Beau Temps

Photos by Mickaël A. Bandassak

Beau Temps excels in the age of the sandwich

Some of the forces behind Maïs, Hoogan & Beaufort, Magpie and Parasol have combined to create delicious sandwiches and sides.

I suppose you could call the 12-month period between last March and now the age of the sandwich. In a year where take-out has been the name-of-the-game, the sandwich is the cheat-code. Oh, you’re a Neapolitan pizza-place? You do hoagies now. Upscale French bistro, you say? Jambon-beurre it is. (For everyone else, you’re a fried-chicken spot.) But, to me, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s a format that’s entirely take-out friendly, and who doesn’t like a good sandwich?

It stands to reason that if you were to boldly choose to open a restaurant in this hellish time for the biz, you’d be wise to make it a sandwich shop. That’s exactly what William Cody and his business partners William Saulnier and Peter Popovic decided to do with their new project Beau Temps.

Beau Temps founders William Cody and William Saulnier

Most know Cody as one of the co-owners of the former Mile End mainstay Maïs, a taqueria he ran with long-time business partner Gil McNutt. Independently, however, Cody differentiated himself from the taco spot back in 2017 when he and chef Jeff Downs opened the first edition of Parasol, a summertime pop-up that operated out of the backroom of Maïs. Since then, Parasol has evolved and transformed, taking on new chefs and new concepts, most recently as a lobster shack slinging lobster rolls, pop-corn shrimp and fried-fish sandwiches.

Maïs closed officially on Dec. 28, 2019 but a rumour of a project by Cody and sommelier William Saulnier (formerly of Hoogan & Beaufort) along with Peter Popovic of Magpie was already being widely spread. Cody and Saulnier had joined forces during the 2018 edition of Parasol, but their future project was not going to be a permanent version of the estival pop-up, it would be something entirely new. 

The name Beau Temps is both ironic, given the obvious hardships of these times, and optimistic, like a bellwether pointing to better days ahead. The branding, with its softly psychedelic imagery and colourful motif, is innately joyful. The aesthetic totally counteracts what can be the very utilitarian feeling of a sandwich counter. It looks great, and honestly the whole vibe just puts you in a good mood. 

A selection of Beau Temps sandwiches and sides

On the menu, there’s a selection of sandwiches, obviously, but the sandwiches themselves, for the most part, are far from obvious. Take, for example, the “vegé Philly” which is, as its name would suggest, a vegetarian take on a Philly Cheesesteak. While, for me, Beau Temps’s version didn’t totally recall a cheesesteak, the sandwich remains an utter delight. Thin, deeply caramelized ribbons of celery-root and onion are bathed in a mornay-like cheese sauce and garnished with perfect slices of bread-and-butter pickles served on a crispy baguette. It’s sensational. There’s also a shaved brisket sandwich dressed with béarnaise that seems delicious (if a bit rich) and a jambon-beurre (with pickles) because, well, why not? Also making a comeback is the popular fried turbot sandwich from Parasol’s Lobster shack. I worried when ordering a fried fish sandwich for take-out that it would have completely lost its crisp by the time I brought it home to eat, but it arrived entirely crisp and golden brown, dressed with a tangy, garlicky tartar sauce on an impossibly pillowy bun. Delicious. 

Pommes Dauphine

Outside of sandwiches, there are a handful of side dishes from which to choose. A warm salad of fried Brussels sprouts with apple, miso and lime perhaps, or a twist on a classic in the leeks vinaigrette with pickled mustard seeds and buttermilk. Personally, I opted for the crispy endive salad with dill and quinoa, which provide a fresh and tart accompaniment to the fairly rich sandwiches. I also ordered the pommes dauphine, a mixture of mashed potatoes, cheese and choux-pastry that when fried are like savoury potato-beignets. I suspect that, when eaten fresh out of the fryer, they are fantastic, but by the time I got around to eating them, they had lost their crispness and were a bit stodgy. To cap it off, I tried the McCain-style deep ’n’ delicious lemon cake with star anise whipped cream, which is every bit as delicious as it sounds.

In the beverage department, Saulnier has put together a list full of fun, picnic-suitable natural wines, ciders and beers for when the beau temps do indeed arrive. And to that end, Beau Temps, I believe, will reach its full potential then, too. It is a ray of sunshine — a joyful purveyor of imaginative yet deeply satisfying dishes and drinks that beg to be enjoyed with friends in the park. Reflecting on the name, now having eaten their food, I understand that it’s not a clin-d’oeil, it’s a restaurant concept that embodies the carefree spontaneity and uncomplicated joy of a good day. Who knew all that could be found in a humble sandwich? ■

For more about Beau Temps (5439 St-Laurent), please visit their website.

For more on the food and drink scene in Montreal, please visit the Food & Drink section.