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Montreal’s Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings of 2021 — So Far

With warmer weather comes plans for some big openings, from a French brasserie to a 45-seat Thai eatery in La Petite-Patrie

Valerie Silva/Supplied

Opening a restaurant, even in the best of times, is an arduous task. During a pandemic, new safety restrictions, uncertain timelines, and frustrating delays only serve to compound the obstacles. In Montreal, one of the last cities in North America yet to reemerge from its restaurant lockdown, nailing down an exact picture of what will become of a new project — much less when it will open — is near impossible.

Yet, with longer, warmer days, increasingly larger swaths of the population getting vaccinated, and the glimmer of terrasse dining up ahead, the mood is shifting. The health crisis is by no means over. Montreal restaurants, closed since October 1, know that well, but many remain resolute in their plans for forthcoming, though tentative, openings.

Several of the restaurants listed below had ambitious plans to open last year, but unwilling to compromise on their concept with a takeout adaptation, they have been waiting in the wings until some semblance of normality could be reached. Others are direct results of coronavirus pressures and ensuing ingenuity. Here are the restaurants to keep an eye on in the months ahead.


What: Carla is part of the new Hampton Inn hotel under construction on St-Laurent, corner Viger. It’s to be a capacious French bistro showcasing Vietnamese herbs, spices, and cooking techniques to create such dishes as French onion soup, but with pho broth, and steak frites served with tamarind ketchup. Perched on the hotel’s sixth-floor terrasse, Carla will offer a stellar view of Old Montreal, and cocktails to match.

Who: The Lucky Belly Group (Le Red Tiger, Thip Thip, Le Blossom, etc.), with Chanthy Yen (Touk, Parliament Pub & Parlour) as executive chef

Where: 989 St-Laurent

When: July 2021

Comptoir Damas

What: A more casual restaurant from the team behind beloved fine dining Syrian restaurant Damas. Comptoir Damas will take over the 2,500-square-foot space previously occupied by Outremont bistro Les Fillettes to offer sandwiches, some of Damas’ signature meats and dips, and grocery items, such as olive oil, pomegranate molasses, and tahini, developed by the restaurant. Capable of accommodating 30 diners indoors — once that’s a thing again.

Who: Fuad Nirabie, the chef and owner of Syrian restaurant Damas

Where: 1226 Ave Van Horne

When: Late summer/early fall


What: A Japanese wine bar from the team that brought us Flyjin and Jatoba. Its space, designed by Sid Lee Architecture, is located in an old bank building once occupied by the National Bank of Greece.

Who: Patrick Hétu and Alexandre Besnard of A5 Hospitality, and Marc O. Benattar, Nic Urli, S’Arto Chartier-Otis and chef Olivier Vigneault

Where: 1170 Place du Frère-André

When: Once government-mandated restrictions ease


What: A wine bar in the lobby of upcoming Old Montreal boutique hotel Maxwell. It’ll focus on lightly-hued natural wines with vibrant, fruity profiles — think lots in the rosé, orange, rosato, and pét-nat camp. Pastek will veer toward small, seasonal sharing plates in the food department, with brunch on the weekends.

Who: Old Montreal restaurateur Thomas Vernis Pastek (Tommy Café, Santos) and chef Devon Skeaff (Garde Manger, Au Pied de Cochon)

Where: 209 St Paul West

When: April 2021, or whenever indoor dining resumes


What: A 45-seat Thai restaurant, more formal than its lauded sibling curry shop Pumpui. At Pichai, expect a family-style menu of grilled meats, fresh dips, and vegetable and meat salads spotlighting locally sourced ingredients, plus a discerning selection of natural wines — all conducive to late nights and sharing.

Who: Pumpui owners Jesse Massumi, Jesse Mulder, and Xavier Cloutier; chef Chitakone Phonmavongxay of Thai restaurant Thammada; Samuel Croteau, a close friend of Cloutier’s; Ching Kong Han of Épicerie Hour Hong; Jesse Grasso, the former chef de cuisine of Vin Papillon; and Nora Gray sommelier Elisabeth Racine

Where: 5985 St-Hubert Street

When: Once government restrictions ease


Place Carmine

What: A French brasserie in a large Old Montreal space previously occupied by restaurant Le Local and redesigned by Clairoux.

Who: Mélanie Blanchette and chef François Nadon, owners of Quartier des Spectacles restaurants Bouillon Bilk and Cadet

Where: 740 William Street

When: Once the government gives the green light on reopening

Sushi Department

What: A less expensive, takeout- and delivery-only sushi operation from the folks that brought us the more upscale Ryu, known for its inventive rolls and sustainably sourced ingredients.

Who: David Dayan, owner of Ryu, Mediterranean restaurant Ayla, and Livia Café, along with his team, including Jason Lamarre

Where: Online, but with a takeout counter at 288 Laurier West (where Livia Sweets is also located)

When: Soon, according to its Instagram account


What: A new 3,000-square-foot Italian-Japanese restaurant in the lobby of Chinatown’s forthcoming Hampton Inn hotel. Tiramisu’s menu will feature pizzas and pastas accentuated with Japanese flavours. Think spaghetti al limone, but with yuzu, and a lasagna layered with a tonkotsu bolognese. Design-wise, materials like terrazzo, marble, corduroy, and velvet will intermingle to conjure 1950s Italy.

Who: The Lucky Belly Group (Le Red Tiger, Thip Thip, Le Blossom, etc.), with Chanthy Yen (Touk, Parliament Pub & Parlour) as executive chef

Where: 989 Boulevard St-Laurent

When: July 2021

Update: April 15, 2021: This article has been updated to reflect the name change of restaurant Carla, which the owners previously planned to call “Caravelle.”

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