Montreal will lose another widely admired restaurant this week when Les Trois Petits Bouchons closes. Owner Xavier Burini confirmed the unfortunate news today. The Plateau spot, open since 2006, and ostensibly a wine bar, was in practice much more. Led by the talented trio of Xavier Burini, Michel Charette, and chef Audrey Dufresne, Les Trois Petits Bouchons was a precursor for the present-day crop of food-focused buvettes across the city.
Located across from Théâtre du Rideau Vert on Saint-Denis, between Bienville and Gilford, the restaurant's environs were outwardly auspicious. Moreover, Les Trois Petits Bouchons garnered raves from the likes of Lesley Chesterman, and, more recently, Le Devoir critic Jean-Philippe Tastet, who wrote of Dufresne: "La chef Dufresne semble à peine sortie de la 5e secondaire et vous la croiseriez sur sa planche à roulettes que vous la trouveriez charmante dans une délinquance retenue. Ne pas se fier aux apparences. Audrey cuisine. Je veux dire, elle cuisine comme un grand chef. Elle est un grand chef." In a three-star 2010 Gazette review, Chesterman wrote that "amazing is a word I'd use for most everything about this restaurant."
"It would be a slight, though, to think of Les Trois Petits Bouchons as simply a 'wine bar.' This is a restaurant—a doozy of a restaurant—whose food and wine service could probably rival any play across the street for entertainment value."
A (supposedly) favourable address, nods from critics, and good word of mouth have not helped several quality Montreal restaurants lately, most notably in the Plateau, and, indeed, on Saint-Denis. Normand Laprise's Cocagne, home of the original Toqué!, closed this past February after over a decade. Just last week, ten-year-old bistro Au Cinquième Péché shut down as well. Owners Benjamin and Benoît Lenglet confessed that despite "best efforts, a decline in attendance of over 50% in recent months has done us in."