Julie Romano concedes that, by Mile End standards, her new restaurant resides in "a bit of a no man's land." That's about to change, however. The Pâtisserie Rhubarbe and Olive et Gourmando alum is about to boost a once-moribund block of Saint-Laurent boulevard between Bernard and Van Horne with Le Butterblume ("buttercup" in German), a café, and breakfast, brunch, and lunch restaurant that has a boutique angle to boot. The hybrid venture's arrival coincides with a number of improvements to the upper Mile End/lower Little Italy enclave, from a new skatepark and street art space under the Rosemont viaduct, to the proposed enlargement of Lhasa de Sela park. An enthusiastic landlord has helped orchestrate the block's transformation. Butterblume aside, the departure of the wholesale Adriatica bakery has made way for the likes of a Brazilian martial arts dojo, a gluten-free hypoallergenic food shop, and the environmental non-profit Jour de la Terre Québec.
"We both felt like it was time to work for ourselves."
Nadine Boudreau, Romano's partner at Butterblume, comes to the project with experience at Montreal restaurants like Pullman. The pair met "a long time ago" at Le Petit Italien in Outremont. "We both felt like it was time to work for ourselves," Boudreau declares. The search for an amenable brick-and-mortar space began well over a year ago. Despite Romano's half-jesting remark about Butterblume's limbo-like address, the area does yield many advantages for the business partners. There's the busy cycle path, just outside the door, for starters. The proximity to the Ubisoft campus and Rosemont metro is a plus. And at the end of the day, notes Romano, Mile End tends to embrace quality new restaurants, wherever they emerge.
Butterblume's owners have strong restaurant résumés, and so does chef Jens Ruoff. The native of Germany comes to Butterblume (the German provenance is a happy coincidence) after stints at Van Horne and Bouillon Bilk. Ruoff describes his menu at Butterblume as "healthy, bread-based, comfort food." The chef makes his own sourdough bread, and says that croissants aside, the restaurant will do it all in-house. That includes a host of baked goods at a fetching, entrance coffee bar, where beans from Toronto's artisan roaster Hale will be used, as well as a lineup of tartines, sandwiches, salads, and hot and cold soups. Butterblume has a liquor permit too — expect a tidy selection of wines. "We want to develop an apéro scene," says an exuberant Boudreau. The 40-seater (with a capacity for 70 for private events — "Everything from wine tastings to office parties, even birthday parties") includes a ten-seat quartz counter that faces a spacious open kitchen, another ten-seat counter on the opposite, brick-wall side of the restaurant, and tables, chairs, and benches at the back, that, all told, seat another twenty. The roomy, 1,500 square-foot space feels even bigger when a rear garage door slides open in nice weather.
The roomy, 1,500 square-foot space feels even bigger when a rear garage door slides open.
The front of Butterblume is the boutique component of the business. Flowers from a grower in Saint-Benoît, Mirabel will be sold, make-your-own bouquet style, along with specialty houseware items, books, magazines, and more. While the restaurant plans to open at 8 a.m. and function as a daytime-only business, hours will be somewhat flexible. "We're going to follow the sun," explains a smiling Romano. "We'll be open in the morning for coffee and breakfast, and we'll stay open until apéro time." It's a wait-see-and-adjust approach, confirms Boudreau. "If people are lined up at seven in the morning for coffee and a pastry, we'll open. If there's a demand for us to open later we'll consider that too." Brunch will be served Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
And just when will Butterblume open, officially? "Very soon," assures Romano. "June 1!," an adamant Boudreau confirms. "Okay, yes, June 1," responds Romano. "We'll be ready!"
Status: Le Butterblume, 5836 Saint-Laurent, corner Cloutier, (514) 903-9115. Opens June 1, Tuesday to Sunday, from 8 a.m. until sunset.