St-Laurent Boulevard got a little bit cozier last Friday with the opening of Le Roseline.
The plush candle-lit café-by-day-slash-wine-bar-by-night is the brainchild of owner Jean-Marc Renaud and chef Alex Collyer (formerly Bon Vivant, Taverne sur le Square).
Located on the corner of St-Joseph Street, Le Roseline represents Renaud’s first real foray into food. A cinematic art director and production designer by trade, he last worked in the restaurant industry in his late teens at Laval family restaurant La Renaudière, before going on to study hotel management in the ‘80s.
A Quebecker through and through, Renaud grew up on the Plateau, where his family has lived for decades. “I’m a 100 percent Plateau guy,” Renaud told Eater Montreal.
So, when he decided to open Le Roseline, he knew he had to return to his roots. He modeled the restaurant after the salon double architectural style found in many Plateau and Mile End apartments, in which two living rooms are connected, separated only by a curtain (many Montreal apartments still have this structure, but the rooms have since been converted into bedrooms). True to his inspiration, the dining room in Le Roseline consists of two rooms separated by soft grey curtains.
The 1900-square-foot space is also dotted with photos of his family and homages to their history in Montreal. Much of the space’s vintage furniture is also sourced in Quebec — most notably, a set of vintage lamps and lampshades recovered from Quebec City’s Chateau Frontenac.
Le Roseline was designed to be cozy above all else, a rejection of the often cold and sterile Scandinavian minimalist style that dominates the café and restaurant scene today. “As a designer I wanted to go against the wave,” Renaud says.
It’s lit solely by table lamps and elegant spherical chandeliers, which hang low from the ceiling, giving the space a warm, inviting glow. One side of the room consists entirely of exposed brick, another is dotted with accents of crown molding, and a floor-to-ceiling wine shelf separates the two. Plush leather and velvet couches rest atop a geometric-tiled floor, while staff keep light jazz music playing in the background well into the evening.
The room’s undeniably comfortable atmosphere offers respite from Montreal’s biting winds — which bodes well for Le Roseline as it blazes through a winter opening (a notoriously difficult feat to pull off.)
Renaud says he designed the café-bar with the aim of transporting patrons into another era.
“I was in the mood to recreate the ‘30s,” he says. “I want to feel that people when they come in, they (feel) that the time is stuck, so they can like, just enjoy the moment.”
The menu, which Collyer designed, was crafted around a similar goal. Evening diners can indulge in pot-au-feu (a beef stew with roots in French working class society), clam orechiette, and beef tartare — all “simple” comfort foods, Renaud says. Daytime diners can snack on Le Roseline’s lighter “all-hours” offerings, like croissants, toasted bagels with cretons (a Québécois pâté), or the soup of the day.
Those with a sweeter tooth should check out the chocolate mousse or the omelette norvégienne (also known as Baked Alaska, an ice cream cake topped with torched meringue.)
“Everything is based on classics,” Renaud says. “When you refer to the old days, you think about Baked Alaska, you think about things like comfort food. But we’ve revisited the recipe to do something else.”
Le Roseline also offers a range of caffeinated drinks during the day and colourful wines and classic cocktails (like a negroni, an old-fashioned, and an amaretto sour) at night. The majority of its wine list — which was curated by actor Martin Laroche — is natural or privately-imported from France.
While Renaud says the first days of service since opening have been successful, he has his eye on longer-term goals. Once the temperatures climb, he plans to open a terrasse in front of Le Roseline on St-Laurent, directly facing Lahaie Park.
“This is the only place that I know in the neighborhood that you can get in front of this park,” he says. “This park is really special. I spent all my last summer at this park and there’s a there’s a church, and its really green.”
“There’s really something special in the area here,” he said.
STATUS — Le Roseline is now open at 5014 St-Laurent Boulevard from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturday. Reservations are accepted here.