American chef Marcus Samuelsson opens the doors on his eponymous Montreal restaurant, Marcus, today (May 8).
The restaurant and its adjacent bar-lounge (also overseen by Samuelsson’s team) form the main dining and drinking options at the city’s new Four Seasons Hotel, which also starts welcoming its first guests today.
Samuelsson, who is Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised and made his culinary name in New York, is a well-rounded star in the States: he made his name at Michelin-starred Scandinavian restaurant Aquavit in New York, and has since moved on to owning his own restaurants, including Red Rooster. That Harlem restaurant takes a much more casual approach centred around soul food.
His Montreal restaurant looks to hit a mark somewhere between the two — it’s upscale and chic, but doesn’t go into the same ultra-formal territory as Aquavit — although Samuelsson previously told Eater that the cuisine at Marcus will draw on some similar Scandinavian influences, including ample seafood options.
That menu (read about it over here) will be served in a large, classy space designed by Montreal’s Zebulon Perron (see also: Montréal Plaza) — it’s split between the restaurant (and its large, bright terrasse), with around 200 seats, and the 130 seat lounge-bar section.
As with other celebrity restaurants in the city (such as Daniel Boulud’s Maison Boulud), Samuelsson is obviously not going to be a permanent fixture in the kitchen. But he tells Eater he’s confident in the team assembled to run the day-to-day operations. Nicholas Bramos will be chef de cuisine — while his last role was at the relatively corporate Taverne Moderne 1909, he also brings experience from Toqué and Monkland Tavern.
“Nick is everything you can ask for,” says Samuelsson. “He’s young, he’s very passionate, he’s very locally aware... if you ask about something that is very local to Montreal, like a purveyor, he’s worked with that person.”
“It’s very important that we create a team around Nick and the dining room, and my job is to become a teacher and become a mentor [for that],” says Samuelsson.
That team consists of pastry chef Frank Vilpoux brings experience from two- and three-Michelin starred restaurants in France, while bar manager Simon Lespérance comes from Montreal’s Ritz-Carlton and cocktail hub Cloakroom. Then there’s sommelier Gabriel Bélanger: a Quebecer who is returning from a position at Dubai’s ultra-luxury Burj al-Arab Hotel.
Beyond putting that team together, Samuelsson has also worked to form community ties — Marcus has a partnership with Little Burgundy not-for-profit DESTA, an outreach organization that works with black youth in the city. The restaurant will periodically mentor some participants in the DESTA program to help them move towards employment in hospitality and beyond.
STATUS — Marcus is open from May 8 inside the Four Seasons Hotel at 1430 de la Montagne. The restaurant opens from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. daily for breakfast (3 p.m. weekends), 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays for lunch, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekends for brunch, and 5:30 to 11 p.m. daily for dinner. The adjacent bar and lounge opens from 9:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday to Wednesday and 3 a.m. Thursday to Saturday.
Note: Marcus Samuelsson is hosting a show created by Eater and PBS. This does not impact coverage on Eater Montreal.
- Marcus [Four Seasons Hotel]
- Marcus Samuelsson Restaurant, Four Seasons Montreal to Open Earlier Than Expected [EMTL]