I am not sure how many times I ate in Rapido (4494 St. Denis) because most of these dining experiences were part of a late night romance with 3:30 a.m. and involved an unspecified quantity of alcohol. My history’s a little hazy, Cassius, but aren’t the barbarians supposed to lose the battle of Carthage? (that’s a Gladiator quote, fyi). Nonetheless, almost everyone in the city seems to have availed themselves of this Plateau staple’s poutine at least once, sometimes twice, and plenty of others can claim more visits than that. Sadly, in asking around, though, no one quite remembers if it was any good. Were we all inebriated at the time, a kind of mass intoxication?
I figure, doing some quick math, the place has been open for 25 years and has served… oh… 100 plates of poutine a day (and that is likely a low estimate based on nothing statistical whatsoever except the ease of using 100). So, um, 25 * 365 * 100 yields 912,500 plates of poutine. If they’re serving 200 a day, double the number.
That’s a lot of cheese curds and gravy.
We have a theory, though, that the corner of Mt. Royal and St. Denis can’t support four businesses. For a long time, Blockbuster did it’s part by dying a long, slow ignoble death, allowing the Thai Express, Fameux, and Rapido to thrive. But, now that A&W moved in… the jinx continues and someone else has to go (incidentally, I recall something there before Blockbuster, but that too has faded in memory).
While there are far better poutineries around — friends vouch for Chez Claudette (351 Laurier E) and La Banquise (994 Rachel) while I will take the simplicity of the Montreal Pool Room (1217 St. Laurent) — it’s hard to beat having a place to perch at closing time when leaving nearby drinkeries (l’Esco, Billy Kun, B Bar, Rockett, Salon Daome) and waiting for the Mt. Royal subway to wake up.
Where should one go to linger at closing time when at the crossroads of St. Denis and Mt. Royal? Here are a few that spring to mind.
1. Cafe Noir (440 Mt. Royal E) — Late night crowd kind of weird, a somewhat seedy mix that includes cafe office workers who are most productive after closing hours and itinerants. Food not so good. Coffee not so good. Free wifi, though.
Distance to Rapido: 81 m
2. Second Cup (3498 Parc) — The ever welcoming arms of Second Cup will take a late nighter into its bosom and give them a selection of slightly stale sandwiches and pastries. I’m pretty sure there’s a guy that’s been working on his doctoral thesis in the seats closest to the bathrooms since 1994.
Distance to Rapido: 2.4 km
3. The Main (3864 St. Laurent) — The smoked meat is better than Schwartz’s and there’s never a line. Also, open until 5 a.m. This diner is far underrated.
Distance to Rapido: 1.3 km
4. La Banquise (994 Rachel E) — Over 30 types of poutine, including its famous T-Rex. Beloved by many and so frequented by many. After making its TV debut on the food network, La Banquise has become a go-to place in Montreal.
Distance to Rapido: 900 m
5. Rapido’s evil neighbour Fameux (4500 St. Denis) has a very similar ambiance. Booths, waitresses, smoked meat, poutines, and all day breakfasts.
Distance to Rapido: 20 m
6. While arepas and Venezuelan fare are super yummy, Bocadillo‘s (1 Mt. Royal West) service is so sleepy that you might not get served in time to catch the metro home. Okay, I jest — it isn’t that slow. But going inside always freaks me out because the place is generally empty. It’s only open late Thursday – Saturday (until 4 a.m.). It shares space with Sara, if you prefer falafel and schwarma to empanandas (though Sara closes much earlier)
Distance to Rapido: 500 m