In the face of the new restrictions placed on restaurants in Montreal's red zone, the newly-opened Restaurant 212 in Old Montreal's flipping to a new casse-croûte pop-up. With its Noma-trained chef Patrick Marion at the helm, however, it's going to be far from your average burgers and poutine.
"It's pretty hectic, we're inventing and launching a business in a matter of 48 hours," owner Brooke Walsh told Time Out Montreal during a call.
Despite the crunch of time, chef Marion's come up with a promising menu: Named after the chef's daughter, Wren's is serving four types of burgers—classic, cheese, a spicy 'cherry bomb' option and a veggie option—all served with a series of add-ons like extra patties and toppings; hot dogs that go from a classic to 'The Montrealer' that's served with celery root and a secret mustard; thick-cut fries that come with an optional add-on of mushroom oil, herbs and Louis d'Or cheese; poutines; salads; and slices of pumpkin spice cake with buttercream icing.
Not bad for a quick turnaround.
At the time of Time Out Montreal's call to the restaurant, the chef was in the kitchen inventing his own buns for the burgers. With Marion's farm-to-table background, it follows that Wren's dishes will be head and shoulders above any other. Natural wines will also be available, but only for pickup.
"We just can't do our original menu and maintain that quality for takeout," Walsh says. "But you know Pat's background, and he makes a mean burger. So we thought, let's make a comfort food that everyone loves and knows, and take it to the next level."
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The story is starting to sound all too familiar: Like so many restaurants that opened in the month and change before the lockdown in March, 212 had to close its dining room a mere two weeks after it opened. While stressful, the team had no choice but to remain optimistic. "Everyone on our team, we're pretty positive people," Walsh says.
Wren's is open for takeout as of October 3 from 4pm to 10pm out of Restaurant 212 (212 Notre-Dame St West), and will be available as of next week on Uber Eats, Skip the Dishes and DoorDash.