Make your way to Fabergé, the quirkiest breakfast diner in the Mile End neighborhood. (Photo: Courtesy of Faberge)
Sure, Montreal could be described with a cliched culinary-related metaphor: a dash of New York City and with a sprinkle of Paris. But the truth is there’s no fixed recipe for Montreal. The French Canadian metropolis has a flavor that evolves with the seasons. Like a fine maple syrup, it’s never exactly the same from one year to the next.
One of Montreal’s most eclectic neighborhood’s, Mile End, already known as the heart of Montreal’s independent music scene, is also gaining fame for its food.
The gastronomic scene in Mile End is historically centered around coffee and oven-baked bagels — which some claim are superior to the New York City variety. (How contentious!)
In recent years, however, bistros have begun to diversify their offerings by using locally produced ingredients served with international twists. Think maple-infused cold-brew coffee served alongside a Vietnamese crepe made with herbs from the backyard.
With that in mind, here is where you’ll find the locals congregating for Sunday (brunch) service.
The quirkiest breakfast diner in the neighborhood, Fabergé features walls splashed with graffiti and a menu splashed with copious brunch options. For a truly “Quebec” experience, choose the breakfast poutine (Poutine Matinale): caramelized onions, cheese curds, hollandaise and a poached egg, all on a bed of home fries. Hearty is an understatement.
A good option for families, the biggest challenge will be getting a table, so plan to arrive before 11 a.m. If you come in the autumn, be sure to participate in the annual coloring contest — not just for kids!
Arguably the trendiest restaurant in Mile End, Lawrence has mastered the art of elevated British breakfast served in a jubilant environment. Anglophiles can order the benchmarks, such as classic “English Breakfast” or shallow-fried vegetables, known across the pond as “bubble and squeak.”
Less traditional palates will appreciate the smoked eggplant flatbread or pain doré with cranberries. If Lawrence is full, wander around the corner to its little bistro brother, Larrys, which has an a la carte breakfast menu. (Go for the breakfast sandwich; it’s one of the best in the city.)
Arts Café offers a simple but sinful menu in a vintage-clad dining room. For something savory, try the shakshuka (poached eggs in stewed tomatoes). For something sweet, opt for the French toast with apple chutney and cheddar. And you might need to force yourself to sample the salted chocolate chip cookies. Tough task.
The short story of Nouveau Palais: It’s a once-faded greasy spoon that hip youngsters made cool again. The omelet du jour is usually vegetarian. But carnivores and gluten eaters fret not: You will love the pancakes, eggs and bacon that make up the Lumberjack Sandwich, or — perhaps better coined —“The Canadian Taco.”
Located on The Main (Boulevard Saint Laurent), Lili Co. features a minimalistic yet elegant setting that focuses on seasonal offerings with a dash of the chef’s creativity. For a traditional hearty breakfast, opt for the banana pancakes, served with dulce de leche butter and a dangerously large slab of bacon.
For a more adventurous meal, try the Vietnamese crepe: scrambled eggs, shitake, mint and cilantro. The staff is down-to-earth and happy to help pair brunch cocktails. Chaï bourbon, anyone?
Le Petite Adresse
Many people visit Montreal for the French influence. Le Petite Adresse ticks off all the boxes of a casual Parisian breakfast bistro: soufflés, salads and subtle sophistication. In the summer months, a charming outdoor patio makes for a prime locale for people watching. Finally, the restaurant is a lesser-known one to travelers. So let’s keep this hush-hush.