In a small-ish such as Montreal, it’s huge news when two famous chefs decide to open restaurants within weeks of each other.
The first, Le Hangar, is a funky and vaguely Italianized resto by Louis-François Marcotte, Québec’s answer to Jamie Oliver (he also favours the ultra-casual “I’m just a dude like you” look and prepares uncomplicated food on two TV cooking shows). Too busy and famous to actually man the stove these days (blame it on the baby boy he and his radio-celeb wife just had), Marcotte put young talent Mike Diamond in charge of the open kitchen.
Smart move: the bruschetti and polentas (with toppings and flavours that change nightly) are much more delicious and complex than one might imagine. Menu offerings sound and taste familiar: mushroom risotto, mozzarella, tomato and basil salad, etc.: casual Italian served in a buzzy and cool atmosphere. Le Hangar is located in an up-and-coming part of town called Griffintown, which is only a five-minute cab ride from either Downtown or Old Montreal. Still gritty in parts, but clearly showing signs of gentrification, it is to Montreal (and in a much smaller scale, of course) what the Lower East Side is to Manhattan. The restaurant occupies a refitted old warehouse has charming brick walls and double-height ceilings and is done in an industrial-sleek style: cement floor, lots of glass and metal and even a piece of an old support beam reclaimed from New York’s Ground Zero (used as the base for a long communal table). Since opening day Le Hangar has been bustling, filled with the same stylish crowd that you often see at Marcotte’s other restaurant, the also very hip Le Local in nearby Old Montreal.
Compared to media-darling Marcotte, Patrice Demers might seem relatively low-key and reserved, yet the diminutive pastry chef has earned a loyal following after many years of wowing food critics and customers alike with some of the most imaginative and daring desserts this town has ever seen. He’s a chef’s chef, and a celebrity in foodie circles. After making his name at a few very well-known Montreal restaurants, Demers is finally his own boss. He just opened Les 400 Coups, in Old Montreal, in partnership with Marc-André Jetté (the chef). They are the first to admit they’ve been all over the map in the last few years – hence the name of the new biz (which, translated, means The Four Hundred Strikes).
Who doesn’t love a bit of self-deprecating humour? And stay tuned: Claude Pelletier of Le Club Châsse et Pêche, yet another of Montreal’s top chefs, also has something new in the works, to be unveiled in December.
Keep checking this blog for upcoming details…
1011 Wellington St
tel. (514) 878-2112
LES 400 COUPS
400 Notre-Dame Street East
tel. (514) 985.0400
LE CLUB CHASSE ET PÊCHE
423 St-CLaude st.
tel. (514) 861-1112