Être Avec Toi (ÊAT) is a dining experience unlike anything else Montreal has to offer. Located outside the McGill bubble on Rue du Square-Victoria, this new restaurant concept attached to the W Hotel was born of a collaboration between Sid Lee Architecture, specializing in cutting-edge designs, and MASSIVart, an agency with a mission to “amplify moments with art.” Together, the duo has brought together the worlds of visual art and fine dining in an unparalleled, innovative fashion.
The restaurant’s aesthetic is modern from the moment you walk in the entrance, which itself is an impressive collaboration between two local street artists, Stikki Peaches and What Is Adam. They have covered the walls in an engaging homage to Montreal Canadiens hockey legends such as Maurice Richard and Bernard ‘Boom Boom’ Geoffrion, as well as other Canadian cultural references such as a ‘Maple Sizzurp’ installation referencing real Canadian maple syrup canisters.
Moving into the bar and restaurant area, patrons’ eyes are immediately drawn to the venue’s walls, which are covered in modern and contemporary pieces with bold colours and unique images, such as a pig wearing a crown and a massive mural of a roller coaster. The art pieces are interspersed with blank white spaces. The hand-selected artists chosen by MASSIVart will paint live in the restaurant a few times a month to fill the spaces, making the dining room into a project that is continuously evolving.
As Jean Pelland, architect and partner at Sid Lee Architecture, illustrates in ÊAT’s promotional video, “[The concept] was about the artistic nature of the food and how we wanted to create a mirrored image with the environment, so bringing art was very natural, and it became about running in parallel food and art.”
ÊAT features a seafood-based menu with a few options for those otherwise inclined. It is unquestionably a foodie’s paradise. The unshelled half-lobster was very tender, and the meal had an option for two sides. Broccoli and cauliflower were chosen, and both were uniquely charred, adding to the overall taste.
In addition to the impressive textures and flavours of the food is an impeccable staff and wait service. Everyone from managers, hostesses, waiters, to the chef were constantly checking on guests and ensuring everyone’s evenings were going well in a friendly, light-hearted manner.
Unfortunately, fine food and high calibre service does not come cheap. On a student’s budget, ÊAT would be most sensibly left to special occasions. Looking at the menu, it would be impossible to order an appetizer and entrée for less than $30. The experience would also subsist as something much more doable for students on an evening when the live artists are in house since then patrons are treated to dinner and a show.
Evenings with live artists in-house are an immersive experience. It is a pioneering concept to watch the artists’ visions come to life in between when drinks arrive and the dessert menu is placed on the table. For those interested, the next upcoming evenings featuring live artists will be Feb. 4 and 19.
As spaces on the walls fill up with art, the evolving nature of the concept is what makes this restaurant truly new. Every aspiring entrepreneur knows that creating something totally outside of what everyone else is doing generates a much more significant risk. ÊAT has dove in boldly and confidently with their concept, and so far the restaurant seems to be thriving among the local business crowd and trendy foodies alike, all looking for something novel in their dining experience.