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A New Bar Selling Absinthe, Art, and Even a Starfish Lands on St-Hubert Plaza

Chez Ernest is serving dishes prepped by nearby Conserva, and — once it gets its liquor licence — up to 16 Quebec microbrews on tap

inside of bar with beer on tap Chez Ernest/Supplied

Recently renovated St-Hubert Plaza has welcomed a new business onto its turf: Chez Ernest, a resto-bar filled with decor that takes inspiration from Renaissance cabinets of curiosities, small collections of “rare” objects of natural history that were in vogue among the status-seeking European aristocrats of the time.

Chez Ernest’s modern take on the theme features framed art and hand-crafted jewelry not from far-flung places, but from local artisans who use the space to showcase and, with hope, sell their work. The natural history element is preserved, though, with certain outlandish decorative touches, including dead insects, live fish, and a starfish, strewn throughout the space.

Asked whether the last of these is available for purchase, Justine Chevalier Martineau, co-owner of Chez Ernest, tells Eater, “We haven’t decided on a price, but if someone really wants it, they can buy it.”

Her business partner Renaud Marchal is from France, where, Martineau says, the “comptoir de curiosités” model has gained some popularity. First-time business owners, the pair previously worked together at Plaza bar Ninkasi Simple Malt Montréal, which shuttered during the pandemic. Located a block north, Chez Ernest takes over from yet another pandemic closure, bistro and event space Coton.

“We really love the Plaza, and think that now that the renovations are done even more people will come here,” Martineau says.

Having undergone a major cosmetic overhaul that took over two years to complete and saw the removal of its iconic green awning, St-Hubert Plaza continues to attract new tenants, among them the owners of Beaufort Bistro, who are also set to open a new project on the street.

With large-screen TVs airing Euro 2020 matches and coffee supplied by Rosemont micro-roaster and cafe Impérial, Chez Ernest’s hours currently skew more day-time because it’s still waiting on a liquor licence. However, once it has the appropriate permit in hand, Chez Ernest — it shares its name with the skeleton seen, at turns, flanking the bar’s entryway or sitting in an antique armchair — will transition to become more of a night-time affair. Patrons looking to imbibe alcoholic beverages will then be able to choose from up to 16 Quebec microbrews on tap, as well as absinthe, served alongside ornate glass water fountains, “like in the olden times,” Martineau says.

Food-wise, Chez Ernest has teamed up with their neighbours at gourmet grocery store Conserva, offering up a tidy menu of small plates, including cod croquettes with Gribiche sauce, smoked mackerel mousse served with crackers, porchetta in tonnato sauce, and salmon gravlax with beets and dill yogurt. Otherwise, it’s offering a build-your-own-adventure platter, with a collection of dips, cheeses, pâtés, and cured meats to choose from.

Chez Ernest is currently open daily from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 6596 St Hubert Street. Hours are subject to change.

Chez Ernest

6596 St Hubert Street, Montreal, Quebec H2S 2M3