I only discovered the Mount Stephen Club near the end of its previous incarnation as a private club in 2011, and was instantly wowed by the historic landmark's grandeur.
I could not think of a finer setting for dining with my parents when they're in town; so did not hesitate to book a table for brunch during their current visit, a mere two months after it re-emerged as Bar George.
In addition to a restaurant, Sir George Stephen's former mansion was extended to also count a luxurious hotel, swanky ballrooms and urban spa.
The stately exterior's neo-renaissance architecture has been fully respected in the opulent interior with period furniture, crystal chandeliers and stained-glass windows.
The elegance permeates through both dining halls, bar area and private rooms – creating one of the most occasion-worthy spots in town.
tagged: SPECIAL OCCASION
Bar George's modern British fare suggests brunch classics peppered with English staples such as Stilton cheese, Keen's mustard and Branston chutney.
Portions are copious, prices are reasonable and the vintage tableware is handsome and fitting.
Our plates generally satisfied, minus a couple technicalities: heavy-handed seasoning and not-the-least-bit-runny poached egg yolks.
"roasted tomatoes, branston chutney"
"poached eggs, keen's mustard cream, green onion"
"mushrooms, spinach, emmental, duck fat potatoes"
"split peas, old sherry, walnuts, stilton blue cheese"
Horror stories I've read depicting a poor customer experience were corroborated by a lanky hostess who kept us in limbo at the main hall for no apparent reason.
Once she got her act together, a disgruntled customer intercepted her on his way out with bitter complaints about an absentee waiter – ouch!
Finally, our own drinks and plates did take what felt like an eternity to arrive – although our attendant was sharp and friendly.
With its fresh take on English cuisine, new bar and laid-back rock background music, the Mount Stephen rebirth seems geared towards a young, urbanite crowd.
Still one of the most beautiful spots in town, it's a shame the atrocious service is not up to par with the magnificent setting and decent – if flawed – brunch fare.
To be fair, Bar George is still fresh from the oven; perhaps it just needs time to find its groove?
tagged: DESERVES A RETRY
Price per person: $20
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.