Eat in style at Montréal’s designer restaurants

Isa Tousignant

Style is everywhere in Montréal, from the street fashion to the interior design – no wonder it’s a UNESCO City of Design. Raise a glass to the most stylish spots on the food scene, the winners of the prestigious Grands Prix du Design. We’re talking cafés, restaurants, clubs and bakeries that delight not only the taste buds, but also the eyes. Get ready to ‘gram!

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Hotel chic

For their design of Rosélys Restaurant (900 René-Lévesque Boulevard West), the European style bistro at the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth hotel, Sid Lee Architecture and Architecture 49 made bold statements with dashing black-and-white tiling and geometric details. The circular shapes of the comfy mustard-coloured banquettes and the shiny curved bar recall the round shapes of the cathedral that’s the centrepiece of the stunning view.

Underground club

From the dark panelled twin bars to the textured ceiling, featuring a striking octagonal motif, the basement bar La Voûte (360 Saint-Jacques Street) makes a baroque statement. The firm moodesign set out to design a space that made homage to the club’s location in an ex vault: the thick walls, bold shapes and charcoal-and-concrete palette keep things grounded while the theatrical lighting adds amazing drama.

Coffee time

Home to fourth-wave coffee in Westmount, The Standard (5135 Sherbrooke Street West) was designed by the Jean de Lessard firm with a singular minimalist flair that gives the place the feel of an expensive jewellery store. The jet-black walls create a sedate background for the white bespoke furniture and white quartz surfaces, both of which emphasize the warmth of the herringbone wood floor.

Italian flair

Fiorellino Snack Bar - Ristorante (470 de la Gauchetière Street West) redefines the image of the traditional trattoria thanks to an open-plan concept, a stunning patterned floor and a pared-down approach to furniture. Atelier Moderno wanted to create all the warmth and comfort of an Italian eatery while striking a contemporary pose (see the angular bar and high metal tables).

Asian tropes

For their fun-loving design of the pan-Asian eatery Maneki Comptoir Asiat' (3121 Hochelaga Street), Rainville-Sangaré and La Maison W created a bold royal blue through-line with painted iron table legs that reflect the zigzag hanging lamps and grill wall décor. A row of gold maneki-neko cats emanates good luck from the counter and, paired with design details like the Mao inspired character on the menu, adds its own wink to Asian clichés.

Big in Japan

Minimalism is the name of the game in the beautiful design of Marusan Comptoir Japonais (401 Notre-Dame Street West) courtesy of ARCHITECTURE SYNTHÈSE. The narrow space of this casual Japanese eatery in Old Montréal was mastered by creating a single row of tables in a sculptural blonde wood construction, facing the black-painted open kitchen counter. The lighting melts into the white walls and ceiling.

Sweet style

Architecture Open Form used paper cupcake wrappers as the inspiration for their design of Pâtisserie Petit Lapin (342 Victoria Avenue). The space is subdivided into sections with zigzagging flexible partitions made of see-through white polyethylene, which make visual homage to cupcake wrappers while giving the space a chic white-washed look. The play of light on all the surfaces (including the quartz counters) is sheer beauty, and the pastel accents come in to add the touch of fun – like sprinkles on a vanilla birthday cake.

A la italiana

With its exposed wood, brick walls, wrought iron dividers and marble tabletops, Italian food market Le Marché Italien Le Richmond (333 Richmond Street), designed by Luc Laroche, showcases the food against a sophisticated backdrop. The store section puts the display counter centre-stage, while the bistro section fans out around central U bar where patrons can sit and savour. From the traditional black and white mosaic floor to the old school chandeliers, everything about this Griffintown space is polished.

Baked to perfection

Conceived by the firm LEMAYMICHAUD Architecture Design, the Fleury street outpost of beloved bakery chain Mamie Clafoutis (1602 Fleury Street East) is subdivided into cozy spots to munch on a sandwich or work on your laptop beside the take-out bakery section. The designers created distinct environments by varying colour palette and materials like retro wallpaper patchwork and aged wood paneling.

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Into the night

“Sleek” and “moody” are two words that perfectly describe the design for resto-bar Mimi la nuit (22 Saint-Paul Street East) conceived by La Firme Design Inc. The ancestral stone walls, dim lighting and amber woods convey instant aaaah relaxation, making this an ideal after-work getaway or intimate weekend hangout. Rich materials like copper, marble, concrete, glass and oak evoke the timeless atmosphere of speakeasies and give the space a grand, nearly cinematic feel.

Dark is the new black

The concept of Plateau restaurant O.Noir (124 Prince-Arthur Street East) is unique in and of itself: it invites patrons to dine in complete darkness. The idea is that without sight, the remaining senses are heightened for a more fully satisfying taste experience. L’Empreinte Design Architecture reworked the restaurant’s spaces while keeping them dark and safe. Focusing on the sensory experience, they honed in on comfort, relaxation, interaction and a stimulating sensorial ambiance, with textures like rugged wood beams that symbolize the patterns of braille.

Isa Tousignant

Isa Tousignant, blogger

Isa Tousignant is an art and lifestyle writer based out of Montréal’s eclectic Park Ex neighbourhood. She is Contributing Editor for Canadian Art magazine and freelances full-time for a wide variety of magazines and brands. She’s also a jewellery designer and passionate about animal costumes and their role in contemporary art.

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