Big news for Montreal’s casual dining scene: the owners of Maison Publique and Joe Beef have opened up McKiernan Luncheonette in the city’s Sud-Ouest borough.
And it’s new territory for all involved: McKiernan takes up residence in a loft and office building alongside the Lachine Canal in Côte-St-Paul, a mostly residential neighbourhood that’s relatively light on restaurants, and it’s certainly not home to any food service operations from internationally-renowned restaurateurs
As the name implies, it’s very much a daytime operation, doing breakfast and lunch for now — as McMillan told Eater earlier this year, McKiernan is mandated to serve workers in its St-Patrick Street building, meaning that while outsiders will undoubtedly head down there, it’s not crafted to be a destination restaurant.
“The location’s a bit off, but it’s cool, there’s a lot of people working in this building and in this neighbourhood. I think it was needed,” says McMillan.
The opening menu features simple all-day breakfasts, and a variety of lunch options from salads to pastas and ploughman’s lunch. As promised, one focal point is McKiernan’s rotisserie chicken, which is likely to be a menu staple, offering up meal-sized portions and full birds. McKiernan is also partially a coffee operation, meaning some sweets like pink meringues and apple diplomat doughnuts are on offer beyond the above menu. There’s also a hefty onion soup grilled cheese sandwich, a throwback to the original McKiernan, a lunch spot and wine bar that McMillan and team closed down to expand Joe Beef.
Beer, cider, and natural wine are also on hand, and will probably feature more prominently as McKiernan’s dinner service arrives in the near future — it’ll also be a more casual affair, with McMillan highlighting special events like a schnitzel night, Oktoberfest event, or kids’ nights as possibilities.
“We want to just have fun really, a food hall experience,” says McMillan.
On top of the services, McKiernan opens up one more opportunity, with plenty of space for large groups, making it more of a potential culinary event space than the smaller and often rather full Maison Publique and Joe Beef restaurants. Per food blog Tastet, the airy 7,000 square foot space has room for around 200 people seated.
While McKiernan is owned by Derek Dammann of Maison Publique and Fred Morin, Dave McMillan, and Allison Cunningham of the Joe Beef group, there’s also a younger crew running the show. Former Liverpool House staffers Chris Morgan and James Simpkins are overseeing the operation helm on the Joe Beef side, alongside Joe Beef chef Derek Reinhardt in the kitchen. Newcomer Sarah Laporta is the general manager.
For Dammann, this is the first major project since opening Maison Publique in 2012. For Joe Beef, it’s been a year of major projects — the group opened Little Italy wine spot Mon Lapin in March and McMillan and Morin have a new cookbook coming out later this fall. But that busy year was also complicated by McMillan and team being drawn into the #metoo movement, when the Joe Beef group shunned Ontario winemaker Norman Hardie after major accusations of sexual misconduct surfaced — only to have an ex-Joe Beef employee highlight problems with sexual misconduct at Joe Beef itself a week later.
STATUS — McKiernan Luncheonette is open at 5524 St-Patrick (suite 200) from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, with longer hours coming soon.