The Restaurant h3: Humane Gastronomy
For several years, we have seen that several organizations and media have positioned Montreal as a gastronomic metropolis. We only have to think of the visit of the late Antony Bourdain and the MTLàTable and YUL EAT festivals, highlighting the importance of his cuisine. To this end, a new establishment will open its doors in the spring, and there is reason to believe that it will solidify this enviable reputation. The Restaurant h3 is the latest project of the partner—chef, Jean-Sébastien Giguère, and his Coureur des Bois team at the Humaniti complex, an establishment bringing together condominiums, apartments, hotels and office spaces.
Why the Restaurant h3?
The Restaurant h3 is located in the hotel section of the same name as the complex, the first milestone of the Autograph Collection brand by the Marriott chain in the province of Québec. The latter offers a warm human relationship, a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, sophisticated local cuisine, a program in unique wine, and contemporary mixology close to the Palais des congrès. Discover our interview with the chef Mr. Jean-Sébastien Giguère and Mr. Marc-Antoine Dionne, director of operations.
My first meeting with Mr. Giguère dates back a few years when he was the executive chef of Taverne 1909, the flagship restaurant of the Bell Center. During this meeting, his cuisine had pleasantly surprised me, all the dishes were authentic delicacies, and the presentation revealed a spectacular side. This former Toqué! and du Pied de Cochon joined, at the end of 2018, the gastronomic team of COGIR Restaurants as chef-partner for Le Coureur des Bois and La Cabane du Coureur, both located in Beloeil, on the Rive—South. Concerning the h3, it is supported, in addition to Mr. Dionne and Giguère, by Hugo Duchesne, sommelier director, who brings his renowned expertise. Moreover, this fabulous Montérégian restaurant has an exceptional wine cellar, crowned with the “Grand Award of Excellence” by Wine Spectator magazine in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
The first question that comes to mind is, of course, the name, the h3: “The first H is for Humaniti, the complex, the second for Hanima, the name of Marc Séguin’s work of art. The latter will consist of a tree covered with copper accompanied by a bucket to illustrate the importance of the sugar season for our group. It will be beautiful with its leaves of different colours. You will find this sculpture in the center of the H formed by the building. Meanwhile, the last H is for Human because the relationship between human beings occupies an essential place within our priorities. I believe that, in the restaurant business today, this is what determines the success or otherwise of an establishment,” specifies Mr. Giguère.
I continue my conversation to find out what will make up the chef’s menu. “We will offer, what we like to call, regional cuisine. The latter will follow the seasons and climates, which will allow us to present a menu that will constantly change. We want to be self-sufficient in many ways. For example, you will find maple syrup from La Cabane in pastry shops, and it will be the only sugar served with our coffees. The eggs will be those of our hens, fed by our team, and it will be the same for the honey that will come from our hives. The greenhouses (plants, vegetables and fruits), which are located on the roof of a regular customer’s business at Le Coureur des Bois, will be used for mixology and meal preparation. We want to be one step ahead of what’s going on in the restaurant business in Montreal. We are fortunate to have the time to put it all together,” added the chef.
While Restaurant h3 will be divided into several sections across the complex, you will be able to have either a tasting menu or an à la carte menu, which will be offered in the lounge, the terrace and the main dining room. Having Italian roots, Mr. Giguère will place great importance on his origins, and those of his kitchen team made up of Mr. Ruihan Chen and Mr. Donnel English, which will bring an Asian influence to the plates.
The chef’s inspirations are motivated by his continual questioning and career in the various establishments where he has had the opportunity to practice his profession. These experiences have made him a seasoned manager who has been able to ally himself with competent people who enhance his expertise.
Started in 2018, the Restaurant h3 project has been slowed down by the exceptional situation we are experiencing. Despite this, it is currently offering a take-out service to satisfy the hundreds of tenants in the condominium segment by the time the Humaniti opens next June. “This period when we offer fast food allows us to keep part of our team in place and to be ready when we can welcome customers indoors. We refine our recipes, we conduct tests, and we constantly question our way of doing things. There will be a sommelier’s table in the cellar on the dining room side, and we will introduce an updated pedestal table service. Then we will have the lounge section, where the mixology side will be. We want to bring the latter to the highest level thanks to several techniques such as fermentation, for example,” announces Chef Giguère.
The Humaniti Project
It’s by speaking to Mr. Dionne, that I learned that the restaurant model in this type of real estate investment is a trend already at work that COGIR wishes to draw inspiration from its various projects. “We must say that this is a first in Montreal to have condominiums, rental units, office spaces and an all-in-one hotel. By integrating the hotel section into the Humaniti complex that the catering component has become essential since we reach a high-end clientele, “it specifies the director of operations.
It is certainly not easy to have an establishment for the different functions, and this challenge excites this one. “The idea is really to have a synergy in the offers because it can quickly become scattered. We must therefore try to preserve the various guidelines. We set up a system with the main kitchen and a second, in a satellite on the terrace, to facilitate our tasks. We wanted to keep this principle of interconnection, even though we are in completely separate environments, and apply our signature to them. For example, maple syrup, which Chef Giguère spoke about above, will be the same everywhere. There will be no different categories for banquets or room service,” adds project partner at Restaurant h3.
An impressive wine cellar at the Restaurant h3
The wine cellar of around 3,000 bottles, supervised by sommelier director Hugo Duchesne (best sommelier in Quebec in 2020), will highlight a large selection of Quebec producers and the best winegrowers on the planet. According to Mr. Dionne’s words, whether the consumer is in the lounge, on the terrace, in his room or the restaurant, he will have access to the same wine cellar. It will also be possible for tenants to enjoy these refined products thanks to a terminal that will bring together a wide selection of bottles to accompany their meals.
On the service side, the director of operations wants to transpose the customization implemented in their Beloeil complex, where the waiters know customers by name to promote an ultra-refined approach. For those who thought they would find Le Coureur des Bois in Montreal, this will not be the case. The institution will be different but still, have a familiarity. According to Marc-Antoine Dionne, the avowed goal is to bring what works on the South Shore to Montréal. The idea is to create a fraternal competition between the two establishments to bring out the best. You will find the craftsperson’s expertise in the products and the furniture, clothing of the service staff and accessories such as plates and menu covers.
The Patio of The H3 is already open and The Restaurant h3 will open on July 1st, 2021 at 340 De La Gauchetière Ouest in Montreal.
Originally published in the Gentologie Magazine Issue 7