Despite being long-regarded as one of the best fine dining destinations in Montreal, Provisions 1268—the flagship restaurant from chefs Hakim Rahal and Pablo Rojas known for eclectic tasting menus based on lists of ingredients—has closed, but they've opened up an all-new ice cream-forward all-rounder instead called Provisions Crémerie 418.
With around only 25 seats in a narrow dining space, Provisions 1268 wouldn't have been able to do an adequate amount of sales. Before the pandemic struck daily life in Montreal, the restaurant's lease was coming to an end, Rahal told Time Out. Major renovations were required by the landlord in the space, which would have invariably shut down the space for six months. "We knew we had a decision to make as to whether we paused or moved or closed," says Rahal. "COVID kind of made the decision for us."
Now the team has turned its focus to its second restaurant Boucherie Bar à Vin Provisions—able to stay open throughout the pandemic because of its status as a butchershop and grocery store, and now offers reservation-only table seating on its terrasse—as well as their all-new ice cream-forward concept with snacks and a commuter-friendly menu.
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"The new spot is a mini version of Boucherie," explains Rahal. "We have sandwiches and a small selection of meat from the butcher counter.It’s near the metro, so we’re offering coffee and some small items for morning commuters." While it sounds like a grab and go counter service, the space also does wine and cocktail curated by Boucherie's manager and sommeliere Alexandra Guay.
As for the ice cream, it follows on the same innovative path that Provisions 1268 had, serving ice cream by the half-litre (also available at the butcher shop) in addition to scoops and milkshakes. "We’re still playing around with flavours," says Rahal, noting that "they change pretty often, which I guess is a habit from changing the menu so often at Provisions." Last time Time Out checked, flavours went from white chocolate passion fruit milkshakes to coffee toffee, rocky road and vegan Cuba Libre flavours for ice cream.
While taking the helm back at Provisions isn't "off the table" for the time being, the restaurant and snack counter from the Provisions team is a sign of the restaurant industry's continuing shift towards counter service and takeout friendly options. The city can likely expect for big names to be considering changes along the same lines.