Welcome to Montreal Friday. Every Friday this summer, I will show you what’s new in Montreal, because Montreal is a fun and wonderful city to discover. Here are my two discoveries of the week. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram for previews and as well, let’s engage on Twitter with hashtag: #FRIDAYMTL.
OTH (Off The Hook) Opens 2nd Location, and Café Olimpico
One of the most iconic stores on Ste-Catherine Street West in downtown Montreal, OTH (Off The Hook), has opened ‘a little brother’ in old Montreal within the updated William Gray Hotel. The 1,200 square foot OTH store is very modern, and the look of the store is well integrated into the decor of the hotel in which the store is contained. The product selection at OTH focuses on showcasing mostly Canadian or Quebec-based brands and products. OTH developed an exclusive clothing brand for the store called William Gray Collection, as well as other articles of clothing that are streetwear inspired. OTH offers a selection of more than 30 brands, as well as accessories and shoes.
The store is connected with another Montreal institution, Cafe Olimpico, located in the historic Maison Cherrier. The Original Café Olimpico has been on St-Viateur street in the trendy Mile End neighbourhood since 1970, and is said to offer the best coffee in the city.
Both are exciting expansions and terrific additions to the city.
William Gray Hotel
Last week, I received an invitation to discover the Maggie Oakes restaurant at the William Gray Hotel. What resulted was the perfect lunch.
The experience began in the main hotel lobby where you will find a small, but cozy bar, just in front the OTH boutique. The room has the prefect balance between modern and classic styles, including massive wood pieces, three-floor marble stairs and a bar with very attentive personnel. The communal space feels alive and warm.
The hotel is composed of two historic buildings: the Maison Cherrier which hosts the Café Olympico, and the Maison William Gray (which will soon boast a luxurious spa and gym) which is located in an eight storey building housing 127 hotel rooms and suites.
On the second and third floor, the spacious 10,000 square foot conference room is perfect for weddings and private parties. On the roof, you will find the panoramic Terrasse William Gray, focused on sea food and featuring a panoramic view of the old Port. It is arguably the best place in Montreal to see the International Feux Loto Quebec fireworks in July.
I’ll discuss the hotel again in late September after it officially opens. An indoor garden, pool, gym and luxury spa will all be part of the hotel.
Maggie Oakes Restaurant
Maggie Oakes was the name of Edward William Gray’s wife, and now it’s also the name of the hotel’s restaurant, offering refinement in an area otherwise characterized by tourist traps and cheap fast food. The new high end grill restaurant offers a breath of fresh air on Place Jaques Cartier in old Montreal, with an ambiance matching that of the hotel, as well as a really tasty menu.
The chef is Derreck Bocking, a former contestant on Top Chef Canada in 2011. Inspired by the garden and the green wall in the dining space, Mr. Bocking has created a high end menu featuring fresh vegetables and meat.
Several large pieces of 28-day-aged beef are displayed in a glass room at the back of the restaurant, on the corner of the hallway that leads to the hotel. The restaurant seats 150, excluding the Terrasse in front of Jaques Cartier Place. A spacious bar covers nearly the whole length of the restaurant with efficient, friendly servers, which makes for a very relaxing and comforting space.
During my visit I opted for the Roasted Marrow Bones as an appetizer, which was served with a grilled green tomato and taro chips. I never tasted it before and I was really surprised at how good it was.
For the Main course I chose the Lac Brome Duck breast covered with Montreal style spices (in Maggie Oake’s twist styled) grilled to perfection, with a serving of celery root purée, market vegetables and cassis demi-glace.
For dessert, I couldn’t resist trying the Paris Brest, with light scoops of praline, a home-made Gianduja chocolate ice cream, served with caramelized almonds.
Maggie Oakes is not just a great addition to old Montreal, it’s a wonderful new attraction for the city.
Instagram : @maggieoakesmtl Web : maggieoakes.com