Proposing Le Chalet Gastronomique

Chalet sur Mont-Royal, cc lt_paris

Last spring, Spacing Montreal, Avenue 8, and the CCA co-organized A Taste for Montreal, an event exploring the intersection of food and urbanism in our city. During his keynote speech, chef Normand Laprise (of Toqué! fame) called for more food in public spaces, and specifically for a restaurant in the Mount Royal chalet that would make this place a true destination.

We thought that it was a great idea so we ran an open letter in La Presse today advocating that the chalet be reanimated with food as a new focal point.

The Kondiaronk Belvedere is one of Montreal’s great attractions for tourists and locals alike, with it’s sweeping view of the city, the fleuve Saint-Laurent and the region beyond. But if you’re in search of something to eat after ascending to this summit you’ll be sorely disappointed: the beautiful 1930s chalet that flanks the lookout offers nothing but a row of vending machines by way of sustenance.

While the lookout welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year, it’s still off the beaten track – far removed from the busting city, in an environment that is transformed with the seasons. We fully recognize that sustaining a restaurant in these conditions would be no easy task.

That’s why we are proposing an innovative concept adapted to the unique characteristics of this place: a gastronomic infrastructure at the service of the Montreal community. Simply install a kitchen and open it to a variety of ephemeral gastronomic projects throughout the year. Similar to “artists in residence,” local and visiting chefs could come in and test out new menus. New talents could use this venue to make their big entrance into the Montreal foodie scene, and local organizations could host benefits and activities in the space.

It seems fitting that an iconic Montreal landmark become a showcase for local talent, local products, and the exploration and reinvention of our food culture. And the prospect of a sharing a meal would surely draw more Montrealers into this exceptional place between the city skyline and the forest.

We were thrilled when François Cardinal and Radio-Canada picked up the Chalet Gastronomique. Let us know what you think in the comments section – lets get some momentum building for this project!

9 comments

  1. Malheureusement l’achalandage au chalet aux heures du lunch et du souper pendant la semaine est pauvre. Un restaurant de qualité dépend sur une clientèle plus ou moins constante. Trouver une solution à cet état de choses et on a une bonne idée pratique.

  2. @Michael Fish – c’est justement pour ça qu’on ne propose pas un restaurant, mais plustot un infrastructure pour accueillir des évènements spéciaux au long de l’année.

  3. There is already a massive racoon problem on Mont Royal, and you want to give the tourist class more ways to feed these pseudo-rats? Aieee!

    Seriously, a decent non-corporate coffee café would be a big plus to this destination, which is truly one of Montreal’s best. But please keep megafoodcorps like Aramark, etc far away from the place please. Locally owned enterprises only, and preferably non-franchised ones.

    Time to go run a few laps on the Mont Royal stairs below the chalet A decent cup of java would be a nice reward for achieving all ten of the planned laps of this awesome 256 step staircase.

    Mont Royal I love you!

  4. Il n’est pas question d’un restaurant permanent, mais plutôt d’installer une cuisine pour des événements gastronomiques. “Simply install a kitchen and open it to a variety of ephemeral gastronomic projects throughout the year.” Il y a déjà eu des réceptions de mariages à cet endroit. Pourquoi pas une couple d’événements éphémères annuels permettant aux montréalais et touristes de mieux profiter de cet endroix. Tout à fait original.

  5. Whenever I bring visiting friends up Mt-Royal, I always wish there was a great café or restaurant at the top. I visited Bern and atop a similar “mountain” (a walk uphill for 30mins or so) there were vibrant cafés.

    I worry though that having a “destination” like a restaurant on the Mt-Royal will increase auto/bus/motorised pressure on the mountain, as I imagine there will be people who want to eat at the chalet-resto but who are not the walking up the mountain type. Thoughts?

  6. Chris, Kondiaronk was a very important Aboriginal chief, from the Huron nation, who played a major role in establishing the Great Peace of 1701 between different Indigenous nations, who were being pitched against one another by the French and British colonial powers. (There were always conflicts – but also peaceful trading and other relations – between the First nations, but the colonial powers had an interest in heightening existing differences – something one can observe to this day in many parts of the world). The belvedere was named for Kondiaronk in 1998, part of efforts by different Aboriginal associations (including Terres en vues, an association promoting Aboriginal cultures, traditional and modern) to heighten the visible presence of the First Peoples who had lived, travelled to and traded on the island for at least 10 thousand years. 

    This effort continues. My personal hope is to bring about the renaming of Amherst Street for an Indigenous person, group, people or event (such as La Grande paix). General Lord Jeffrey Amherst is widely seen as a war criminal of his day who “gifted” local people with blankets – infected with smallpox. Hmm, rue de la Grande paix, or la rue des Deux Esprits since this is an important street in the Gay Village and Two-Spirited person, played an important social role in many Indigenous North American cultures. 

  7. a restaurant on the summit is an excellent idea but unfortunately as some others have said there isn’t enough turn-out.

    personally, i think all the summit needs is free wireless access and a couple of good coffee machines that offer fair-trade organic coffee, tea, and hot cocoa in the winter and iced fair-trade organic coffee, tea, cocoa, etc. With the Tassimo machines out today there must be a way to offer decent quality hot coffee and iced teas etc. 

    the wireless alone would be enough to get me to the summit a couple of times per week. it’s a beautiful, peaceful space. the issue with food is that the food offered in the machines is generic pablum quality. gross sandwiches and soft drinks and sour coffee. who wants to pay $5 for a few slices of sticky white bread and a slice of pink ham pickled in sulfites? hell no.

    there needs to be a fine balance between quality and availability.

    has anyone done a spot study on how many people visit the chalet/summit on a daily basis? how many people use the washrooms etc? nothing a couple of dedicated urban planning students couldn’t handle. :D

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