Right on time, the Little Italy wine bar from the Joe Beef team, Mon Lapin, has cracked open its doors for the masses.
And it’s an expanded Joe Beef team who are behind the operation — the original three owners (Dave McMillan, Alison Cunningham, Fred Morin) are all on board, along with sommelier Vanya Filipovic and chef Marc-Olivier Frappier; McMillan noted to Eater back in the fall that the St-Zotique Street establishment is being guided by Frappier. Also in a prominent role is former Candide chef Jessica Noël, who is heading up the Mon Lapin kitchen.
It’s the first opening in about five years (Le Vin Papillon opened in 2013), and the first foray outside of Little Burgundy, where the three existing Joe Beef restaurants are all on the same block. Mon Lapin takes over former Moroccan restaurant K’Moon on St-Zotique and Casgrain.
While McMillan promised that Mon Lapin won’t be Vin Papillon 2.0, there appears to be some overlap in the approach: not one for modernist plates decorated with crime-scene-like smears and tweezered micro-herbs, McMillan seemed to be digging into food history for inspiration at Mon Lapin, going for earthy meat and vegetable dishes — terms like “pastoral” or perhaps the much-abused “rustic” come to mind.
McMillan tells Eater that Mon Lapin has ditched the chalkboard menu approach of other Joe Beef group restaurants, going for printed menus, although they’ll still change daily. Expect around 15 small plates that will be seasonal, based around local produce and what’s in the markets. And it’ll be complemented by an all-natural wine list from Filipovic, one of Montreal’s most seasoned wine noses.
A couple of initial menu items have been teased on Instagram, including an apparently head cheese-adjacent pig head cake, and a buckwheat cake devised by Noël.
That same Instagram has also been posting copious images of almost obscenely fluffy rabbits, true to the restaurant’s name — no word yet on whether rabbit will feature on the menu (nor how cute it will be, if it is served).
Anybody headed to check it out right away should note that reservations aren’t accepted — and with just 35 seats, it’s likely to fill up rapidly.
STATUS — Mon Lapin is open at 150 St-Zotique East from Tuesday to Saturday, 5 p.m. to midnight.