Located in a cavernous underground space along one of Montreal’s busiest downtown streets, SouBois, one of our city’s newest multi-facted restaurants takes the concept of bring nature indoors to the next level with thier culinary expertise and their out-of-this-world decor. Equal parts restaurant, bar and nightclub, taking the stairs down into SouBois feels a little like how Alice must have felt going down the rabbit hole. Upon arriving in the wood covered foyer we feel already transported somewhere enchanting.
The waiting area is set up to feel like a chalet living room complete with comfortable chairs, plush carpet and soft lighting. The restaurant has a masculine vibe but a softness that’s brought out through the use of natural elements. From the waiting area a guest at Soubois has two options. You can go down a few steps further into the restaurant or your can sneak into the speakeasy. The speakeasy is hidden behind a bookcase that opens up revealing a passageway to a bar where the cocktails are literally set on fire, lighting up the room with conversation. We were present for a media event and the mixology team had prepared a couple of special cocktails for us to try. Their chief mixologist is none other than Andrew Whibley and he dazzled the crowd with his delightful cocktails. The image below features the Cherry Hill and the Colonade cocktails.
With the cocktails soon out of the way, we were escorted back out into the waiting area where one of the owners explained the concept of the restaurant. A lot of thought has gone into the creation of SouBois. They want us to feel like we’ve walked into an enchanted forest where anything can happen (which sounds about right for a night out in Montreal). A short while later we walked into the restaurant and it was hard not to be enchanted by the work they have done. Five large “trees” constructed out of wooden slats with a canopy of geometric shapes define the largeness of the space. Though the space isn’t as large as I imagined (I was glad to see this, overly large restaurants are having a tough time in Montreal right now) there’s enough seating at two more bars, a private dining room (the’ve fed the likes of U2 and Guy Laliberté to name a few) and ample seating around the “trees” and more.
Beyond the speakeasy the two bars that are located in the restaurant represent a covered porch and a cool running river. The rest of the seating falls between these two bars. The owners left no subtlty with the decor and while sometimes it feels like the could have left a little more to the imagination, the atmosphere doesn’t feel hoaky.
A special tasting menu was set up for us to try and each dish was expertly presented, featuring as much locally sourced produce and meats as possible. SouBois’s menu is designed by chef Guillaume Daly and features dishes inspired by Quebec’s vast selection of terroir products. Everything from the seafood to chicken and red meat is fresh and well prepared. We started our meal with the SouBois take on the crudity plate. A tray lined with raw market vegetables, fried shallots and a light chiive dipping sauce set the scene for the rest of the food that would soon come out of the kitchen. We followed this up with fresh oysters accompanied by a tangy mignonette.
Moving to entrees and main courses we started with a delicious salmon confit, piping-hot, fried crab cakes and a perfectly grilled arctic char. Each dish was fresh and for a tepid seafood lover like myself, I even went back for seconds. Next out of the kitchen was a plate of fresh tuna with a Caeser salad followed by a succlent cornish hen with peaches and a twig of smouldering juniper filling the room with smokey richness. I find the idea of burning the herbs and tree branches a great way to set ambiance and prepare your palette for whats about to come. The last dishes out of the kitchen were a juicy entre-cote with pont-neuf potatoes, chantereles and fresh herbs and thinly sliced beef tataki. To sum up the food served at SouBois I would say that its a fresh and inventive take on traditonal terroir cuisine. SouBois’s dedication to responsible and sustainable, locally sourced foods means we are getting the best dishes and freshest foods possible.
In the last couple of years downtown Montreal has been enjoying a much needed boost in our versatile food scene. The city is a leader in pushing the boundaries of what restaurants are capable of and we exploit that potential with each new place that opens. SouBois is a strong contributor to ensuring the uniquness that has been making downtown such an important part of the city’s bustling food movement. Check out their website for more information and to reserve a table.
Image credit: David Major-Lapierre
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