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Of the nine moulded-plastic, Eames-style chairs that line the bar, two pink ones pop like rogue tulips in an all-white spring bouquet. Splashes of pastel grace the heritage brick walls (the result of a staff art project), a playful backdrop for the elegant silverware salvaged from the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth redesign. The blush-pink linen tablecloths (a rarity these days!) are set with earth-toned ceramics designed by the chef and thrown by his mother. It is an orchestrated blend of sophistication and artsy fun in this airy, steel-beam-adorned Old Montreal space, where executive chef Jason Morris and front-of-house head Kabir Kapoor (both part-owners, and the team behind Le Fantôme) are wooing a new crowd. This time, it’s with a refined, globally inspired menu built around a Japanese approach to seasonality and technique.

October 23, 2019
A small bowl of noodles

The splashes of colour carry through dinner. Housemade breads come with a herb-packed, vivid fern-green-coloured cylinder of butter. And that pretty lime-sherbet green of the housemade bucatini? It’s chlorophyll the kitchen extracts from spinach and parsley. Our server, clad in a lavender Oxford blouse, comes by, flashing all-white nails with the exception of one on each hand painted bright yellow. (Could this be part of a restaurant design directive?) She explains that the restaurant’s wine-pairing philosophy is focused on organic or biodynamic, but with the goal of demonstrating that not all such wines are ruled by barnyard scents and made by hippies.

The interior of Pastel
Chawanmushi (Japanese steamed egg custard)

Splashes of colour carry through dinner. Housemade breads come with a herb‑packed, vivid fern‑green‑coloured cylinder of butter. And that pretty lime‑sherbet green of the bucatini? It’s chlorophyll.

A colourful gluten-free dessert

Case in point: the classically styled 2016 Alsace pinot gris from Albert Mann. It’s paired with the equally traditional preparation of an ingredient your zero-waste nonna would approve of: shredded duck neck, stuffed into housemade cannelloni covered in chanterelles and a sauce of foie gras and crispy chicken skin. Ditto for the handcrafted, clove- and tangerine-nosed Everlasting Roots sake from Japan with the Japanese-style crab chawanmushi (steamed egg custard) made with brown butter and lime. By the end of dinner, my cheeks match those pink chairs and my mood is rosy: I’ve become a Pastel convert.

Fresh pasta cooked in olive oil
The team of seven men who operate Pastel