A Catalan-style wine bar and bistro is headed to Outremont from Juan de Dios Lopez Luna, owner of Mile End bakery Farine.
Sommelier and importer Lindsay Brennan — a partner in life and now in business — is working with Lopez Luna to open Alma, which will marry Brennan’s wine knowledge with Lopez Luna’s food background. While Farine provided avenues of creativity, its lack of an alcohol permit, its operating hours, and its current vein of cuisine weren’t enough. With 35 seats (and another 30 on a terrasse), it’s set to open in this spring in the Lajoie Avenue spot which previously housed Galanga Thai Bistro.
In the years leading up to this new project, Brennan was in Catalonia developing a portfolio for the company Vin i Vida, which she operates with top Joe Beef sommelier Vanya Filipovic (now at Mon Lapin in Little Italy).
“My intent was to spend time there throughout the year and learn the cycles of the region,” Brennan tells Eater.
“We really want to put food and wine together, and we’re looking forward to [Alma as] the evolution of Farine.”
Catalan wine forms the heart of the wine list, but other regions will be featured to create a robust selection from indigenous varietals of whites and reds to the currently trending options of oranges, rosés, and bubbles.
“Alma [references] the ‘soul’ in Italian and Spanish, and that’s the common element that goes in to the wine, into making the food, and into the transformation the space is undergoing,” says Brennan.
It’s worth noting, however, that Alma won’t be treating its menu as a mere accessory to its wine selections. “We want the wine to play a lead role, but we want to connect food to it,” Brennan explains.
Just as with the wine, plenty of attention is being given to the sourcing ingredients, particularly seafood. “We wanted more coastal food,” says Lopez Luna. “One of the things I think it’s important is that I’ve been working with a lot of small companies from the Gaspésie.”
That means sustainable fish, obtained from more specialized fisheries (specific menu details are still to come) — that menu will be composed of mid-sized share plates, rather than smaller tapas options, and will also features fresh pastas.
Expect Alma to open sometime in May.