of L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Casino de Montreal
with L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon Kitchen Team: Michelin Chef Chrisophe Bellanca (on my left), Executive Chef Stephane Galibert (on my right) and Casino Executive Chef Chef Jean-Pierre Curtat (on Stephan’s right)
  • Pour Commencer
Crispy Frog Legs at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Crispy frog legs, black garlic aioli, mache veloute
Parsnip Foam at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Parsnip espuma, bloor orange reduction
Fiorile by Fondo San Giuseppe Winery at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Italie, Ravena Bianco Fiorile, Fondo San Giuseppe 2017
  • In-House Made Bread
In-House Made Bread at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
  • Le Caviar Et Le Crabe Royale
Fiorile by Fondo San Giuseppe Winery at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Caviar and Alaskan King crab, crustacean jelly, celery and vanilla velouté
Bollenberg Sylvaner by Domaine Zusslin Winery at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Alsace Sylvaner Bollenberg, Domaine Zusslin 2014
  • La Truffe Noire
Black Truffle Gnocchi at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Black truffle, Parisian gnocchi, squash, mimolette tuile
Pouring Puligny Montrachet Wine on Wine Glass at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Domaine Blain-Gagnard Puligny Montrachet Wine at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Puligny Montrachet, Chardonnay, Burgundy, Cote de Beaune, Domaine Blain-Gagnard 2016
  • Le Homard
Poached Lobster at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Poached lobster, galanga broth, bok choy, jicama, black trumpet mushroom
Azienda Agricola Dario Princic Pinot Grigio at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Italie, Venezia Giulia Pinot Grigio, Azienda Agricola Dario Princic 2013
  • Le Bar
Black Bass Fish at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Wild Atlantic black bass, shiitake chutney, razor clams and curry emulsion
Famille Hugel Estate Riesling at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Alsace, Riesling, Famille Hugel Estate 2013
  • Le Trou Normand

This black truffle ice cream is a black truffle lovers palate cleanser/dessert! I thought it would be just a hint of black truffle, but it was very strong.

Black Truffle Ice Cream at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Black truffle ice cream, Sicilian pistachio
  • Le Boeuf

The wagyu beef comes from Wyoming because Chef Christophe loves this beef with a nice balance of lean and fat unlike Japanese wagyu which are known for being predominantly fat.

Wyoming Wagyu at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Grilled Wagyu ribcap, harissa-glazed carrot, radicchio marmalade

This course also came with the best mashed potatoes you’ll ever had, a signature dish by Joel Robuchon. The staff saw how much I loved this dish that they gave me another one after.

Mashed Potatoes at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Signature Potato Puree
Domaine Peyre Rose Syrah at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Coteaux Du Languedoc Syrah Leone, Domaine Peyre Rose 2008
  • Le Gin <<Dandy>>
Herb Sorbet at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Herb sorbet, “Dandy” gin sabayon, hazelnut praliné
  • Le Cafe
Cashew and Caramel Mousse Dessert at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Coffee Chantilly, caramel and cashew mousse, cocoa crumble
Graham's Tawny Port at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Portugal, Porto Graham’s Tawny 20 years
  • Petit Fours
Raspberry Cheesecake Ball and Hazelnut Cream Puff at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Tasting Menu
Raspberry Cheesecake Ball and Hazelnut Cream Puff

I cannot stress again how well executed and perfectly presented this meal was. It’s not surprising they are No. 47 in Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants in 2019.

Watch the full YouTube video of the tasting menu with Chef Christophe Bellanca at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon Montreal here.

You can also read the tasting menu experience for Montreal en Lumiere 2018 with Michelin Guest Chef Alain Verzeroli below.

Website / Address: 1 Avenue du Casino, Montréal, Quebec H3C 4W7

Also Read: Kame Omakase, Best Omakase in Las Vegas


Menu From The Sea at Restaurant Ikanos

If you’re a seafood lover like me, you will love Restaurant Ikanos, a restaurant specializing in seafood. For Montreal en Lumiere, they focused their tasting menu on what they do best: seafood.

The Menu From The Sea tasting menu for $94 featured 6 courses crafted by Chef Constant Mentzas using products exclusively from the sea. Wine pairing can be added for $49.

I really enjoyed the creative use of seafood in the tasting menu since their regular menu focused more on grilled seafood. An example is the first course which is a tart made from oyster.

Oyster Tart first course at Ikanos Restaurant for Montreal en Lumiere 2020
Oyster tart, creme fraiche, Northern Divine caviar

I also loved presentation here. Most restaurants don’t leverage the fact that the shells from seafood can be used creatively for plating like the do at Restaurant Ikanos.

Sea Urchin second course at Ikanos Restaurant for Montreal en Lumiere 2020
Uni (Sea urchin), squash, hazelnut

The chef was feeling extra generous that night so I got lucky and received this fresh shrimps from Spain.

Spanish Shrimps at Restaurant Ikanos for Montreal Festival of Lights 2020
Shrimps from Spain

One of my favourite courses was the grilled Dungeness crab served on a tabletop smoker. This is presented table-side and opened in front of you.

When opened, the delicious smell takes over your senses. And the taste was equally delicious with hints of truffle and chickpea miso.

I had the best Dungeness crab dish when I was in Seattle. This would be my second best overall, and the best in Canada.

Dungeness Crab on tabletop smoker at Restaurant Ikanos for Montreal en Lumiere 2020
Grilled Dungeness crab, truffle, chickpeas miso

Restaurant Ikanos specializes in the wood burning Josper Oven to grill their meat and seafood, and you can see the results. Aside from the Dungeness crab, the Josper grilled sea bass was breaming with flavours.

Sea Bass Kataifi fourth course at Restaurant Ikanos for Montreal en Lumiere 2020
Josper grilled sea bass

Rossini is a French steak dish topped fresh whole foie gras. For the tasting menu, Restaurant Ikanos did Monkfish Rossini which means Josper grilled monkfish topped with grilled foie gras.

This was my other favourite course, and the taste still haunts me.

Monkfish topped with foie gras at Restaurant Ikanos for Montreal en Lumiere 2020
Monkfish Rossini, whelks, parsley root

Going back to the creative use of seafood, the dessert was a welcoming white chocolate cake but with oyster foam and Moscato gel which was very interesting.

White chocolate cake dessert from Restaurant Ikanos tasting menu for Montreal en Lumiere 2020
White chocolate cake, Yuzu sorbet, oyster foam, Moscato gel

This dinner was indeed a seafood heaven! Restaurant Ikanos will be one of the restaurants I will be eyeing when I visit Montreal or attend Montreal en Lumiere again.

Website / Address: 112 Rue McGill #1, Montréal, Quebec H2Y 2E5

Also Read: BC Seafood Festival in Comox Valley


Caribbean Brunch at Agrikol

I honestly never thought I would come to Montreal for Caribbean food, but I’m glad I went to Agrikol because it definitely changed my mind.

For one, I was amazed with the vibes inside the restaurant as it took me back to my trips in the Caribbean. Second, I haven’t seen anything in Toronto quite like this.

For Montreal en Lumiere, Agrikol served a 3-course Caribbean Brunch with 2 rhum cocktails and 1 glass of Haitian rhum for $70 (or $40 without the drinks).

This meal was the most value I had during the festival because they actually let you feed you like in the Caribbean for the Caribbean Brunch. Aside from the 3 courses actually being made of 6 dishes, each dish was generous in portions.

The appetizer course consisted of three plates and a rum mimosa.

Mimosa and Avocado Salad for Caribbean Brunch at Agrikol for Montreal en Lumiere 2020
Avocado Salad and Rhum Mimosa
Fish, Pasta and Shrimp for Caribbean Brunch at Agrikol for Montreal en Lumiere 2020
Fish, Spaghetti and Shrimp
Polenta topped with Fried Egg for Caribbean Brunch at Agrikol for Montreal en Lumiere 2020
Polenta with Fried Egg and Microgreens

The main course was two plates (a plate of meat and a plate of carbs) and a glass of soursop juice with rum.

Rice, Beans, Plantains and Sweet Potato for Caribbean Brunch at Agrikol for Montreal en Lumiere 2020
Rice & Beans, Fried Plantains and Grilled Sweet Potato
Pork, Beef and Chicken for Caribbean Brunch at Agrikol for Montreal en Lumiere 2020
Jerk Chicken, Beef Rib and Pork Sausage
Soursop Juice with Rum for Caribbean Brunch at Agrikol for Montreal en Lumiere 2020
Soursop Juice with Rhum

And the dessert course is the smallest one with one plate and 1 glass of Barbancourt Rhum.

Beignet for Caribbean Brunch at Agrikol for Montreal en Lumiere 2020
Fried Donut
Glass of Barbancourt Rhum for Caribbean Brunch at Agrikol for Montreal en Lumiere 2020
Barbancourt Rhum

I left very full and very happy at Agrikol. During my trip, I also visited Time Out Market, but didn’t think to try Chef Paul Toussaint’s spot there at that time. But after this, I can’t wait to check it out.

Website / Address: 1844 Rue Atateken, Montréal, Quebec H2L 3L6

Also Read: Sandals Montego Bay: Why It’s Perfect For Foodies


Black Truffles Brunch at Brasserie T!

For Montreal en Lumiere 2020, Brasserie T! was back again with their Black Truffles Brunch. I also went here back in 2018 and am happy to be back since I love black truffles.

For $41, you get a 2-course Truffle Brunch featuring Tuber Melanosporum Black Truffles from the Drôme region in France. The menu was different from my first experience so it didn’t feel like a repeat.

Périgord black truffle at Brasserie T in Montreal, Quebec
Tuber Melanosporum Black Truffle
Blueberry Mimosa at Brasserie T for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Truffle Brunch
Mimosa of the Day ($11)
Tuna Cretons at Brasserie T for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Truffle Brunch
Tuna Cretons

You can add extra 4 grams of truffles for $18, which they shave on the spot. The Perigord Truffles they have are A Grade so it’s worth a splurge if you love black truffles.

Veal Sausage with Black Truffle at Brasserie T for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Truffle Brunch
Veal Sausage and White Bean Sauce with shaved Périgord black truffle

Travelling Foodie Tip: Try to ask for any special things they’ve done with the black truffle to take into consideration when ordering.

One thing I learned after ordering is they had stored the black truffle in a jar of eggs because the egg shells would absorb the truffle aroma into the egg. Had I known about this, I would’ve ordered the dishes that used eggs because I’m curious how different it would be.

Tuber Melanosporum Black Truffle on top of Eggs at Brasserie T for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Truffle Brunch
Tuber Melanosporum Black Truffle from Drome, France

Another interesting thing they did was cut a brie in half and placed a slice of black truffle in the middle then aged it for 4-5 days.

Blueberry Mimosa at Brasserie T for Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Truffle Brunch
Brie aged with Tuber Melanosporum Black Truffle

Website / Address: 1425 Jeanne Mance St, Montreal, Quebec H2X 2J4

Also Read: Gallery by Chele, Filipino Tasting Menu Restaurant in Manila


2018

Montreal en Lumiere 2018 took place from February 22 to March 4, 2018. It was my first time attending the festival that time from Feb 22-24.

Here are the experiences I tried.

Michelin Guest Chef Alain Verzeroli at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Canada’s first Joel Robuchon restaurant is L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Casino Montreal. After loving the experience in the Las Vegas location, I was looking forward to the dinner here the most.

For Montreal en Lumiere, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon hosted Chef Alain Verzeroli, from Joel Robuchon Restaurant in Tokyo, to conceive a 7-course tasting menu with wine pairing ($300) with Executive Chef Eric Gonzalez.

Chefs Alain Verzeroli and Eric Gonzalez at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Montreal for Montreal en Lumiere
Michelin three-star Chef Alain Verzeroli (left) and Executive Chef Eric Gonzalez (right)
Bread Basket at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Montreal
Bread Basket, made in-house by their baker: Mini Baguettes, “Escargot” (olive oil swirl brioche), Bacon Bread and Pain au Fromage (baguette baked with melted Comté cheese)

The dinner was reminiscent of what I loved about my experience in Las Vegas. The dishes were well-executed, inventive and beautifully presented!

Black truffle wafer with ham and cheese at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Montreal
Pour Commencer

  • la truffe noire en fine galette croustillante et moelleuse au pavot blanc
  • Fine crispy and soft black truffle wafer with white poppy seed
  • Wine Pairing: Veuve Clicquot «Carte Jaune»

This scallop and caviar dish at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon truly feels like an artwork that should be framed!

The taste itself is one for the taste buds with the hint of citrus from the carpaccio, salt from the caviar, and the contrasting creaminess of the scallop with caviar and the crunchiness of the radish.

Scallop and Caviar at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Montreal
La Noix De Saint-jacques

  • en carpaccio au caviar, navet rouge d’hiver et radis
  • Caviar and scallop Saint-Jacques carpaccio with red winter turnip and radishes
  • Wine Pairing: Savennieres «La Bigottière», Domaine Richou 2015

The lobster macaroni dish was a playful one with the lobster chunks being inside a wall of macaroni timbale.

Lobster Macaroni at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Montreal
La Timbale De Macaroni

  • coralline au homard et châtaignes confites, émulsion iodée
  • Macaroni timbale with lobster coraline and chestnut confit, iodized emulsion
  • Wine Pairing: Canada – Beamsville Bench Chardonnay «Lenko Vineyard», Tawse Winery 2013

The most mind-blowing dish that night at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon was the Halibut filet. It looks so simple but the flavour is one you don’t expect at all.

The addition of the key ingredient, turmeric, to the lemongrass cream created a totally new flavour profile.

Halibut Filet at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Montreal
Le Fletan

  • accompagné d’une crème légère de citronnelle et de jeunes poireaux étuvés
  • Halibut filet served with light lemongrass cream and steamed baby leek
  • Wine Pairing: Italie – Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi, Azienda Agricola Bucci 2015

Opposite to the simple looking halibut was the Bison dish with foie gras and truffle. Though you can’t really taste the black truffle, all was forgotten with the bold flavours coming from this dish.

Bison at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Montreal
Le Bison

  • escorté de céleri, topinambour, foie gras truffé au jus gras et huile végétale
  • Bison with celery, Jerusalem artichoke, truffle foie gras with jus gras and vegetable oil
  • Wine Pairing: Terrasses Du Larzac «Le Grand Pas», Domaine du Pas de l’Escalette 2013

Desserts came after this with the orange dessert being a great palate cleanser for the rich chocolate dessert to end the dinner.

Orange Cream at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Montreal
La Mandarine Fraiche

  • en transparence, délicate gelée au miel des Hautes-Laurentides à la saveur de verveine, sorbet coco
  • Fresh mandarin orange peeking through delicate Hautes-Laurentides honey jelly flavoured with verbena, coconut sorbet
Chocolates at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Montreal
Desir D’amertume

  • chocolat noir llanka et son coeur cacaoté, croustillant de grué, streudel à la fleur de sel
  • Illanka dark chocolate and cocoa bean centre, cocoa nib crumble, streudel with fleur de sel
  • Wine Pairing: Maury-grenat, Domaine Les Terres de Fagayra 2013

Website / Address: 1 Avenue du Casino, Montréal, Quebec H3C 4W7

Also Read: Alo Restaurant, Toronto’s Best Tasting Menu Restaurant


Winter Brunch with Black Truffles at Brasserie T!

Black truffle is usually something that catches my attention in menus. So when I saw a program called Winter Brunch with Black Truffles, I definitely wanted to check it out.

Located at the Outdoor Site, Brasserie T! has a two-course winter brunch menu for Montreal en Luimiere, featuring black truffles from the Drôme region in France.

Did you know? Chef Normand Laprise is the owner and head chef of Toqué! and Brasserie T!

For $38, you get a choice of appetizer and main dish. Choices for appetizers were venison terrine, scrambled eggs and salmon rillettes.

Rillettes are meats slow-cooked long in their own fat. I definitely wanted to try salmon rillettes, which I haven’t had before.

It was such a treat especially with the strong tasting truffles that I was looking for.

Salmon Rillettes at Brasserie T! for Montreal en Lumiere 2018
Salmon Rillettes for Winter Brunch with Black Truffles

Choices for main dishes were mushroom omelette, croque madame and french toast + fruit. Since I’m in Montreal, I’m definitely trying a French brunch item so I got the croque madame.

Did you know? The sandwich is called croque madame because the egg on top is said to resemble a woman’s hat.

The bechemel sauce was outstanding. I was kind of hoping the black truffles were used to enhance the sandwich, but instead they were on the potatoes except for the one slice on top.

Travelling Foodie Tip: Take the fine shaved black truffles from the potatoes, mix them with the bechemel sauce, and thank me after!

Croque Madame at Brasserie T! for Montreal en Lumiere 2018
Croque Madame for Winter Brunch with Black Truffles

Website / Address: 1425 Jeanne Mance St, Montreal, Quebec H2X 2J4

Also Read: BC Seafood Festival in Comox Valley


Dinner at Le Blumenthal

Le Blumenthal is another option for fine dining at the Outdoor Site. It’s located behind the zip-line on a century-old building, which used to be called Blumenthal before becoming the Maison du Festival (House of the Festival), the headquarters for Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (Montreal International Jazz Festival).

Beef tartare at Blumenthal for Montreal en Lumiere
Tartare de boeuf classique, frites ($15) – Classic beef tartare, frie

Start off with their signature cocktail, Martini Blumenthal, which is one of those drinks you’ll want to keep drinking because you don’t feel like you’re drinking alcohol.

Martini Blumenthal at Blumenthal for Montreal en Lumiere
Martini Blumenthal ($13) – Vodka cirka terroir, belle de brillet, St-Germain, jus de lime, nectar de poire, sirop de gingembre

It was my first time seeing deviled eggs with caviar so I definitely wanted to try it.

Deviled eggs at Blumenthal for Montreal en Lumiere
Oeufs mimosa, caviar ($8) – Deviled eggs, caviar

A must-order at Le Blumenthal is the salmon tartare which was very fresh. I love that they provided thin bagel chips instead to add a nice crunch to the dish without taking from the salmon.

Salmon tartare at Blumenthal for Montreal en Lumiere
Tartare de saumon, avocat, chips de bagel ($15) – Salmon tartare, avocado, bagel chips

Everyone will have something to eat here: vegetarian (squash, burger), fish (trout, macherel), shellfish (mussels), poultry (duck, cornish hen), beef (steak and burger) and game (rabbit).

Roasted duck breast at Blumenthal for Montreal en Lumiere
Poitrine de canard rôtie, courges et jus à l’argousier ($28) – Roasted duck breast, squash, sea buckthorn sauce

For dessert, I tried the Rum baba which was one of the better ones I had.

The cake was both moist and wet but still having the spongy cake texture. You can also taste both the toffee and rum in the syrup.

Rum baba at Blumenthal for Montreal en Lumiere
Baba au rhum, mousse au lait de coco et tire éponge ($8) – Rum baba, coco mousse and sponge toffee

Website / Address: 305 Saint-Catherine St W, Montreal, Quebec H2X 2A1

Also Read: Air Canada Vacations to Portugal


Culinary Lectures

Knowledge Conference with Nordic Food Lab

Though the Knowledge Conference took place after my visit, I had the opportunity to meet and learn from Michael Bom Frøst of Nordic Food Lab about combining scientific and humanist approaches with culinary techniques.

Michael wants to disseminate their ideology and philosophy on how people should interact with and develop food in the future. Their goal is to use deliciousness as a lever for changing the way people interact with food.

Quebec Maple Ferris Wheel framed by RBC Braziers with People at Montreal Festival of Lights

In this way, there is a much better chance of making substantial change in the world into a more sustainable way than using the argument of doing something because it’s good for the planet or good for your health.

They believe that if they develop new food that appeals to the three levels (sensory, functional and nutritional), then they would have created food that is powerful enough to convince people to change.

Michael also talked about the Omnivores Dilemma where people love to try new food, but are also afraid to try them. Whenever they approach making new food, they demonstrate some of the ideas on how they work, and they try to balance it with principles of novelty and familiarity.

Quebec Maple Ferris Wheel with Purple Light at Montreal en Lumiere

This creates something that’s both stimulating and interesting, which would make people want to try the food without being intimidated by the novelty of it because there’s a familiar element to it.

They do this by using Taste as an entry point for learning with lessons designed so people can see what goes on with the cooking, and there is interaction with the food and people.

Their ultimate goal is to reduce animal consumption, or animal protein, by increasing deliciousness in a sustainable way using existing local resources. You can learn more about Nordic Food Lab here.

Lighted Art Sculpture at the Outdoor Site during Montreal Festival of Lights

Street Food at the Outdoor Site

While you’re at the outdoor site, you can opt out of traditional restaurants like Brasserie T! and Le Blumenthal.

There is one unique sit-down restaurant on-site specifically setup for Montreal en Lumiere. This is the SAQ Bistro which you won’t miss because the venue is made of three cool looking igloo tents.

SAQ Bistro Express Igloo Tents at Montreal en Lumiere 2018

There is also a variety of on-site food vendors. You can’t miss the World of Incredible Maple area because that’s where the Ferris wheel is.

Lit Quebec Maple Ferris Wheel at Night During Montreal Festival of Lights

Here you’ll get to discover, rediscover, Quebec Maple’s range of culinary uses as you try various treats from maple syrup snow candy and maple glazed nuts, to savoury items like maple butternut squash soup.

One interesting I learned from Nathalie Langlois, Federation of Québec Maple Syrup Producers (FPAQ) Director of Promotion, Innovation and Market Development, is that there are four distinct grades of maple syrup based on the degree of light that can pass through: Golden, Amber, Dark and Very Dark.

Learn more about Quebec Maple here.

Quebec Ferris Wheel with Floating Lights at Montreal en Lumiere

At the Outdoor Site, there are also food truck-type vendors including Beavertails, Grilled Cheese, and Greg’s Diner. The vendors may change yearly.

I had the lobster roll at Greg’s Diner in 2018 and was actually surprised how good it was coming from a food truck.

Lobster Roll with Fries at Montreal en Lumiere Outdoor Site
Lobster Roll with Fries ($15) from Greg’s Diner

Obviously, you’ll have to have poutine when you’re in Montreal. Luckily, there was a poutine truck during my 2020 trip and I was able to enjoy this delicious steak poutine.

Steak Poutine at Montreal en Lumiere 2020 Outdoor Site
Beef Poutine ($13.50) – with AAA steak, bacon, onions and beef gravy

Address: Place des Festivals, Place des Arts Esplanade, and Ste. Catherine in Montreal

Also Read: Great Canadian Kayak Festival & Challenge in Timmins, Ontario


MAP: Montreal en Lumiere

Hope this festival guide to Montreal en Lumiere gives you an idea on things to do and where to eat during the Festival of Lights. It’s seriously one of the best events not just in Montreal, but in the world, during winter.


Huge thanks to Montreal En Lumiere for hosting this trip. As usual, reviews and opinions are entirely my own.

You can learn more about Montreal En Lumiere thru their website, or find them in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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