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Salle Climatisée
Photograph: Courtesy Salle Climatisée

Veterans of Maison Publique have opened a new restaurant-boutique hybrid called Salle Climatisée

Faced with the question of what a restaurant is by definition in the face of a pandemic, Salle Climatisée is a 100% chef-driven experiment in restructuring hospitality.

JP Karwacki
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JP Karwacki
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Since opening last Friday, Salle Climatisée is not exactly the restaurant opening you'd be used to, with grand opening nights with popped bottles and waiting until the crowds die down.

"We're not sure what a restaurant is right now," co-chef Harrison Shewchuk told Time Out Montreal. "If we just talk about what a restaurant is, before the pandemic, there were some underlying issues. Right now, it's not like those problems don't exist anymore, but we're in a pandemic. Now's a time to change the way things are getting done."

Solely headed by its three chefs cooking from morning to night, Shewchuk works alongside Brendan Lavery-Breier and Darcy Gervais-Wood, all veterans of Derek Dammann's New Canadian restaurant Maison Publique. They named it after the signage you'd see in every second restaurant or café's window in Paris, drawing folks in by assuring them that, yes, they had heating during the winter and air conditioning during the summer.

What would have been a conventional restaurant is now more of a store for food and beverage with a strong restaurant component backing it all up. "It's going have that shop vibe with delicious baked things all day, a lunch counter, beautiful wines, ciders—maybe move into some beers—plus filtered coffee for folks from the neighbourhood," says Shewchuk. "Then as of 5pm, we'll do more warm, composed dishes to go."

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"There's no pressure of people coming in at 7pm from outside the city asking where the steak is on menu. The whole world's in such an odd place; we've taken over a little, 500 square-foot space in a nieghbourhood we all live and spend time in, and we're concentrating on doing something that works for us, and we're hoping that will resonate with others."

During the day, it's fast and simple breakfast and lunch food like coffees with savory baked goods—a classic sausage roll that's an homage to Harrison's time in England, a squash-praline brioche—before turning to high-calibre plates of roasted pork, celery root salads, smoked eel remoulade and trout confit that get paired with wines and bubbles from Bacchus 76, Origines, and Primavin.

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If you're a potential diner looking to box them in, you won't find any one definition applies to Salle Climatisée. "There's been a lot of talk about this food or that food, French, English, Asian, whatever," says Shewchuk. "We're more about the ingredients, our pasts, the books we read, the meals we eat. It goes in line with asking what a restaurant is in the first place."

"We're working with local products, whatever's in season, whatever we can get our hands on that we like working with," Brendan Lavery-Breier explains. "Just trying to make food that's tasty and familiar, a bit playful; something somebody might see and recognize, but also a little bit different from what they know."

The sourcing that goes into the plates runs deep: Produce from the Icehouse chef Nick Hodge's Sugaree Farm and Jean-Talon Market's Birri, meat from Phillip Viens of Aliment Viens, grain-fed chicken from Ferme Rose Des Vents, lake-raised ethical trout from the Montebello-based Kenauk fishery, the famed supplier Cerf de Boileau, Quebec-made sunflower and canola oils from Coop Agrobio; the list goes on.

If you want a casual taste, Salle Climatisée is open Wednesday to Saturday from 11am to 8pm. It's all takeout for now.

They've also got a holiday menu available you can order now to welcome them to the city.

The latest from Time Out Montréal

- This new hyper-local, neighbourhood-focused market in Montreal is like a bookstore for food

- Old Montreal's free winter village of sculptures, lights and a giant igloo opens today

- Montreal's Martha Wainwright is playing an online, three-city Christmas concert this Sunday

- A last-minute farmers Christmas market is opening in Montreal this Saturday

- Get all the holiday feels going by watching Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal's Nutcracker

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