I’m no food critic. If it’s meaty, flavorful and not under-salted, I’ll usually like it.
However, there’s so much more about a restaurant or café than just its food, and since I’m an opinionated lady, I thought I’d share my thoughts on some food joints around Montreal. You’re welcome.
Brunch is for Hipsters
Brunch in Montreal is an institution. Starting at about 11am on Saturday and Sunday mornings, you’ll see lines start to form outside of popular brunch locations, most of which are located in the Plateau or in Mile End.
Usually, the people in these lines are dressed in the following manner:
- Skinny jeans (required)
- Glasses (also required)
- Fashionably tousled hair that probably took at least half an hour to perfect (yup, required)
- Slouchy top, sweater and/or jacket (you guessed it…)
- Old-school Converse sneakers (I’ll stop saying “required” here, so if I say nothing just assume it is)
- Slouchy handbag, backpack, satchel or messenger bag
- Facial hair on the men (optional for women)
- Bored expression (or at least look hungover to show off how cool your previous evening was)
- Visible tattoos and/or piercings
As we waited in line for brunch at L’Avenue (922 Avenue Mont-Royal Est, 514-523-8780), I doubt Chico noticed how out of place we looked as non-hipsters. I couldn’t help but think that if I tried to wear skinny jeans like those I’d more closely resemble the sausage links being served for brunch than any of these fashionable people.
On Restaurant Décor
I realize that restaurants are often trying to achieve a specific look and feel when it comes to their décor. Some are more successful than others, and I think L’Avenue did a good job of making you feel like you were in Grand Central Hipster Station.
Bikes and motorcycles decorate the walls and hang from the ceilings. One bike had a wine bottle in its water holder, which really appealed to Chico. It was pretty cute.
The strangely-attired mannequins and the graffiti on the wall I could have done without, but I liked the bikes.
The tables were well-spaced. It didn’t feel too crowded, but it felt busy and buzzing, which I really like in a brunch place. A tall bar runs the length of the first section of the restaurant, making it a little hard to squeeze past rushing waiters as you enter and exit the place, but once you were seated it was really comfortable.
The menu is your basic brunch fare, split into breakfasts, omelets, burgers, etc. It was pretty extensive and quite varied, with options for all levels of hunger and fat content. They also had a great fresh juice menu.
Chico wanted to order a burger, but unfortunately on the weekends they only serve brunch or breakfast food. I went for a bagel sandwich and he went for an omelet.
It was a nice touch that they first served a fresh fruit skewer as a starter. It made you feel like you were starting off the meal on a healthy note. Ha. Yeah, right.
First, the omelet: it was about the size of a small Spanish tortilla de patata. In other words, it was HUGE. It probably contained at least four eggs. It was well stuffed with goat cheese, veggies and deliciousness. Chico was impressed and delighted, though not even he could finish it.
My bagel sandwich (tomato, scrambled egg, mayonnaise and cheese) was very tasty. The eggs were lovely, and I actually kind of liked the fact that they used what looked like Kraft cheese slices.
What I didn’t like was the construction. The bagel was really small (and not particularly flavorful–and they didn’t give you a choice of bagel), and it was piled high with the contents of the sandwich. It was cut in half with one brave, lone toothpick holding it all together, but it was impossible to eat with one’s digits. Thoughtfully, the place settings included a good serrated knife, which made it easy to slice it.
God’s Own Homefries
What made the entire meal worth it were the homefries. I’m not exaggerating when I say they were divine. The seasoning balanced perfectly with the sweetness of the potatoes (I’m pretty sure they were russet). They were cooked to perfection: the ideal balance between crispy and squishy.
I’m pretty sure they tasted so good because of the fat they must have been cooked in, but they weren’t overly greasy. They were lovely.
The food is good (and partially divine) as well as well-priced. The fruit juice was enormous and tasty. I liked the fruit skewers, though the portion sizes are pretty insane.
The service was friendly and efficient and the ambiance was bustling but not too loud for a nice one-on-one conversation.
All-in-all, I’d give this spot a 4.5 out of 5.
Oh, and the bathrooms were seriously trippy.