Thursday’s has been a Montreal institution on Crescent Street since 1973. The brainchild of Bernard Ragueneau and his former partner Sonny Lindy, it was a restaurant, bar and nightclub all rolled into 24,000 square feet of property spread over three floors.
Six years ago Ragueneau handed the operation over to his son Torrance, who oversaw extensive renovations. The elegant and chic top-floor Bistro features a menu inspired by Parisian brasseries. An impressive stained-glass ceiling imbues the space’s simple modern décor with a magical ambiance. Thanks to an open-concept layout, it’s easy to host large groups while providing warm, personalized service. The classics of French cuisine are still here – beef and salmon tartare, rack of lamb, cuisse de canard confite – alongside original dishes created by the kitchen.
I had not been to Thursday’s in many years. But when I found out that a group headed by noted Montreal restaurateur Chris-Ann Nakis had purchased the iconic spot I was anxious to check it out. Nakis, working with her dad Paul, daughter Anastasia and partners has the magic touch. Her teams operate Sir Winston Churchill Pub next to Thursday’s, Baton Rouge at Complexe Desjardins and Schwartz’s Deli (the latter with Celine Dion aboard). She is also a leader in the local Greek Community and a longtime president and supporter of Shield of Athena Family Services.
So why purchase Thursday’s? “We found in recent years that there was not a lot of life in this building,” she responded. “One of our objectives was to get people to start going back to the Bistro, then go downstairs for a drink and then head to the club. My daughter has embarked on a strong marketing campaign and we are seeing very positive results. People are starting to talk about us again.”
Besides her dad and daughter, working with Nakis on this venture are Socrates Goulakos and Arthur Amro. Tony Costa is the manager and Chef Marino Tavares has assumed the leadership in the kitchen.
My family and I chose a beautiful summer Sunday evening to sample the cuisine at the 290 seat Bistro, which includes some outdoor tables and a fine view of Crescent Street. This happened to be their second all you can eat lobster night of the summer and they were fully booked. Charismatic Tony Costa was circulating through the room with baskets full of perfectly cracked boiled lobsters for diners to enjoy. And they did!
At my table, the two ladies ordered the lobster (it was $57 a person for an unlimited supply). They started off with some wine, a couple of bowls of lobster bisque and rice as a side order. I opted for a terrific Caesar salad before my main course, a nicely prepared grilled filet mignon with mashed potatoes. Not only did Tony fill their plates with more lobster, he gave me some to try as well.
On weekdays, the lunchtime table d’hôte offers a choice of reasonably priced meals. Sundays feature a brunch that’s sure to satisfy kids’ and grown-ups’ appetites alike. Group menus are available for events and meetings, and they can also create a menu to meet your dining companions’ needs.
An all you can eat lamb promotion is available Tuesdays after 5 pm.
The menu also includes appetizers such as French onion soup, Burgundy snails with garlic butter, maple wood smoked salmon, the charcuterie platter, the Côte D’Azur Salad (scallops, shrimps, calamari and mussels), grilled octopus and crab cakes. There are the tartares (beef and salmon) and different steak options, chicken, seafood linguini, Atlantic salmon, sole and desserts.
The Bistro is open Monday to Wednesday, 11:30 am to 10 pm; Thursday and Fridays, 11:30 am to 11 pm; Saturday, 2 pm to 11 pm and Sundays, 10:30 am to 10 pm