There isn’t a more powerful restaurateur in New York than Daniel Boulud, the French chef who owns Daniel (boasting three Michelin stars) and several other restaurants ranging from an upscale burger joint (DBGB) to a wine bar dishing out top-notch charcuteries (Bar Boulud). After launching outposts in London, Miami, Beijing and Singapore, Montreal is next on his list: Maison Boulud will open for business this winter at the famed Ritz-Carlton hotel, which is currently undergoing extensive renovations costing a reported $150 million…
Chef Boulud picked the city’s most high-profile address for his new restaurant. After opening in 1912, the Ritz-Carlton was for decades the Grande Dame of Montreal hotels. It’s been closed since 2008 and the unveiling of its new look, in-house Tiffany & Co. store and 130 rooms and suites is anxiously awaited.
In its heyday, it’s where Hollywood starlets and heads of state chose to stay, and where the local high society held their glitzy balls. While never known for extraordinary cuisine, the hotel restaurant made a name for its afternoon teas – a beloved tradition – served in an unbeatable setting: a flower-filled outdoor patio with a duck pond in the center.
The patio and duck pond will return when the space reopens as Maison Boulud. “Only now am I realizing the importance of those ducks to this town,” admits Boulud, half-jokingly. The chef has made frequent trips to Montreal over the last decade, usually to go to the F1 race (he’s a racing fanatic and roots for Ferrari) and eat at as many restaurants as he can. “I know that there are amazing ingredients and amazing talent.” From now on he’ll be in town often, researching local eating habits – Joe Beef is one of the first places he wants to try.
While he hasn’t figured out a menu yet, Boulud plans to use as many local products and suppliers as possible, counting on his chef friends Normand Laprise (Toqué!) and Martin Picard (Au Pied de Cochon) for tips. Farm-raised venison and porcelet (piglet) are sure to be featured. As for the place itself?
“It’ll be upscale casual. Upscale because it’s the Ritz-Carlton and casual because I don’t want to open a fancy restaurant. I feel at home in Montreal, where people embrace and enjoy good food, and I think I can add something to this tradition.”