Perhaps, before we get started here, I should clarify what I mean by “Best of” and with this post particularly, since brunch is something that people take very seriously. And there are many amazing brunch spots in this city, each of which is likely “The Best” to someone. And who am I to determine what “The Best” is? Absolutely no one but since this is my post, I get to choose, SUCKERS! But I think I have great taste and my mom tells me all the time that I’m awesome, so. Right, so when I say “Best of,” what I really mean is “my favourites and subjective reasons why” and you can agree or disagree as you please. And if you like what I like, then fantastic! Let’s be friends. But if you don’t, then don’t talk to me. So anywhoodles, here are my favourite brunch spots in the city and why. Let’s mange.
With its hearty British breakfasts (think scones with clotted cream, bubble and squeak, egg and sausage rolls and the traditional English fry-up) Lawrence is somewhere you go for brunch when you have nothing else to do for the rest of the day. Why? Because you won’t be able to move afterward, the dishes are so heavy; you’ll likely have to be rolled home by a pitying passerby, as you’ll be sprawled out on the sidewalk like an unconscious beached whale. It’s entirely worth it though, as the continually packed 40 seats and lineup out the door will attest. Right on the corner of St. Laurent and Fairmount, this is a unique neighbourhood spot amongst regular breakfast joints, friendly and intimate with a menu that never disappoints. For people who want to tuck in and EAT.
2. Olive + Gourmando
An Old Montreal favourite, Olive + Gourmando began as a bakery before adding table service and becoming a full-fledged café. It’s cozy and homey, with dark wood decor, a chalkboard menu and plentiful displays of freshly-baked pastries and chocolatey goods. No but guys, the pastries and chocolatey goods: Valhrona chocolate and espresso brownies, butterscotch pecan squares, almond croissants, raspberry cheesecake brioche – I could continue but my sweet tooth is crying, so just go. The “Poached egg on your face” dish – a warm grilled panini with poached egg salad, cheese, prosciutto and roasted tomatoes – fattens up an otherwise light and healthy breakfast menu (mostly yogurt, homemade granola and fresh fruit) but they do gourmet sandwiches and salads as well. And you can always add a pastry or two to your granola to get the best of both worlds.
3. Le Chien Fumant
Inside an undistinguished exposed brick building, at the end of a long apartment-lined side street and advertised only by its small sign overhead, Le Chien Fumant is a neighbourhood bistro well and truly “tucked away.” Long and narrow, warm and cozy, with large windows, an open kitchen and back-to-back wooden tables, Le Chien Fumant is inviting and comfortable and its food simple and fucking delicious. The brunch menu is themed and changes weekly – past themes include Dim Sum, Spanish and traditional – but what never alters is the quality. Of the food AND the service. The staff is knowledgeable, fun and perfectly attentive; they have a passion for food and it shows in the plates. The only pity is that brunch is only one day a week and four hours long but the dinner service (and cocktail menu!) more than makes up for it.
4. Café Souvenir
Squeezed in amongst a strip of restaurants and cafés on the upscale side of Bernard Avenue, Café Souvenir has a charmingly Parisian feel and is heavily populated with the chic Outrement crowd. It’s one of my favourite places in which to escape from the city and daydream about moving to Europe and the sunny sidewalk terrace is great for people-watching (but good luck getting a seat). The brunch menu is extensive with crepes, omelettes, poached egg dishes, breakfast sandwiches, granola bowls and more plus an endless amount of sides and substitutions like cheeses, smoked salmon, merguez sausage, muffins and gluten-free bread. The actual physical menu is covered in passport stamps and vintage postcard pictures, hence the wanderlust, and being in Outrement is a good excuse to
pretend you’re practice your french.
5. Brasserie Reservoir
Having always ignorantly assumed that this place was dinner and late night drinks only (and great ones at that), I was delighted to find out that it did weekend brunch as well. And, it actually turns out that ignorance isn’t bliss;Reservoir‘s salmon kimchi gravlax with poached egg and avocado purée on an English muffin is. And its goat samosas. And probably the rest of the dishes, judging by the creativity: braised pork belly, artichoke tapenade and bacon caramel pudding; poached eggs with falafel, pita, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, yogurt with honey and feta cheese; and fried calamari with coconut milk sauce and red curry, to name a few. What I like about Reservoir is that it puts an original touch on traditional brunch items and each bite is a fun flavour party in your mouth. The floor-to-ceiling windows open up onto cobblestone-covered Duluth and the roof-top terrace gives you that nice secluded-from-the-rest-of-the-city feeling. The mimosas are five bucks too, so cheers.
Sometimes you just want a quick, cheap and dirty hangover breakfast and that’s where Bagels, Etc. comes in. An eclectically-decorated diner-style joint that’s been around since the ’80s with straight-up classic breakfast plates,Bagels, Etc. is popular and happening, so be prepared to wait in line. There are many variations on french toast, pancakes, omelettes and eggs benny, all equally solid in taste and under $15.00. You pretty much can’t go wrong.
N.B. They don’t take debit but do accept cash and credit.
4320 Blvd. St. Laurent
Most of these places do lunch and dinner as well but only brunch hours are listed. Prices listed are before tax.
~ Lindsay Tapscott