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Hopscotch: Balancing Game |  Journalism

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Life sometimes takes turns that later allow a more fulfilling dream to come true. Such is the case at La Marelle, where the skillfully balanced cuisine of young chef Carlos Melgar shines.


The founding trio, made up of Carlos and Brendan Lavery-Brayer and Taylor Dutavi, first met at the now-defunct Public House. At the time, Carlos and Taylor were talking about opening “La Marelle” one day. But first they ended up at Air-conditioned Room, a popular restaurant opened by Brendan and Harrison Shewchuk in 2021, at the corner of Avenue Saint-Laurent and Avenue Beaubien.

  • Beneath this mixed arrangement of sorrel and Louis d'Or cheese hides raw and cooked cabbage.

    Photo by Dominique Gravelle, Press

    Beneath this mixed arrangement of sorrel and Louis d'Or cheese hides raw and cooked cabbage.

  • Tender steaks and maitake, licked by the flames of a Japanese grill, make up the plate

    Photo by Dominique Gravelle, Press

    Tender steaks and maitake, licked by the flames of a Japanese grill, make up the “strong” dish on the menu.

  • Flames lick gorgeous maitake mushrooms.

    Photo by Dominique Gravelle, Press

    Flames lick gorgeous maitake mushrooms.

  • Taylor D'Ottavi selects La Marelle wines.

    Photo by Dominique Gravelle, Press

    Taylor D'Ottavi selects La Marelle wines.

1/4

When Aaron Langille, the chef-owner of the late Diplomat restaurant, which was just steps away from the air-conditioned lounge, decided to get rid of his headquarters, the three friends saw an opportunity to expand a little. That was about a year ago.

With its second room at the back, which can be privatized, the space accommodates at least forty guests. Up front, the layout remains the same as at the time of “Diplo,” with a very long table behind which the kitchen team gets busy. It is one of the pleasures of this unique place to admire the chefs as they tame the Japanese grill and carefully prepare the dishes.

To make the space suit his taste, Brendan called back the man who gave the air-conditioned room a very cozy character, the brilliant interior designer François Séguin. His son Gabriel Scott Seguin also participated. The walls are decorated with paintings by Susan G. Scott, the wife and matriarch of this illustrious family. The result is particularly warm.

  • The long bar from which you can monitor the kitchen

    Photo by Dominique Gravelle, Press

    The long bar from which you can monitor the kitchen

  • You can feel the warmth of La Marelle from the outside.

    Photo by Dominique Gravelle, Press

    You can feel the warmth of La Marelle from the outside.

  • Chef Carlos Melgar heats up his Japanese conro grill.

    Photo by Dominique Gravelle, Press

    Chef Carlos Melgar heats up his Japanese conro grill.

  • Carlos Melgar, Taylor Dutavi, Cédric LaRocque, Sarah-Jane Patry and Brendan Lavery Brier make up the Lamarelle team.

    Photo by Dominique Gravelle, Press

    Carlos Melgar, Taylor Dutavi, Cédric LaRocque, Sarah-Jane Patry and Brendan Lavery Brier make up the Lamarelle team.

  • Sarah Jane Buttrey and Taylor Dutavi are waiting for you!

    Photo by Dominique Gravelle, Press

    Sarah Jane Buttrey and Taylor Dutavi are waiting for you!

1/5

With its fun name, La Marelle wants to be part of those quaint addresses where you can easily grab a drink and a dish at the table (or more, if you like!).

The menu is short, with about ten options on the menu, including desserts. Carlos is of Salvadoran descent, has lived in Montreal for 11 years, and is one of the chefs who perfectly embodies the city's current culinary identity. We cannot reduce its cuisine to one heritage. The French basics are certainly there, with terrine, trout with brunoise, poached pear, etc. But these are placed alongside golden aguachile and veal bread placed on relajo sauce, whose mixture of peppers and spices can resemble Mexican mole.

Taylor suggests accompanying these non-flavored dishes with beer (Labatt 50 or Wills!) or wine. Someone who has worked in restaurants in the four corners of the world has a taste for straight, taut artisan wines like I. La Marelle is a balancing act.

129 Boubien Street West, Montreal

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