438 Place Jacques Cartier,
Telephone 😦 514) 396-3330
Chef Hats 3.5
Cost: $ 110.18
There has been lots of talk the last month about Harlow Restaurant, located on Place Jacques Cartier square in Old Montreal. Harlow opened quietly last fall in 2014 amid little fanfare with a few special invited guests, bloggers and media, while everyone else was getting ready to start hibernating as the cold winter months approached. Then this summer it seemed suddenly to have appeared on the map as Montrealers awoke from the deep winter chill and took notice.
It got a ‘’ not so good review ‘’ by The Gazette’s –Lesley Chesterman this month , but that did not stop Kylie Jenner , the youngest sibling of ‘’Keeping up with Kardashian ’’ Hollywood reality fame from visiting it later that week one evening after her birthday bash appearance at ‘’ The Beach Club’’ in Point Calumet.
Harlow should not be such a novelty for us either if we pay close enough attention to the media buzz surrounding the restaurant scene in Montreal these days. The brain child behind the concept of Harlow, co-owners Stevie Hamron of the Time Supper Club fame and Brahm Yaiche are not unfamiliar names to the late party scene here and in Miami. Their names are synonymous with party goers with or without the media buzz and the publicity surrounding any opening of their clubs or events since the early 2000’s. Their events & clubs have attracted not only big media personalities, but the avid party goers of both the Montreal & Miami scene. With lots of experience and golden Midas touch, they turn their events and party palaces into premium venues and with a great combination of thematic décor, great music, food, and drinks galore. They are the places to be seen in and to go to for not only special occasions, but when you really want to have a wild time.
The theme at Harlow Restaurant is inspired by 1930’s era Hollywood glam and art deco styles; the name comes from the famous Hollywood actress of the 1930’s Jean Harlow. Thus giving it a further air of mystery, infamous notoriety and illicitness. It sits in the middle of Place Jacques Cartier Square in Old Montreal, in full view and frequented by tourists.The interior designed by Philip Hazan is a multi level effect of bar, dining rooms, lounge areas and terrace. The décor definitely evoking, intertwined with a mix of contemporary styles with its dark wood furnishings and red velvet plush banquettes and chairs make it relaxing and laid back. The bar, although not large, is almost at arm’s length as you enter. Lit in blue against a grey stone brick wall and a decorative steel grid it is impressive. The colors are soothing, the feeling electric.What amazed me upon walking into Harlow was its exquisite décor. As I stood by the door waiting to be seated on the terrace, I looked at the mural at the right of me and started having hallucinations. Not inebriated or intoxicated in any manner at the time, the mural seemed to be morphing into a skeleton head as I stared attentively for a while. So evil & decadent I thought… that is if you like danger.
Shortly afterwards we were escorted to the terrace and took a seat in a corner spot, wedged between the wall and rows of tables. The terrace was completely full on this hot summer evening and we were far away from the droves of tourists walking up and down the square. This was a plus but not too romantic and far away from the plush comfortable decor of the inside. We started by ordering cocktails, two Monroe‘s Cocktails which cost $ 14.00 a pop. Named after the iconic actress Marilyn Monroe, They were sweet, made with honey, vodka and champagne. The cocktails were very cool and refreshing for a hot summer night, the perfect drink.
The cuisine at Harlow’s is considered a mix of French and American gastronomy, catering mainly to the American tourists that frequent the streets of Old Montreal and us locals when the tourists disappear during the cold months. ” The menu draws upon the elements of Nouveau American Cuisine and a touch of French classics using local Quebec products.” Examples of what can be found on their menu are re-invented Waldorf salad & Foie Gras Tourchon with Calvados. The menu is broken up into six sections the Social Plates, Farm & Garden, Homemade Pastas, Fish & Meats, The Royal Treatment and Something Sweet.
The Executive Chef at Harlow is Jason Bivall a relatively new name on The Montreal food scene but a familiar name in Ontario having worked in numerous famous Toronto restaurants like “Didier” under master chef Didier Leroy, at “Scaramouche” with Keith Frogett, then at “Canoe “ alongside Anthony Walsh. He moved to Montreal to work at Martin Picard’s, Au Pied du Cochon and eventually became Executive Chef at Hotel Gault for two years.
This evening we were out to enjoy drinks and a light snack only. We were not much up to eating because of the hot weather, we just wanted to sit on the terrasse and people watch and enjoy the luxury of Harlow. After our cocktails, our very amiable waiter Louis Charles took our order of Carpaccio to be shared and two Waldorf Salads. Our Carpaccio at the cost of $ 14.00 was perfect, thinly sliced colorful red beef slices, topped with caramelized onions, parmesan shavings, and a generous portion of baby watercress sprouts and dollops of garnish of celery root puree. We were given a generous two baskets of bread to eat with our Carpaccio that was in itself satisfying.
We also ordered two Waldorf salads at $12.00 each were made with celery root remoulade, crispy apples, grapes, scatters of artichoke here and there and toasted walnuts. This came in a decorative and original tower of strips of apples forming the letter H for Harlow, topped with one jewelled carved red grape. It was very original in concept and design and a very different style of serving the old classic typical Waldorf salad.
The flavors of the celery root remoulade were refreshing to the palate. The crunchiness of the toasted walnuts was original as well it added a particular kick to something new.
For desert we ordered a strawberry shortcake for dessert, not the typical presentation as nothing at Harlow’s is typical. A small round cake stuffed with strawberries and topped with strawberry coulis and crème fraiche. To complete the meal and linger on the terrasse we capped off our evening with a generous glass limoncello for $7.83 and a glass of McManus Cabernet at $9.00.
We were completely satisfied with our meal, the evening, the service and our drinks. We even chatted up a storm with our neighborhood table, two very drunk Parisians who were complaining about the liquor prices for a glass of Porto.
Supper clubs get a bad rap; it is not fair to say that all supper clubs are bad. Minus all the critics bad reviews Harlow can hold its own with Chef Jason Bivall. Supper clubs may not be taken as seriously as newcomers on food scene compared to other fine dining establishment in the rest of Montreal. But at Harlow’s this evening I felt miles away from a supper club with it’s the loud music, young party goers dancing on tables and very expensive bottle service. Because of where we were sitting, I felt like we were just in anther Montreal establishment that housed a terrasse to the view of the world. I found the concept cool, vibrant and the food descent.
Harlow is definitely worth a second visit, this time indoors in its plush interiors amongst the fame and fortuitous ones on a cold winter romantic night in the destitute streets of Old Montreal.