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Cabaret l'Enfer
Photograph: Susan Moss

Get to know Cabaret l'Enfer, Montreal's most promising new restaurant of 2021

Massimo Piedimonte, once a culinary driving force of Le Mousso as its chef, is striking out on his own to create a new restaurant and wine bar.

JP Karwacki
Written by
JP Karwacki

Massimo Piedimonte's career as a chef first began in some of the best kitchens in Montreal, but according to him, it was only after his internship at Copenhagen's world-renowned Noma that he truly began to discover what flavour could be both in taste and in concept. That experience alone is something that he, with the help of with chef Antonin Mousso-Rivard, had refined and implemented at Montreal's Le Mousso.

After a few years of indelible work at the bellows of Le Mousso's kitchen, it's now time for Piedimonte to stand on his own two feet. Enter Cabaret l'Enfer—named after Paris' legendary cabaret in Montmartre, which was home to performance unlike any the city had seen at the time—a new restaurant in the making. If all goes well, it will arrive in Montreal in nine months come the spring of 2021.

The idea began four years ago, but the recent quarantine which has ravaged the world also contributed to this project. “Like many people, the quarantine was a revelation," Piedimonte told Time Out Montreal. "I saw the urgent need to make a concrete contribution to my future, to that of my wife and my children," he explained, noting that he can no longer work 100 hours a week for someone else. "This is an investment of time. I now want to do it for my family."

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Cabaret l’Enfer Montréal 2021 #cabaretlenfer @susanmossphotography

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Why Cabaret l'Enfer? Having gone down in history as one of the City of Lights' craziest sources of spectacle, it was a place where art, theatre, poetry and writing reigned supreme. It was where there was no laws against what was unbridled creativity on one hand, and quite simply a good place to down a glass of wine on the other.

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Cabaret l’Enfer Bar à vin. ish. #cabaretlenfer @susanmossphotography

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"I don't want to create a trendy restaurant," says Piedimonte. "I want Cabaret l'Enfer to be timeless, a bit underground and rough. May it be that, in 25 years, it's a place my children could take over."

The restaurant will be spread out across two floors. On the ground floor, patrons will discover a wine bar with a artful snacks on the menu—homemade burrata, flatbreads, fresh pasta, homemade cold cuts, vegetables and several products of fermentations—while the upper floor will offer a more intimate dining experience: Ten people will be seated at a time, with emphasis on customer service, quick services and wild Quebec terroir. "Since I will host only ten people per evening, this will allow me to serve rare products of impeccable freshness, minimizing my ecological footprint," the chef explains. He's already set to work on picking herbs and seasonal vegetables that will be used to make vinegars, miso pastes from Quebec corn soybeans, and other flavours that can only come from the time and work that fermentation demands and yields.

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K O J I Pour umami 2021 #cabaretlenfer #koji #umami

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"Today, people are choosing their restaurant more and more over the wines they serve," Massimo explains about the structure of Cabaret l'Enfer's floors, noting that this is the logic behind making one floor more driven by wine curation; the best of both worlds. He plans to entrust Raphaëlle Bérubé—known for their work at Le Mousso and Candide—to develop a list made up of natural and biodynamic bottles from small producers.

With an opening scheduled for spring 2021, the chef will be far from taking a break between now and then. In addition to reconnecting with Italian cuisine at the Bottega restaurant, and working on a large-scale project with MAPAQ, ITHQ and Laval University that will update the regulations concerning the use of raw milk and art of fermentation, he plans to do some “pop-up” events with restaurant friends in Quebec, Ottawa and Toronto in the future. 

The chef's activities can be followed on Instagram, as can the ongoing development of Cabaret l'Enfer.

This article is a translated version with edits of the original Time Out Montreal dispatch by Tommy Dion.

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