This winter’s most anticipated restaurant opening in Montreal has been Vin Mon Lapin, Joe Beef’s latest born baby. I personally, was especially looking forward to this opening because it just so happens to be in my neighbourhood. Little Burgundy’s Vin Papillon is one of my favourite Montreal restaurants but I don’t go often enough because it’s across town. About an 11 minute walk from my house, on a quiet corner of St-Zotique and Casgrain, is the new eclectic Mon Lapin.
Vin Mon Lapin just concluded its first week of business and we were lucky enough to be able to snag a table on their first Saturday night. It was nice to be greeted by the whole team, chef Marc-Olivier Frappier, sommelière Vanya Filipovic and host slash waiter slash wine expert extraordinaire Alex Landry.
The space is small, perhaps about 30 seats, with large booths adorning one wall and a wrap around banquette on the opposite wall. The small kitchen is in the back with a bar surrounding it. All the walls and every nook and cranny of the space are decorated with impressive, oversized art with a vintage feel, a plethora of wine bottles and more bunnies than you can count. The fun ambiance and joie de vivre found at every Joe Beef restaurant has definitely been magically grafted onto this new space. The welcome is friendly, the music and laughter are loud, the lights are low and the impeccable wines flow without moderation (if you so require).
Whenever I’m dinging at any of the Joe Beef restaurants, I take a quick look at the menu then relinquish control of the next 3 hours of my life by placing my food and beverage choices in the staff’s capable hands. That’s how we ended up tasting two thirds of the menu on Saturday night (there were 4 of us) and quite a few delicious wines.
We started with the Jerusalem artichoke bread with sunflower “butter”, an amazing concoction that tasted rich and nutty, served with delicious pickled Jerusalem artichokes. The cuisine here is similar to the one at Vin Papillon and the menu is made up of small dishes to share (or not) focusing on local and seasonal products from Quebec farms. Chef Marc-Olivier Frappier and chef de cuisine Jessica Noël have done a great job of showcasing Quebec’s wonderful products. The multitude of dishes that followed were too many to mention here but I will mention some of the night’s highlights: the fried oyster with potatoes, the sea snails with housemade fennel salami, the pink salad, the taramasalata, the Louis d’or cheese with milk and honey, ok so maybe I had too many favourites to mention here as well.
And let’s just take a minute here to mention the incredible wines we had, starting with that crisp and bubbly rosé from Pascal Potaire of Domaine des Capriades we started the evening with while pretending it was spring. That was followed by a Trousseau Gris from California’s Domaine Jolie-Laide (love that name!). Made from isolated genetically mutated Trousseau Gris wines (in fact a red varietal from the Jura), this wine is incredibly smooth with peach and flower aromas and a beautiful pinkish hue. That was followed by an Australian red which was in turn followed by Le Sauvage, a spontaneously fermented cidre by Cidrerie Le Somnanbule. Sommelière Vanya Filipovic is at the top of her game when it comes to selecting some of the best natural wines available in Montreal these days. We ended the evening with a digestif, or six. I opted for L’Abricot du Roulot from Domaine Roulot, a beautiful, fruity and slightly sweet drink that has now become a favourite.
All in all, a wonderful evening of food, wine and laughter among friends at Vin Mon Lapin and I will definitely be visiting more often now that they’re so close.
150 Rue Saint-Zotique East
Tuesday to Saturday, 5pm to midnight