Now that summer has arrived, so begins an eternal quest of Montreal summer: the hunt for the elusive terrasse spot, spurred by that desire to dine al fresco.
A couple of summers ago, I discovered one of Montreal’s best-kept terrasse secrets, which was at the time called Bagatelle, part of the Saint-Sulpice hotel. Hidden from street view, you had to know about it to find it, which kept the atmosphere relaxed and probably also kept the tourists away (it is dangerously close to the touristy section of Old Montreal). It was like being in a private garden, a great place to relax and catch up with friends.
Now that the restaurant Sinclair has moved into the Saint-Sulpice hotel, the space has been reinvented as the Sinclair Terrasse. The atmosphere hasn’t changed: it’s still garden-chic, beautiful, and peaceful, made cozy and intimate by the addition of retractable tents for shade, nice lighting, and heat lamps when necessary. I would go for the atmosphere alone. Recently, I was one of several bloggers who were invited to try their new menu. (Full disclosure: the food portion of our meal was complimentary.)
The terrasse menu includes many fresh, light, summer-appropriate choices. The appetizers and tapas-sized dishes were especially rewarding, and you could easily make a meal out of sharing a few of them. The oysters were very fresh and well-dressed. I particularly enjoyed the snowcrab-stuffed grapefruit with fresh coriander and avocado, while my date preferred the nordic shrimp on toast with spicy mayo.
The terrasse also has its own short but interesting (and evolving) wine list. We opted for a Château de Villeneuve 2010 Saumur, which turned out to be a lovely terrasse wine. Fresh and mineral on the nose, it was vibrant and clean with a crisp acidity on the palate. Full of refreshing citrus flavours and just a hint of perfume, there was also a green apple character rounded out by hints of toast and richness as the wine warmed up in the glass.
There was a slight issue with slow service, perhaps a kink of the recently opened terrasse that still needs to be ironed out, but provided you’re not in a rush (it’s summer! why should you be?), the Sinclair terrasse would make a great spot for a romantic summer date.