H4C by Dany Bolduc
A morning with the illustrious Jean Brillant.
Entire interview coming January 2020. If you live in the neighbourhood of St-Henri, you have probably passed H4C dozens of times without realizing what it holds inside. Maybe you’ve given a passing thought to what is on the other side of the impressive stone façade, on Place St-Henri. If you’ve paid close attention, you will have noticed the “H4C” cut into an understated plate of oxidized steel, discreetly signed on the heritage building.
Do not hesitate to open the door. You will not be disappointed.
Inside H4C, the environment feels easy: A cozy atmosphere, an open space, under high ceilings, enrobedin refined design, captured by the warm sounds of a vinyl record. Nothing is ever left to chance, by your chef, and one of his partners in design, Alexandra.
On entry we are greeted by Alexandra, the director of H4C.
She makes us feel, immediately, that we are at home. Vibrant and passionate, Alexandra is a welcome energy, which pairs beautifully with the space she has helped to form, and reform.
Whether regaling us with stories of learning food from the ground up, in Ireland, with her hands in the soil mounded over a spud, or of the imbibing of Tokyo’s stimulants of smell and sound and light, we are wrapped up in her enthusiastic, and deep expression of a love of food as a cultural meeting place.
Over delectable coffee, she tells us the story of the establishment, and the creativity of a chef who has quickly established himself as needing little to no introduction: Dany Bolduc. H4C is the result of a beautiful collaboration between four friends passionate about the restaurant industry: Dany Bolduc: chef, Renaud-Philip Méthot: sous-chef, Jonathan Benchetrit: sommelier, and Alexandra Dubreuil-Gagnon: director and maître d. Together, they endeavoured to create a perfect culinary and spacial symphony, combining into an exceptional concert of plates and tables.
At the heart of this great success: A philosophy of living through rigorous methodology, the art of haiku asa more general principle, and the encouragement to live the moment.
The goal at H4C was to create an intimate, but lively, atmosphere; with intimate meaning three spheres ofintimacy: Sphere one is the generously separated tables, which create a buffer between conversations. Sphere two is the welcoming atmosphere of like-minded community created by the mutual choice to joinin the culture and treats offered by the restaurant. Sphere three is the neighbourhood of St-Henri, outside the doors, but in mind. It brought you in. It awaits when you are satisfied. It is an influence in the creation of your meal, and your time in the space.
H4C is a space in which guests are encourage to take the time to take the time; to share a good company, in a good place.
With place and intimacy in the forefront of their minds, the team also paid particular attention to the acoustics, as paramount as the light, in order to buffer against distraction, and the pull of other stimulation, when flavours and conversations are at their peak.
Service at H4C was also made more ceremonial by a dedicated and skilled team: guests are given the opportunity to hand over their more cumbersome garments, and belongings, upon arrival; and the meal is served only once the guest has rinsed their fingers in a bowl of water, brought to, and then removed from, their table, in the Japanese tradition.
Each step toward their ostensible goal motivates the guest to disconnect from the outside, and their outside concerns, to dive into, and remain in, the present moment. This is where the guest is meant to be: With themselves, with their meal, with the creative output of their servants at H4C, and with the person, orpeople, with whom they have chosen to share this moment.
Dany prizes food from the ground, food from the area, food from the heart, and use of the whole animal.
These are technicalities, when compared to the grand schema at work in H4C. They are in the core of the philosophy of the restaurant, but these things are expressions of beliefs. Allowing for the understanding ofany one aspect, is to allow for the whole.
Creative seasonal cuisine, use of fresh and local products, food and wine pairings; H4C is ready to welcome the celebration of an event. It is also ready for brunch on the weekends, as well as an intimate meal with love, a sprawling meal with family, bonding with colleagues, or simply sharing a good time with friends.