Through the good shots and, sometimes, the not so good, our restaurant critics tell you about their experience, introduce the team in the dining room and in the kitchen, while explaining what motivated the choice of the restaurant. This week: Archway, café and vegan bar in Verdun.
Posted at 11:00 a.m.
Why talk about it?
The vegan diet is gaining more and more followers, in addition to flexitarians who are looking to reduce their consumption of animal protein. Thus, the offer is constantly improving. Among others, you can count on Sushi Momo, Bistro Tendresse, Mimi & Jones, Conceria and, since 2019 already, Archway, a vegan café and refreshment bar located on cool Wellington Street. We finally went there.
Who are they ?
With studies in design and her experience in restoration, Josianne Marcoux dreamed of founding her own company. Her travels, particularly in Australia, inspired her to bring back to Montreal a vegan restaurant concept focused on brunches. “Just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it can’t be fun,” she sums up. The owner kept her business afloat even though COVID-19 hit just after she opened. For the past year, a duo of new partners have been helping to bring Archway to its full potential: Ariane Lavoie, who has vast experience (Tiradito, Lov), acts as manager and develops the wine and cocktail list, and her spouse, Benoît Leclère, a graduate of the hotel school in Paris, works with Josianne to create the menu, which changes with the seasons.
Archway is a place where we create an experience according to our desires. Fancy a brunch? It is served daily until 4 p.m. Is your friend rather tempted by the small dishes on the menu? It is also possible.
The dining room, whose decor is the result of the collaboration between Josianne Maroux and designer Maude Gilbert, is bright and welcoming, with its shades of old rose, its wicker chairs, its long banquettes and its dried flowers. It’s simple, but very cute. It is very hot at the beginning of September, so we opt for the interior rather than the terrace hit hard by the sun at noon.
Our waitress, friendly, but a bit shy, gives us some recommendations, including the Bao Bab Benedict, one of the signature dishes of the place with its poached “vegetable” egg. The recipe is secret! But Josianne told us that the white is made from cashew nuts and the yolk — runny! — tomatoes. It comes with tasty Korean-style jackfruit — which has the texture of pulled pork — julienned cucumbers, spinach, cilantro and peanuts, and a generous helping of Benedictine sauce. We enjoy ! This is an example of a really well-crafted dish!
The dishes on the menu make us all want to. Maïtake steak with grilled pineapple, ceviche-style heart of palm, tofu and shiitake dumpling, teriyaki tofu bao with gochugang ranch sauce… How appetizing!
Our choice stops on the pickle-marinated tofu fries—a favorite—made with products from the Quebec company Tofu Tofu. Crispy, the fries are coated with furikake, a very popular condiment in Japan which is actually a mixture of sesame seeds and seaweed, to be dipped without restraint in a vegan aioli.
The artichokes, in season, are well prepared. On the other hand, the advertised cashew labneh has rather the texture of an emulsion, we would have liked it creamier. The dish lacks balance, there is too much apricot jam and honey, and not enough labneh and zaatar. A beautiful idea that does not reach its full potential.
The watermelon po’kai leaves us a little on our hunger. If the marinated slices of watermelon look like bluefin tuna, the taste is too subtle. We’re looking for punch in this less refined dish, which combines konjac teriyaki risoni (quite bland), kale (kale) and cucumber, with a rather discreet amarillo pepper sauce.
For dessert, the almond financier has a rather grainy texture. Coconut whipped cream is airy, strawberries and marashino cherries add freshness. It’s good, but not memorable.
Despite some downsides, Archway stands out for its creativity and the use of flavors from all over the world.
In our glass
The drinking menu is very varied. In the Espresso Bar, coffees, teas, lattes with adaptogenic plants or turmeric and smoothies are offered. The cocktail menu, which includes several non-alcoholic cocktails, is a great discovery. Note the Spicy Pamela, which uses Quebec vodka Cirka with chili, mandarin liqueur, Club Kombucha with grapefruit and aquafaba (based on chickpea water, to replace the egg). It’s fresh, with a little spicy and bitter side, ideal to counter the heat wave. The Baklava Martini is creamy and fragrant, with its pistachio syrup and orange blossom. On the wine side, a fine private import program focused on natural (and vegan) wines is in the spotlight.
Archway is quite affordable: small dishes range from $9 to $15; main dishes retail for $18 to $25. A brunch plate costs $15 to $22.
Good to know
Archway aims to be the most accessible place possible where everyone is welcomed without judgement. A special effort is made to offer gluten-free options, but also nut-free and soy-free.
Open every day.
3683 Wellington Street, Montreal