Had you driven along Notre-Dame Street West only a decade ago, you would have had difficulty finding much more than a string of antique shops and fast-food restaurants. Historically a factory neighbourhood, nowadays it’s the destination of choice for local and visiting gourmets and bons vivants. From Griffintown to Little Burgundy to Saint-Henri, this stretch is continually seeing a new crop of restaurants, bars, cafés, curated shops and concept spas. And the designer-clad residents are finding homes in those former factories, now converted into contemporary condominiums.
The owners of seafood restaurant and oyster bar Joe Beef and its descendants, Liverpool House and Le Vin Papillon (a recently expanded wine bar), are considered pioneers of the Little Burgundy and Notre-Dame West revival. Following in their footsteps are Burgundy Lion, a popular British pub across the street, and more recently, along the Saint-Henri stretch, street-food favourites and bricks-and-mortar converts Grumman 78 and Satay Brothers. Further east in Griffintown, the latest epicurean addition to the street is Foxy, the suppertime sister to Old Montreal institution Olive et Gourmando. Also not to be missed is the inconspicuously located Patrice Pâtissier – across the street from the local hardware store. Stop for lunch and indulge in Patrice Demers’ contemporary French pastries, or better yet, take part in one of the evening pastry workshops or wine tastings offered by his sommelier-partner, Marie-Josée Beaudoin.
Stock up on the new Notre-Dame West style at Stockmarkt, where you’ll find labels such as Acne Studios, James Perse, Filippa K, Nudie Jeans, Maison Kitsuné and locally designed handbags by Want Les Essentiels de la Vie at outlet prices. Just a stone’s throw away, browse contemporary decor pieces at Beige, which offers everything from home fragrances and table accessories to design consultation and custom upholstery. Owner and interior designer Michael Stratulak opened the shop after noticing the need for a full-service design store much like those you would find in Paris, London or New York.
Just below Notre-Dame in Griffintown is Arsenal, a former shipyard turned contemporary art space. Inaugurated in 2012, the gallery not only hosts the impressive private Majudia Collection but also a commercial gallery, and serves as host to grand-scale events. For further visual and installation-art experiences, check out nearby Antoine Ertaskiran and Saint-Henri’s Parisian Laundry – also housed in former industrial buildings.
Barbarella has a cult following of regulars who enjoy services ranging from traditional manicures to trendy nail art. The spa’s famed and flawless spray tans and waxing are also a draw. Nearby, Notorious takes the contemporary barbershop to an incomparable luxe level with its Versace decor, high-end grooming products and cognac-bottle-lined shelves. More like a private club than a barbershop, here a gent can splurge on a luxury experience with the 1K Shave using a gold-plated razor, which is his to keep as a souvenir. For trims on the go, Notorious recently teamed up with Rémy Martin to create The Centaur, a mobile groomery and cognac bar in a custom-built Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
The gang at Joe Beef have set up a food-lovers’ apartment directly above the renowned restaurant, with views on their garden in the back and the bustling activity of Notre-Dame Street in front. Unique features include a fully functional kitchen and harvest table for eight, cured meats hanging from the rafters and a stocked fridge of private import wines and Joe Beef craft beer.