The Place des Arts complex is at the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles and many of the Montreal Jazz Festival ticketed performances take place in its concert halls. It’s also a good place for a quiet break. Within Place des Arts, the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal (185 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, 514-847-6226, macm.org) was Canada’s first museum focused entirely on contemporary art. The often intriguing exhibits make a good counterpoint to the Jazz Festival’s equally intriguing music.
Within the museum, the Restaurant du MAC (above, left) is open for lunch and very early dinner (11a.m. to 6 p.m.) every day except Sunday. Chefs lean toward local products but often take their cues from the art on display. Inspired by this summer’s exhibition of large-scale work by Mexico-born, Montreal-based artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, the restaurant menu includes such dishes as chicken tacos with avocado cream, an empanada with chimichurri, and ceviche with tortilla chips.
If you prefer a plate of Quebec cheeses or venison pâté with cornichons to accompany a glass of Muscadet, the Place Deschamps Bar à Vin (above, right) (175 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, 514-564-3155, placedeschamps.com) is on a lower level near the art museum’s excellent gift shop. Helmed by French-trained chef Jean-Baptiste Defaut, the bar offers a full bistro menu with modern takes on some of the classics. It’s open Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and reopens Tuesday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.