The details about the upcoming wine bar from the owners of Little Burgundy icon Joe Beef are still scarce, but a new video gives a little insight into what customers might be able to expect when it opens in Little Italy.
For those out of the loop, Joe Beef owners Alison Cunningham, Dave McMillan, and Fred Morin are working with sommelier Vanya Filipovic and chef Marc-Olivier Frappier to open their first new venue since 2013. Named Mon Lapin, it’ll be on St-Zotique East and was initially slated to open this winter.
The video (see above) comes from winter coat company Quartz Co., and is mostly a look inside co-owner Dave McMillan’s winter habits, with a focus on a fire-heated shed behind his home, where he paints, reads, and entertains guests.
A couple of minutes into the video, McMillan opens up a vintage cookbook, showing a page with platters of meat and vegetables in china dishes with a homestyle presentation.
“I get a lot of ideas out of these books, cooking is about revisiting history and looking at what people have done before us. I think I based Vin Mon Lapin, the wine bar we’re opening, around this picture ... nobody dares cook like this anymore, everybody’s so much more of an artist and more of an intellectual.”
The implication is that Mon Lapin is going to lean into such homey food that could be described as “rustic”, and that it won’t be the kind of modernist place where plates are dished up with Jackson Pollock style smears of sauce. Later on, McMillan holds up a menu written in an elegant cursive, flanked by soft watercolour-toned images.
“Nobody writes a beautiful menu like this anymore, just look at the fonts. Sick.”
This fondness for a sort of pastoral classicism has shown up in the imagery surrounding McMillan’s other restaurants before — just take a scroll through Le Vin Papillon’s Instagram account. And just a week ago, comments from Fred Morin in an opinion piece from food writer Corey Mintz seemed to take a similar approach, with Morin praising food that is straightforward, instead of flashy-but-laborious food that might serve to beef up a chef’s image.
“It’s getting too complicated...part of it is the chef’s ego. How many people work for nothing just so a guy can see himself in the pages of the New York Times? There’s a lot of vanity in that.”
Elsewhere in the video (which is worth watching in full), McMillan also shows off a pile of sew-on name tags he bought from a St-Henri uniform store — a possible staff uniform idea for Mon Lapin? (Probably not, but fun nonetheless.)
In other Dave McMillan news, the chef is appearing at Little Burgundy’s Corona Theatre next week (Tuesday, January 16) — he’ll be talking with New York Times food editor Sam Sifton about Québécois cuisine, culinary innovation, and more. Tickets are available over here.