In the vibrant Saint-Sauveur district of Quebec City, a culinary dream team comprising of Chefs Alexandra Roy, Charles Provencher-Proulx, and Guillaume Saint-Pierre have come together to bring us Melba, a sensational new restaurant. With a shared passion for creating rich and subtle flavors, these talented chefs have entrusted the task of designing a decor that perfectly complements their culinary creations to the renowned Appareil Architecture.
This is not the first collaboration between Guillaume St-Pierre and Appareil Architecture, who designed the restaurant Battuto for the chef in 2017. “It’s interesting to meet again and see how we have each evolved. Appareil’s experience helped create something unique. Melba’s design is magnificent, I wouldn’t change a thing,” says St-Pierre to urdesign.
Melba’s monochrome façade exhibits simplicity and refinement in this working-class neighborhood, which is in the process of a gentle transformation itself. Special attention was paid to the exterior lighting of the restaurant, since it operates exclusively in the low-light of the evenings. The façade is illuminated by a series of globes, making the restaurant visible from a distance on both its cross streets, Saint-Vallier and Renaud, as well as the adjacent park.
As you enter the restaurant, its austere exterior melts away to reveal a combination of warm, gourmet colours and thin, straight lines that recall the brittle edges of Melba toast. “We were inspired by the yellow and plum colour palette of the old French bistros. We also envisioned an Art Deco-inspired space,” explains Kim Pariseau, architect and founder of Appareil Architecture.
Melba’s central island features a porcelain body with pronounced burgundy veins, as well as copper-colored edges and legs, contributing to the luxurious character of the restaurant’s Art Deco inspiration. The ornamentation nevertheless remains focused and contemporary, with rich forms, repetitive lines on the moldings, curved benches and layered chandeliers. The richness of the design is expressed through the veining of the ash used for the walls, the semi-octagonal shape of the central island, the shine of the porcelain, the angled niche of the bar. This beauty extends beyond mere sight, proving equally delightful to the touch by offering textured leather and velvet seats, and smooth, soft ceramic accents. Appareil Architecture creates a comforting atmosphere where the surrounding materials contribute to the experience.
Criterium’s graphic design, Studio Botte’s and Jacques et Anna’s lighting fixtures that emphasize curves, as well as the stools and round tables soften the straight lines of the space and its furniture. The interior design harmonizes with the restaurant’s signature dishes, which offer a delicate and elegant cuisine.
Appareil Architecture created the restaurant within the space’s existing structure, allowing it to naturally delineate four different sections: an area of classic tables, a bar, a central island, and a long bench which hosts five tables, including two large round ones.
“We wanted round tables; for us, this represents the spirit of sharing. We get many requests from customers who want to sit at the round tables or the central island. The island is really the main attraction of the space” says Alexandra Roy, chef and co-owner of Melba.
This central island overlooks the rest of the restaurant, creating a very festive atmosphere. With its integrated wine bath, it offers the ideal place for aperitifs, practically stealing the show from the bar.
The kitchen, conceived by the Appareil team as an extension of the dining room, blends into the space while standing out with its façade of wood and frosted glass. A wide, central opening in the wall frames the cooks, allowing them to be in visual contact with their guests while maintaining a form of intimacy. The wooden materiality of the ash used for the structure contributes to the lively character of the restaurant, its warmth balancing the coldness of the metal used in the kitchen.
This small, 36-seat restaurant shines due to the softness of its materials, its pleasant comfort, and the spaciousness of its different sections. With Melba, Appareil Architecture offers a warm and refined experience, balancing between French inspirations and Quebec flavors.