In like a lamb, out like a lion. As good a way to describe the 2015 restaurant scene in Montreal as any. The past several months alone have seen the resurgence of Van Horne in Outremont—thanks to Damas, Les Fillettes, and Provisions—the expansion of Le Vin Papillon, the arrival of Charles-Antoine Crête's Montréal Plaza, and word of Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly's return to the city. With that, here are 10 of the most anticipated new Montreal restaurants—most slated for later this year.
Location: Amherst, in the Village
Major Players: Jen Agg, Roland Jean, Régine Chassagne, Win Butler
Projected Opening: Fall
The Story: The couple behind Montreal's Arcade Fire joins forces with the couple behind Toronto's The Black Hoof, Rhum Corner, and Cocktail Bar. The Globe and Mail broke the news this past May with this vital intel: "Featuring Haitian cuisine, music and visual arts, the space will build on the cultural advocacy work that Chassagne and Butler have demonstrated since Montreal-based Arcade Fire started raising funds for Haiti in 2005. For Agg and the Haitian-born Jean (who is also a painter), it will be a chance to take their signature, convivial restaurant style beyond Toronto’s Dundas Street West." Let's hope Montreal's Kafkaesque red tape doesn't delay the blockbuster project much longer.
Wanna close a major city street for ten blocks to sell garbage? NO PROBLEM Wanna open a business? GOOD FUCKING LUCK Bienvenue à Montréal!
— Jen Agg (@TheBlackHoof) August 27, 2015
Agrikol aside, Agg has also been busy this summer organizing her conference to address systematic abuse in restaurant kitchens. Entitled "Kitchen Bitches: Smashing the Patriarchy One Plate at a Time," the conference will be held on September 3 in Toronto. Updated, September 1, 2015, 1:56 p.m.: Listen to Agg dish on Agrikol and other topics on Eater's podcast, Upsell. Update, September 25: Agrikol project may face resistance from residents.
Location: Mont-Royal, corner Drolet, Plateau-Mont-Royal
Major Players: Miguel Aguilar
Projected Opening: Late September
The Story: Pintxo was the latest quality restaurant in the Plateau to fall victim to misfortune when a fire broke out above the premises on April 13. Principal Miguel Aguilar told Eater at the time. "[It's hard to believe this happened] just three weeks before our 10th anniversary. But you'll see, we'll come back." Indeed. Pintxo redux will be located in the former Renard Artisan Bistro. Aguilar divulged that the new restaurant will be a 32-seater with a terrasse. And good news: chef Alonso Ortiz will return to run the kitchen. "Our vision is to maintain the same name, same menu, and same list of Spanish-only wines. Also more lunch choices and, in the near future, an amazing brunch on the weekends. We want our customers to come back and enjoy the same level of quality and service." Update, September 25: Behold Pintxo 2.0.
New Olive et Gourmando Project
Major Players: Dyan Solomon, Éric Girard
Projected Opening: Fall
The Story: Old Montreal standby Olive et Gourmando will get a sister restaurant this fall. From the looks of it, open-fire cuisine will be involved—apparent muses include Joe Carroll of Brooklyn's Fette Sau and St. Anselm, barbecue guru Aaron Franklin, and gaucho god Francis Mallmann: "....a little clue about the new restaurant we will be opening this Fall...[fire emoji] sizzle," hinted Solomon on Instagram.
Location: La Petite-Patrie
Major Players: Chefs Aaron Langille (Orange Rouge) and Kyle Croutch (Salmigondis)
Projected Opening: October
The Story: "We're waiting for the permit to begin work," Langille recently divulged. The former Orange Rouge and Sardine chef wants "the freedom to work with all ingredients and all techniques, including Japanese and Chinese. But a terroir menu is not out of the question either. It's fun to mix it up." The intimate 20-seater will be casual and relaxed, with a set menu and bistronomie spirit. "A bit like Chateaubriand in Paris but with prices tailored to the Montreal market." ICYMI, Langille's and Croutch's savoury waffle stand at Alexandraplatz was one of the pop-up hits of the summer.
Location: Little Burgundy
Major Player: John Winter Russell
Projected Opening: By winter
The Story: Russell, the former chef at the now-bygone Van Horne, gave Eater the lowdown on Candide, in the Salon 1861 development, this week. "The idea is simple at its base. We're going to have a four course table d'hôte with very few choices, probably a few set entrées, and then a choice for a main, then dessert or cheese, at a fixed price—$40 to $45 per person. As far as actual food, it will be regional, seasonal, with huge amonts of plants, garnished with meat, fish, and so on. Probably 80% plants to 20% meats for starters. Then, for mains, larger pieces of meat and fish roasted with the traditional setup with garnishes, and a few other ingredients."
La Petite Maison
Location: du Parc, Mile End
Major Players: Danny St-Pierre
Projected Opening: November
The Story: The ex-principal of Sherbrooke's Auguste, and the host of Radio-Canada's Qu'est-ce qu'on mange pour souper?, opens his first Montreal restaurant. At La Petite Maison, St-Pierre wants to "send out quality food made with quality ingredients at a reasonable price." The tentative menu plan is to dish up starters to share (spreads, a lot of vegetables) and mains that "have an identity." The build entailed a full gut of the Mile End space but St-Pierre already has his maître d'hôtel and chef in place.
Location: 240 Laurier Ouest, Mile End
Major Players: Aspid and Sevan Istanboulian, chef Stelio Perombelon
Projected Opening: The restaurant's official website says 'ouverture bientôt'
The Story: Perombelon, culinary instructor, cookbook author, and former chef at Les Chèvres, Les Cons Servent, and Sinclair, will soon find himself at 240 Laurier Ouest in Mile End at M.Mme. Principals behind the new wine bar and restaurant include Aspid and Sevan Istanboulian, who own Toi, Moi & Café next door.
Location: Ontario and Amherst, The Village
Major Players: Antonin Mousseau-Rivard and Katerine Mousseau
Projected Opening: Soon
The Story: Antonin Mousseau-Rivard, who helmed Le Contemporain in the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, partners with his mother, actress Katerine Mousseau, to open a 30-seater with a bar permit. The 31-year-old chef plans to serve "minimalist plates, with ambiance and music." You can see more of what Mousseau-Rivard has in mind here. Update, September 25: Soft open for Le Mousso.
Le St-Urbain's Griffintown Bakery
Location: Young and Wellington, Griffintown
Major Players: Chantal Gervais, Annick Dufresne, Marc-André Royal
Projected Opening: Before Christmas
The Story: The principals behind Ahuntsic's successful Le St-Urbain and La Bête à Pain branch out. Chef Royal spoke about the project earlier this summer: "It's an old brick building. [It'll be an] open concept bakery, 2,500 square feet. Customers will be able to see all the bakers in action. We will have a 45 seat dining room. All organic breads, working with lots of sprouted grains, long fermentations, lots of éclairs..." The as-yet-unnamed project will serve light lunches, hot-pressed sandwiches, and will be open seven days a week. "With a big emphasis on coffee," added Royal.
Location: 417 Notre-Dame Ouest, Old Montreal
Major Players: Richard and Jérémie Bastien
Projected Opening: Early 2016
The Story: Bastien père et fils (of Leméac fame) will open a "Gramercy Tavern-style" restaurant in the Penny Lane mixed development. The project has been beset by typical construction delays. One result of the holdup, however, was a complete rethink of the space. Monarque will be almost twice as large as originally planned, with a bar area that seats 65 to 70 and a main dining room with room for 100. Two separate kitchens will serve the entire restaurant.