The new bistro from local-via-New York culinary power pair Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly (ex-Au Pied de Cochon) and partner Molly Superfine-Rivera (of Long Island City’s M. Wells Steakhouse) opens its doors in Mile Ex tonight.
Called Marconi, it’s been in the works since Brunet-Benkritly left his posts at New York’s Fedora and Bar Sardine to return to Montreal back in 2015.
Speaking to Eater, Brunet-Benkritly discusses how he wants to make Marconi a neighbourhood spot, rather than a once-a-year destination restaurant. “We want people to come and hang out to create a lot of energy, we want to encourage snacking.”
On the small plates or snack front, the menu has vibes of back-country, farmland Quebec, but with solid glances elsewhere in the world. But all that comes with a clear interest in not overloading plates with obscene numbers of flavours. Dishes include a venison tartare with ricotta and chips, and beef tongue with apple, peanuts and a ginger vinaigrette.
Brunet-Benkritly says he wants his ingredients to be “as seasonal as can be”, although without a fixation on in-season produce at all costs — especially for Canadian winter. These feelings of seasonality plus Québécois with a worldly outlook carry over to the larger plates: duck breast with wheat, apricot and molasses, or cod with potato, buccin whelk (a sea snail), and clam broth.
After a private test-run earlier in the week, Brunet-Benkritly is feeling good. “I haven’t seen many [trials] that were smooth like that.”
On the beverage side, Superfine-Rivera took charge of cocktails, and is starting classic. “The sort of place you can have a proper boulevardier or martini,” Brunet-Benkritly describes it. But as the staff settle in, that will branch out more. The wine list was put together by Emilie Courtois (Pastaga, La Chronique), and features some natural wines (although not the whole list), accessibly priced.
The space is a converted storefront — and the Marconi crew have kept much of the original tiling and wooden floors, neatly executing the old wood feel Brunet-Benkritly previously said he wanted for the restaurant — check it out below.
STATUS — Marconi is open Wednesday to Sunday evenings at 45 Mozart Avenue West (corner of Clark), starting tonight (December 8). Reservations will be accepted after December 15.