Update, December 15: Hoogan & Beaufort opens on December 22.
The chef who made waves at Old Montreal's Les 400 Coups, and who, more recently, has held down a gig at Kitchen Collectif, will open his own restaurant before year's end. The hotly anticipated, unnamed project from chef Marc-André Jetté and Les 400 Coups sommelier William Saulnier will debut this November, the principals hope, in Rosemont's Technopôle Angus development.
The 3,000 square-foot former factory, next to the brand new Pizzeria Caldo, is formidable: 18 to 26-foot-high ceilings, original industrial accents, and ample room for up to 70 diners, seated. Look for a terrasse next summer too, and, bonus, parking. While some facets have been worked out, like the plates, from artist and visual designer Pascale Girardin, what the restaurant will ultimately look like is still under review. The bare bones are there, however—scroll down for photos of the space, as well as preliminary renderings from architect Kim Pariseau's firm, Appareil.
Jetté recently sat down to talk about his new, and very first, restaurant. The interview has been translated, and edited for clarity.
Walk me through the restaurant's evolution.
The seed for this project was planted three years ago. We started to put away a few dollars here and there with the idea of doing something for ourselves down the road. At the end of my run at Les 400 Coups I told [pastry chef] Patrice Demers and [sommelière] Marie-Josée Beaudoin that, along with my girlfriend, who’s also in the industry, I needed a change.
The seed for this project was planted three years ago.
All we did was work like mad. Work, go home, have a glass of wine, go to sleep. It wasn’t a life for me anymore. I wanted to regain some mental balance. So after eight years as a chef, working six days a week, seven days a week, we purchased plane tickets, without means to cancel them, and decided to take off for six months. I gave my notice to Patrice and Marie-Josée. My last day at 400 Coups was August 5, my birthday, and the next day we left for Italy. Maybe it was a little crazy but at the time I knew I wanted to be my own boss one day. Patrice and Marie-Josée [both now at Patrice Pâtissier] were my family—they still are—but a change was necessary. With Will it just makes sense, and now after three years we’re almost there.
It took a year and a half to find the space in the Technôpole Angus development. The new restaurant is next to Pizzeria Caldo, and there's a new Mamie Clafoutis about to open there too. I didn’t want to be in Old Montreal, Downtown, or the Plateau. We were looking at Villeray, all the way to Rosemont. I’m from Rosemont. It’s a neighbourhood that doesn’t have a lot of restaurants. Rosemont has a lot of promise, and has room for something like this.
Rosemont has room for something like this.
Can you talk a bit about the space?
The space is magnificent. We have huge windows, wood beams, and a lot of interesting industrial features—there's a five or six-ton winch, for example, that will remain. It's an old factory where trains and tanks were built. The kitchen will be open to everyone. We'll also have a wraparound bar, a fire pit, and a large, exposed wine cellar.
How would you describe the cuisine at the new place?
There will be some continuity with what I was doing at 400 Coups, for sure. Our cuisine there was upscale, precise. I want to continue on that trajectory but make the food even more accessible, and easier to understand. Rosemont is a different environment. It’s a big restaurant that can accommodate a lot of people. It has to cater to families. I’m a father now—my daughter is nine months old—so I want to create a space where everyone feels welcome.
I’m creating the restaurant that I want to eat in.
We don't want to be a restaurant that people just go to once a year for a special occasion. I want it to be a nice neighbourhood bistro but in the same spirit as what we did at 400 Coups. A fresh cuisine, a delicate cuisine. Not heavy, not rustic, more travaillé. A lot of vegetables on the fire pit, and meat, of course, but not big cuts. I want to diminish the quantity of meat, especially now with prices rising the way they are for animal proteins. It’s impossible to serve meat at prices that were once considered reasonable. We can’t do it anymore. So vegetables, a fresh pasta station, a lot of fish. An à la carte menu and, also, a very accessible tasting menu.
William, similar to what he did at 400 Coups, is very focussed on Quebec products. He loves, and is very savvy about beer. There won’t be any Molson taps at our restaurant. The wine list will feature private imports, decently priced. People won’t leave our restaurant with a bill of $400 for two; that’s not our goal. A dish at the bar with a glass of wine, $30. That’s more the plan. It’s a little selfish but I’m creating the restaurant that I want to eat in. A casual vibe, good food, with a lively open kitchen. We'll do five dinners, a Sunday brunch with a strong coffee program, and some lunches. It’s a big project, and a big restaurant. I don’t foresee a menu with only a few choices.
It’s important not to overcomplicate your first menu.
Do you have a sense of what your inaugural menu will look like?
We were supposed to open in July so I had all my suppliers lined up with a summer menu in mind. Then we pushed it to September. Now it looks like November so we have to adjust. That’s fine. It’s important not to overcomplicate your first menu because there are so many variables you can’t control when you open a restaurant. You don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot. So you start slowly, and get to know your staff, your customers, your space. Then, once you have more control over your environment, you start to play. We were never in a rush to do this. We wanted to take our time and do it intelligently. And now we're almost there.