Duel is more than a simple restaurant and more than a pretty place; it's a concept formed in the imaginations of two vibrant and passionate chefs who want to bring something novel to their new space.
The premise - two chefs who meet every night for a culinary joust - wasn't an easy one to usher into this space. To the right is Montrealer Laurent Godbout, chef of the restaurants Chez l'Épicier and Version Laurent Godbout, who practices a modern French cuisine. To the left is David Biron, the ex-chef of Yuzu de Québec, known for his inventive Japanese dishes.
Two strong personalities and an audacious concept required the proper setting. It was the two designers from Champigny Raymond Studio undertook the challenge.
In this smallish space - once home to another good resto, Area - everything was re-thought, starting with the kitchen, now open so that all can witness the spectacle.
The space needed to be divided in two, but in a subtle way without segregating one from the other. A yellow line (the same one that starts on the exterior facade) crosses the ceiling and ends between the two giant photos of the chefs.
The graphic treatment is particularly well thought out, serving as a playful counterpoint to the muted, somber and masculine ambiance of the space, which is primarily composed of dark wood. Touches of vibrant yellow are everywhere. Yellow codes appear on chairs indicating the placement of diners. Yellow numbers identify the cellars and yellow neon rings are projected over the two window tables.
The spirit of the gamesmanship and humour are also present in the tiniest details: mysterious symbols are etched into the tables, serviettes are artfully hidden, and instead of the usual artwork, pieces of paper are affixed to the brick wall with knives.
Yes, there are many things to take in, to decipher (and to eat) at this eatery, requiring some engagement on the customer's part. So, enter with an open mind and with the expectation of being surprised.
Translation by Jennifer Edwards