Click here for the Magazine. Updated May 10, 2013
Montreal restaurateur extraordinaire Peter Morentzos likes to surprise his customers. So when he announced that a brand new Queue de Cheval Steakhouse & Bar would open at 1181 Avenue de la Montagne, nobody expected him to bridge the gap with a temporary locale down the street at the legendary Club 1234. Yet that is precisely what occurred on August 22.
“I originally wanted to get our new location ready for business by November,” Morentzos shared with The Suburban. “Delays, though, meant that we probably won’t open until spring. That was too long a wait. By absolute chance, I was invited to Club 1234 by owner MC Mario to talk about doing some consulting. When I looked at the place I kind of just blurted out how perfect this would be to temporarily house the Queue. Within five minutes we had a deal.”
While most of the interior was already elegantly suited to be transformed into a restaurant, the biggest job involved creating a state-of-the-art kitchen to prepare the Q’s trademark Dry Aged USDA Prime beef, fresh fish and seafood. Club 1234 remains in operation Fridays and Saturdays, using the back end of the building. This temporary Queue can accommodate 110 diners inside and 130 in two outdoor terraces – one at the street level and another on the second floor. “The terrace feature has been a real added bonus,” Morentzos says. “It has the feel of Miami’s South Beach and Monterey, California.
Morentzos brought with him 25 staff members from the old locale on Boulevard René-Levesque and the same valet parking crew. He has been working the lines of social media to get the word out. A revamped website will be online soon. His only problem is the google search engine, which still takes people to the former Q locale now inhabited by a different restaurant. “When people walk in and find out this is no longer the Q they get confused,” he says.
Morentzos is spending a lot of time in the kitchen with veteran executive chef Stéphane Dumas to ensure that favorites like the shellfish platter, the wide selection of steaks, lobster emerging black tiger shrimps, lobster mashed potatoes and signature desserts such as the white chocolate cheesecake taste as good, if not better. They are all served on the original Q dishes, with their logo prominently displayed.
The Q will celebrate its 15th anniversary in November. Morentzos has already adorned the walls of 1234 with gigantic photos of all of the staff, dating back to 1998.
Morentzos notes that the name and property of 1234 de la Montagne textures a rich and fascinating history. David R. Wild originally built it as a residential home in 1859. It was sold to Alexander Galt in 1874 and since then has often been referred to as the "Galt House."
Mr. Galt was a well-known businessman and politician who was one of the founding fathers of Confederation and later represented Canada as the High Commissioner to London. After he passed away, the building was sold in 1901 to Joseph Wray who transformed it into a prestigious funeral parlor. In 1928, structural changes were made to the building, including its trademark circular front, which remains until today. The Wray Family continued to operate the building as a funeral parlor until 1911, when they sold it and the nightclub was born. Simply known to the world as "twelve thirty-four," it operated seven nights a week in the height of the disco dance craze.
“Coincidently, 1234 rue de la Montagne was one of the very first locations we looked at when I started the Q,” says Morentzos. “This iconic address has such a distinct history in Montreal, having housed the most important and powerful nightclub in the city’s history. Every celebrity both from Montreal and those visiting Montreal found themselves inevitably at 1234 and it was not uncommon to bump into nightlife icons such as The Village People and disco queen Grace Jones. Having run its course and with the disco fever fading, 1234 finally closed its doors in mid 1980's, only to be replaced by another nightclub operation ‘L'Esprit,’ which was able to sustain itself far into the 1990's. The first half of the last decade has seen various attempts at the revitalization of the property, with the property remaining vacant in recent year.
MC Mario, meanwhile, plans to work with the Q and the Morentzos Restaurant Group to organize several music industry events over the next few months. “We are already considered their official caterer,” Morentzos says.
Morentzos had a very humbling beginning to the workforce, selling men’s clothing and delivering pizza. He is also behind such Montreal dining concepts as Moe's, Eggspectations, Bentley's Bar & Grill, Weinstein and Gavino's, Trinity Estiatorio, Tsirco, Le Pois Penché, 40 Westt Steakhouse, the frontier "feel good food" boulangerie MBCo chain and La Brasserie Moderne in Pointe Claire. Over the the past two decades he has created these and about 72 individual restaurants. The Q remains the crown jewel,
Famous for its USDA Prime beef painstakingly dry aged in the restaurant’s meat lockers and complimented by a large selection of shellfish and an abundance of market fresh fish. The restaurant boasts a world class wine cellar, and offers its clients private dining alternatives as well as the always popular cigar bar.
For more information go to www.queuedecheval.com, check them out on Facebook or call 514-390-0091.
Click here for the Magazine. Updated May 10, 2013
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