I love that when I go out in Montreal I can get Mad Men fancy and dress up to the nines (look for my earlier post “Get dolled up at Bleu Blow Dry and Rouge Nail Bar”) – or just tie my hair up in a ponytail, dress down, and nevertheless go out and have a good time. When I feel like doing the latter, which is most of the time, there are two new spots on my radar.
DRINK, EAT, AND WATCH HOCKEY
500 rue Rachel est
The Plateau is a bohemian neighbourhood with a sexy, laidback style. And while much of the hipster chatter might seem to be emanating from the Old Montreal or the nearby Mile End quartier, the Plateau is still cool by anybody’s standards, and it is constantly evolving.
Rachel, for example, is a street where Mhotel Bar used to be the place on a Thursday night. They had Hitchcock décor pegged long before Sparrow (5322 boulevard Saint-Laurent). And how many nights did I (girlfriends in tow) head to La Banquise (994 rue Rachel est), a 24-hour poutine joint (it’s still there!), to console myself in fries, gravy and cheese after an uneventful girls’ night out.
Brought to you by the same gal behind La Porte Rouge (1834 avenue de Mont Royal est), my long time acquaintance Cindy Simard paired up with two buddies to open up Rachel Rachel. It’s a slick but unpretentious neighbourhood hub with modern décor, cool music and the promise to show every single Montreal Canadiens’ game on all of the many flat screens throughout (ditto goes for football, soccer, etc.)
Hockey in Montreal is a way of life. And I dare say that we are an anomaly in sports spectator demographics – almost every girlfriend I have is a Habs fan (and a Leafs’ non-fan), which alone is an attribute for most men. But it should be noted that Rachel Rachel is not your typical sports bar, in the vein of Chez Serge or Cage aux Sports (Serge has a mechanical bull if that’s any indication), but a girl-approved hangout with nice leather banquettes and choice cocktails. There’s even a celebrity chef, none other than local bloke Bob the Chef himself.
DANCE LIKE NOBODY’S WATCHING
390 rue Notre-Dame ouest (entrance on rue Ste-Hélène)
Neighbourhood: Old Montreal
Sometimes all you want is to slip on those comfy jeans (you know, the ones you can breath in), forget those high heels, and forego the push-up. (Obviously, ladies, I’m talking to you. But, men, please feel free to read on; this may be of interest to you all as well.) Sometimes you just need to chill out and let loose – and dance! Sister-friends, I hear you.
Nobody likes those sleazy up-and-down looks (OK, guys, that was directed at you. Some of you.) If you’re like me – a jaded Gen. X-er – and the idea of hitting yet another nightclub with a herd of drunken douchebags and carving out a single square-foot of dancing real estate in not your idea of fun, I think I’ve found an irresistible lure to tempt you out of your living room – or hotel suite.
Peopl. is a Montreal collective set up by Gotsoul, creators of the highly addictive Therapy sessions. Resident DJs, like Angel Moraes, Christian Pronovost, Robert Ouimet, and my homeboy Jojo Flores, now convene every Sunday at Club UN in the Old Montreal and spin deep, soulful, groovy house. They also bring in their international compadres, like Josh From Blaze (jazzy, garage house) and Osunlade (more soul and funk). Coming soon is “the one and only” (as Jojo himself says) Danny Krivit. Date TBA.
Club UN is a cosy, basement-feel space with an urban minimalist décor of slick hardwood floors and easy-does-it black leather couches. The entrance is a speakeasy-type door on rue Ste-Hélène, about 50 steps from rue Notre-Dame.
As for the dress code, well, there isn’t one. So go all out, if that’s your thang. Or come in your PJs. Last time I was there, one gal was cutting up the floor in Uggs (most peeps come in sneakers). I might add that sometimes Peopl. friends, my pals Lisa Sim and Tony Jay, bring baked goods. Who can beat that? Yes, it’s that kinda vibe. I wonder if you can also order milk at the bar.
Modelled after the “tea dance” (a.k.a. T-dance) concept, like that of Body & Soul in New York, the needle drops at 4 p.m. and keeps on until 10 p.m. – do you get the “afternoon tea” reference? It’s a perfect, painless way to unravel out of your gluttonous brunch coma, burn off that extra bacon, and connect with your entourage before the week is over. And you know what they say, Where the girls go, the boys will follow…so maybe a little mascara wouldn’t hurt, and it’s not like Louboutins are outlawed. Then, head’s up, Princess: When it’s all over, you’ll still have plenty of time to wash your face, brush your teeth, floss and watch the late night news before your chariot turns into a pumpkin.