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Vin Mon Lapin cover photo

Vin Mon Lapin: A Surprising Dinner at Canada’s Best Restaurant

By Sarah Israel/

Great Taste of Canada

When you think of the “best restaurant in Canada,” what comes to mind? Maybe you’re picturing a glitzy restaurant with dim lighting, glamorous but uncomfortable furniture, and a signature cocktail list as long as your arm. This is why you might be surprised to learn that Canada’s best restaurant, for the second year in a row, is Vin Mon Lapin, an unassuming spot tucked away on a quiet street in Montreal’s Little Italy.

Vin Mon Lapin on St Zotique St in Montreal at night

First, a quick primer on Canada’s 100 Best: This annual list serves as a yearly guide to the best dining destinations across the country. A panel of 150 judges is assembled to vote for restaurants based on the complete dining experience: service, décor, the depth of the cellar — and, above all else, food quality. The panel includes informed culinary enthusiasts, food writers and critics, chefs, restaurateurs and other food-service professionals.

Given the number of people who vote to determine a winner, having the same restaurant emerge victorious two years in a row seems almost impossible, so when I recently had the opportunity to have dinner with my sister at Vin Mon Lapin, I set out to answer two questions: what makes a restaurant the best in Canada, and of all the dining establishments in this vast country, why is this one the best?

The Vin Mon Lapin facade at night

Vin Mon Lapin has five co-owners: co-chefs Marc-Olivier Frappier and Jessica Noël, co-sommeliers Vanya Filipovic and Alex Landry, and front-of-house manager Marc-Antoine Gélinas. All five herald from Vin Papillon, a sister restaurant to Joe Beef and Liverpool House in Montreal’s Little Burgundy. When they launched Vin Mon Lapin in 2018, the team sought to create a unique dining experience that is rooted in their fine dining background and highlights Québec’s legendary down-to-earth hospitality.

A glass of wine on the bar at Vin Mon Lapin with the menu from May 30 2024

We were seated at the bar, which afforded us a great view of the kitchen, garde-manger, pass, and cocktail station. As co-owner and co-chef Jessica Noël describes it, “We’re not a bistro, but it’s that vibe. It’s loud and there are no tablecloths.” Indeed, dining at Vin Mon Lapin is like being invited to a lively dinner party at a friend’s house (if that friend also offered an approachable wine list and impeccable service in a relaxed-but-elegant setting).

The bar and busy kitchen at Vin Mon Lapin

Watching everyone work in tandem was like watching the boisterous opening number of a Broadway musical, with everyone buzzing around one another to create delicious dishes. Despite the busy surroundings, every interaction with our server was relaxed; they happily poured us wine samples and never rushed us through the selection process. We tried five different wines over the course of our meal. Our favourite was the Arndorfer Vereinter Schatz White, a 50/50 split of riesling and gruner veltliner that hails from Austria.

Arndorfer Vereinter Schatz White wine from Austria

Then the food started to appear. The menu at Vin Mon Lapin changes daily, with seasonality and weather dictating the line-up. On the occasion of our visit, Montréal was experiencing beautiful spring weather, and the menu was overflowing with early summer ingredients: agnolotti with nettles and morels, white asparagus with rhubarb, and tender French radishes served with chicken liver mousse and a flaky herb biscuit. 

Bread, radishes served with chicken liver mousse, and the flaky biscuit

Too full for dessert – although the folks seated to our left ordered a rhubarb ice cream sundae that looked extremely tempting – we ordered a cheese plate, which was served with sourdough crackers and more rhubarb, this time poached in red wine. We were so enamored with the sourdough from nearby Automne Boulangerie that we got a second order to accompany our cheese.

Our server mixes a cocktail in the background with sourdough from nearby Automne Boulangerie in the foreground

In the end, my sister and I perched at the bar for three hours, ordering course after course, enjoying our server’s excellent wine suggestions, and generally having a fantastic time. We left already planning our next visit (in the winter, so we could experience a completely new menu). And maybe that’s what makes Vin Mon Lapin the country’s best restaurant: a magical-but-elusive combination of good food, great service, wonderful company, and an experience that makes you want to return again and again. 

Vin Mon Lapin is a worthy two-time “Best Restaurant” honouree, but if a trip to Montreal isn’t in your immediate future, you can find magical dining experiences in any city. Ready to plan your next great bite? Click here to explore Canada’s best restaurants by province.