- MTL Blog writer Stefanie Hanrahan got a first look (and taste) at Montreal's newest food court, Le Cathcart.
- See all the restaurant details and images of the impressive new space below!
The much-anticipated, newest downtown gourmet food court Le Cathcart Restaurants and Biergarten announced that its official opening will be January 23. But before the doors open to the public, a few of us were lucky enough to get a sneak peek behind the doors and into the kitchens of some of Montreal's finest chefs. This newest food court reinvention in Place Ville Marie has three full-service restaurants, nine food kiosks, two cafés, and a Biergarten that serves beer, wine, and cocktails.
While the food options will delight any epicurean's palette, it's the Biergarten that is drumming up a lot of press.
Located under the newly installed 650 m2 glass pavilion created by Sid Lee Architecture, the Biergarten is meant to attract not just the business area lunch crowd but those who want to enjoy a 5 à 7. And it's easy to see the attraction.
The whole feel of Le Cathcart is light, airy, and modern. But as you make your way into the centrally located Biergarten, it gives off a much more intimate feel. The glass ceiling and abundance of plants help give it more of an outside ambiance and not like you're enjoying a drink in the middle of a mall food court.
As it's Montreal and winter, the glass was clouded by snow while we were there, but it must be exceptional during the warmer months. But even on a snowy day, if you turn away from the bar, you can actually see the Mount Royal Cross from one of the windows.
The Biergarten takes its drink choices seriously, the microbrews and wines have all been hand-chosen. The latter are all private imports (as are all the wines throughout Le Cathcart) from smaller producers chosen by sommelier Marc-André Nadeau of Jatoba fame.
Mixologist Daphnée Vary Deshaies (from Foxy) was on hand preparing one of her signature cocktails to give guests a taste of her drink menu.
And yes, the grapefruit-based cocktail was the perfect smooth mix of "Damn, that's refreshing" and "Holy crap, those could be dangerous." Exactly what you want in a drink.
Here's the thing. All the restaurants/kiosks were good. Some were great. Quite a few were generally surprising.
The three full-service restaurants each have their own distinctive vibe. And you can grab a seat at the bar to really take in the whole individual feel.
If you're looking for sophisticated but uncomplicated dishes, head to brasserie Mirabel, which served up a duck, veal, and pork bolognese with parmesan and sourdough croutons (pastas are about $20) that was excellent.
But the real star was the wine pairing of Folk Tree pinot noir; if this wine is any indication of the full wine list then we are in for a treat.
The Japanese canteen Akio is a collaboration between chefs Olivier Vigneault (Jatoba, Westwood Bar & Grill, ex-Yuzu) and Antonio Park (who is a busy guy with Park, Lavanderia, Flyjin, Kampaï, and an Air Canada partnership). And it's everything you would imagine a Park collab to be.
The Bento Box came with Hamachi makis, yakitori, shime saba, and the absolutely mouthwatering craboyaki — a kind of crab tempura ball with jalapeño mayo and yuzu zest.
Making the way through the nine kiosks was something of a challenge. If you're thinking 12 restaurant tastings are too many, you would be correct; sometimes you just have to soldier on.
One of my favourites, and possibly the most surprising, was from newcomer Chikin (Korean fried chicken), most notable for its logo featuring an extremely pissed-off chicken.
The spicy chicken sandwich ($11) and watermelon salad with Thai chili ($6) are what spicy dreams are made of. The spice level was a bit intense for some of the group, but I found it perfect especially paired with the unsweetened iced tea.
A few of the other highlights include Patzzi's grilled cheese corrizza (think higher-end cheese sticks but made with a chef's eye and loving touch) with homemade marinara and Philly sauce for $10.
Of course, Uniburger's cheeseburger and peanut oil fries were as spectacular as always and cements the "Best Burger in Canada" award from Big 7 Travel.
Just when entering a food coma, we were treated to tacos from Tulum Taqueria. I didn't think it would be possible to eat more. I'm also not a huge taco fan. But one taste of this Mexican restaurant's (led by a Brazilian chef) pulled pork tacos had my tastebuds shouting, "Hoorah! We're back!"
This newest addition to downtown definitely deserves a visit, even if it's just to bask in the (indoor) sunlight while you sip a cocktail.
Le Cathcart Restaurants & Biergarten Official Opening
When: Grand opening January 23, 2020
Monday to Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Thursday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: 1 Place Ville Marie