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Mike Cohen skates over to Taverne 1909 signé St-Hubert at Place Bell for a “fun” meal

    In my writings about restaurants over the years I have never made it a secret how much I crave the menu of Rotisserie St-Hubert, be it the dine in version or the Express counters. Heck, I go way back to the days when it was known as St-Hubert Barbeque.

    Last year I experienced dinner in the St-Hubert Zone at Place Bell, the home of the American Hockey League’s Laval Rocket hockey team. It is located on the suite level Here was that story:

    When I found out recently that the two Taverne 1909 signé St-Hubert ( restaurants at Place Bell and the downtown Bell Centre had come under the “wing” of St-Hubert I made it a priority to experience it with a friend. We did just that before a Rocket game and it was an experience I hope to replicate downtown. For a 7 pm game, we arrived two hours early. The place can seat 426 people at a time over two levels and it filled up quickly. By 5:30 pm there was a lineup out the door.   When the game was over, I noticed fans filing in again. I was especially pleased with a small mural that includes paintings of Maurice “Rocket” Richard and Mike Bossy, an NHL legend who started for the former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Laval Nationals.

    The cuisine here is all about showcasing Quebec producers where the culinary team has created a locally-sourced international menu to please all palates. This is a gathering place that provides guests with the ultimate sports viewing experience, featuring a 4K-quality giant 33-foot main screen and 21 HD TVs, fed by the most comprehensive sports broadcast package.

    With over 40 taps offering international, domestic, and locally crafted beers, an extensive wine list, and an innovative cocktail menu, 1909 is all about providing the perfect match: lively atmosphere, made-from-scratch food and thirst-quenching beverages.  

    The venue welcomes groups for meetings, reunions, and large functions, and private parties, corporate events – for brunch, lunch, happy hour and dinner. Each floor can be reserved exclusively or they can provide semi-private areas.

    Éric Bourbonnais

    I was welcomed by General Manager Éric Bourbonnais, a veteran in the hospitality business.  He is the leader behind the restaurant, as well as the catering division and Le Comptoir, which is the express counter that serves the community rinks. The catering division takes care of the corporate suites, which keeps Éric exceptionally busy at arena events.

    The 1909 Taverne modern facility opened in December 2017 at Place Bell. It has many configurations. ‘We have evolved so much and we have made some modifications to the interior be able to change the restaurant’s setup to meet the needs of the clients,” said Éric. “We offer various setups such as theatre and school style, with or without buffet. No matter the setup we can accommodate between 30 to 500 people for a banquet event. We do our best to meet the organizers’ requests. In terms of a regular day when the Laval Rocket are playing or with an event taking place at Place Bell, the restaurant can seat 426 people at once and we usually serve between 500 to 600 guests before a game.

    “With the Place Bell and the development of Espace Montmorency, our goal in the next two to three years is to be a restaurant that is top of mind for guests to come and experience great food with friends and not just during the time when there is a game or show taking place. It is also a great place for businesses to host meetings and events and high volume banquets.”

    Our Dining Experience

    The Taverne 1909 signé St-Hubert menu is “fun.” That is the best way I can describe it. Our charming server Jackie steered us in the right direction with the very substantial nachos appetizer tray, featuring tomatoes sour cream salsa, scallions, jalapeños, guacamole, Monterey Jack, Pico de Gallo, cheddar and Kalamata olives. Jackie suggested we add some sliced (St-Hubert) chicken slices and it was a nice touch. My friend and I made sure not to finish this generous serving up in order to save room for the main course. Other starters include chicken wings, cheese sticks, crispy ribs, poutines and French Onion soup. There is also beef, salmon and tuna tartar.

    For the main choices, the snack bar section includes beef and veggie burgers and two sandwiches (Buffalo and Montreal smoked meat grilled cheese). There is a seven-ounce  Angus beef steak, meal salads and an item that pleasantly surprised me: the 12-ounce Magnan Roast Beef, faithful to the recipe carefully created by Magnan’ s Tavern, which closed in 2014 after 82 years in operation in Pointe-Saint-Charles. This prime rib is aged and rubbed with the original blend of Magnan spices, which guarantees its distinctive taste.  Needless to say, this is what I ordered, along with a side order of 1900.  Now that was a smart addition to the menu!

    As for my friend, he was truly in a St-Hubert kind of mood and he ordered a rotisserie chicken breast meal, which came with the 1909 fries, coleslaw and a bun. While he was completely full after that, I had just enough room to enjoy a classic piece of the St-Hubert sugar pie, with some whipped cream.  I also enjoyed a glass of prosecco.  A note for parents of youngsters. They do have a kids menu here as well.

    More on Catering

    When Éric started at 1909 he had just come from the hotel industry as a food and beverage director. “I had spent the eight previous years in hotels for branded hotels such as Fairmont and Marriott.,” he recounted.   “When I arrived at this new opportunity I saw a need for improvements that needed to be resolved in the short to medium term, especially a need to improve the overall culture. I have always been a leader and one of my qualities as a manager is to build teams who will believe in the project and who will be willing to continue them as well. We needed to get the restaurant’s name out so I decided to start a catering division under the banner of 1909 Laval. The purpose was to target local businesses to create awareness of the restaurant. We bring 1909 to you. We hosted several on-property events at these businesses such as BBQs during the summer. All this publicity had a snowball effect and people started calling us to hold events at the restaurant. This past holiday season we hosted at least one Holiday party every day of the month of December (not including the holidays) and they are already booking for next year. I am proud of this division because I created a great team who are as passionate about the food and beverage industry as I am and want to make 1909 a success.”

    Taverne 1909 signé St-Hubert is located inside Place Bell at 1950 Rue Claude-Gagné in Laval. It is open from 4 pm to 10 pm Monday to Wednesday and 4 pm to 11 pm Thursday to Saturday. For reservations call 450-681-5181.

    Mike Cohen

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