Downtown Montreal’s Le Germain hotel is back in business after lengthy renovations, and with it comes a classic French restaurant drawing inspiration from Parisian brasseries.
Named Le Boulevardier, it’s located on the second level of the Mansfield Street hotel, and effectively takes over from Daniel Vézina’s Laurie Raphaël, which closed a year ago.
Filling that void could be a tall order, but it looks like executive chef David Pellizzari is well equipped to do so — he brings experience from Mile End mainstay Buvette Chez Simone, as well as from his former restaurant Lili Co (a former Eater restaurant of the year). Also on the project is Sylvain Lambert (who owns Le Germain’s Quebec City restaurant, Bistango), and Bruno Durand, another in-house partner.
Pellizzari says that the restaurant will have a fairly classic French focus — he previously highlighted 19th and 20th century French chef Auguste Escoffier as an influence, considered a father of-sorts for modern French cuisine.
That means some icons like garlic snails, frog’s legs, and a savoury petits pois and boudin crème brûlée figure into the menu.
“Basically, it’s based on old brasserie-style French food from the ‘60s,” says Pellizzari.
Seafood also plays a substantial role on the menu, with an oysters Rockefeller-style dish that subs clams for the oysters, alongside smoked mackerel, spinach, shallots, garlic, pecorino, and finished under the salamander.
Going further into the Escoffier-inspired dishes, Pellizzari is also serving some elaborate and meaty dishes, such as a pork belly cassoulet with apple and sous-vide cabbage, or, what might be the centrepiece of the menu, rabbit à la royale en croûte with boudin, foie gras, nutty camelina, and truffle oil. It’s very much a revival dish, says Pellizzari, and one that’s unlikely to be found in Montreal restaurants.
Pellizzari also notes that some other complex, traditional dishes should appear down the road, once the restaurant settles.
That said, Le Boulevardier is a hotel restaurant, and not all hotel guests will jump at lapin à la royale — but Pellizzari is conscious of this.
”You have to put your ego aside and understand that steak-frites is necessary.”
And the menu’s more-approachable items are not afterthoughts — beyond the striploin steak-frites, Pellizzari points to the burger, ground in house and served with guanciale (instead of bacon), gruyere, confit tomato, and served on a bun from Guillaume.
Similarly, with Le Boulevardier serving the hotel’s breakfast, Pellizzari adds that a lot of energy was put into making staples high-quality and interesting — for example, fruit yogurt is put together using house-made conserves, bagels are served with house-smoked salmon, and leftover pastries are turned into pain perdu.
Beyond the food, the wine menu also leans classic, with French chablis and sancerre options, all served in a sleek, modern restaurant designed by Zebulon Perron.
Le Boulevardier isn’t the only new addition to the hotel — on the main level, bar Le Flâneur has also opened, serving charcuterie, cheese, cocktails, and wine.
STATUS — Le Boulevardier is open at 2050 Mansfield for breakfast daily from 6:30 to 10 a.m. weekdays and 7:30 to 11 a.m. weekends, lunch on weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and dinner every day from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. (11 p.m. Friday and Saturday).