Some of the most hotly anticipated restaurants to open in Montreal just before or at the start of the pandemic have shuttered or flipped to new concepts in the time since. Bon Service is the result of the latter, a new project replacing swish Old Montreal restaurant Tiers Paysage, which opened in December 2019. And though the name “Tiers Paysage” may be gone, artsy plates and curated bottles have remained — just now, they are inspired by Americana.
“Bon Service is what we always wanted to do in the back room [of Tiers Paysage],” co-owner Misha Smarzik says, noting that it was originally meant to be an upbeat, though secret spot for 5 à 7s, cocktails, and special dinners.
Open since the beginning of May, Bon Service brings that idea to the entire restaurant, with the same trio of owners from Tiers Paysage at the helm: sommelier Samia Hannouni (formerly Joe Beef), as well as Ariel Goldstein and Smarzik of wine bar Philémon next door. (Smarzik, the chef of Philémon, put together a kitchen team after Harrison Shewchuk left Tiers Paysage to open Salle Climatisée in Little Italy.)
Working within the original brutalist appearance of what was once a “cave à manger” (or “dining cellar”), the 50-seat dining room embraces Americana with horseshoes, instruments, literature, records, bottles of bourbon, and pots and pans hanging from the ceiling or displayed on its walls.
There’s even a roulette wheel for ordering cocktails, where diners can let dice decide what to drink from a menu that largely features liquors and garnishes of the South, including fizzes and julep. (It’s on the house, if they roll snake eyes.)
“We focus on all things Americana, from the music and the cocktails to the food and our hosting dynamic… The way we eat, the music we listen to, and what we like to drink is all very representative of what we do in the States,” Smarzik says.
Bon Service’s menu pulls from Southern staples that run the gamut from Louisiana and Texas to the Carolinas and beyond, but still maintains a Montreal quality: there’s fried rabbit as opposed to chicken, and grits get bejeweled with caviar, alongside small plates of pork belly, collard greens, and blackened monkfish.
“These are the kinds of dishes I grew up eating; we have a whole kitchen team that carries it out and we work the ideas together every single day,” Smarzik says, pointing to a staff that pulls experience from restaurants like Boullion Bilk and Moleskine.
Bon Service has already hosted some loosely themed evenings featuring everything from from easygoing grab-and-go nights of pulled pork sandwiches and bourbon lemonade, to shrimp boils and musical jam sessions.
As for that original back room that inspired Bon Service, it remains available for chef’s table services that can seat 14 people with fixed menus for $35, $65, or $95, or cocktail parties for anywhere between 35 and 40 people.
Bon Service is now open for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday at 22 Rue Saint-Paul Est.