H4C par Dany Bolduc: Redefined Haute Cuisine
**** The H4C par Dany Bolduc is definitively closed****
Entering in the H4C par Dany Bolduc is to live an experience where one has the impression that time has stopped. That nothing but the client’s food and well-being is important to the team. Welcome to the restaurant, which is the opposite of what is done in in the Montreal restaurant industry.
A transformation and a solid team at H4C par Dany Bolduc
While we are 6 months after the transformation of the H4C par Dany Bolduc, here I am in front of Mr. Dany Bolduc, one of the 4 shareholders of the place and on the right on the photo up there the others being Mr. Renaud-Philip Méthot, sous-chef and on the left in the photo, Mr. Jonathan Benchetrit, sommelier, and Mrs. Alexandra Dubreuil-Gagnon, director and maître d’.
I ask him to explain to me a little where he wanted to go with this concept and here begins an incredible conversation: “I’m happy to say that it’s going well, the reaction (from customers) is completely different, the approach also. This is where we realize that the atmosphere that we create in a room plays a huge part on the experience, whether by lighting, tables, acoustics, dishes, attentions that we do such as wet and warm wipes at the start of the meal, linen towels, baskets for depositing the bags, the customer experience has totally changed even for classic dishes that were served in the previous iteration H4C. ”
Mr. Bolduc told me that all these changes had an effect on the perception of food, it is no longer as before, but positively. They have also started investing in social media (their photos are beautiful).
“I didn’t think it would change people’s perspective as much.”
I ask him if it is because this experience is more gastronomic, and he, to answer me, yes and no. For example, the menus were present in the previous version of the restaurant, but the decor did not suit what was on the plate. “There were 52 seats, it was cacophonic, it was noisy,” the food will always evolve told me Mr. Bolduc, but what really changed according to him is the way of presenting things, the way they bring food, the way people in service work, they are elsewhere 34 seats.
They are proud to showcase local crafts, for example, the trays were built by the grandfather of sous-chef M. Méthot, the dishes by Jonathan Rassi, former chef and teacher at the ITHQ, the table legs and flower vases made by Messrs. Jean and Arnaud Brillant, as well as details like the lighting that is put on the table, without being aggressive, and that makes the room a little darker, the music, the latter is only composed of vinyl records chosen by the staff, in terms of acoustics, the time taken for each client without forgetting the cheese cart.
I tested the H4C experience, during an evening for Bourdaire-Gallois champagne, at the invitation of Mr. Alexander Meletakos, sales manager at La Mer Fish Market and one of the suppliers of H4C, and it was unbelievable. I found a link, both in the presentation and in how to assemble the plates, a nod to the Chef’s Table TV series, which you can see on Netflix. For the experience side, for the different flavors, the little details.
The inspiration for the evolution of the H4C par Dany Bolduc
The associates’ vision was not only to redo the restaurant, but to create a platform that will allow them to develop products, services, have fun, and bring customers to live these experiences with them.
“I want customers to forget about time. We’re always on our phones, we’re running, can we go to a restaurant and take our time? ”
To support this concept of time, this is exactly why they ask people to arrive at a certain time, they want to make a rendez-vous with people. Sometimes they may be full at a certain time, but having room at another time slot is only for the purpose of serving you better. Note that most evenings, there is only one service per table, it can be unsettling to see empty tables when they could have filled them, but it is to maximize your experience, to give you more, make you enter in their world.
In order to find this inspiration, Mr. Bolduc has traveled a lot. Almost everywhere on the planet. He wanted people, entering his restaurant, to feel good, that they perceive a certain lightness, a clean, but warm side, all thanks to the work of the craftsmen named earlier. He analyzed, in his travels, what he liked and what he did not like, and it is really on this that the four new associates looked for the new version of the H4C. Round tables are made so that people have a good time with each other.
Go against the grain
It’s really going against the grain, while most restaurants do everything to get the most people, they do the opposite. But, it is a question of mental well-being, of team well-being, and it is also to see if they are able to live, in Quebec, from this restaurant way that is done elsewhere. “If we look to Asia, yes the population is higher, but the trend is to create gourmet restaurants where there are fewer people. In Tokyo, while there are nearly 10 million people in this city, some restaurants make 35-40 covers per night, sometimes it’s 25 or 20 even. ”
being. There is yes, the food, but also the experience. I’m not ready to do this job, which I love, and serve 140 people a night, every night…”
While the shortage of manpower in hospitality is really a problem, the H4C works with seven cooks, but this only in order to bring creativity further, to have fun, to take its time, to go elsewhere. “ The H4C has my name on the door now, because maybe this place will not be his last home, I also want people to be able to follow me in my different projects. What are the next steps? To see … the idea is the evolution of having fun, learning, etc.”
They invite, once or twice a year, at their own expense, chefs from elsewhere, with the aim, once again, of creating something different, of learning, of bringing something new to the kitchen, ’evolve as Mr Bolduc said earlier.
The kitchen at H4C is not entirely local, per se. Mr Bolduc wants the most beautiful products on your plate, but also wants you to discover others. He wants to open your horizons, and this is often done outside our borders. He advocates the local side in terms of vegetables, several seafood, but is well aware that the products he wants to work with are not found here.
From Chicago for Montréal en Lumière at H4C par Dany Bolduc
The H4C par Dany Bolduc wants to be inspired by this trip that will be Montréal en Lumières festival. This experience with chef Phillip Foss, of the two-Michelin-starred restaurant EL Ideas in Chicago, is intended as a play.
“The chef asks people to arrive on time (15 people at 6 p.m. and 15 people at 8:30 p.m.), those who arrive late, will start where the chef will be, because the menu will be in 9 acts and the chef will present the dishes to the 15 people at the same time. I find it super interesting. It’s mutual respect.” In short, it will be like a real play where you will not be able to enter (or almost) if the show is started.
As for brunch, which I tried at the end of December 2019, it’s totally different from what you can find elsewhere. Three-course meal, you don’t really have a choice (except for certain options), it’s a bit designed like a gourmet menu, but made to be shared. It arrives on trays, it’s very friendly, gourmet, with small portions.
And what’s more, it’s an anti-waste brunch since many of the ingredients that you will find on your plate come from the surplus from what was used to make the menu on Saturday evening. “We are going to serve different dishes, to make you have fun, make you live something different, and share it. We want to use everything we have, and everything is homemade. The point is that people come here and take their time. Customers can stay three hours, no problem.” It’s also a great way to experience the restaurant if you’re hesitant to invest in the evening menu.
Continuing in this wave of experience, soon, when making reservations, they will ask what menu people want. Thus, the evening will be like a meeting where the H4C team will be waiting for you and will be ready to welcome you. And this service is done in communion with the kitchen, with people who are open-minded and who want to experiment. You will be able to find out on your next visit.
538 Place St-Henri
Originally published in Gentologie Magazine Issue 3