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October 15, 2009updated Feb 07, 2013

Hotel Le St-James Refurbs Dining Options

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Montreal’s most distinguished address has unveiled a dramatically refreshed restaurant, as well as a new bar-lounge called Salon XO. Scheduled to re-open on October 12, the refreshed space will have two complementary concepts: award-winning Executive Chef Michele Mercuri’s fine dining tasting menus will be available by reservation; and travelers looking for a more relaxed, but equally chic setting, will be able to enjoy a full a la carte menu with cocktails in Salon XO. Combined, the grand space has been expanded to include 30 additional seats on the mezzanine in a semi-private dining environment. Overseen by Chef Mercuri, the renovated XO Restaurant will be introducing new menus, with a focus on the modern, innovative cuisine that has made it a fine-dining destination in Montreal and Canada.

After making waves with a 4-star review in La Gazette in March 2009, XO Restaurant became one of the city’s hottest eateries. The renovation, which began in August, not only adds new details to the dining room space, it also doubles the size of the kitchen to allow Chef Mercuri more space to oversee the restaurant’s various dining venues. In celebration of the new restaurant and the many positive reviews, Chef Mercuri has created entirely new six- and nine-course tasting menus for the opening, with dishes such as Braised Oxtail Risotto with cocoa nib, carrot air, truffle jelly, egg, cauliflower spuma and bacon emulsion and Baby pork from Gaspor Farms with Leg Confit, matsusake mushrooms and hubbard squash, the same dish Chef Mercuri prepared for the discerning palates at the James Beard House in New York on September 29.

Led by Montreal designer Alison Wood, the design team has completely transformed the restaurant, adding white leather banquettes with rich burgundy fabric detailing. The room houses dark wood tables and is decked in shades of mauve and silver. A dramatic new recessed lighting system will seamlessly transition the room from morning to night. A state-of-the-art new sound system features playlists created specifically for the space and will be updated regularly.

“While many hotels make physical changes and improvements after a number of years in operation, Hotel Le St-James has been implementing continuous improvements over the years,” said General Manager Olivier Bottois. “We are pleased to introduce the new XO Restaurant and Salon XO as the first part of our ongoing program to ensure that the hotel always looks extraordinary.”

The addition of Salon XO, the new bar-lounge space, will certainly draw a glamorous crowd, featuring an extensive lounge menu designed by Chef Mercuri and offering an alternative to the tasting menus. Decadent offerings range from a St-James Burger made with AAA beef, brioche bread, caramelized onions, bacon and Quebec cheddar cheese ($25) to the Imperial Caviar paired with a half bottle of chilled vodka ($350). Salon XO’s mixologists have created an extensive menu of mixed drinks and cocktails, with a whimsical hand; a combination of vodka, calvados, maple syrup and organic apple juice is known as the “Maple Caress.” High-end chateau selections by the glass are also available.

The unveiling of the new XO Restaurant and Salon XO is a great addition to the landmark property, which has hosted everyone from Madonna to The Rolling Stones in its luxurious suites.

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