Montreal has its fair share of buzzy bar and restaurant openings. The latest big name restaurant sits in Montreal’s famed Golden Square Mile, named for its address, 1616 Sherbrooke Street West. Le 1616 is both an envelope pushing restaurant, featuring futuristically inspired menu with artistic, audacious and almost alien presentations and a bar with a cutting edge robot bartender serving up drinks in the lounge, located below the restaurant. Joris Larigaldie, a published author and an accomplished painter, has blurred the lines between art and food with masterpiece plating that will have you staring at your plate a little longer than normal.
While I haven’t tested the food at the restaurant yet (several sources say that the food is inventive and excellent), I have seen the handiwork of the robot bartender, whose name, R1B1, seems pulled directly out of the Star Wars universe. The sleek robot bartender is a far cry from the grimy droids we are used to seeing zip across our movie screens. Using a series of gyros and sensors, mixed with quippy dialogue and perfectly heavy pour, R1B1 will lure curious nightlife lovers in to see what he (she, it?) can do, but it’s the human mixologists, armed with an arsenal of amazing ingredients, who will have cocktail lovers coming back for more. I tried a couple of the cocktails but it’s the 1616, the bar’s version of an Old Fashioned, that really stood out.
The restaurant and bar’s décor is primarily white, stark and reminiscent of bar scenes filmed in space movies or TV shows from a decade ago (Kubrickian may be the best way to describe it). Creating a decor such as this, especially in the Golden Square Mile, is a bold move. Montreal is a city where colouring too far outside the lines and being too experimental isn’t always met with the greatest of success but restaurants like Le 1616 gives us something cool and new to talk about and for that we are delighted.