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There is a distinct New York vibe about Le Cartet. With an upscale gourmet foods boutique at the front of the restaurant, diners are encouraged to check out the goodies while waiting in line during the busy weekend brunch rush or upon leaving the restaurant during regular hours. The trendy design of the place features minimalistic art, colorful ransom lettering of select menu items on the front welcome board and long communal tables where diners sit alongside one another, strangers and friends alike. The hustle and bustle of the place doesn’t take away from the quality of service at all, contrary to what you might think – we were served promptly and courteously from the moment we walked in.
Beauty’s is a historical and iconic symbol of Montreal. One of the first places in the city to serve breakfast (according to the owner, Hymie Sckolnick in Anthony Bourdain’s Montreal episode of the Layover), the luncheonette is clearly imbued with history. Just take a look around the place – old-school diner style banquettes hearkening back to the 40s, the classic and timeless items offered (bagel lox, the best milkshakes ever etc.) and the multitude of signed posters of celebrities that have visited the restaurant are proudly mounted on the walls further affirming Beauty’s as an old favorite.
It’s crazy how there are so many great restaurants in Montreal, whether on the main, in the centre-ville or tucked away in the plateau somewhere. Just when you think you’ve exhausted the list, dozens more pop up out of nowhere, each one as tantalizing and unique as the next. That’s what I love about this city. The restaurant scene is constantly evolving and branching out, adding and adjusting, diversifying in both cuisine and location so that there’s a bit of everything everywhere. I first heard about the Syrian Kaza Maza through a friend who went, loved it and had leftovers because they ordered so much. I tried them and was struck by how delicious they were even after sitting in a box for a few hours and losing their initial heat. I had a chance to go last week and again a few days later, so this is an amalgamation of the two meals.
Les Filles Du Roy is the restaurant of the Pierre du Calvet hotel. Located just steps away from Le Bremner and a few steps more from the Old Port beach (under construction in anticipation for next summer), the place can be easily missed. The novelty of the experience is probably one of the best parts of eating here – the building itself has been standing since 1725, so right off the bat you know that the architecture and the aesthetic of the place is going to be older, or shall we say vintage. Scattered throughout are remnants of life in the 18th and 19th centuries, from Victorian style paintings to mounted game to antique furniture, rugs and draperies. Towards the end of the reception area are several talking birds – if you’re lucky, you might be greeted with a squawk of a hello as you pass by the washrooms.
Situated on lower St Denis amongst great restaurants like La Fabrique, L’Evidence is a classic restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. During the summer the terrace is nearly always full for brunch and I visited with some friends of mine who are regulars. The interior decor has a classic french vibe in the style of L’Express but with a more down to earth mentality. The service was quick and efficient – don’t expect small talk but do expect perfect coffee refills.
Looking down the comment/review list on Burgundy Lion‘s Urbanspoon page, sentiments are mixed. While the crowd is doubtlessly cool, the atmosphere is chic and the decor is interestingly laid out, the service is sporadic, the menu is forgettable and the food is at its best mediocre. I really wanted to like this place after hearing so much about the legendary trivia night, the great drinks and the people – but unfortunately the food did not measure up.
At the corner of Mont Royal and Hotel de Ville, La Cantine bills itself as a Bistro Boutique. Word of mouth reached us of its weekend brunches so we decided to check it out for ourselves. The seating area is separated into two mid sized rooms, one feeling slightly more formal the other.
If you’re looking for an alternative to your routine breakfast/brunch joint, you’ve found it. Byblos is an Mediterranean influenced Iranian restaurant that is one of Montreal’s best kept secrets. Located on the eastern most section of Laurier street next to Le Fouvrac (an amazing gourmet food store) and across from Frite Alors, this area of the city is beautiful in the summertime as the street is lined with trees and storefront flower beds. Byblos has high ceilings that give the place a lofty, open air feeling and wall paper that brings to mind a meeker, more subdued Pollock painting. Traditional Iranian swords, tea pots, plates and furniture are artfully placed throughout the restaurant further enhancing the authentic feel of the place.
Ethan Wills and Marc Cohen, owners of the Sparrow (check this out if you don’t know about Sparrow already) opened Lawrence relatively recently and have managed to create an admirable online presence. Generating online buzz both in Montreal and abroad, their menu that changes daily/weekly depending on what the freshest ingredients at the market are. This enables the chefs to explore their creative culinary talent as well as to play with the menu options so that customers that go often are never bored – check out their Twitter account (@lawrencefood) for live updates of what’s to be served. This was my second time here – I love the atmosphere and the staff who work there. Everyone is extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the food, the way it is prepared and are able to suggest dishes that would most likely please the customer’s palate given some basic information.