Oat Couture owner Brian Montgomery is an ideas guy. He works in the investment business, but says owning a café offers a creative outlet — the opportunity to dip a toe into an industry he has always been fascinated with.
His latest venture is Montgomery Scotch Lounge — a restaurant within a restaurant, it involves the complete transformation of Oat Couture every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night. Like the magic that takes place on a theatre stage between sets, the complete makeover will see staff scurrying around the café, removing and adding “props” to create a whole new space and vibe.
The Transformation Story
In a nightly one-hour scramble between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., the casual daytime oat café turns into a cool lounge. How does it happen?
The awning: The Oat Couture signage over the door is overlaid with the Montgomery Scotch Lounge sign
The signature swinging chairs: The two hanging egg chairs that take up so much space at the front of the café come down, replaced by four lounge chairs more suitable for enjoying a Scotch on the rocks.
The Oat Couture merchandise wall: Filled with cute oat-themed merchandise during the day, the shelves at the front of the café are emptied and refilled with a display of empty whiskey bottles, which are then artfully lit.
The menu wall: The giant menu wall behind the bar is concealed behind a screen. The lounge drinks menu — or whatever else is top of mind — can be projected onto the screen. Perhaps a map of Scotland with the different Scotches placed geographically
The metal chairs: Seat covers and cushions are lowered over the chairs, turning them into comfier seats designed to encourage guests to stay awhile.
The ambience: The mood lighting gets activated, the playlist gets switched over, and the evening staff gets busy behind the bar.
Voilà! A whole new restaurant in just one hour.
It may be one of Scotland’s most famous exports, but Scotch can be intimidating to the average drinker. That’s where Paul Saucier comes in. Mixologist, Scotch lover, bartender, and consultant, Saucier has trained Montgomery Scotch Lounge staff on the wonders of this versatile spirit and crafted both traditional and contemporary cocktails to add to the lounge’s on-the-rocks repertoire.
The goal, says Montgomery, is to create a new Ottawa destination — a comfortable yet upscale lounge. “We want to make Scotch approachable,” he explains, adding that the lounge will be home to tastings and other events once it’s up and running. But Scotch sceptics should fear not — the drinks menu will also include non-Scotch offerings.
Ben’s Small Plates
Chef Ben Baird has developed a whole new late-night menu for the venture — one that pairs well with after-hours Scotch sipping and conversation. Small plates make sense, so fine charcuterie and cheese plates are on the slate, as well as gourmet toasts with tasty toppings.
In a nod to sister restaurant Oat Couture, Baird will be baking up oat cakes to accompany the cheeses and says a few of the café’s oat bowls will remain on the evening menu. “Oat bowls anchored by flavours such as apple and pumpkin pair really well with Scotch,” he says.
Montgomery Scotch Lounge, 1154 Bank St. (at Glen Ave.), open Thursday-Sunday from 5 p.m. until late.