Chateau Frontenac Hotel - © 2024 - W.R.R. Hernandez

Sunday Musings: Reviewers Suffering ‘Montréal Fatigue’?

I scanned the latest ‘Best Food Cities in the World’ list with great interest. And was served a sour-tasting surprise. The one Canadian city that ALWAYS makes the list was nowhere to be found. Are reviewers suffering ‘Montréal Fatigue’?

Empress Hotel - Victoria - 640 - © 2017 - Norman Maddeaux via FickrVictoria’s stately Empress Hotel: Its famous Tea Room
is an international bucket-list destination…

Montreal has traditionally been lauded as the Paris of North America. A little slice of Old World charm. And the best Canadian city to eat in.

Montreal can boast more celebrity chefs per capita than any other Canadian urban centre. Even more than Toronto or Vancouver. And it is not only home to, but is acclaimed as the birthplace of, an astounding number of culinary styles and signature dishes.

So, when I spied the ‘Best Food Cities’ headline, and saw 2 Canadian cities had made the top ten this year, I simply wondered… “What’s the other one?

A bitter-sweet surprise

I live an easy 2 hours from Montreal, its fabulous restaurants, and its fabulous selection of international cuisines. They can change from neighbourhood to neighbourhood faster than you can digest the languages on the signs.

And I go – now and then, usually, for something specific. Like Fairmount Bakery Bagels. Or Montreal Smoked Meat from Schwartz’s Deli. Or a bowl of real, authentic Poutine. I can get those delicacies here in Ottawa, but they always seem to taste better consumed at the source!

I don’t go more often, because I don’t want to get infected with the psycho-cultural disease I call ‘Montréal Fatigue’.

Familiarity breeds…

‘Contempt’ is the colloquial term. But I prefer to think of it as ‘the blahs’. A diner tends to lose interest and enthusiasm for a destination, or even a specific eatery when they go there too often. As my Mom would say, “It loses its shine!”

And that’s what I think has happened to the big-shot reviewers who travel the world auditioning restaurants and whole cities for a place on the many ‘Top Ten’ and ‘Year’s Best’ lists. (I’ll share my feelings about those lists on another occasion.) The reviewers have been coming to Montreal for so many years that they crave something new, something different. And there really isn’t that much of either there.

It’s not that Montreal’s appeal as a dining destination has deteriorated at all. It’s just that ‘familiarity’ thing…

For the record…

The two Canadian cities chosen for inclusion in the Top Ten list this year were Victoria, BC and Quebec, QC. Both have their charms: Victoria for its other-worldly charm and fine dining. Quebec City for its 400 year history and rich ‘French’ flavour.

I love both cities. And I think they are both deserving of international recognition. But I was still shocked that Montreal fell off the list this year…

My questions to you:

Have you suffered ‘familiarity fatigue’ associated with a city, a restaurant or a specific dish?

Do you agree that Montréal should have stepped aside to give other deserving Canadian cities a turn on the list?

Are you too preoccupied with simply getting enough food to eat that you don’t have time to worry about ‘Top Ten’ lists?

Muse on that…

~ Maggie J.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *