While the city was caught in a series of parades and overflowing pints this past Canada Day weekend, Old Montreal had something else to celebrate: Rockwood, the newest venture from Thomas Vernis and the Tomahawk Group (creators of Santos, Dolcetto & Co, and Tommy Café), opened its doors to the public to coincide with the birthday of both Canada and Montreal.
Billed as a Canadian brasserie, the 120-seat location marks Vernis’ fourth operation in a decade. Named after a historical plaque that was found onsite, the restaurant marks a departure from the owner’s more European fare in prior establishments and a dive into Canadian roots; especially when considering the sourcing of its kitchen and the head-to-toe Canadian tuxedos its service staff will be sporting. Its interior decor focuses on hardwood and the basement masonry often found in the neighbourhood, and with the design completed by the firm Lovasi, it aims to add a touch of elegance to the rustic and rural look this country can be historically synonymous with.
In terms of food, chef Adam Aspelund (Barroco, Chasse & Pêche, Ludger) heads the culinary team. The menu has a particular focus on meats and fish, sourcing products and seasonal harvests from both Canada and Quebec. At first glance, its options run from east to west, from brown butter lobster rolls to salmon tartare. Seared and grilled proteins often come into play as well, with walleye and lake trout featured as main plates alongside appetizers like New Brunswick scallops and PEI mussels. Separating the surf from the turf, they additionally offer a small steak selection with Albertan beef and a lobster boil for two. Seeing as these offerings have price points that fall into the higher end, don’t expect there to be a run-of-the-mill poutine; instead, considering enjoying a nod to Quebec fare with their vegetarian tourtière.
As for booze, it’s Luis Salgado (Tapas 24) who’s behind the wine list and the mixologist Hugo Dallaire (Chez Dallaire) whose reputation with slinging shakers has been the talk of the town for some time now.