Soubois: An enchanting night out in Montreal

“In fact the Soubois was born from the fact that Alex wanted an enchanted forest.” (laughs) Alex is Alexandre Brosseau, the owner of Speakeasy, a marketing, design, art and entertainment agency that is responsible for Les Enfants Terribles, Velvet Speakeasy, parties at Auberge St-Gabriel, Flyjin, Flyjin cafe and now Le Soubois, among other things.

The Soubois is located on Maisonneuve street where the Peel Pub and the Copacabana have been keeping the party going for 15 years in a row. When you arrive in front of the Soubois, a glass door invites you inside; “a projection of a window with a view of a cottage will be visible from the outside. I really want people to feel like they are entering a cabin in the woods.” Upon entering, you walk down the stairs and arrive at the reception area of a lounge. Then, you enter the “sous-bois” meaning “undergrowth” in English. This one is made up of five trees and three houses. A house with a bar to your right; this one is hiding something. A house in front of you that houses the kitchen and is also a “closed veranda” since it can be separated from the rest of the bar with curtains that block the sound. The third house is at the back on your left. It houses the Orangery, a private room; this is the “disco” house. There are also murals by the artist Gawd that represent an enchanted forest. You can find the mushrooms from the menu hidden everywhere (laughs). No kidding, this mural is absolutely beautiful. Finally, the cellar; “it’s an art installation. I don’t drink so I was really tired of seeing bottles. So we built a glass cube, which will be filled with smoke. With Adam Hummel (of Moment Factory), we created projections of the northern lights that change depending on the mood of the room. When someone buys a bottle, a manager or waitress signals it and the smoke is sucked out of the hole in the decagon in a few dozen seconds!” Whew. (Laughs) Also note that behind the simple bookcase in the living room and the first house is a Speakeasy (!!!).

The restaurant at Soubois is one that becomes a club later in the evening. The menu by chef Guillaume Daly offers you 100% local bistro cuisine with a focus on the wild. There’s an element of wild in every dish, the chef tells me. “Just enough to discover, but not too much to shock.” The menu changes with the seasons, and the kitchen team works with several small local producers. “The goal is to eat well in the ‘forest’, like in a cottage. We’re seeking country, comfort, and the familiar.” The chef recommends the yellowfin tuna and the lobster dish.

As for drinks, in addition to the 1,800 bottles in the cellar, the establishment offers you the knowledge of mixologist George Dawson and Lawrence Picard who created the cocktail menu. They propose five signature cocktails and five cocktails with a twist that match the menu and the local products.

Owners Alexandre Brosseau, Francine Brûlé (the woman behind the success of Les Enfants Terribles), J-P Haddad (from the successful Globe in his early years and real estate a little later), Thomas H (the resident DJ of renown, who mixed at Flyjin among others), Guillaume Daly (the chef, who was chef at Les Enfants Terribles for 7 years and also had a few stints in high volume restaurants), and Chris Karambatsos (the lawyer; it’s always handy to have a lawyer, especially a good one). A strong team, which has already delighted many and is supported by a great team in the dining room, including Simon Morel, among others.

“The definition of an undergrowth is what is between the ground and the tree tops. It’s immersive, it’s an area that creates an experience.” That will likely be the case with this location. The Soubois will be open Tuesday through Friday for lunch, dinner and the nightclub. Saturday night for dinner and party and eventually Sunday for brunches.

Le Soubois is a restaurant and a club; they’re what we would call a supperclub. But remember when Frederic Morin (Joe Beef, Liverpool House and Vin Papillon) was at the Globe, and David McMillan (Joe Beef, Liverpool House and Vin Papillon) at the Rosalie, the supperclub in Montreal was very gourmet and the restaurant aspect was stunning. This term has been tarnished in the last few years by establishments that have dropped the ‘restaurant’ aspect and put forward the ‘club’ aspect, serving anything to their customers. Le Soubois breaks this stereotype; they bring back a respect for the food and their customers, all in a festive environment.

The menu at Le Soubois is created by chefs Guillaume Daly and Sarto Chartier Otis, and features market-driven, locally sourced and wild-crafted cuisine.  “Just enough to discover, but not too much to shock”, the menu changes according to the arrivals and the kitchen team works with several small local producers. “The goal is to eat well in the ‘forest’, like in a cottage. We’re seeking country, comfort, and the familiar. 

On the evening menu, your dinner begins with homemade bread and butter with wild mushrooms. Appetizers range from $11 to $21 and include salmon confit, Boileau venison tataki, seafood, raw vegetable or charcuterie platter, grilled corn on the cob, mushroom poutine, and several salads (arugula, revisited Caesar, tomatoes and roasted vegetables). Main courses range from $30 to $140 and include Arctic char, smoked Cornish hen, braised Boileau venison parpadelle, AAA rib steak with foie gras sauce, fish of the day and T-Bone. Several vegetable sides are also available. A menu with a delicate, fresh and refined cuisine. Each dish respects and highlights the products used; the cooking is perfect, from vegetables to meat, and their presentation is original.

On the lunch menu, available from Monday to Friday, you will find a revisited minestrone, different salads, foie gras mousse with sea buckthorn jelly and roasted vegetables. Main courses between $24 and $33 (including small appetizers and mignardises): ratatouille and octopus, gnudi with porcini mushrooms and braised rabbit, Arctic char koulibiac, Nordic chowder or grilled entrecôte with pepper sauce. A dessert of the day is also available. Once again, the dishes are well prepared and tasty.

As for drinks, you have the 1800 bottles of the cellar, or the signature cocktails of the mixologists to match your menu. Brunch to come on Sundays in mid-October.

Congratulations on your incredible work, thank you for the invitation, and all the best!

Photography by Patricia Brochu

Featured In

From the magazine