The Foodlab is on the top floor of the Society of Arts and Technology, or the SAT, which describes itself as a “a transdisciplinary centre dedicated to research, creation, production, presentation, education and conservation in the field of digital culture.” To render that into colloquial English, it’s a research center, school, and gathering place for digital geeks, and the building and the restaurant have a kind of geek chick décor and vibe.
But the third floor, which includes a large and comfortable terrace, is dedicated to culinary experiments which have nothing to do with pixels and circuit boards. It’s the project of two noted Montreal chefs, Seth Gabrielse and Michelle Marek. If Marek’s name sounds familiar, she’s the pastry chef that’s behind the indispensable Montreal food blog, …an endless banquet.
The menu changes every two weeks, consists of creative small plates, and has a theme. For my visit, the menu theme was Spanish, and consisted of a gorgeous gazpacho bread salad, perfect squid with chorizo and chickpeas, and a hamburger made with manchego cheese, marinated poblano peppers, romesco sauce -- probably the best burger I’ve ever had, not just in Montreal, but in Canada.
The prices are affordable – a prix fixe menu ran $40 and included two small plates, a dessert and two glasses of wine. But since the entire menu is not very long, and the portions not very large, two people will be satisfied but not overstuffed by ordering everything on the menu to share. Prices ranged from $6-$12 for the small plates, and baguette will cost you $2. The wine list is well chosen, and nearly everything is available by the glass or the bottle. On my visit, glasses ran from $6.50 to $11; bottles started at $35 and topped out at $68.50. (All prices Canadian.)
The restaurant serves from Wednesday to Saturday, from 5p.m. to 10 p.m. (This is an extension of its hours from when it first opened, so you’ll still see listings that have the restaurant closing at 8 p.m.)
Food events at Foodlab
The Foodlab also hosts several food events – its own Le Marche du Foodlab, which runs from August 25th to October 1st, 2012, and includes all sorts of food-focused programming, from classes to meals to Culinary Bingo and a Blueberry Social.
It’s also the Montreal host for the global Omnivore Food Tour which goes off August 18th to 20th, 2012. If you’re unfamiliar, Omnivore is an alternative French culinary publication and event organizers which celebrates “la jeune cuisine”, literally translated to “young cuisine”, as opposed to an old and fusty cooking style. The tour also visits Paris, Brussels, Moscow, Copenhagen, Shanghai, New York, San Francisco, Rio, Istanbul, Sydney.
Each stop includes a mix between a dinner and a master class hosted by two chefs – usually one well-known in the host city and one lesser known name (although usually a big whoop somewhere else. Omnivore describes these as “Fucking Dinners”, which classier publications than the one you’re now reading render as “F**** dinners”. The name apparently came from chef David Chang, of New York’s Momofuku empire, who described the New York event as "it will be fucking dinners!" Occasionally, the tour gives these dinners a more family-friendly name. Read how The New York Times describes an Omnivore event in New York City.