Darren Rogers, a British Columbia native, travelled the country in order to hone his skills in the kitchen before finally settling down in Montreal, where he now works as the chef de cuisine at Antonio Park’s, Park restaurant.
Having experienced food in so many Canadian cities, Darren definitely knows what separates a good restaurant from a great one. That’s why we’re taking note of his top pics of Montreal restaurants, where the Top Chef Canada competitor loves to eat.
This cozy little nook with an open kitchen offers big flavours with dishes that incorporate traditional and modern Japanese flavours. The tofu is made in-house, while modern plates like shrimp burgers and grilled chicken meatballs ensure there’s something for everyone.
“I love this place. It’s tight, quaint, feels like home, and is the least pretentious restaurant in the world,” says Darren. “Chef Kazu himself usually serves the people sitting at the bar, and it’s always fun to watch him and his team work.”
So what is Darren’s favourite dish? “The Kalbi Short Ribs. [They’re] a little sweet, a little salty, [they come with] some creamy potatoes and a little salad. I mean, it’s love in every bite!”
This quaint but spacious gastropub has been a Montreal staple ever since it opened its doors in 2012; chef and owner Derek Dammann has been happily changing the menu to his Canadian-inspired whims ever since. While they don’t take reservations for brunch, dinner service tends to book up fast so be sure to call for a spot.
“[It’s] a Canadian take on famous pub dishes. Every meal is just a ton of fun to eat if nothing else,” explains Darren. “The menu is always changing, so it’s hard to pick a favourite, but it’s great to be able to try something different every time.”
The name of this ramen house roughly translates into “one time, one meeting,” a Japanese concept that means to treasure each moment and encounter in life because it will never recur. The same can’t be said for the success of these noodles—they’re so consistently popular that the ramen section of the restaurant is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“It’s easily my favourite ramen house in the city (and there are a lot). It’s always consistent, there’s great energy in the building, and of course it’s a great bowl of noodles,” Darren says. “Obviously the tonkotsu ramen is my favourite… rich, fatty, and filling. It’s the thickest broth in the west, and it never gets old!”
Whether it’s a chicken, beef or vegan patty you’re seeking, this burger joint does them all. Add a wide variety of creative toppings like mac and cheese, fried eggs or maple smoked bacon—all stacked sky-high—and this is an establishment you definitely want to visit while hungry.
“[They have] dangerously sloppy burgers and the chilliest milkshakes,” Darren raves. “It’s the perfect hangover cure, and to top it off there’s a cheeky ‘Tarantino’ theme in the whole place.”
This restaurant is rich with seaside cottage charm and features an old-school, clubhouse vibe. The menu is equally indulgent thanks to a wide selection of fresh game, an oyster counter and market-inspired comfort foods to ease the soul.
“[There’s] a ‘house-like’ atmosphere surrounded by knick-knacks and weird paintings [that] makes every meal feel like a dinner party with friends,” Darren says. “[The] best dish is the quail and foie gras sauce. [It comes with] two quails and foie gras… I mean, come on. I love game bird, and this dish was no exception.”