In elementary school, I learned in French class that “faire la grasse matinée” means “to sleep in late”. This is a fitting phrase since it literally means, “to make a fat morning.” Personally, I like to take that “fat” part seriously and spend the day indulging in comfort foods (I make up for it at the gym during the week). And what better way is there to catch up with my girlfriends for a post-week debriefing than over brunch in the hip-as-heck neighbourhood known as the Plateau? Here are some favourites…
My first go-to spot is Beauty’s, located on busy Mont-Royal Avenue, so a great place to start the day before checking out the indie fashion boutiques and vintage shops. I like it not just because the octogenarian owner Hymie is a living legend and has been greeting and seating guests since post-war Montreal, but because their all-day breakfast is always fresh and never lets me down. I like the Beauty’s Basic: eggs, bacon (or sausage) and potatoes, and always order it with a tall glass of OJ (squeezed on-site), coffee (it’s bottomless), and a toasted St-Viateur bagel with a side of fluffy cream cheese that comes in a cute little tub. For my gal pals forever in bikini-mode, there are also some low cal options. Do note at Beauty’s that there are a few booths that fit up to six people, but there can be line-ups for those, even in a snowstorm. If you’re in a rush and brunching solo, counter seats usually free up faster than the banquettes.
When I’m feeling more boho French, nothing beats Toi, Moi et Café (deliciously pictured above). Owner Sevan Istanboulian is a certified judge at the Canadian Barista Championship; needless to say, I doubt your cappuccino will disappoint. Check out my post about Shopping on Laurier West where I rave about the must-order menu item, La Parisienne, as well as point out the best shops on that street. In warmer weather they have one of the best patios in the neighbourhood. They also have free Wi-Fi and never get mad when I spend hours there, so feel free to surf on your laptop for as long as you like as you plan out your day’s itinerary.
Another good option a little further east is Chez Cora. Their presentations of fruit are so pretty, it may be hard to eat them. The crowd varies from young families to amorous couples to bands of besties. If you’re a crepe or omelette fan, you may like the “crepomelette,” which is basically a wrap rolled with cheddar and hollandaise sauce poured on top. For above-mentioned bikini-gals, there’s the Peggy plate that comes with one poached egg on whole wheat toast, cottage cheese and fruit.
Another popular spot is Eggspectations. Portions here are huge and the opening times are early. If you’re up at 7 o’clock in the morning (what planet are you from?) or if maybe you’re on European time, almost any kind of egg dish you can imagine will be ready and waiting, and with a hot cuppa joe. While you decompress from your brunch coma, why not chill out on the white leather couches at Rouge Nail Bar just one block north and get a group manicure? Strength in numbers, I say. There’s a nice flat screen TV to help you zone out. If you’ve seen all the episodes of Sex & the City too many times, ask for the other chick flicks they have in their in-salon library. But honestly, just between us girls, is there really such a thing as too much Carrie and company?
A secret Plateau gem is surely the unassuming, industrial chic of Café Névé, where it seems all the local hipsters hang out, especially those who take their coffee seriously. Pastries are heaven sent here, or at least baked on location- thank goodness for open kitchens. Breakfast options are “student-friendly” (author’s’ words), attracting a steady stream of university undergrads who drop by with laptops under their arm.
Beauty’s, 93 Mont-Royal West, (514) 849-5908
Toi, Moi et Café, 244 Laurier West. (514) 279-9599
Chez Cora, 1396 Mont-Royal East, (514) 525-9495
Eggspectations, 198 Laurier West, (514) 278-6411
Café Névé, 151 Rachel East (514) 903-9294