Thursday, 24 October 2013

La Boulangerie Moderne, Complexe Desjardins, Montreal, Canada

I'm not a great fan of huge, corporate hotels like Montreal's Hyatt Regency, in which I sit now penning this post and the one prior about the il Panino Mediterraneo café. In fact, had I had my way, I'd have been in the Sherbrooke Holiday Inn, but that's another story.

Having said that, I was amazed to discover, aside from the main bank of elevators (lifts) that take guests to their rooms, another bank behind them going down, not up. In fact, on jumping in the lift (on floor six) these elevators go down six floors into a kind of subterranean world of shops and cafés. In essence, a huge mall which, because you're travelling down (to the second floor) seems to be a cavernous underground space.
La Boulangerie Moderne, Montreal

The cafés here are not self-contained – or rather they are, but there's an element of 'food court' about them – and there's plenty of choice. Had I the time I could have written up many reviews on the different establishments populating this rather pleasant space. Pleasant because of the hubub (is that how you spell it?). I would quite happily come here with a book – Morrissey's Autobiography (arguably one of the best books I've ever read) springs to mind, order tea and a pastry and simply sit here reading. Perhaps later.

I dropped into La Boulangerie Moderne after 'a day at the office' and, along with a colleague we ordered a drink and a snack, both choosing a Danish pastry, my colleague ordering coffee and me sticking with a nice cup of tea. All very pleasant and worthy of a mention. There were more chairs 'outside' then in where there was just a single strip of seats made to look longer than it was by a huge mirror that doubled the size of the establishment. Once again, a good selection of everything and as I didn't pay the bill, I don't know the price, although I'm guessing it wasn't extortionate.

I didn't eat both of those pastries, just the one.

Tea and a tart on my second visit.
With an afternoon to kill awaiting a night flight from Montreal to London, my colleagues and I headed back to the mall and found ourselves at the Boulangerie Moderne once again. This time we ordered tea and tarts. Both were excellent. The tea was so wonderful (straightforward English breakfast) that we each had another one and I was sorely tempted to buy another tart, but didn't.

il Panino Café Meditterraneo, rue Sainte-Catherine, Montreal, Canada

il Panino Café Meditteraneo, Montreal
The rue Sainte-Catherine seems to cut Montreal in two. It runs a considerable distance in both directions and takes in all the big brand name stores along the way. If, however, you take out the shopping section of the road, the rest tends to deteriorate in terms of quality on either side – dollar stores, strip joints and other sleazier sides of life. At Cabot Square, for instance, there were plenty of down and outs, in fact, Montreal seems to attract them, some quite young, with messages scrawled in marker pen on a piece of cardboard, the obligatory dog and, of course, a few blankets. At the other end of the street, behind the Hyatt Regency, it's a similar story. The quality of the restaurants deteriorate and soon, within, say, 15 to 20 minutes of walking, you're no longer in the swish part of town. I'd imagine it could all look pretty depressing in the rain.

Wherever you go in Montreal you'll come across Bixi Bike stations and, having riden around the city for a good hour – or at least it seemed that way – I parked up and went for a stroll along the rue Sainte Catherine (the bit 'behind' the Hyatt). After a ride, of course, hunger sets in and, having stumbled on a kind of internet café that was far too busy for my liking, I crossed the street and found a small (and empty) il Panino Café Meditteraneo.
My tea and pastry – both very nice and much needed

There were tiled floors and modern furniture: huge dark wood block tables, chairs with chromium legs and some trendy photographs of Mediterranean scenes on the walls: woman on a bike, bike alone, a close-up of an espresso machine's group head and so on.

There was a nice display of cakes and pastries and plenty of filled baguettes for those grabbing a lunch time bite. Lunch would be later, but what I needed was a cup of tea and a pastry so I chose a kind of ornate Millionaire's Shortbread, which probably just looked like one. It went by the name of a Carre fromage bleuts ($2.95). The tea was $1.74.

This was a good place and the service was friendly too, meaning that I'd definitely return if I was in the area. Afterwards, I found an amazing 'record' shop. The term seems redundant as it sold CDs and DVDs, but it was a great place, called, if I recall Volume and also on the rue Sainte Catherine.