An innovative new restaurant has arrived on the Plateau, with Pineau now open on Papineau Avenue, from the owners of St-Henri wine bar Chez Lavigne.
This is the second hospitality venture for owners Eric Bernard and Catherine Tremblay, who have made over the space that was previously bistro Les Cons Servent. It’s not Chez Lavigne 2.0 — while customers can definitely have a snack at the bar with a glass of wine, Pineau is more a restaurant, albeit in the same spirit as Lavigne, Bernard tells Eater.
That spirit? It’s a little adventurous, with an eye to local produce, and it’s bolstered by an experienced team. Chef Sarak Tiann moves over from the two and a half year-old Lavigne to run the kitchen, bringing some very rounded past experience at now-closed Japanese hot spot Shinji, and at steak classic Moishes. Ex Hoogan & Beaufort and Parasol sommelier William Saulnier is overseeing wine and the front of house, while ex-Magdalena and Ludger pro Julie Belanger Cateysson is running the bar.
According to Saulnier, Tiann brings sharp French technique, with a few twists, courtesy of his Cambodian heritage — Tiann’s dishes will typically keep to a limited number of elements, but will sometimes be given a kick with ginger, yuzu, or Sichuan or sansho peppers, and a range of local berries.
This shows through on dishes like a beef stalk tataki (a cut similar to hanger steak), a gamey cut that comes with a shallot-bone marrow emulsion, sharpened up with sansho peppers and honeysuckle berries. Pineau also has a solid selection of vegetable dishes — take the roasted eggplant — it also gets added sharpness with a miso-mirin glaze and bitter Nordic berry aronia, rounded out with nutty buckwheat and a basil buffalo yogurt.
“It’s one of [several] very flavourful, savoury dishes but it’s not meat,” says Saulnier.
The menu will shuffle on a seasonal basis; dishes max out around $30 with plenty of choices for under $20.
As for the bar, Belanger Cateysson is working with a no-waste policy, stretching unwanted bits and pieces from the kitchen into cocktail ingredients — for example, a twist on the Paloma will feature a syrup made with corn cobs, and a milk punch will take excess milk foam from the bar’s espresso machine, mixed with spices and strained to give a velvety texture.
Those are joined by a selection of vermouths and a couple of local craft beers (from Montreal’s Isle de Garde to start; more will be added soon). Saulnier’s wine selection focuses on vineyards with smaller-scale production — it’s not fixated on natural wines; “just very tasty products”, says Saulnier, particularly from France.
Pineau’s dining room has had a big refresh from when it was Les Cons Servent — it’s warm without being in-your-face homey — while Bernard and team did away with the former bar made of wooden military ammunition cases, they kept all the wood from those and repurposed it, adding a wall lined with greenery.
STATUS — Pineau is open at 5064 Papineau Avenue from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.