George Despatie, the man behind the embattled Giorgio chain, now down to six restaurants in Montreal's suburbs and Gatineau, hopes that Old Montreal residents and tourists will go for a new concept at the company's once-thronged, flagship outlet. This is not the first time Despatie, who also operates Steak Frites Saint-Paul, has made a bid to reinvent the stone edifice at Saint-Laurent and de la Commune. The concept this go-round is James Rooster, a self-described "wine bar, live and raw food restaurant."
The menu, which will expand over the next month or two, is a strange hodgepodge: oysters, a mortadella sandwich, tuna and salmon nigiri, beef carpaccio, tuna and salmon maki (see below), salmon tartare, a prosciutto sandwich, and charcuterie and cheese plates. "Very interesting stuff made with local ingredients," management affirms, despite evidence to the contrary.
Beverage-wise James Rooster professes to serve "cocktails from terroir alcohol, and local beers and Unibroue products." The drinks menu, however, is a feeble (as in non-existent) tribute to craft beer, with the likes of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Old Milwaukee, and Sapporo-owned brands like Sleeman and Unibroue on offer. In competitive Old Montreal, the new makeover of the old Giorgio could be in for a rough ride.
Status: James Rooster, 3 de la Commune Ouest, (514) 842-3822, now open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.