If I hadn’t gone early to expozine and ended up walking around the Plateau for an hour, I never would have known it was on. As always, the unplanned blossomed into something better. My first clue for Restaurant Day was seeing a tiny banner for Mange Manger hung with great care. Intrigued, I followed it to a stairwell and found a mini restaurant that sold borscht, chili, hot saki, the thickest mousse I’d ever seen, tasty macaroons and some nicely frosted cupcakes.
The idea of restaurant day is to allow anyone to open a restaurant for the day. It happens worldwide and information about it is centred on a blog found HERE. Montreal has around 50 different “restaurants” offering everything from bimbambap to cookies to hot mulled wine.
I was lucky enough to get hold of the delicious caramelly cookies for sale outside Expozine. I’m sure they’re gone by now. You missed out.
I also tried out the delicious soup and salty “cakes” in a ruelle off St. Joseph at Soup’issime and Cake’ittude. I followed the signs, then the balloons. I was led to a fence sheltered patio with seats and a small serving table where wine mulled away. I suppose the cold had chased my chefs inside, but once they figured out they had a customer, they bounded out to help me. Not wanting to sit outside and eat, they gave me the soup in a bowl with a real spoon. “Keep it,” they insisted. I couldn’t. I had the soup transferred to a coffee cup and walked away slurping hot chunks of beet in a tomato-orange-ginger broth. Heavenly. I also munched on their “cake,” which had beautiful bits of salmon and fennel floating in its crumbly, perfectly cooked dough.
Many of the restaurants are open late, so here are a sampling of a few you might want to catch.
Open until 8 p.m. 4450 Rue de Mentana, Montreal, Quebec H2J3B3
Elliot’s Kitchen has grilled cheese on the menu as well as deserts. Claiming to be a food enthusiast since age 8 and a native of Burgundy, I suspect Elliot knows what he’s doing (assuming there is an Elliot). For just $5 here are some variations of the grilled cheese. The classic: white bread, swiss, cheddar, and mozzarella cheese. The savoyard: country bread, raclette, bacon, and caramelized onion. The dijonnais: white bread, swiss, ham, dijon, and bechamel sauce. A $2 soup is pumpkin and chestnut. Desserts at $3 include a meringue with sparkling strawberry jam, an oreo cheesecake, and a blueberry cheesecake choux pastry.
Restaurant Ô Frivole (Salon de thé & tapas)
Open until 9 p.m. 4011 Rue Parthenais, Montréal, QC, Canada
I’m unclear what they’re selling except vaguely tea and tapas, but hosts “Laurence, Élisabeth, Solène, Émerik & Gabrielle” promise local musicians and intend to use their proceeds to plant a garden. All their food emphasizes organic, seasonal, and local produce. Sounds like a cuppa leaves is in order.
Open from 8 p.m. – 11 p.m. Saint Urbain/Saint Joseph
No specific address given, but homemade pizza in three different types. Whoa. Slices are $3.50. What types are available? Mediterranean (mozzarella, parmeggiano, arugula, and cherry tomatoes), Arrotalata, and mozzarella with sweet peppers. WOW.
Open until 8 p.m. 5450 St Denis St
The facebook page says it all… the spirit of the sunny tropics to chase away the November grays. Food promised include homemade nachos with cerviche, coleslaw, braised pork or chicken tacos with toppings, shrimp and cheese empanadas, and a tropical fruit tart.
5 p.m. – 10 p.m. 5172 Parthenais
The menu is here simple, but focused on Thai flavours. Montrealers are the best, aren’t they. Papaya salad clocks in at just $4, brochettes (2) at $4, along with rice. Get the full plate for $8.
4 p.m. to 8 p.m. 5701 Rue Chabot
Eastern European comfort food, served in a living room! Now that’s classy. This restaurant features Zakuski — which means all dishes are on the table at once. What are those dishes? Headcheese (homemade!), pickled herring, hot mustard, cabbage rolls, vareniki, bread, cheese. Welcome, comrade. Workers of the world, unite.
Lots more are available. Check out the website here and find out what you should be eating right now.