He may not be willing to admit it, but chef and co-owner of Petite-Patrie restaurant Bistro Rosie is cooking some of Montreal’s best food, guided by skilful French techniques, and a clear willingness to get playful and even occasionally get things wrong.
Daniel-Six opened Rosie on Bélanger Street with partner Sophie Duchastel de Montrouge in September 2017. While the restaurant garnered a flurry of initial publicity due to its no-tips policy (where staff are paid set wages substantially above the minimum), it soon earned glowing reviews from critics — the meal was “cooked with both heart and head”, noted one.
And the food from Daniel-Six — who won Eater Montreal’s Chef of the Year award in December — has been key to that great reception. The chef built up his culinary skills in his home country, France, at Parisian restaurants Le Chateaubriand and Ze Kitchen Galerie. In Montreal, he became known for Village brunch restaurant Ma’tine, which he closed in 2016 to spend time with family, but also to be able to get more playful with food, which brunch service doesn’t allow.
At Rosie, that creativity comes in the form of experimenting with ingredients that haven’t traditionally gone hand in hand with French cuisine or techniques.
“I’m trying to use a lot of different flavours from around the world that I can find, a lot of galanga, lemongrass, to have a little bit of punch inside the plate,” explains Daniel-Six.
The aim isn’t to do “fusion” with say, Thai food — since there isn’t one type of cuisine that Daniel-Six is looking to bring into his dishes
“The goal is just to discover new things.”
So it’s not a forced fusion — it’s Daniel-Six following his tastes. The output includes plates like a parmesan-mushroom-pecan rice pilaf, or plum vinaigrette marinated turbot. And if customers enjoy it, that seems to imply that he has great taste, even if he seems amused by that suggestion.
“People like my food because — it’s always something new, something that you don’t see everywhere.”
If Daniel-Six is perhaps unwilling to claim the suggestion that he has good taste, it could be because of the modest way he views his own cooking — likening it to a parent cooking for the kids (this might be where the “heart” side of the cooking comes into play).
“For moms, every night they have to do something for the kids, they have to change [meals] up every night to make it for you. It’s the same with me.”
And like a mom who needs to come up with something fresh all the time, Daniel-Six admits that not every dish comes out flawless — especially given the menu’s frequent changes, every week or more. But unlike some chefs who may take umbrage to a customer not finishing a plate, Daniel-Six says he wholly invites feedback.
“I ask the servers to follow up, to push the people to say it if they’re a little bit shy. They don’t always want to express themselves, but they’re paying for something...I’m very open minded, but don’t write something on the internet, tell me up front.”
On a broader level, Bistro Rosie was never meant to be an all-singing, all-dancing model of perfection — just as with the food, Daniel-Six wants the overall restaurant to evolve over time: for example Daniel-Six and Duchastel du Montrouge didn’t pour money into interior designers or chic decor for the opening. The dining room set-up is exceedingly simple, with a coat of paint and an array of plants. Even the sign for the diner that used to occupy the space is still on the building. This was all intentional, says Daniel-Six.
“It’s a work in progress, we didn’t want to start with everything shiny, everything beautiful — the principal is what you have on the plate, and what you have in the glass.”
“I go to restaurants to eat, not to be in a cool place...there’s a lot of money lost in this industry just because people want everything.”
It’s not a restaurant for Instagrammers — it’s for diners, and those who head up to Petite-Patrie for a visit will certainly dine well.
Note that Bistro Rosie is closed through to February 6 for a short break.