Savsav: Saint-Henri’s not-so-secret new hangout

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Hidden in a maze of corridors in the Brewster Building in Saint-Henri, Savsav is an insider’s secret… that’s becoming less and less of a secret.

Savsav is the project of three former BarBara members: Félix Lam, Vincent Monast, and Antoine Doucet-Chagnon. Each partner brings their expertise to the venture: Félix, formerly of Crew Collective and Tommy Café, oversees the coffee and tea program. Vincent, who worked the kitchens at Mano Cornuto, , and EntreDeux before landing at BarBara, is in charge of the food. Finally, Antoine (BarBara, Taverne Atlantic, Ping Pong Club) is responsible for the cocktail program and the wine list.

“Among the three of us, we had a real complementarity between the kitchen, the bar, and the coffee. We thought about creating a space that includes all three departments,” explains Félix Lam.

If you know, you know

Located in the Brewster Building, which houses offices for the City and the Humanise collective, which includes the advertising agency Bleu Blanc Rouge, Savsav is not easily stumbled upon. You first have to enter through the main entrance at 780 Brewster Street, then navigate a series of corridors to reach space RC-015. Only those in the know can find it, which is actually the origin of the name: “It’s a play on words with the expression ‘If you know, you know [“Ceux qui savent, savent” in French]’ We wanted to use this quirk to our advantage,” confides Félix. “We saw it as an opportunity to take dining beyond Notre-Dame Street. In Saint-Henri, if you’re not on Notre-Dame, there’s not much going on,” he adds.

It’s easy to understand why the three friends chose the space, despite its location. The spacious, 7-meter ceiling room is bathed in light thanks to it’s large windows. At the center, a massive luminaire created by Toronto artist Jamie Wolfond overlooks the space. The custom-made plywood furniture from the Espace Caribou workshop adds a touch of warmth to the more raw industrial architecture of the space. A real feast for the eyes.

Part café, part restaurant, part bar

From 8 AM onwards, the room fills with cool young people, some with their noses buried in their laptops, others admiring the bright decor. Prominently displayed on the large central island, a selection of pastries is available to accompany coffees from local roaster Traffic Coffee. Savsav is the very first place in Montreal to be equipped with Mavam espresso machines, a sleek-looking system with hidden under-counter pumps, which clearly brings pride to Félix. He also notes with enthusiasm the selection of teas from Cultivate in Vancouver and ceremonial matcha imported directly from Kyoto, Japan. Other specialties on the menu include the HCMC latte, inspired by Vietnamese coffee, and a soul-warming roasted chicken broth.

At 11 am, Vincent and his team are in the kitchen preparing very enticing snacks. Sando dej with homemade sausage, grilled cheese on pullman square, tomato soup, apple and fennel salad with northern shrimp, yellow beet and buffalo mozzarella salad, and more. It’s fresh, it’s good, it’s well made. At the insistence of our server, we also tried the olive oil & lemon cake. Moist and airy, topped with spiced mascarpone, buttermilk, and a caramel sauce, this little square of heaven was simply dreamy!

Finally, on Thursday and Friday evenings, the chef has fun with slightly more indulgent creations. The menu will change with the arrivals and inspirations, but you can expect a mix of influences: “It’s really a mix of what I know,” explains Vincent. “I really like Italian cuisine because it’s the one I know the best, but I’ve also done Asian cuisine at Hà. My girlfriend is Finnish, so there’s also an influence of Nordic cuisine: pickled fish, gravlax, etc.” The menu features ingredients from different local producers and distributors: Porc de Beaurivage, 400 feet of mushrooms, Fermes Birri, urban fish farming Opercule, in addition to our friends from Pasta Pooks, who supply fresh pasta.

The drink menu is equally attractive. Antoine revisits classic cocktails, as well as creating his own alcoholic or non-alcoholic concoctions. Green curry margarita, gochujang bloody mary, jasmine tea spritz, non-alcoholic jalapeño amaretto sour; here too, you find the same mix of influences. The wines on the list are mostly organic or natural, “but we try to have something for everyone,” says the latter.

In addition to all this, the trio promises a slew of upcoming events that will showcase Montreal culture and creativity. “We’re starting to plan events that will transcend the space. Collaborations with the worlds of music and fashion. We’re going to expand our horizons even more,” he explains.

So, there you have it, you’re in the know. You are now part of the fortunate few who know how to find Savsav.

Happy discovery!

Photography by Audrey-Eve Beauchamp

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