Parapluie: Charming Neighbourhood Restaurant on Beaubien

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Chef Robin Filteau Boucher, formerly of Chez Victoire, Laurea, Gipsy, Théophile) finally has a place to call his own: Parapluie, a charming neighbourhood restaurant on Beaubien that we couldn’t help but fall in love with.

Robin has long harboured the dream of opening his own restaurant. He even had envisioned the entire concept, including the name, Parapluie (French for “umbrella”), inspired by his favorite song by singer-songwriter Daniel Bélanger. “I’ve always dreamed of having my own 30-seat, open-kitchen restaurant. Having regular customers, being able to talk to them while I cook,” the chef confesses.

Robin met maître d’ Karelle Voyer while he was chef at the excellent Théophile bar à vin in Saint-Bruno. Both shared the same vision for a restaurant and soon agreed to become partners in this new adventure, along with along with Robin’s childhood friend, Simon Chevalier. Then Robin spotted a tiny abandoned space, wedged between Saint-Laurent and Clark on Beaubien, steps away from his home. The dream was taking shape.

For Robin and Karelle, who both live in the neighbourhood, it was an opportunity to be closer to home and achieve a better work-life balance. “I want to be able to spend time with my wife, my family, and my friends,” explains Robin. The restaurant is open four evenings a week, from Wednesday to Saturday. “We may serve lunches on Thursday and Friday eventually. But hands off Sunday!”, Karelle emphasizes.

The two partners worked hard to refurbish the small space, which had been collecting dust for about fifteen years, with the help of Atelier Paradis and Ovi Construction. “We wanted to do something uncomplicated, fairly classic, that wouldn’t go out of style. It was a lot of work, but we’ a’re very proud of the result,” rejoices the chef.

The charming 32-seat dining room has a slightly old-fashioned feel with its white tablecloths, bistro chairs, and white walls adorned with beautiful moldings. Cute paper lampshades, resembling little umbrellas, dot the space. Here and there, a few references to Daniel Bélanger: a vinyl record of Quatre saisons dans le désordre – apparently quite hard to find, a gift from a friend for the restaurant’s opening – the character from the cover of Rêver mieux on the restroom door, and so forth. The open kitchen, surrounded by a long L-shaped marble counter, occupies nearly half of the space. “Everyone instinctively gathers around the bar to watch Robin cook and be part of the action,” says Karelle. Understandably so.

On the menu: French-inspired dishes with seasonal ingredients. “It’s a heartfelt cuisine. It’s what I want to eat. A sauce-based cuisine, too!” says the chef. And what sauces indeed – the author of these lines was delighted to have two beautiful slices of a Boulangerie Louise loaf to clean up every last drop.

The menu fits on a single page, with a selection of small plates and a few heartier dishes, all offered at very friendly prices (between $10 and $30). “We are a small team, so we can afford to offer lower prices,” explains Robin. There will always be a fish plate, meat, and fresh pasta on the menu, plus a few sides: homemade fries, Nino salad (with vegetables from Chez Nino, a longtime ally of Robin), and the aforementioned bread from Louise.

The oeuf mayonnaise, served with two beautiful pieces of poached lobster, creamy lobster juice, and tarragon mayonnaise, is already a classic and will undoubtedly remain on the menu. The egg is boiled for precisely eight minutes and twenty seconds (“Not a second more, not a second less!” emphasizes the chef), as the consecrated recipe dictates, resulting in a slightly congealed but still shiny yolk. The “MTL style” trout, brined and torched and served over horseradish sauce, dill oil, and topped with an everything bagel-style garnish (toasted sesame seed, roasted garlic, pine nuts), is also likely to stay – much welcome news, as this was the highlight of our meal. The raw beef with warm jus de volaille, paper-thin champignon de Paris slivers, sunchoke chips, and a small mountain of grated Louis d’Or, was a rather fun twist on the classic beef tartare.

Of course, everything will move with the seasons and the chef’s inspirations. “We reprint the menu almost every day to make small changes. We’re a small neighbourhood restaurant. We want people to be able to come often and try new dishes,” notes Karelle.

Trained as a sommelier, Karelle is in charge of pampering guests in the dining room. She also curates the wine list, which is quite reasonable, with several choices in the $50-60 range and a few gems, like quebecois winery Camy’s chardonnay, and a magnum of Munjebel, from legendary Sicilian winemaker Frank Cornelissen, who’s vines grow on the slopes of Mount Etna.

Behind the bar, mixologist Félix Pagé Blouin lends a hand in preparing cocktails. Mostly well-made classics, with a signature cocktail of the moment, Parapluie, which changes according to the team’s inspiration. The version we tried was gin, sage-infused honeyberry syrup, tonic, and lemon. Quite nice!

Parapluie already seems quite popular among people in the restaurant industry, which probably says a lot about the chef and his partner’s talent. We particularly appreciate the pretty decor, the affordable yet delicious food, and the relaxed, unassuming ambiance. A new favorite, which deserves a spot on our list of the best places to eat in Little Italy.

We can’t wait to go back.

Photography by Alison Slattery

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