It should first be noted, that with only an approximate address to go on, this small wine bar/resto was very difficult to find. Without much signage out front, and tucked into a nondescript space on a sleepy part of Parc Avenue between Villeneuve and St-Joseph, this bar can be easily missed. This being said, my first visit on a recent Saturday night demonstrated that the somewhat hidden location doesn’t prevent people from piling in. Seeing as though they don’t take reservations, my dining companions and I decided to get an early-ish start to our evening and arrived at the bar around 7:15pm and it is a good thing we did, by 8pm, there was not a spot to be found. On my second visit, I arrived just shortly after 5 and by 5:30pm, it was packed.
As far as wine bars go, I find Buvette Chez Simone to be like Pullman’s more casual cousin. The décor is less polished than Pullman, featuring a lot of raw wood and exposed orange industrial electrical cords. Surprisingly enough, it all works (in fact, I think BCS has already won some kind of Quebec design award). As for wines, they have a wide selection of very affordable varieties from all over the world; even better, is the fact that many of these wines are served by the glass. And although I have yet to try them, BCS also features two house wines, at a very affordable $5.50 (or so) a glass.
As for the food, I have nothing but good things to say… While most of the items on the menu are of the appetizer sort (i.e. olives, cheeses, charcuterie, small salads, etc.), there were a number of more “meal-oriented” dishes, such as a jarret d’agneau, a chicken sandwich and the full, half or quarter rotisserie chicken. On my first visit, my companions and I shared a rotisserie chicken and accompanying vegetables, a bowl of Greek salad and some olives. The perfectly-roasted chicken arrived, in its entirety, on a large wooden cutting board, with some roasted potatoes, onions and perhaps some carrots. The Greek salad was certainly better than average and served as a good match for the chicken. On a subsequent outing, my friend and I ordered a number of appetizers, which included an Italian cheese (served with bread, fruit and nuts), some rosette de Lyon, a few slices of cured beef which were not unlike beef jerky (and very tasty) and finally two little slices of toasted baguette, topped with an excellent slice of chorizo and a fried quail’s egg. All of the snacks were delicious, but the chorizo and quail egg was surprisingly excellent in their simplicity. While no one was interested in dessert, BCS does offer brownies, made with love and a lot of chocolate, from Cocoa Locale down the street.
Overall, my two excursions to Buvette Chez Simone were most enjoyable. The wines were very affordable and very pleasant, as was the food, and there was also great variety. While I would definitely recommend this little wine bar, I have to say that my dining companions did have one complaint: bad lighting. They found the industrial lighting to be a little lacking and had troubles reading their menus. As someone with a penchant for dark restaurants (as a young adult I thought that the lower the lighting, the fancier the restaurant), I had no problems with the muted atmosphere and in fact I felt it added to the coziness of the bar.
So to conclude: if you go, go early, or late and don’t be put-off by its somewhat hermetic location. Oh, and expect to spot a few Montreal vedettes tucked into its dark recesses.
Light meal and a few glasses of wine: $30