Spanel Restaurant is Griffintown-Little Burgundy’s little secret to enjoy a delicious salty or sweet French crêpe: Meals based on this French specialty from the Brittany region are offered morning or evening. Montreal has a few restaurants of this type, Spanel is easily at the top of the list.
In a simple and warm atmosphere, Spanel (spatula in Breton) offers a cuisine made exclusively with fresh products, especially those from the nearby Atwater market. The restaurant has been opened since 2011 on Notre-Dame Street, a ten minute walk from the Georges-Vanier metro station, just far enough to awaken your appetite! Yann Bris, the chef-owner, is from Brittany in France , more precisely from the town of Paimpol, a small fishing port in the Côtes-d'Armor. With experience in the hotel business, he decided to embark on the adventure of opening his own restaurant in Quebec, which seems to have been an excellent choice! If he is not too busy in the kitchen, he will be happy to come and talk to you in a friendly vibe. We feel welcome at Spanel!
Inside the restaurant, the wooden touches and the retro-vintage objects give us the impression of being in a family home. It’s like visiting Grandma who still has her 70’s tapestry and cushions, her Breton flag and her poster of Audrey Hepburn, but time has subtly modernized the place.
This former hair salon has been converted into three open and intimate spaces: a first room with the kitchen in the center and large cooking plates clearly visible behind the bar. You can see the pancake batter spread out under the sharp, precise hand of the chef, quickly joined by various ingredients: cheese, egg, mushrooms, meat, tomato, etc.... When you go a little deeper into the restaurant, you discover another cozy room and finally a very pleasant shaded terrace.
The Spanel menu offers different options of salty and sweet pancakes at an affordable price for the quality. The best thing is to go with a crêpe à la carte. From the traditional egg-bacon-cheese to more original proposals such as strawberries, spinach, brick-cheese and sesame-caramel balsamic, it is difficult to make a choice with this appetizing list! Each variety bears the name of a Montreal neighbourhood: Plateau, Griffintown, Atwater, Jean-Talon, Mile-end, Outremont... And it's fun to see the ingredients that make it up, like an express trip through the island's flavours.
Whether it's brunch, lunch or dinner, Spanel has something for you, every day of the week. It offers breakfast options with fresh fruit and coffee, lunch combos with soup or a brunch version, with the essential mimosa drink. If you make Spanel your local canteen, you can vary the pleasures with a selection of croissants or omelets. Last but not least, you can also take a crêpe to go, evoking the principle of the beaver tail.
The simplicity and efficiency are also evident when it comes to beverages. A few choices of iconic wines, classic cocktails and French aperitifs, those enjoyed on Sunday before a family meal. We open with a Breton Kir (sparkling cider and crème de cassis) and a Spanellini (Prosecco and homemade strawberry coulis). The service is friendly and the waiters that guide us are sympathetic, while being fast and efficient. The glasses are fresh and sparkling, nothing better to relax simply and happily.
It's time to order our salty crêpe, a pancake made from buckwheat flour (a very typical variety with a nutty taste, and gluten-free since it is not wheat). It is difficult to choose since all the combinations seem interesting and awake our taste buds! We go with the Mont-Royal: Philly Steak (thin slices of beef, covered with cheddar cheese), caramelized onions, mushrooms and Spanel sauce. With each bite, you can taste the freshness of the ingredients and the taste remains stuck to the palate. We're asking for more!
For me, it will be the Atwater: Scrambled or sunny side up egg, smoked salmon and strong cheddar to which I add the avocado supplement. The crêpe is both slightly crispy and tender and has a good buttery aroma. It gently envelops the ingredients for a blend that melts in your mouth. The quantities are well balanced, the plate comes with a small well-seasoned salad, the pancake is filled and tasty, without giving us the impression that we will fall asleep in front of the computer afterwards.
The salty crepe is satisfying, but we can't leave without tasting a sweet version! We give in to the Celtic with its homemade salted butter caramel and whipped cream. The pancake is plump and tender. It is a delight and an avalanche of sweetness.
For the second choice, we tell ourselves that it is time to let our inner child speak. After a long hesitation with the Kinder version, I finally opt for the Nutellamistu: a crepe filled with a mascarpone cream, strawberries, nutella and homemade Belgian chocolate sauce. It is the gourmet pancake by the book, even if it is crispier here. When ordering, don't hesitate to specify if you are on the sweet or crispy team!
Spanel is the pleasure of a restaurant that is simple, gourmet and smooth-running. Ideal for a getaway for two, with the family or with colleagues, it is the kind of place that we want to add to our list of little pleasures or that easily becomes a recurring lunch spot if we work nearby. Often crowded at lunchtime, think about booking if you don't want to wait too long, or choose the comfort option after a day's work. In any case, I invite you to discover this small Breton jewel, which has become a must in the neighbourhood over the years.