September has seen new restrictions for bars, a province-wide police blitz aimed at curbing COVID-19 health infractions at restaurants, and, as of earlier this week, an announcement of a 28-day restaurant and bar lockdown. The pandemic has devastated an industry already reliant on slim margins, but some in the city remained undeterred. Here’s a round-up of the restaurants that opened in Montreal this month.
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VERDUN — After dishing out griot and plantain burgers at their St. Hubert Plaza location for the past three years, partners (in business and life) Michael Lafaille and Claudia Fiorilli have opened a second Kwizinn outpost in Verdun. They missed terrasse season for the new Wellington Street location but have live music every Friday and an updated menu to keep things exciting. The Verdun restaurant was meant to be dine-in-only, but with new restrictions in place, both locations will offer takeout and delivery for the foreseeable future.
Kwizinn is located at 4030 Rue Wellington and accepts orders for takeout and delivery on its website.
SAINT-HENRI — Opened directly across the street from Rasoi (and from some of the same owners), Le Jerk Spot puts forward a unique amalgamation of Indian and Caribbean jerk spices, shwarma cooking techniques, and according to this Time Out Montreal article, a Quebec casse-croûte inspiration. The result is jerk chicken, pork, and mushrooms served in salad, poutine, burger and bowl formats for $15 each. Asad Ali of family-run Tropical Paradise in Montreal’s Snowdown area is also an owner, rounding out the team that has taken over the space previously occupied by Gracia Afrika.
OLD MONTREAL — The historic Old Montreal building that once housed Accords wine bar reopened its doors on September 17, with the arrival of Italian-leaning restaurant 212, named for its Notre-Dame West Street address. The menu, brought by Noma-trained chef Patrick Marion, features fresh pasta and small plates starring locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. With the 28-day restaurant shutdown, there are whispers of casse-croûte-style dishes soon available on UberEats.
212 is located at 212 Notre-Dame West.
SHAUGHNESSY VILLAGE — After opening a takeout counter in Chinatown last year, the team behind Le Coq Frit has opened a second location on Sainte-Catherine Street West, where a Centrale Bergham outpost once was. This space is larger, accommodating indoor seating (when permitted), but offers the same pared-down menu of fried chicken: by the piece, popcorn, tenders, or whole. Choose between spicy, garlic, or tangy plum seasoning, or get the general tao poutine.
DOWNTOWN — Le Cathcart food hall has changed course with the launch of Piazza Sociale, a restaurant modelled on Italy’s bustling public squares. Nestled beneath Place Ville-Marie’s imposing glass skylight, the sit-down restaurant serving light Italian fare will take over the space previously occupied by the food hall’s three full-service restaurants. A team put together its menu of cold appetizers, focaccia, pasta, and more under the direction of Bologna native chef Riccardo Bertonlino, previously the executive chef at the Ritz Carlton’s Maison Boulud.
Piazza Sociale is located at 1 Place Ville Marie, but has yet to announce plans for takeout or delivery.
PLATEAU — A new cocktail and brunch spot has opened on the Main, in the space that formally housed bar Le Cocotier, next door to McKibbins pub. Perhaps drawing inspiration from L’Avenue, one of the Plateau’s most popular brunch destinations, Café Mimosa similarly features walls covered in colourful graffiti and booth seating. Expect all the necessary trappings of brunch — French toast, omelets, and eggs Benedict — as well as a blatantly unnecessary $360 tomahawk steak served with 24K gold.
Café Mimosa is located at 3509 St-Laurent Boulevard, but will be closed until October 28.
MILE END — Steps away from Pizza Toni, which opened earlier this summer, is Slice + Soda, with similar by-the-slice, New York-leaning pies. This is Slice + Soda’s second location, after opening in Old Montreal in 2019, and it’s eyeing a third and fourth Downtown and in the Nordelec real estate development on Saint-Patrick. Slices of classic margherita, prosciutto arugula and soppressata can be paired with organic house-made fruity sodas, as its name suggests.
Slice + Soda’s Mile End location is open for takeout at 56 Saint-Viateur West.
MILE END — A second branch of Mexican restaurant La Catrina opened in the former location of revered café Le Cagibi, on the corner of St-Viateur and St-Laurent, earlier this month. Though the Mile End clientele is sure to differ widely from that in (usually) tourist-driven Old Montreal, the menu hasn’t changed. Expect classics like esquites, queso fundido, 11 varieties of tacos, and drinks spotlighting Mexican alcohol and fruits.
La Catrina is open for takeout at 5490 St Laurent.
LITTLE ITALY — Chef and first-time restaurant owner Erin Mahoney opened the doors to Joon this month, bringing the flavours of Caspian and South Caucasus cuisines to Little Italy’s north end. Small, seasonal, and sharing-encouraged dishes slathered in herbs and spices characteristic of the region make up most of the menu, but there are some fuller mains for those who prefer to go solo. Mahoney previously held stints at La Bête à Pain, Le St. Urbain and Impasto, the last of which is owned by prominent Little Italy chefs Michele Forgione and Stefano Faita, who along with her husband, marketing exec Ilya Daftari, are partners at Joon.
Joon is located at 7130 St-Laurent, but will be closed until October 28.
VILLERAY — At the corner of Henri-Julien and Guizot now stands Saison des pluies, a small neighbourhood café serving pastries, soup, salads, and sandwiches (breakfast, meatball, veggie, and cheese are all options). As its name (meaning “rainy season” in French) suggests, the café was designed with staying indoors in mind. Conceived by Montreal design studio Alphabet, the space features light woods and leathers, oval tables of all styles, baby blue and terracotta seating and minimal matte black fixtures.
Saison des pluies is open for takeout at 301 Guizot East.