Pandore Proposes Cabaret, Exotic Punch and Multicultural Cuisine
Pandore is a Montreal cabarat bar and restaurant, a wink to the Greek myth that details the unleashing of all evils known to man, though the moniker is probably more of a wink in Pandora's direction. She was crafted by the gods, after all.
But while I can't confirm how many deities assisted in creating Montreal's most centrally located cabaret, what I can say is the cocktails are heavenly, as sipped at an exclusive pre-launch event scheduled prior to Pandore's official opening last June 2014. And the location couldn't be more choice, on the top floor of the 2-22 Ste. Catherine building at the corner of St. Laurent, right on the edge of Montreal's summer festival perimeter.
So Pandore Is a Cabaret?
Pandore is very much a cabaret bar and restaurant with fifth floor level terrace space overlooking a small portion of Montreal's festival hub. And the menu is deliberately designed to reflect Montreal's multiculturalism. A quick chat with Pandore co-owner Maxime Perreault revealed his commitment to celebrating the communities than line Boulevard St. Laurent, aka The Main, the commercial artery that not-so-coincidentally is Pandore's location.
Pandore: The Restaurant
Pandore's seasonal menu, a mix of Quebec, Asian and European flavors, is conceived by Kaizen, Flyjin and Le Bremner alumnus Narith Plong and former Globe chef Jean-François Baril. I can't comment on the food though because I had at most three bites as hors d'oeuvres were being passed around. Note than the menu is vegetarian-friendly, with appetizers ranging from $5 to $15, sushi roll and seafood offerings from $11 to $35 (or more, depending on season prices), meat dishes from $19 to $24 and desserts from $9 to $14. 2015 update: a new menu conceived by local chef Louis Potvin replaces the previous year's offerings.
Pandore: The Punches
The cocktails, in addition to the performance art aspect of the venue, is Pandore's distinctive touch. While you won't find any kind of bottle service here, you will find exquisitely-prepared punch bowls. Ranging from $150 to $220, punch bowls consist of 20 to 24 ounces of alcoholic beverage per bowl and are recommended for a group of 6 to 8 people. All concoctions feature multiple ingredients, my favorite of the evening being the French Absinthe Punch. It's made of Grande Absente absinthe, Citadel gin, Suze (gentian-based bitters), bergamot orgeat syrup (a sweet syrup usually made with almonds, rose water and orange flower water), elderflower soda, fresh lemon juice and bitters. The flavor is multi-layered, complex and unusual, a juxtaposition of bitter and sweet hard to come by in your everyday, standard cocktail. Single serving drinks are also available, such as Manhattans at $12.50, gin mixes at $8.50 and various cocktail pitchers and carafes ranging from $35 to $90 are also proposed, all featuring premium ingredients and inventive flavor pairings.
Pandore: The Cabaret
To experience Pandore in its totality, Saturday is the night to go. Five-minute flash contortion numbers, burlesque dances, circus routines and live music performances are scheduled every hour, sometimes more, depending on what patrons prefer on a given evening. According to Pandore's operations head Simon Morel, also a Flyjin alumn and a Cirque du Soleil staffer for close to 15 years with several of those spent organizing V.I.P. events for the troupe, Pandore staff is committed to taking the pulse of the room and delivering according to what patrons want. Since Saturdays are so performance-heavy, an entrance fee in the $20 range is charged. Thursdays and Fridays have no cover charge and while cameo performances can be expected on those nights, patrons on the lookout for a complete cabaret experience are advised to stick to Saturdays. Having experienced it myself during the pre-launch evening, I can say the setup was original and inventive, with two hydraulic stages, one hidden stage and yet another temporarily set up on the bar, all used at different times and in different ways. The performance art possibilities at Pandore are the most interesting that I've seen in Montreal for a room of that shape and size. Pandore is NOTHING like a traditional cabaret venue. The small stages make it so that there's no "wall" between performers and audience, creating a unique sense of intimacy uncommon to the cabaret scene. And it's a concept in constant evolution. In other words, what you see this year may be completely different next year.
Pandore: Business Hours
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturdays are designated cabaret nights and thus, admission fees apply.
Pandore: Contact Info
Note that prices, business hours and menu items are subject to change without notice.
Full disclosure: Pandore provided Evelyn Reid with complimentary cocktails and hors d'oeuvres for tasting purposes during its pre-launch evening, a common procedure in the hospitality industry rarely disclosed by various media. This profile is for information purposes only and does not represent an endorsement nor recommendation. Note that Pandore was not charged a fee nor was any other business listed on About.com Montreal charged a fee for its inclusion on the network. To fail to conspicuously disclose that a business offered a product/service gratuity for review purposes and to fail to disclose that a business paid and/or exchanged favors to be featured on a website, blog or other medium are violations of public trust which are not tolerated on About.com Montreal. About.com's experts adhere to a strict ethics and full disclosure policy, a cornerstone of the network's credibility.