No. 48: Monarque
This new brasserie just off Victoria Square is highly ambitious, and succeeds on every count. Its scale is vast, but the space is comfortable and intimate, thanks to its 175 seats being spread over three rooms.
At the front, there’s a stunning long bar with 20 stools and a lounge; in the middle a spillover brasserie; and at the rear a posh dining room with elegant black banquettes and white tablecloths.The inspiration for Monarque is said to be Manhattan’s Gramercy Tavern, yet it feels emphatically Montreal. First, because Alain Carle’s design for the place manages to be modern (the vast expanse of shimmering white floor tiles, Simon Johns lighting and Scandinavian chairs) while simultaneously paying obvious tribute (with its industrial finishes) to iconic local restaurant designs of decades past, like l’Express and Luxe.
Then there’s the food, for which you can tip your hat to co-owner Richard Bastien (chef-owner of the enduring Leméac) and his son and chef here, the eminently talented Jérémie Bastien. On a cold day in the brasserie, try a starter of roast os à moēlle topped with escargots, mirepoix and veal jus. Or a bouillabaisse studded with mussels, monkfish, cod, prawn and squid, each cooked à la minute to perfect doneness. In the dining room, the venerable poule au pot is similarly updated: a tender poached breast and just-blanched vegetables are presented in root vegetable consommé, topped by a shard of crisp chicken skin. Classic flavour profiles meet improved technique, with irresistible results. Service is deft, the wine list extensive and contemporary (yes, orange wines included), and the markup modest.
Photo by : Alison Slattery