An Art Deco gem gets a second chance in Montreal

‘Le Neuvième’ is relaunching as a restaurant, bar and event space on the ninth floor of the defunct Eaton’s department store

When department stores ruled and ladies lunched, Montréal had Eaton’s. The stone Centre Eaton was built in 1927 but expanded in 1931 with a ninth-floor restaurant spearheaded by Lady Flora Eaton. A fan of the Art Deco aesthetic seen on ocean liners crossing the Atlantic, Eaton commissioned French architect Jacques Carlu, who designed an expansive penthouse space with murals, bas reliefs, promenade and 600-seat ‘grande salle’ in a style known as Streamline Moderne. Popular for decades with the beau monde attending fashion shows and post-shopping lunches, it became known as Le Neuvième.

For the first time since closing down in 1999, the ninth floor opens to the public this month as Le 9e (le neuvième) with a historic-monument classification and a refurb by Montreal heritage conservationists EVOQ. The 2,700-square-metre space will incorporate a 120-seat restaurant led by chef Liam Hopkins called Île de France, plus two private dining rooms, a live-music venue and a cocktail bar.

Architect Georges Drolet of EVOQ reinterpreted images from old photographs in a palette of light grey and beige, and commissioned custom fabrics with original patterns for the dining room walls – they double as acoustic panels to mitigate echoing from the high ceilings. He also repurposed old chairs, polished marble columns, preserved porcelain sinks, restored frescoes and retreated the original linoleum flooring.

‘This repository of memories, which has remained dear to the heart of everyone who knew it, will reach out to a new audience,’ says Drolet. ‘In a spirit of modesty and with tremendous pride, my colleagues and I have helped give the Ninth Floor a new future.’

So not to alienate new generations of Montréalers used to small-plate fare by the city’s diverse community, the menu will lighten up the classic French dishes with Mediterranean influences. Next door, visitors can sit at the huge circular bar, a relic from Carlu’s design.

Ile de France will open on 17 May. Take a peek inside the Montréal restaurant in the gallery above.

Photography: © Jomi – Joe Alvoeiro Photographe (CNW Group/Ivanhoé Cambridge Inc.)
Photography: © Jomi – Joe Alvoeiro Photographe (CNW Group/Ivanhoé Cambridge Inc.)

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