Settle in here with a friend at a table for two, at the long, busy bar or at the small chef’s counter overlooking the kitchen, and at first all seems normal. Better than normal, actually.
For the wine list runs deep with unlikely bargains from Burgundy, the mood of the place is joyous, and its look, by local designer du moment Zébulon Perron, is as contemporary and appealing today as it was the day Plaza opened in late 2015. But—hang on a moment—what’s with the clay animation studio attached to the dining room? Why is a dollhouse dangling upside down over a raised table in front of the kitchen, and rotating slowly like a chandelier in a weird dream? And what are all those plastic dinosaurs doing gathered on the pass? Order the sashimi de pétoncles and you’ll soon find out: the raw sliced scallop is served draped over the striped back of a small triceratops. It’s dressed with crunchy quinoa, clementine segments, a dash of heat and tiny nasturtium leaves—and is quite delicious. Plaza’s co-owners are committed to having fun, but they also share unassailable credentials, from veteran front-of-house manager Sébastien Blanchette back to the kitchen, overseen by co-chefs Charles-Antoine Crête and Cheryl Johnson, both alumni of Toqué!. Crête is an improvisational virtuoso; Johnson provides an enabling balance.
Together, they push boundaries. Their food is exuberantly original, occasionally busy, and best enjoyed shared (especially in the form of the shared tasting menu, a steal at $85 per person).À la carte, little is what it seems. “Cannelloni” means lightly cured sea bass packaged with horseradish cream, pomegranate seeds, cilantro and croutons in a hand roll made from daikon run through an electric slicer. “Beet and goat cheese” does not follow the usual formula, either: whipped chèvre is dressed with pesto, cashews and gravlax, then topped with beet slices, strawberry syrup and fish roe. Whelk gratinée with miso butter is a Plaza classic. Stay late and the restaurant’s quotient of the unexpected often picks up, until suddenly you find yourself wondering why the bartender is dressed in a furry T-Rex suit. It’s nothing to worry about.
Monday to Sunday
5:00 PM until 11:00 PM
Photo Courtesy of MONTRÉAL PLAZA