The new incarnation for popular Mile End restaurant Les Deux Singes de Montarvie is taking shape, and could be open within a month.
Back in August, Les Deux Singes served its final meals, with the announcement that it would take over a neighbouring storefront (former sneaker and magazine store Oxford), transforming into Île Flottante — now, more details on what’s in store for the St-Viateur restaurant are here.
According to co-owners Sean Murray Smith (also the chef) and Nada Abou Younes (taking care of front-of house), the space is getting a major transformation — the woody bistro that housed Les Deux Singes will be connected to the new space, going from 30 to 50 seats.
The new restaurant (with design from architect Alain Carle) takes inspiration from the glassy inverted pyramid of the Canadian Pavilion at Montreal’s Expo 67 World Fair (the pavilion also figures in Île Flottante’s logo) — the kitchen won’t be open, but will be encased in glass, and glass framing for the bar — in short, lots of glass, says Smith.
“It’s kind of a play on the windows that come up in the structure, it was a see-through structure, it looks [opaque], then when you’re standing near it you can see the people inside.”
While the interior will change a lot, the food on offer will stick a bit closer to Smith’s style from before, although the tasting menus will shift to have options for three, five, or seven courses, and the flexibility to accommodate dietary restrictions.
“At the end of Les Deux Singes I was starting to mature my style. I hoped to keep improving on that; to take the concept of international cuisine to another level and not get hung up over whether something is Italian or not.”
Smith will aim for local produce where possible (for example, Atlantic seafood, not Pacific), but it won’t be a strict locavore operation.
A casual à la carte lunch will also be added, something relatively fresh on a street where businesses are catering to the Ubisoft crowd with pizza and sushi.
The meringue dessert references in the restaurant’s name will also make an appearance, Murray notes.
For the bar program, Murray and team are creating original cocktails and will do some classics, and Île Flottante will have beer on tap from Brasserie Harricana, more local artisanal beers; eventually I’d like to do pairing with [those]. Wine will be taken care of by sommelier and co-owner of Outremont bistro Boxermans, Jade Fortin (Smith is also executive chef for Boxermans).
In recent years, Les Deux Singes de Montarvie ascended to being the top-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor in Montreal, finally earning a strong review from Jean-Philippe Tastet earlier this year. It was typically a tough table to get — so why lose the name that brought so much success? According to Younes, who took ownership of Les “Deux
“The original...name never belonged to us personally, we have a lot of love and respect for it, but it was never ours…after six-and-a-half years we’re strong enough on our feet and we have a good family, a good team, and we wanted a name that would reflect all of us.”
That said, Les Deux Singes certainly hasn’t been forgotten.
“When I go to the market, people call me ‘Madame Les Deux Singes’,” Younes laughs.
Younes and Smith are hoping to open up Île Flottante around the end of October — more to come.