The owner of immensely popular Old Montreal cocktail bar the Coldroom has a new project in the works: a Victorian-inspired pub and parlour, right at the heart of Montreal’s most historic neighbourhood.
Kevin Demers is planning to open Parliament this spring in Place d’Youville, with an eye towards Montreal’s heritage.
Demers, a self-professed history buff, will convert the space of former restaurant La Gargote into a traditional watering hole with one eye firmly fixed on the 19th century. He tells Eater he wants the venue to embody the city’s history — and he has a prime location to do it. The pub will sit right across from the location of the Canadian parliament (and auction house St. Anne’s Market), which was burned down by rioters in 1849. It’ll even have a terrasse on the grounds of the Pointe-à-Callière history museum, which stands where the Parliament used to be.
This isn’t the first time Demers has drawn inspiration from Montreal’s history — basement bar the Coldroom is partly inspired by underground coldrooms that served vendors Place Jacques-Cartier, right nearby.
Parliament will cast a broader net than Coldroom — part stand-up pub, part sit-down parlour, it’ll unsurprisingly have beer (eight taps, to be precise): Demers says it’ll be one of few places in town to offer cask ales.
“It’s what you’d find in London if you went to a British pub,” he says: that means an unfiltered, non-carbonated beer (as opposed to keg-stored brews). Also on offer will be Guinness and English stouts, with Demers trying to source traditional-leaning brews from Quebec microbreweries.
Demers has also been intensively researching cocktails circa 1850, and will be creating a cocktail list evocative of libations from that time. (However, it won’t seek to replicate drinks from that era: rudimentary alcohol production techniques at the time meant that perfectly accurate historical cocktails were not necessarily easy to drink.) The exact menu is still to come, but Demers suggests that gin and fortified wine will figure in.
Also true to theme will be the dining options: classic pub fare like bangers and mash and Scotch eggs, and classic English meat pies are likely.
As for the space? “It’ll be as Victorian as we can get”, says Demers. Expect the 50-seat space (split between “pub” and “parlour”) to have lots of wood, marble countertops, and stained glass windows. It’ll have two terrasses — one right outside, and one across the street in front of the museum (per the same arrangement that La Gargote had).
In one notable design twist, it’ll also feature two “snugs”: sectioned off, fully-private booths. These historically would have been used for privacy, particularly by women, who were discouraged from entering such drinking establishments in the 19th century.
This will be Demers’ third bar in the neighbourhood, joining the Coldroom (which opened in 2016) and El Pequeño, the tiny Cuban rum bar that opened last spring.