Kabir Kapoor and Jason Morris have opened their new project in the heart of Griffintown: Pastel restaurant. Pastel would seem to be the next natural step for the same duo who are behind Le Fantôme (which we know offers a refined and very creative cuisine), and the café within the flagship store Ssense, located in Vieux Montreal.
The choice of Pastel as the restaurant’s name is meant to represent the kind of approach that Kabir and Jason are following in this latest venture. « The palette of colors chosen to decorate this space, is taken from the range of pastels. It also represents the approach to creativity that a child would take, that being one without hesitation or fear, » explains Jason, executive chef.
The interior of Pastel is magnificent. Designed by the owners Kabir and Jason, the surroundings are chic, minimalist and very spacious. The owners took a hands-on approach from the beginning to the end of the project. The details have been well-thought out, and the superb natural lighting enhances all the places in the room where mixtures of these pastel colours can be found, from splashes on the exposed red brick walls to the seating. And then there’s the single stand-out pink bar stool amongst the white ones. The result is both fashionable and refined. By using this range of muted colours, Pastel wants to be the opposite of its older sibling, whose space is smaller, more mysterious and intimate. « Pastel is a bit like the natural evolution of Le Fantôme. This is the yin to the yang of our first restaurant. Whether it’s the kitchen, the decor or even the menu, everything here is more spacious, we have more freedom. The space itself also represents to a large degree, our own progression, Kabir’s and mine, as well as that of our team. » Kabir is in charge of managing the dining room that can seat up to 69. This chic, long space with its high ceilings is located in a heritage building, constructed towards the end of the 19th century to house JAS. W. Tester & Co, confectionary manufacturers.
The restaurant kitchen is at the core of the owners’ spontaneous and creative approach. It is very spacious and located in the heart of the restaurant. Pastel’s kitchen is the team’s playground, where the opportunities to be creative are unlimited. « At Fantôme, where space can sometimes be limited, we stick with our classic tasting menu. Here, it’s just the opposite – the kitchen is immense and gives us the freedom we want. It gives us a new opportunity to innovate as much as we want, » says Kabir.
The kitchen team as a whole is behind the recipes at Pastel, and these do vary with inspirations that come and go. Le Pastel’s dishes are both creative and well-prepared, promoting whenever possible, Quebec and other Canadian products. No matter what time of day you may find yourself at Pastel, the food that arrives at your table is beautifully presented and of good quality. There are some hints of Japanese influences as well, highlighting the quality of these products.
This is a menu that will not be changing like the menu does at Le Fantôme and instead, will allow for some signature dishes that will reflect, through the use of different garnishes, seasonal availability. « Our inspiration is drawn in part from everywhere and we just let our creativity go with the flow. We want to offer something that is continually re-thought, while keeping everything affordable, » Jason explains.
Thanks to sommelier Caroline Rossignol, the wine list complements Pastel’s excellent menu very well. It’s an interesting selection that includes natural, biodynamic and some classic labels. Pastel also serves house cocktails and the classics.
« It is exciting for us to watch our team working together, in good sync. The kitchen is so open, like a theater for our guests to watch the performance. They can follow the production from Act One to The End and we can’t wait to see their reaction. For us and for our customers, this open kitchen will be the most fun, « says Kabir.
We are already fans of Le Fantôme, and now there’s Pastel – and we’ve fallen in love again. It’s a combination of the excellent, imaginative cuisine and the beautifully well-designed space that makes Pastel successful.
Congratulations to Pastel for the superb opening!