Ambiance : Lively

Mains : 8-25$

Desserts : 3-15
Wines : 44+

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At the beginning of March 2018, Little Italy welcomed the opening of Mon Lapin, an excellent new wine bar and a perfect match for the neighborhood. Mon Lapin is the fourth and latest venture from the growing empire of the Joe Beef family.

Frédéric Morin, David McMillan, Allison Cunningham, Marc-Olivier Frappier and Vanya Filipovic have already made their mark as hospitality leaders, having been successful with Joe Beef, Liverpool House and le Vin Papillon. Once again, they have a winner!

Why a different neighborhood and why Little Italy? “I’ve always loved Little Italy and have wanted to open something in the area for a long time! Vanya and I have been living here for a number of years, my very first job was – funnily enough – at Il Mulino (now Hostaria). I’m often going for a Italian coffee with Piero Corrado Ciampoli (Baristello & cie). There’s a special attachment for me to this neighborhood.” Even if the neighborhood is new, the family resemblance is there. “It’s really easy in St-Henri to fit in, because it’s quite crowded and every day we’re always together. Here, even if you leave the area, it’s a big deal to still know that you remain part of the family and that this family connection survives.”

Where does the name come from? “Mon lapin (my rabbit) is an expression from Jean-François Ganevat, a person of mythical proportions in the wine world (especially Jura), someone who is well-known and greatly appreciated. He is always calling everyone mon lapin and one day Dave suggested that this should be the name, which we all thought was perfect,” explains Marc-Olivier.

The wine bar is located at the corner of St-Zotique and Casgrain Streets and benefits from the superb amount of natural light that streams in at the end of the day. It’s an open and lively space that seats around 30 people with painted white walls, red leather banquettes that provided a pop of color and wooden tables. There are flowers everywhere, tulips and other floral arrangements that give us hope for the coming Spring! Some walls have been hung with paintings by Peter Hoffer, whose works are also on show at other Joe Beef family locales. The inspiration behind these is evident — rabbits, forests and hunting. And other artworks have been painted by David McMillan, Frédéric Morin and some of the staff which is such a nice touch! Towards the back is the open kitchen and the small bar which seats five. Anyone waiting for a table tends to be here, enjoying what could be called the Mon Lapin Kitchen Fest. Mon Lapin is not big and the ambiance is cozy.

The cuisine at Mon Lapin is somewhat similar to a Joe Beef light, what friends would eat together, and certainly prepared by the chefs at Mon Lapin with much care and attention. Marc-Olivier Frappier and chef Jessica Noël are responsible for everything. “Mon Lapin is a continuation of Joe Beef and le Vin Papillon, so it’s a logical next step.” The small plates are both delicate and original. How about starting with a brioche made with Jerusalem artichokes and canola butter (a product developed together with Laval University). Follow this with a dish from the menu that includes smelt, whelk with fennel and salami, raw mackerel and sorrel, brochette of beet and tartare, sea urchin omlette, carbonara with smoked eel, and there are others but everything is delicious! These dishes are all beautifully prepared, full of flavors and very original. The menu will change according to availability and seasons, and will be tweaked to adapt to customers’ tastes. But because we really fell for the pink salad with the praline-foie gras, we hope this will be a keeper!

Vanya has carefully put together a wine list that accurately reflects her own tastes and expertise. The other restaurants in the Joe Beef family have benefited greatly from her knowledge in this area. Discover some beauties from the selections of sparklings, rosés, whites, reds, macerated wines and spirits. The wine list concentrates on natural wines and wines from private imports. We have to admit that this is just the kind of wine list we like. Mon Lapin also serves cocktails that lean towards “everything that is like Negroni”, such as Campari, Vermouth and Gin.

“I am so happy to do something that has such great meaning to Vanya and myself. Mon Lapin serves only wines that Vanya likes and only food that I like. It’s like a dream to open a place with my mentors and partners, and to include my in-laws, all in our own ‘hood,” Marc-Olivier confides.

If you are looking for a place in Little Italy where you can drink and eat extremely well, then go no further than Mon Lapin because it is well worth trying. This wine bar is packed, the atmosphere is welcoming and it’s just a great place to enjoy an evening. We definitely like it!

© Photos Alison Slattery — Instagram


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