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Nolan: Café, wine & restaurant — “Come as you are”
Nolan is a chic yet unfussy little neighbourhood restaurant in Little Burgundy. Whether it’s for a coffee, a drink or a good meal—whatever the time of day—you are welcomed here with open arms.
The large painting by Montreal artist J.30000 on the wall leaves no doubt as to the vocation of the place: “Café, Wine, Restaurant.” Open from morning to night, Wednesday to Sunday, without reservations, Nolan intends to become a reference point for people in the neighbourhood, at any time of the day.
In the morning, they offer coffee with sourdough bread from Miette bakery; served with compound butters, and homemade haskap berry jam. For the rest of the day and into the evening, the menu includes sharing dishes intended to be shared. Note that the lunchtime offer will also soon include sandwiches and salads.
“We don’t ask ourselves any questions,” sums up Julien Betancourt (Marché des Éclusiers, Clandestino, Boro), one of the five partners behind Nolan. “Our motto is ‘As you are’,” he continues.
Matthew Shefler and chef Vincent Lévesque Lepage (behind the excellent Knuckles restaurant in Villeray), Paul Aoun and Abel Garcia, Julien’s lifelong accomplice, complete the quintet.
A communal spirit
Julien Betancourt has designed an interior that encourages people to come together and meet. In the centre, a long communal table divides the room. An uninterrupted bench winds from the front of the room to the bar and the kitchen at the back.
The space is sprinkled with vintage touches that make it warm and welcoming; the weathered wooden floor, the schoolhouse lights, the antique desk in the hallway, the bistro chairs, the white ceramic tiles. It’s easy to feel at home here.
The product in the spotlight
In the kitchen, chef Vincent Lévesque-Lepage concocts dishes inspired by seasonal arrivals.
The menu, which is on the short side, is divided into two categories; small dishes to share to whet the appetite, then a second, more formal service. This includes beautifully prepared vegetable dishes, as well as fresh pasta, meat, and fish dishes.
“We work mainly with Quebec products,” says the chef. “The aim is to present quality, well-sourced, and unadulterated ingredients. To keep the product at the centre of attention.”
The first course was the Nolan Roll; think of a fancy mozzarella stick, stuffed with smoked meat, sauerkraut and emmental cheese. This was followed by salted éclairs with speck, cream and horseradish. Next, clams with rhubarb vinegar and lovage. And finally, crunchy radishes from Jardins Sauvé-Lafrance served on a delicate homemade ranch sauce (nothing like commercial ranch).
Next, delicious asparagus from La Sublime Asperge seared on charcoal and topped with smoked egg yolks and trout roe (superb!). Gaspesian halibut served on a buttermilk emulsion, with smoked veal fat and dill. And to finish—our favourite—Spaghetti Alla Chitarra; fresh pasta with just the right amount of bite, buttery veal stock (!), grilled morels and sweet peas. It was so good we could have ordered a second!
At the bar
Matthew Shefler and sommelier Marie-Claude Lauriault take care of the wine list, which includes mostly French and Italian references. “We want to stay with the idea of a production that respects the product and nature, but we don’t consider ourselves to be a natural wine bar,” explains Julien Betancourt.
They also offer a short but solid menu of house cocktails crafted by Abel Garcia.
In short, Nolan is a lovely address in the South West where you can eat and drink very well all day long. Let’s bet that this place will quickly become a second home for many folks in the neighbourhood!
Written by Mikael Lebleu
Photography by Alison Slattery
1752 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest Montréal H3J 1M3
Wednesday: 9:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Thursday: 9:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Friday: 9:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Saturday: 9:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Sunday: 9:00 AM – 12:00 AM
- Owner(s) Julien Betacourt, Matthew Shefler, Abel Garcia, Paul Aoun, Vincent Lévesque Lepage
- Chef(s) Vincent Lévesque Lepage
- Sommelier Marie-Claude Lauriault
- Opened 2022-06-01
- Accepts mastercard, visa, amex, cash, debit
- 45 Seats
- Accepts groups
- Restaurant Coffee shop Wine bar