French bistro classics are getting reimagined with Quebec ingredients and flavours from different corners of the world at a charming new Verdun restaurant: Bistrot Paname.
Opened on March 18, Paname sits at the corner of Wellington Street and 4th Avenue, and, according to co-owner Romain Jean-Baptiste, it embodies Parisian “bistronomie,” a culinary trend that took root in the early aughts and saw chefs adopting unorthodox approaches to traditional French cooking, while steering clear of the trappings of haute cuisine.
Jean-Baptiste, who grew up in Paris, recently went back for a visit and says that after dining at some of these so-called “bistronomic” spots, he felt compelled to explore the format in Montreal. He brings 17 years of experience working in restaurants and is joined by partners Michael Domingue Poirier, Charles-Etienne Bégin, and Jhol Lefort Albert, also owners of local grocery-and-cafe chain Ton Quartier, St-Bruno restaurant Förena, and fellow Verdun haunt Bar Palco.
Paname dons subway tiles, mosaic flooring, and dark, rustic wood furniture — a look conceived by Jean-Baptiste, who’s also an interior designer. Visually, it “screams French bistro,” Jean-Baptiste says, but Paname’s menu, by former Bouillon Bilk cook Raphael Leclerc Gileau, tells a slightly different story.
“We take classic French bistro dishes and we reinterpret them following Quebec’s seasons. We play with conventions and want to make things that don’t match the standard description,” Jean-Baptiste says.
Take the restaurant’s approach to poireaux vinaigrette, a dish of marinated leeks, and a well-known bistro staple. At Paname, the leeks are covered in a cranberry emulsion and dotted with croutons and poppy seeds. As for Paname’s beef tartare, it’s dressed in a coffee-flavoured mayonnaise and served with Lavash crackers. For pasta, there’s linguini draped in dashi butter and tangled with shiitake mushrooms and hazelnuts.
For all of Paname’s culinary departures from the old-fashioned bistro norms, there’s a part of its culture that Jean-Baptiste says the team hopes to preserve: its role as a neighbourhood gathering spot. “When I was young, I used to go to French bistros all the time. They were my favourite because of their atmosphere. That’s what we want at the restaurant,” Jean-Baptiste says. “We want to mix the old way of doing things with the new way, and we wanted to do that in Verdun — my neighbourhood, which I really love.”
Bistrot Paname is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday at 4847 Wellington Avenue.