The recently opened Café Chez Teta in Plateau Mont-Royal, a hip, laid-back neighbourhood in Montreal, offers locals and visitors alike the chance to savour the authentic flavours of traditional Lebanese cuisine and the rich aromas of third way coffee. Eschewing Middle Eastern references and motifs, local designers Ivy Studio have espoused a clean-cut, minimalist aesthetic that is nevertheless imbued with the warmth of Lebanese hospitality. The restaurant’s name honours the owners’ grandmother (Teta means grandmother in Lebanese) whose cooking has always been a source of comfort for them. Home-cooked family dinners loom large in their childhood memories and the designers’ intention was to convey both the culinary delights and the warm ambience of these memories. At the same time, they wanted to convey a sense of contemporary sophistication in tune with the city’s stylish modern cafés.
Featuring large windows on two sides, the space is bright and airy thanks to an austere, stripped-down aesthetic of clean lines and sparse decorations, and a predominant light-toned colour palette of white walls and polished concrete floors that enhance the effects of the natural lighting. Walnut veneer wainscoting, handmade plaster finishes and bespoke terracotta wall lights by local ceramists add warmth and texture without spoiling the overall minimalist interiors, while bistro-style furniture in the shape of Thonet walnut chairs and stools convey a familiar sense of classical elegance.
Sweeping around the dining space, two long banquettes with natural leather seats and burgundy velvet backrests are paired with square bistro tables with matching powder coated burgundy steel bases and solid walnut tops. Walnut can also be found on the large communal table, which features a hand-carved ornate walnut base and a walnut-encased sand coloured marble top, and the curved bar counter wrapped in a walnut veneer. Functioning as a pick-up bar, the latter is placed next to a monolithic marble block, designated as the order counter, whose dark red, beige, black and white tone distil the project’s entire colour palette. Above both counters, a steel structure with a custom laser cut cane pattern, which is repeated in the window counter and coffee displays, picks up the burgundy colour of the furniture, while a large wicker light pendant above the communal table enhances the sense of hand-craftsmanship, as do Teta’s signature ceramic dinnerware, on full display in built-in displays behind the counters.
The combination of a contemporary design aesthetic with hand-crafted finishes is also reflected in the restaurant equipment which includes a premium Italian-made espresso machine, a traditional Turkish sand coffee maker, and an authentic Lebanese oven which is traditionally used for making Manoush’eh, Lebanon’s cherished flatbread pie. Combined with the owners’ Lebanese know-how, the ambience and equipment of Café Chez Teta makes for a unique experience for both Lebanese cuisine lovers and coffee aficionados.