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Summer Café-Sitting in Mile End: Brooklyn and Café Sardine

One of Mile End’s greatest offerings is coffee. Café Olimpico, Club Social, Café Myriade’s new location on St-Viateur, Arts Café and Chez Boris have monopolized the growing populace of young and old café-enthusiasts in this borough. We can appreciate a newspaper, a light breeze, a flakey croissant and good coffee. Fitting then, that two new cafés should spring onto the very lucrative coffee scene in Mile End.

Both Café Sardine and Brooklyn are entering their second summers in business, having opened in February and July 2012, respectively. Both offer unique foodstuffs in quaint spaces, and most importantly, quality espresso.

Brooklyn (71 St-Viateur East) caters predominantly to coffee-breakers and work-lunchers. Well-dressed office folk, along with hip, young things (so, me? I’m just an undisclosed third category, I think) act as the café’s main clientele. The space itself is actually quite small, with only a few counter and window stools. Don’t be fooled by the delightful leather, cushioned and mid-century modern seating area filling half the shop: these are gallery pieces to be purchased, not sat upon with your cappuccino. Colourful and slightly hilarious woven lawn chairs line the sidewalk outside the café, where visitors are encouraged to sit out in the sun.

The menu changes with the season, and presently consists of pretty fabulous sandwiches and salads, featuring smoked trout and aubergine. Artichoke and spinach fondue dip tops the list of menu-things I want to shove in my mouth. Lunches range from $7 to $12, and Brooklyn also has a small breakfast menu with many attractive pastries.  All manner of hot, espresso-based beverage are available, with lattes starting at $3.45. For a quick, delicious lunch and coffee to-go, Brooklyn is your joint.

For conversation and a more intimate vibe, however, we encourage you to try Café Sardine (9 Fairmount). Co-owned by David Schmidt and Peter Popovic – the men behind Sparrow and Magpie, two other Mile End hot-spots – Café Sardine opened as a dinner venue in 2012, but has since transformed into a café, open no later than 7pm on weeknights, and 5pm on weekends.

Deservedly so, Café Sardine has earned a reputation for delicious, fluffy, sugar-coated donuts and cinnamon buns, in addition to muffins and other breakfast pastries made in-house. The dark wood panelling and large windows bestow the small space with a cozy and somewhat rustic ambiance. I happened to stumble into Café Sardine on a very chilly, rainy morning, and sitting by the windows with a warm latte, a cinnamon bun and the company of a good friend really seemed to (‘scuse the zen) nourish my soul.

Café Sardine also serves a refreshing selection of house-made sodas, soups and chowder, grilled fish plates, gourmet hot dogs, warm salads and much more. Bring a book and enjoy!

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