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Montreal
2519, rue Notre-Dame O.
vinpapillon.com

Le Vin Papillon can sell a magnum of weird “natural” sparkling wine – from a producer you’ve almost certainly never heard of – by the glass. For this we should all be grateful. There’s a fantastic generosity to this narrow, crowded room in Little Burgundy, a few doors down from Frédéric Morin, Allison Cunningham and David McMillan’s other two shrines to semi-formal recklessness.

Wine Tasting at Restaurant Le Vin Papillon
A Fresh Dish at Restaurant Le Vin Papillon
A Fresh Dish at Restaurant Le Vin Papillon
Cheese at Restaurant Le Vin Papillon
The Kitchen at restaurant Le Vin Papillon
The Kitchen at restaurant Le Vin Papillon
The Kitchen at restaurant Le Vin Papillon
Outdoor Cooking at Restaurant Le Vin Papillon
Outdoor Cooking at Restaurant Le Vin Papillon
A Dish at Restaurant Le Vin Papillon

Long-time Joe Beef wine guru Vanya Filipovic, a second-generation sommelier, fills two massive chalkboards with organic and biodynamic wines that aim for lightness and energy, all the better to run with a cuisine from boyfriend Marc-Olivier Frappier that’s more vegetable-focused than its older siblings. Discs of smoked-and-roasted celery root, folded into adorable tents, attain transcendence atop a silky bagna càuda (garlic, anchovy, capers, good fat). When the table next to you tucks into the same dish, you’ll hear expletives of delight shouted over the din of Arcade Fire and Daft Punk on the stereo.

A bowl of crimson crayfish that the waitress correctly advertises as “prehistoric” gives up tender pieces of tail meat to dunk deep into a horseradish mayonnaise. That same descriptor could apply to the mammoth fried zucchini flowers, each the size of a half-bottle of Burgundy and just as easily consumed. But good Burgundy is Joe Beef territory – here, you’ll have more fun investigating that kooky Rebula from Slovenia.

Sidewalk Empire

On a single block of Rue Notre-Dame Ouest in Montreal’s Little Burgundy sit three sibling restaurants: Joe Beef, Liverpool House and Le Vin Papillon. The trio occupies what co-owner David McMillan calls “the compound” in the 2011 cookbook The Art of Living According to Joe Beef.
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Rue Notre-Dame Ouest in Montreal’s Little Burgundy

Le Vin Papillon’s kitchen set-up includes a rotisserie, used to spit-roast a whole head of cauliflower that’s served with tarragon, charred lemon peel and crispy chicken skin.

Rue Notre-Dame Ouest in Montreal’s Little Burgundy

Little Burgundy’s most famous son, the jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, grew up a few blocks northwest of here at 3021 Rue Delisle.

Rue Notre-Dame Ouest in Montreal’s Little Burgundy

Last February, the Trinidad-based painter Peter Doig celebrated his Musée des Beaux-Arts exhibition with a hockey game on Parc Vinet’s outdoor ice rink behind Le Vin Papillon, followed by dinner inside.

Rue Notre-Dame Ouest in Montreal’s Little Burgundy

The three restaurants all have backyard terraces and are connected by an alleyway. Le Vin Papillon sommelier Vanya Filipovic and chef de cuisine Marc-Olivier Frappier, among others on the team, will often move between restaurants during the same service.

Rue Notre-Dame Ouest in Montreal’s Little Burgundy

If Joe Beef were ever crazy enough to make absinthe on site with the wormwood they harvested from the garden’s first crop, an ideal location for the pot still would be the basement of Liverpool House.

Rue Notre-Dame Ouest in Montreal’s Little Burgundy

Opened in September 2007, Liverpool House endured six months of having to run an ozone generator in the basement to clear out the smell of a dead skunk.

Rue Notre-Dame Ouest in Montreal’s Little Burgundy

Rumours of an underground tunnel connecting Liverpool House and Joe Beef were put to an original Joe Beef employee, who replied, "If I told you I’d have to kill you."

Joe Beef owns the apartment above 2485 Notre-Dame Ouest, which is available for short-term rental and comes equipped with wall art by Berlin-based artist Peter Hoffer and a dinner table that seats eight.

Rue Notre-Dame Ouest in Montreal’s Little Burgundy

Joe Beef’s backyard features a 90-square-metre vegetable garden and a 1.5-metre-wide free-standing smoker built by Frédéric Morin in 2009, and employed in such dishes as Le Vin Papillon’s smoked celery root.

To help wash down the last creamy bite of Roquefort, Filipovic plucks a sparkling Loire rosé called You Are So Bubbly from the ice bucket – an oversize copper pot – using two hands to pour the magnum. The wine tastes of rhubarb and grass and burnt sugar. “This one’s a bit out there, but you need to let it work on you,” she says. Call it the butterfly effect.

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