Mike Yuval and Jack Sofer are the visionaries behind the Tidan Hospitality and Real Estate Group (www.tidan.com), a company they launched and built from the ground up some 50 years ago. They have much to be proud of, but when I met with them recently it was Le Mount Stephen (www.lemountstephen.com) they wanted to present to me.
To say I was impressed is an understatement. Classified as an historic monument, the George Stephen House, erected in 1880 by an ultra-wealthy railway pioneer in Canada, George Stephen, 1st Baron Mount Stephen, is the affluent residence that subsequently housed the prestigious private Mount Stephen Club for nearly a century. Today, it opens its doors to the world as a very special mansion hotel, Le Mount Stephen.
Tidan purchased the property in 2006 and made its then largest investment to date to confer a brand-new vocation on this prestigious address in the heart of the Golden Square Mile. This exclusive luxury hotel with contemporary comforts on the technological cutting edge addresses an upscale business and leisure clientele. It is one of the only three Canadian hotels among the select ranks of The Leading Hotels of the World.
“We were deeply committed to this real estate development project, the biggest we have ever undertaken; we wanted to revive this heritage site, while endowing Montreal with a new jewel,” affirmed Yuval. “Besides, isn’t it appropriate for the home of a man who played such a key role in building the first railway linking Canada from sea to sea, to welcome travellers from all over the world today?”
The George Stephen House has remained intact, along with its exterior and interior heritage features. As for the new section – an 11-storey building accommodating 90 rooms characterized by an angled glass roof – the simply-styled building stands at the rear of the period mansion and is discreetly connected to it by a short passage.
The original George Stephen House, which acts as the entrance to the Le Mount Stephen hotel, is also home to Bar George (www.bargeorge.ca), the newest restaurant from Oliver & Bonacini. With food curated by renowned Corporate Executive Chef Anthony Walsh of O&B and Chef de Cuisine Kevin Ramasawmy (formerly of Maison Boulud and Daniel) guests can expect to find fine, seasonal dishes from trusted suppliers in the region. The menus feature innovative twists on U.K. classics, with some Québecois quirks. “This partnership with Le Mount Stephen has been a long time coming and we are honoured to become a part of the vibrant food culture in Montreal, which happens to be the hometown of our executive chef Anthony Walsh” said Andrew Oliver, President and CEO, Oliver & Bonacini.
Bar George offers five luxurious private dining rooms, which have each been revitalized with stylish furnishings that complement the ornate heritage details, such as the 300-year-old stained glass windows from Italy; 15-foot ceilings and walls paneled in Ceylon satinwood; Cuban mahogany, oak and walnut; 22 carat gold plated light fixtures, door handles and radiator grilles; and fireplaces made of carved onyx and marble. You can dine outdoors in season, a marvelous spot for people watching.
Exhibiting the grandeur and opulence of a time passed, Bar George offers a striking setting for corporate meetings and events, birthday celebrations, elegant soirées, and more.
I recently enjoyed a delicious dinner there in the company of three family members. They were exceptionally taken by the surroundings.
On this night, every place in the restaurant was filled. Diners included Mike Yuval himself. He never misses a chance to enjoy the fine cuisine here.
Our server Julien gave us a nice overview of the menu and the specials of the day and started some members of my party off with drinks: a Pino Grigio and two Chardonnays – one white and the other red.
The dinner menu is broken down by snacks (items meant to share), starters, fish and meat.
Julien made some recommendations and we opted to kick things off with a plate of Devils on Horseback, a dish containing bacon, almonds, prunes and whipped liver. As well three of us split 12 delicious oysters, shipped in directly from Deer Island, P.E.I. There were a few interesting salads and we shared two of them: the lettuce salad (aged Avonlea cheddar, seaweed buttermilk dressing, lardons and cured hen’s yolk) and the roasted cauliflower salad (sesame yoghurt dressing, watercress, pickles and brioche croutons).
For the main course, the special of the night gained the attention of two of the family members – a very well received chateaubriand, the thick cut from the tenderloin filet. From the fish menu, the baked sea bass was selected by my brother. It came with roasted fennel, dill pesto, pearl barley, candied lemon and grape antiboise. I was sold on the grilled veal chop, a very large and juicy cut served medium. It came with Yorkshire pudding, champ, tomato confit, blue cheese and whisky sauce. Julien was pleased to see that none of us left a crumb on our respective plates.
We did save room for dessert and what a treat it was to share a sampling of their different specialties: the chocolate and passion fruit financier, the Glen Breton whisky pudding with sour ice cream, a Chantilly with meringue, berries and mint and some sorbets and ice creams.
Ideal for breakfast meetings, stately dinners and intimate celebrations, Bar George offers a selection of striking private dining rooms, tucked away upstairs in the mansion’s former quarters and downstairs spaces.
Exhibiting grandeur and opulence of a time passed, the rooms have been revitalized with stylish furnishings that complement the ornate heritage details. Intricate wood paneling, grand fireplaces and sublime stained glass windows afford a sense of luxury unlike any other space in the city.
After dinner you might just want to take a small tour of this magnificent building. It is like walking through a museum.