IT TAKES VISION, HARD WORK AND A LITTLE LUCK to turn the worst imaginable circumstances into a growth opportunity. And so it was for team Mon Lapin and the pandemic. At first lockdown, chef Marc-Olivier Frappier, his wife, Vanya Filipovic, chef de cuisine Jessica Noël and their other partners shut down a casual 36-seat small-plates wine bar. What they reopened a little over a year later had expanded into the newly vacated space next door, doubled its seating capacity, acquired a slick makeover from the eminently gifted designer Zébulon Perron and become an elegant, fully grown-up restaurant that even takes reservations. For all that it acquired, the restaurant gave up none of the original’s abundant charm. The increasingly polished vegetable-forward cooking is light, bright and fresh, hinging on often novel combinations of superb Quebec-sourced ingredients. Most of the minimalist menu descriptions are easy to imagine on the plate (say, razor clams and white asparagus, Gaspé halibut and sea spinach). Those that sound most incongruous (such as “beefsteak tomatoes, beef-fat sauce Choron,” or “cotechino, calamari, navy beans”) are, often, even more memorably delicious. Always trust your server’s recommendations — and, above all, those of sommelier Filipovic, whose list of low-intervention wines is replete with obscure and glorious finds.
Photos: Dominique Lafond