Charcuterie bistro hams it up with irreverent design
HAMBAR, HÔTEL STPAUL, MONTREAL
Design: GH+A Design
Photography: Yves Lefebvre Photographer
Completion: April 2012
Size: 1,500 sf
Time frame: 4 months
Retail type: Upscale bistro/bar
TRUE TO ITS NAME, Hambar focuses on imported ham, and not simply as a menu feature. Charcuterie is showcased as a strategic element in the space. To establish the iconoclastic premise, the design incorporates an in-your-face homage to cured meats. An oversized display case of suspended cured meats on butcher hooks lures passersby from the restaurant’s street entrance, which is separate from the bistro’s hotel entry. The lit display case, a focal point both inside and outside, could just as well be showcasing haute couture. That perception is a testament to the power of the display’s visual impact.
Conveying the pig premise further is the charcuterie station, where a butcher in full regalia heads a flurry of activity processing real-time orders. The station fulfills a primary operating function while serving as entertainment, akin to an open kitchen model.
Vying for attention at the opposite end of the space is a wine cellar that draws attention to Hambar’s exclusive and rare wine collection. Composed of glass, stainless steel and concrete panels, the statementmaking anchor wall abuts a floor-to-ceiling arrangement of mason jars with marinades and pickling juices.
While the cured meats are the undisputed stars of the show, the redesign meshes a French sensibility with the hipness of Soho in a sleek, yet unpretentious schematic. Dark leather seating, plank flooring and walnut paneling contrast with crisp white walls and clusters of mini pendants. Patrons dine at the wood slab bar or are seated on an elevated platform that looks out upon windows facing a picturesque town square. Midpoint in the space, a communal table links two large columns, accommodating a structural challenge without obstructing the view.
— Susan Friedman