Chef and restaurateur David McMillan is building an empire of great restaurants in Montreal. He’s best known for Main glitterati hotspot Globe, where George Clooney was known to hold court while filming in town. More recently he’s opened the expansive Rosalie downtown, a popular place right next door to several trendy nightspots.
Down here in Sud-Ouest, he’s singlehandedly responsible for nurturing the recent boom on the Notre-Dame restaurant strip between Charlevoix and Vinet. Earlier this year, he opened the oyster-and-wine-focused Joe Beef to great success; now, following the demise of its next-door-neighbour Ru de Nam, McMillan’s taken over the space for an entirely new restaurant called Liverpool House that literally opened just yesterday.
On the other side of Joe Beef, he’s taking over the space vacated by vegetarian café Bonnys (now migrated into stylishly forest-inspired quarters at 1748 Notre-Dame, right near the corner of St-Martin). According to chef-owner Bonny Tees — who renovated her new space herself with her staff — McMillan’s planning to open a small gourmet grocery store, something the neighborhood will likely embrace warmly.
The Notre-Dame/Charlevoix strip has become a magnet for the neighborhood, centered around the revitalized Le Corona theatre (which needs to book more indie bands, DJs and theatre work, IMHO), and attracting clientele from the nearby Atwater Market and antiques district. Several restaurants opened or renovated in the past year: The sadly underrated Les Îles de Catherine offers earthy, spicy stews from Guadeloupe and Martinique — well worth a visit; Lili and Oli is a cozy Wi-Fi café on the Ile sans Fil network, popular with info-workers; Itsi-Bitsi is a cupcake shop opened by a former graphic designer that just opened across Charlevoix; Limon is an elegant Mexican restaurant with two outdoor terrasses; and La Toulousaine is an unpretentious bistro specializing in (what else) southwestern French food, proudly calling themselves ‘the house of cassoulet.’
And of course, this strip of restaurants doesn’t require huge surface parking lots; they co-exist with apartments, offices and other shops just fine. It’s an excellent model for the Village Griffintown designers to copy.