[This week, the authors of the exhaustive field report "My Montreal Is Better Than Yours", A.J. Kinik and Michelle Marek, are guest-blogging here. See their earlier posts here and here.>"...an endless banquet."]
Montreal is a funny place to be on Canada Day. Those who have to, move, because July 1st is Moving Day here in Montreal, the one day every year where by far and away the most leases exchange hands. Those who can, go to a cottage. And the rest of us are left in the predicament of deciding whether we really want to celebrate our second fete nationale in a week, and, if so, having to contend with what it all means. Luckily, our friend Carlin, who just happens to be one of the chefs at Reservoir [see our earlier post on this and other Montreal restaurants], made our breakfast planning easy on us by deciding to set up a Sunday brunch "restaurant" in her backyard (on her day off!), complete with a menu (!), a kitchen staff, and even some table service.
We felt instantly at home when we arrived. Not only did the mix & match cutlery and tableware resemble our own mix & match collection at our place, but there was something about the whole ensemble--including the chairs, the tables, and the back deck--that brought to mind The Zoo, a wonderfully ramshackle cottage on Lake Muskoka, ON, that we once spent a weekend at. The Zoo was the real deal, a cottage from a time when cottages were still cottages, and its cluttered interior was something of a museum of 1950s and 1960s popular culture. We'd traveled several hundred miles and several years back in time, and we hadn't even left our neighborhood. Amazing.
We took a look at the menu
and placed our orders with our friendly waitress: for her, the breakfast sandwich, for him, the frittata. As the tables started to fill up and business began to pick up, our plates arrived before us.
Frankly, we were pretty impressed: a delicate and flavorful souffled frittata with chevre and cherry tomatoes, with an arugula and shaved fennel salad, and toast; a breakfast sandwich complete with homemade sausage (!) and a homemade bun (!!), and accompanied by a creamy potato salad; minty lemonade with rhubarb schnapps; and all the fresh coffee you could drink. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better Sunday brunch outside of, well, Reservoir, and you'll never find a Sunday brunch with more character. I mean, how many places in town can you think of that are making their own breakfast sausage? How many restaurants of any stripe can you think of that are baking their own hamburger buns? And how many places can you name that are trimming their herbs from their very own garden?
Between her job at Reservoir and her back-alley restauranting, Carlin [pictured below, with pitcher] was a very busy woman last week, but she still took the time to take our "...an endless banquet" Summer 2007 Questionnaire:
1. Place of birth: Vancouver, B.C.
2. Favorite place to unwind after a long day: The water park between Bernard and Van Horne on St-Urbain.
3. Favorite place in Montreal to people-watch: Cafe Olimpico [124 St-Viateur W., (514) 495-0746].
4. Favorite little-known gem of a restaurant: Niu Kee [1163 Clark, (514) 227-0464].
5. Favorite summer cocktail: Gin, sake, and cucumber. Camilla made it for me. I think she called it a Twizzler or a Swizzler or something [eds.--Apparently, it was a Cucumber Swizzle: 1 oz. Hendrick's gin; 2.5 oz. Shobu-sake; 1/4 oz. lime juice; splash of soda water; 1 cucumber stick; serve over ice in a highball]
6. Favorite ice cream flavor: Ginger.
7. Favorite farmstand find: Peaches, and rhubarb.
8. Mountains or ocean? Ocean.
9. Planes, trains, or automobiles? Automobiles, although my "new" 1990 VW Fox is presently by the side of a highway in the Eastern Townships.
10. Peaches, pears, or plums? Peaches.
[Stay Tuned. Who knows who we'll be giving the AEB Summer 2007 Questionnaire to next...]
Thanks for reading,
Anthony & Michelle
Related: Hey, Ladies! Plan your Girlfriend Getaway to Montreal.