Aaron, tell us a little about your new restaurant.
Restaurant Le Diplomate is a small, chef-owned and operated restaurant soon to be open in Mile-Ex [at 129 Beaubien Ouest, corner Waverly]. The restaurant was beautifully designed by Israël Noël at Architecture Synthese in Montreal, and wonderfully put together by Pastel. We have up to 25 seats in the main dining room, with the majority seated along a long bar around the kitchen in the style of a small market Spanish tapas restaurant or a small Japanese sushi restaurant. This seating structure helps facilitate interaction between the client and the cook, which will hopefully provide a unique and customizable experience for our customers. It's also a lot of fun to sit at the bar and watch the kitchen send out what they've got. In addition, a chef's table in our back kitchen will soon be available to book for private functions for groups of anywhere between four and twenty five people. We aim to serve great food and wine for people in a relaxed, casual setting.
For how long has this been in the works? There was a bit of a delay, no?
I've been planning this restaurant, or a variation of it, for at least five or six years. While I was working in Barcelona, I saw a number of small places run by small teams and fell in love with the concept of a more intimate restaurant. As for this particular location, I've had the lease for nine months now. Two and a half months have been construction, and the rest of the time has been spent in the same bureaucratic slog that every other restaurant experiences to some degree. Some people have an easier time, some people have worse, so I'm trying not to complain too much.
"We hope to open a good restaurant that, with time and hard work, can become a great restaurant."
Why (if at all) should Montreal be excited for your new place?
Folks that have enjoyed the food that my team and I have pulled off in the past [at the likes of Orange Rouge, Café Sardine] should be excited that we've the freedom and opportunity at this location to double down on what we have thought that we've done best. People who haven't eaten at our restaurants—yet—get to find out what the modest fuss was about in the years previous. We try to be a creative crew that pushes ourselves in order to make food that's perhaps a little more interesting, though with foundations of flavour that remain familiar to many diners. There's going to be a lean towards fish, vegetables, and white wine, as those align more with my tastes, but we'll still have enough meat to make our smaller menus appeal to most. Beyond that, the ability to interact with our customers will allow us to evolve with the desires of our clients faster, perhaps, than some other restaurants. We hope to open a good restaurant that, with time and hard work, can become a great restaurant.
"We're not here to teach people, we're here to feed people."
How has your previous chef and restaurant experience led you to this point?
I've had experience in many different places around Europe and North America, from casual to high end, and I hope that this restaurant is a reflection of all of these work experiences. It won't solely reflect my time in Barcelona, California, Copenhagen, or Montreal, but will be an amalgamation of everything. The places that I look up to the most in the world are chef-owned, and I'm excited to have the opportunity for myself. It allows the voice of the restaurant to be spared from the internal struggle that sometimes can occur between the various levels of ownership and management if opinions differ. I'd rather spend all of my work-time energy on the customers, and not on the distractions of inner squabbles.
People should feel comfortable to come in and sit at our bar for anything between a glass of wine and a snack, or a few bottles and many courses of whatever we have on our frequently changing menu. We're not here to teach people or worry about our 'art,' we're here to feed people and provide them with a good time as best as we can. Hopefully, customers enjoy what we have on offer enough to tell their friends and to make a return visit.