We seldom make group plans at popular spots with a "no reservations" policy; there's always a risk of ending up with nothing. We rolled the dice with Le Vin Papillon on a Thursday night, and were lucky enough to snatch a table after a short wait. This would be our first time at team Joe Beef's latest addition, open since 2013 on Notre Dame in Little Burgundy, steps away from their other landmark eateries.
The busy wine bar's interior follows a vintage theme boasting exposed white brick walls, unfinished wood flooring and an alluring bar/prep area showcasing several of the goodies we are about to sink our teeth into. The space is narrow and small, with tables almost stuck to each other, but without being uncomfortable.
The menu consists of three hanging chalk boards; one for food, a second for white wine and bubbly, and finally a third for reds and rosé. The fare can best be described as vegetable-centric plus a few seasonal seafood items. As for the grapes, there is an emphasis on old world wines, with a large French concentration.
Plates come in affordable tapas form; everything feels like an appetizer or side dish at Joe Beef. Presentations are crude and unpretentious, and portions are small-ish yet filling. Our party members marveled at the rich, masterful, ingredient-driven dishes; we never thought veggies could satisfy this much!
As we've repeatedly experienced at the group's other restaurants, the waitstaff here displayed the perfect combination of homey and informal yet sharp and savvy. Everything from pacing to plate changes and wine refills revealed a level of expertise and precision seldom reached elsewhere; all while maintaining a fun, laid-back attitude.
tagged: LOVE THE ATTENTION
The weak dessert aside, our first experience at Le Vin Papillon was near-impeccable. From the no-fuss, creative cuisine to the exemplar service, it is safe to say that David McMillan and Fréderic Morin have added a neighborhood gem to their empire. Far from letting the 2011 unfolding of their McKiernan Luncheonette hold them down, the reigning bad boys of Montreal's chef scene are back with a vengeance.
Price per person: $24
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.