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Le Garde-Manger: Fine and festive cuisine in the Old Port
In the heart of the Old Port, on Saint-François-Xavier Street, there is a great restaurant-bar that knows how to please; Garde-Manger. With its buzzing atmosphere and delicious cuisine, Garde-Manger has become a classic restaurant to celebrate.
Open since June 2006, Garde-Manger is the project of Chuck Hughes, Kyle Marshall, Tim Rozon and Jessica Midlash. Part of the “Crown Salt” family of restaurants along with Bremner, Garde-Manger takes its name from the position of the same title in the kitchen, which happens to be the favourite of one of the owners, the famous Chuck Hugues. In 2006, Old Montreal was still underdeveloped and the current location of Garde-Manger became available. The team jumped at the chance to open a restaurant. The owners wanted to create a place where it would be nice to enjoy gourmet food in a lively atmosphere, full of people.
The address may have once been a quasi supperclub, and while it has remained very lively, it has also matured. The restaurant has expanded, and is now more restaurant than bar. Upon entering Garde-Manger, one is enveloped by the hospitality of the place, with its subdued lighting and intimate feel. The large dark wood surfaces, inviting tables, liveliness and friendly staff all contributing to the ambiance of the place. The restaurant has recently added a waiting area at the entrance as well as a larger dining room. The decor was designed by Kyle Marshall.
In the kitchen is the talented Chris Merrick, chef de cuisine, and Chuck Hughes, who is also executive chef. The menu here is a mix of fine dining and comfort food. It features a few appetizers, main courses and desserts that vary seasonally and with the availability of new items. The menu changes often, but there are still some house specialties, such as the famous jerk crab. For starters, the price varies between $14 and $29, with the spicy jerk crab platter mentioned earlier going for $29. We come here to have a main course between $33 and $38, and we end the meal with a choice of desserts, ranging from $10 to $25.
To drink, Garde-Manger also offers a wine list, specially selected by Jessica Midlash. There is everything from classics to more unique offerings, mostly from private imports and with a penchant for French wines. In terms of cocktails, Samuel Turp developed the menu and there are about nine choices that also change regularly.
Garde-Manger offers sophisticated cuisine in a festive and welcoming environment in the heart of the old city. The friendliness of the place is what makes the restaurant so successful: the staff team contributes greatly to the energy and hospitality of the place. “Obviously, we love the food, but the staff is really special. It’s always a crowd pleaser and people are very happy about it when they come here,” says Jessica. Try it out for a fun night out, surrounded by good people and good food.
Written by Sophie Monkman
Photography by Garde-Manger