PLATEAU — The future is here, and it’s bussing trays of dumplings back and forth in two Plateau restaurants. Harbin Dumplings is now home to a wheeled, cuboid automaton that carries trays back with a delightfully cute wobble to its movements (but don’t worry, it’s only a slight wobble, the robot is stable) — see the video supplied to Eater by “Montreal it-boy” Alex Oliver above. Oliver also reports that a server on duty referred to the robot as “my colleague”.
It appears that the dumpling robot is in service at both Harbin locations (on St-Denis Street near Duluth and on St-Laurent and Villeneuve, in Mile End) — while it lacks the limbs and opposable thumbs to actually place trays on tables, it does trot alongside servers to assist them. It also speaks French: according to a post on social media, it will tell customers to move if they block it, and if they stay in its way, it’ll say “je suis fâché” (I’m angry), complete with angry eyes.
DOWNTOWN — Expect to see more terrasses in the Ville-Marie borough (read: downtown, Old Montreal, and the Village/Centre-Sud): mayor Valérie Plante (who is also serves as Ville-Marie borough mayor) announced substantial reductions in the fees for terrasse permits; property taxes for terrasses will also be cut by more than half. Plus, restaurants will be allowed to apply for small, Parisian-style terrasses at the base of their buildings for free. Plante estimated that it could save businesses anywhere from $500 to $30,000, depending on their circumstances.
PLATEAU — In other city news, drinkers can expect more bars to open on the Plateau section of St-Denis Street: according to La Presse, the criteria for bar permits is being relaxed to allow bars within 50 metres of each other (previously, new bar permits required 150 metres between the new bar and any existing bars). Of course, there are some places where bars are closer than this (such as the stretch between Mont-Royal and Marie-Anne), although these bars mostly had permits before the 150 metre rule was put in place.. The borough’s goal is to hopefully cut back on the number of empty commercial storefronts on the street.
CHINATOWN — Also via La Presse, Montreal’s Chinatown is reportedly seeing a drastic drop in business, apparently due to fears that the new strain of coronavirus will somehow be transmitted by shopping or eating in the area. (The neighbourhood isn’t helped by the fact that January and February are already the quietest points of the year). A similar situation is playing out in Chinese restaurants in Brossard, another area with a substantial Chinese population. This is, of course, bullshit: it’s eminently safe to eat or shop in these areas, and don’t you think public health authorities would have told you if it wasn’t?
DOWNTOWN — The SAQ’s Mondial des Cidres returns for its 13th edition at the end of the month — it takes place from Friday February 28 to Sunday March 1 (inclusive) at Complexe Desjardins, right by Place-des-Arts. The first 1,000 passes are half price — and that gets you 20 tasting coupons plus two ice cider cocktails.
OLD MONTREAL — Happening Gourmand is continuing its brunch table d’hôte specials across Old Montreal until March 1. That means a host of restaurants under the Antonopoulos Group umbrella (such as Maggie Oakes, Bevo Bar, Méchant Boeuf) are putting on two-course brunch menus this weekend and next for just $17.