Wander down one of the Mile End’s back alleys and you’ll come across a wide-open garage door that harbours a secret seasonal restaurant. Parasol wine bar is located just behind restaurant Maïs. In fact, it’s located inside Maïs’ back room, which transforms into a wonderful restaurant with a great summer vibe from June to September.
Parasol was born last summer but I didn’t have time to visit then. It reopened again about a month ago. Maïs’ chef William Cody is behind this ephemeral restaurant and had been toying with this idea ever since the tacos restaurant opened a few years ago. He’s exclusively dedicated to the summer restaurant all season but has partnered up with some heavy weights to help with the task of making Parasol a memorable experience. Chef Jeff Downs (Les 400 Coups, In De Wulf, Septime) is the man behind the creative menu and Julio Mendy (Sardine, Agrikol) takes care of all the front of the house tasks, and masterfully, I might add.
The menu changes according to what’s available at the market and what their rooftop vegetable patch yields, which means that it changes often and that’s another great reason to visit more. The chefs cook using an induction stove and a charcoal barbecue set up in the back alley; that’s it. That’s the main reason why Parasol is only open in the summer. It would be hard to barbecue at minus 20. However, from June to September, rain or shine, the show goes on and what a show it is my friends!
The menu is short but (really) sweet and focuses mainly on vegetables and fish and seafood. The night I was there, we tasted four of the seven dishes available. We started with the peas, new onions, strawberry, green almonds and elderberry dish. I was curious about that combination of ingredients but peas and strawberries are a match made in heaven! Who knew? The second dish was the chargrilled artichokes with rose, rhubarb and clams. Another winner! They also serve bread from Boulangerie Automne so don’t hesitate to order some to mop up those delicate sauces! We continued with the grilled cucumbers, mustard and sea snails dish and finished with the mackerel with baby turnips, tangy gooseberries, fresh goat cheese and shiso. Every dish was imbued with delicate and balanced flavours. Don’t forget to pair your meal with one of the fabulous natural wines available. Let Julio guide you or go with a fun sparkling one, because it goes with everything and because it’s fun and pairs perfectly well with the light summer ambiance of Parasol.
5439 1/2 Boulevard St-Laurent
514 507 7740
Thursday to Monday, 5pm to 11pm