Parasol crab shack

Mile End pop-up Parasol returns as a crab shack

Snow crab season in Quebec heralds the return of Gaspésienne crustaceans and a popular local food vendor.

While we’re all undoubtedly excited about this stretch of beautiful spring weather, the real reason to get excited is that it’s officially snow crab season in Quebec. To celebrate that news you can go to — well, pretty much any restaurant. Everyone always goes crazy for crab season. That said, your best bet for enjoying these Gaspésienne crustaceans is at your local crab shack, and for Montrealers, there’s really only one place that fits that bill: the back-alley summer pop-up known as Parasol. 

If you’ve not heard of Parasol, allow me to briefly catch you up. Parasol began as a pop-up in 2016, run by chefs William Cody and Jeff Downs out of the back room of now-closed Maïs. Since then, the restaurant has come back every summer featuring new chefs and new concepts. Last year, Parasol was reincarnated as a lobster shack serving whole lobsters, fried clams and crispy fried fish sandwiches. Last year also marked the beginning of a partnership between chef William Cody (formerly of Maïs) and sommelier William Saulnier (ex-Hoogan and Beaufort). 

Since the closing of Maïs in 2019, Cody and Saulnier revamped the former taqueria, transforming it into their new project, Beau Temps. Still operating out of the back room, however, is Parasol, which launched last week as, you guessed it, a crab shack!

Mile End pop-up Parasol returns as a crab shack

As the name would suggest, they’re mostly serving up fresh crab (although there are a few other options). The crab comes two ways, either whole or halved and served cold with tartare and cocktail sauces or hot with old bay and melted butter. A selection of fresh, quaffable wines and beers are offered as well to help chase that shot of hot butter.

The crab shack will last the duration of crab season, which runs into late May and coincides perfectly with the beginning of lobster season, at which time Parasol will change its menu over to revisiting the hits from last summer. ■

Parasol is located at 5439 St-Laurent (through the back alley). For more, and to order delivery, please visit the restaurant’s website.

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