A new all-purpose café-bar is on its way to Saint-Henri with the aim of serving caffeine and alcohol day and night.
Córdova is the name, and it comes from the trio of Café Myriade owner Anthony Benda, former MasterChef contestant Aaron Polsky, and journalist Elayne Teixeira-Millar.
Polsky tells Eater that the aim is to build the venue up into a neighbourhood venue.
“The place needs to be reliable and if you want it to be a fixture in the community then it has to be a gathering place, it has to be a communal place, and that’s really the vibe we’re trying to create.”
To do that, they’re planning to open Córdova seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. until late.
“The goal is to meet everyone’s needs without assuming what they want...if someone finishes a coffee bar shift at 1 p.m. and feels like a beer, that’s covered.”
There are three main focuses for Córdova — the coffee front will draw on Benda’s expertise from Myriade (although the venue will definitively not be “Myriade St-Henri”). Cocktails will come with more of an emphasis on doing quality takes on classics, rather than being a craft cocktail bar — a “great gin and tonic”, Benda suggests. (There will be a reasonable selection of beer and wine options, too).
Then, there’ll be food, which is where the Spanish venue name comes in — a selection of small dishes (Córdova won’t have a full kitchen) — olives, conserved fish, jamon (Spanish ham), and more. Polsky says he’s hoping to resurrect the sometimes negative reputation that canned, preserved products can have in North America, which isn’t the case in places like Spain and Portugal, where canned sardines or anchovies can be well-respected (if the right ones are chosen).
“[It’s about] the idea of sourcing the best product you have and letting that product speak for itself...rather than the transformation.”
Córdova is going into a space on Notre-Dame across from pie store Rustique — an immensely popular area for new restaurants and bars. The development has provoked worries about gentrification (certain restaurants have also ended up as targets for small sub-groups of that opposition). But Benda, who lives in the Sud-Ouest borough, says he’s conscious of serving St-Henri, rather than drawing in are more moneyed clientele from beyond.
“There’s a huge stigma about a coffee shop going into a neighbourhood...we’re going in with our eyes open and knowing that we have to earn the trust of the neighbourhood.”
“We’re working with almost exclusively people who live there or are working there...we can’t lose sight of the fact that we are the newcomers to the neighbourhood, and we have to respect the neighbourhood and rather than reach a demographic that isn’t the neighbourhood.”
Polsky — who runs a decades-old family-owned manufacturing business in the borough, agrees.
“Ultimately St Henri is a very working class neighbourhood and anything you do in that neighbourhood that doesn’t keep that in mind...isn’t necessarily a service to that neighbourhood.”
Expect Córdova to open around the end of summer, in late August or early September — Eater will have updates.