Major culinary news flash: Monarque, the major Old Montreal restaurant from Jérémie and Richard Bastien (see: Leméac, Le Mitoyen) suddenly appears ready to open, and has a menu to prove it.
It looks like Monarque will open in part late next week, doing only evenings, before its dining room and brasserie swing into full day and night operations with a grand opening on September 4.
The restaurant has been in the works to varying degrees for around five years — the first mention of it came in 2013 from the Bastien father and son duo. Many more details surfaced about a year ago, although with a huge space across two levels requiring major construction, it has taken about another year to get fully prepared.
As promised by Jérémie Bastien, who is serving as Monarque’s executive chef and backed up by a sizeable team, Monarque will feature a more casual brasserie section at the front of the St-Jacques Street space, open from late morning to late evening — he invoked the all-day approach of restaurants like New York’s Gramercy Tavern as an inspiration. At the back will be the more formal dining room, featuring a menu divided into four: cold and hot appetizers, main courses, and desserts.
Both menus skew French, but aren’t locked into strict classicism — on the more casual brasserie menu, a classic beef tartare sits alongside a trout and miso eggplant option amidst the entrees — then there’s a foie gras parfait, but also grilled octopus with fattoush salad, labneh and chermoula.
The main plates range from steaks dry-aged in house to bouillabaisse among the classics, to a short rib sandwich or pan-fried broccoli with quinoa and chimichurri, with prices mostly around the $20 to $30 mark. Bastien has previously mentioned that while many of the meaty items will be consistently on the menu, their accompaniments will vary seasonally. Desserts from pastry chef Lisa Yu include pavlova, crème caramels, and passionfruit tart.
Over in the dining room, prices are only a fraction higher on an evening menu that seems to be taking a range of classics and adding a few twists, often drawing on east Asian flavours — take a ling tartare with white soy ponzu, or rabbit rillette with umeboshi, a pickled Japanese fruit, or a “chocolate bento” on the desserts. The biggest items lean meaty again: think a roasted rabbit saddle with confit kidney and vegetables; there’s also a solid seafood selection, including pan-fried sea bream with cauliflower seafood couscous, and North African Berber spices. This space will also do lunch service as a table d’hôte.