DIEPPE – On February 7th, Barolo & Co. will transform a 2,500-square-foot empty space on 50 Rue du Marché in Dieppe into a restaurant complete with a kitchen and a DJ.
But don’t wait to try it out. It’ll be there for just two weeks – the first in a series of pop-up fine-dining restaurants called Black Rabbit.
“The whole concept of Black Rabbit is to come into our world and follow us into the rabbit hole,” said owner Luc Doucet. “It’s this whimsical kind of experience. We really want people to experience something completely different. So you kind of forget where you are.”
Barolo & Co. provides creative catering and beverage services for corporate events or festivals like Flash Moncton, which takes place next week.
The company has also done smaller, one-day pop-up events. But Doucet said he was inspired to create a two-week event after seeing the pop-up home decor shop that Impertinent.ca held in December. The first temporary restaurant will be in the same space.
“We’re going to spotlight everything because there are no lights in there. So we’re going to create this little world out of nothing, I guess, and just have some art pieces, and little waiting rooms,” he said.
“You can see the whole kitchen when you’re sitting down. And we’re creating this lounge and bar area with the dining room next to it. We’re planning for the tables just being black so you’re focusing on the food, the experience, and the conversation.”
Customers can book their tickets online for a five-to-eight-course tasting menu with wine and cocktail pairings. The first guest chef will lead the kitchen February 7-10, and the second will do so February 14-17. For each, there will be 32 seats for guests. The menu will be inspired by the travels and skills of the guest chefs and Doucet himself.
“It’s pushing the boundaries enough, but not enough to scare people,” he said.
Doucet said the goal of this series is to do something interesting and at the same time celebrate the talent of chefs, sommeliers, servers and bartenders from the Maritimes.
He plans to take Black Rabbit to Fredericton, Saint John, Halifax and Charlottetown. He hopes initiatives like this would also pull more talent from outside the province.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of guest chefs but they’re from Montreal, Toronto, New York. It’s amazing to meet them, and we met Chuck Hughes last year. But at the end of the day, I think we’d rather support guys like [Alex] and Jon, Pierre from Little Louis. Because we have the talent here but we don’t seem to recognize and celebrate them,” he said.
Alex Bevan-Baker will be the first guest chef for the series. Originally from P.E.I, he’s now a sous chef at Moncton’s Les Brumes Du Coude. His menu will showcase the skills he learned at the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown, as well as his experience working at Raymonds in St. John’s and Eigensinn in Singhampton, Ontario.
“It’s inspired by European [cooking], but there are also Asian influences,” he said. “The flavours are definitely going to be vibrant. The ingredients would be, not necessarily more luxurious, but they would add to the dish. For example caviar or foie gras. We’re going to use them in such a way where they actually enhance the dish. And so that way, I think the menu will be more accessible to everyone.”
Because the space is temporary, no open flames are allowed in the kitchen. So, Bevan-Baker will use techniques like induction cooking, tools like vacuum seals, and simulate some textures. He will use as many local sources as he can in this season.
The second guest chef is Campbellton native Jonathan Morrison. With experience from restaurants like Raymonds and Seto Kitchen + Bar in St. John’s, he will bring inspiration from his travels through southern Europe and Morocco into his menu.
“I like to use more acidity in my cooking with lemon and stuff, and they do that here, so I’ll probably make it fresher and a touch spicier maybe,” he said in a call with Huddle from his hostel in Portugal.
Morrison, who will train in Montreal for a year, wants the population of Greater Moncton to step outside their comfort zone.
“For Moncton, we’re a little bit late with the trends and such because we’re not very open to a lot of exotic flavours. So things like [Black Rabbit] will bring people out and make them think a little bit more.”