Most French brasseries favour a rich palette, adopting dark woods and leathers that are a spiritual match to a dinner of savoury steak frites. Montreal’s Place Carmin, on the other hand, feels like a light dessert course: a perfect crème caramel presented on a crisp white plate.
With Place Carmin’s menu, restaurateurs Mélanie Blanchette, François Nadon, and Émile Collette (all also proprietors of the nearby Bouillon Bilk) set out to deliver fresh modern takes on classic French fare. Thanks to interior design studio Clairoux, the restaurant’s interior follows suit. By bringing rounded shapes and golden hues into a blank slate of an industrial space, the firm has created a chic — and unapologetically modern — dining destination. Yet thanks to its strong focus on warmth and comfort, the minimalist environment still maintains the signature spirit of a traditional brasserie.
The 100-seat restaurant’s setting — a red-brick industrial building in Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles neighbourhood — doesn’t initially suggest the light, airy experience that awaits within. Yet once you step inside, white paint transforms the warehouse’s inner shell into something lofty and bright, lit by day with the help of several generous skylights.
While high ceilings of exposed ducts and beams create a feeling of rugged expansiveness, new design elements counter with a sense of refined intimacy. Along a stretch of wall lined with tufted banquette seating, glowing arches introduce understated wall niches that separate small groups of dining tables into distinct clusters.
Meanwhile, next to the entrance, a curved coat closet doubles as a partial wall, sectioning off a bistro-sized area of the dining floor that sits in front of the buzzing bar area. These subtle interventions allow diners to feel sufficiently cozy and contained, while also still enjoying wide views of the grand space in its entirety.
Clairoux achieves a similarly graceful balance with its use of colour. Throughout the restaurant, a number of high-impact rouge accents — like vertical tiles in the mezzanine washrooms, and sculptural neon lights designed by tattoo artist Fany Jane — nod to the building’s red brick exterior, which also gives the restaurant its name (“carmin” translates to “carmine,” a deep crimson colour). But beyond these select hits of bold hues, Clairoux adheres to a more muted colour scheme of natural honey tones. Blond wood cabinets, light brown leather seats, and brass wall lights all combine to fill the dining room with a warm golden glow.
Casual yet sophisticated, Place Carmin is an appropriately modern reimagining of the classic brasserie experience — which is to say, it may resemble a caramel custard, but an order of steak frites won’t look out of place here, either. In fact, order us one of each.
Clairoux’s gold hues and intimate ambiance transplant the French brasserie experience into a sprawling industrial setting.