The vegan burger competition is heating up in Old Montreal, with the upcoming addition of Bvrger from prolific chef and restaurateur Christian Manuel Ventura Alatorre.
Alatorre is the originator of one of the city’s most beloved vegan spots, Sushi Momo, as well as other meat-free establishments like Casa Kaizen, which interlaces Mexican and Asian flavours in tapas form, and eight-month-old Plateau torta haunt Nopalito.
Alatorre says that burgers were his favourite food as a child, and since coming to Montreal and becoming vegan, he hasn’t found a spot to fill that void. “So I thought, ‘I guess I should open one myself.’”
The burgers at Alatorre’s new spot, poised to open at the end of July if all goes according to plan, range from classic smashed diner style to a truffle option with black garlic aioli and balsamic caramelized onions on a pretzel bun. Another, called “The K-Town Chick’n,” stacks shishito peppers and kimchi slaw atop a faux meat patty. They range from $9 to $16, which could appeal to the neighbourhood’s office lunch crowd, once it returns in full force.
The only thing is, Alatorre isn’t the only one with the idea — not just in Old Montreal but on this particular strip of Notre-Dame Street West. Burger Fiancé opened in March, and has since been serving an all-vegan menu of burgers at similar prices ($11 to $13).
Alatorre says he rented the locale, owned by notorious landlord Shiller Lavy and once home to Japanese lunch counter Marusan, six months ago, before Burger Fiancé had opened and that he wasn’t aware it was on the way. (At the time, the Burger Finacé spot was occupied by another vegan lunch restaurant, Kupfert & Kim, from the same owners.) Nonetheless, Alatorre says the competition three doors away could be a good thing. “Maybe it’ll be awkward for the first month, but I think it’ll work. Sometimes you see a Burger King and McDonald’s next to each other.”
(Eater has reached out to Burger Fiancé for comment on their new neighbour, but hasn’t heard back.)
“The way I see it, the more vegan places there are, the more awareness it brings,” Alatorre says, and he’s certainly intent on continuing to add to the count. In addition to the new burger joint, which will also serve milkshakes made from a blend of oat milk and coconut ice cream, he will be opening two more restaurants this summer, one downtown and the other in Quartier des Spectacles.
Alatorre’s restaurant group has expanded rapidly over the past few years, exceeding even the restaurateur’s own expectations. The decision to expand to more vegan restaurants beyond Momo, which opened six years ago, was partially driven by his concerns regarding climate change.
He says he once asked his partner if he wanted to have children and was met with worry about the planet’s future. “I decided to make it my mission to try and change that. The more people who eat plant-based, the better for everyone, including my kid — if I end up having one.”
Bvrger is slated to open in July 2021 at 401 Notre-Dame Street West.