Winter is coming to an end, and vegetation isn’t the only thing that will be springing to life in Montreal. The winter months are traditionally quieter on the restaurant scene, and new restaurants often hold off opening until more hospitable weather can drive customers to their freshly-opened doors.
That said, here’s a rundown of some of the most eagerly awaited establishments you’ll see between now and mid-June in Montreal.
Who: Montreal favourite Antonio Park (Park, Lavanderia) with pastry chef Bertrand Bazin, late of Old Montreal private club for “elites”, 357c
What: Some kind of sweet treat, billed as a cafe-bakery-patisserie, details are scarce but it will call on Bazin’s very substantial pastry expertise, and it will be a departure from Park’s mostly formal (not to mention savoury) previous work.
When: Probably May
Where: In the same Westmount block that currently houses Park and the soon-to-return Lavanderia
Who: Dan Pham and Phong Thach (of Vietnamese pub Le Red Tiger)
What: A Hawaiian snack bar, serving vegetarian-friendly food with fresh, tropical vibes: think poke bowls and smoothie bowls — there will be fish, fruit, and vegetables aplenty. They’re also planning to emulate Oahu North Shore favourite Ted’s Bakery with sweets like chocolatey Haupia pie, a Hawaiian staple. Also, shaved ice desserts.
When: In April
Where: On the pedestrianized part of Sainte-Catherine East in the Village
Who: A5 Hospitality — Alex Besnard, PJ Goupil, and Patrick Hetu — they’ve been behind other hits such as Jatoba, Flyjin, Mayfair — as well as David Schmidt (Bar Kabinet, amongst others)
What: A makeover and re-do of defunct Plateau brasserie Rachel Rachel. Jatoba chef Olivier Vigneault is on board, and they’re calling it a “brasserie asiatique”, and “a festive baby version of Jatoba”. Obviously, it’s not going to be far removed from Jatoba but it will orient a little more towards small plates, as compared to the more restaurant vibe at Jatoba. Designer Amlyne Phillips (who killed it at the sprawling Kampai Garden) is working on it, all but ensuring a great space.
When: Late April
Where: 500 Rachel East — right across from Mayfair, in the Plateau
Who: Jonathan Gaudreault and Pierre-Olivier Boily, owners of Sherbrooke brewery Siboire
What: The Montreal expansion of popular Sherbrooke, Quebec brewpub Siboire — the company has two successful bars and a retail operation in the Eastern Townships city, serving the company’s craft brews along with a smattering of pub food. They won’t be brewing on-site, but with 40-odd staff it’s not going to be a small operation.
When: Late April
Where: 5101 St-Laurent, on the corner of Laurier in the Mile End
Who: Yann Levy, of taqueria Escondite, and duo of poke spots Koa Lua
What: A sake bar-slash-Japanese style cocktail bar from a principal who has already made a foray into Japanese offerings with his izakaya, Biiru.
When: No date yet, but sometime in spring
Where: Downtown, near Phillips Square and The Bay
An Unnamed Project From Tommy Café
Who: Thomas Vernis of Old Montreal’s Tommy Café, Dolcetto & Co, and Santos Tapas
What: Not too much is known yet — it will be a Canadian-oriented brasserie, spread over two floors, doing brunch, lunch, and dinner. Lovasi are working on it as designers — the same people who worked on Hvor and Suwu.
When: Presumably later in the spring
Where: 101 St Paul West, in Old Montreal
Something in the old Shinji Location
Who: The Grinder restaurant group (Grinder, Hachoir)
What: Something far more seafood-oriented than the group’s currently meat-focused stable.
When: Spring at large
Where: 1732 Notre-Dame West, in the old Shinji location — it’s unclear if sushi, or Shinji Nagai are involved
Who: Antonio Park
What: The reincarnation of Park’s Westmount restaurant Lavanderia, of course — it went up in flames in November and its prolonged closure (not to mention the damage) means it’s getting a redesign. Food-wise, it’ll be the same parrilla restaurant as before: “an ode to Park’s childhood” — Argentinian with dashes of Korea, and no shortage of meat (Park was Canada’s first chef to get his hands on a Kobe beef importing license).
When: A March opening date was flagged, but it’s looking to be later in spring
Where: 374 Victoria Avenue, in Westmount
Who: The same people as L’Avenue, the one on Mont-Royal Avenue
What: The second location for the obscenely popular Plateau brunch restaurant L’Avenue.
When: At the end of March
Where: 3612 Notre-Dame West, in Saint-Henri
Who: Terra Perma, an agricultural collective in the Laurentians
What: A sugar shack, but right here in the city. This one’s just a pop-up but it’s running for a solid month and a half, and with some interesting takes on standard cabane à sucre fare — unlike some sugar shacks which seem to rely primarily on maple syrup for all flavour in the meal.
When: Mid-March through to the end of April
Where: 3580 Notre-Dame West in Saint-Henri — in the old Café Rose-de-Lima
Who: The owners of popular organic grocery store Fruiterie Mile End
What: The full name — “Délicieux Veg Fusion Cafe” — makes it pretty clear (although the “Délicieux” part is perhaps a little presumptive). Plant-based food will be the focus, with a Thai angle to it, and they’ll also be pushing all sorts of #cleansing superfoods — açai berries, chia seeds, and so on.
When: Pretty soon
Where: 5718 Parc Avenue, in the Mile End
Who: The team behind Petite-Patrie bars Cobra and Brutus
What: A tiki bar, with plenty of bamboo and an all-round classic tiki kitsch feel — as demonstrated by their photos on social media. Expect mai tais.
When: This month
Where: 6714 St-Laurent, in Little Italy
Pizzéria No 900
Who: Dominic Bujold, the man behind Crudessence and Old Montreal végé-vegan spot LOV devised the concept, now it’s run by Alexandre Brunet
What: More locations for Bujold’s rapidly expanding Neapolitan pizzeria, which got its start on Bernard Avenue in Outremont, and has rapidly expanded (with the help of a very strong reception), and now boasts locations in Quebec City and elsewhere off-island.
When: Throughout spring
Where: Everywhere, it seems — the long-awaited Westmount location is still in the works, and an Old Montreal No 900 is also coming. Further afield, Bujold’s chain is also setting up in Laval’s Centropolis, St-Bruno’s Carrefour, and in downtown Sherbrooke (on King Street).
Still On The Way
A few places that had put forward possible winter opening dates are still set to open at some stage — here are a few reminders.
- The makeover of downtown icon the Mount Stephen Club into a boutique hotel is still underway — the restaurant inside is to be run by Toronto’s Oliver & Bonacini group. It’ll be called Bar George, and have a British theme.
- Monarque, the Old Montreal restaurant from the owners of renowned Outremont French restaurant Leméac is still a work in progress.
- Place des Arts restaurant Le Balmoral is in the process of getting a thorough make-over from people who have worked on Flyjin and Jatoba, as well as the company behind big budget events operators Spectra and Evenko. It’ll be a brasserie focused on Quebec products.
- A more beer- and cider-oriented accompaniment to St-Laurent cocktail and wine spot Majestique is still slated to open in the old Les Bobards, just a block away.
- And yes, that Hooters on Crescent Street is still meant to start slinging wings, bringing America’s biggest breastaurant to Montreal proper.