The Streets of Montreal are a frenzied network of grand boulevards, cobblestone lanes, trendy thoroughfares and dazzling streets. The Montreal Buzz has developed a fun and informative series of street profiles that cover Bleury, Parc, Maisonneuve, Saint-Paul, Saint-Zotique, Crescent, Greene Avenue, Sainte-Catherine, Amherst and Saint-Denis. Today, I’ll explore the blossoming Rue Ontario…
2011 Ontario Street is gentrification done right. Not complete yet, but the street has re-invented itself in the past decade. Ever-changing in a positive way, there are some fun and funky places popping up all along this street stretching from Places de Arts all the way to the up and coming HoMa. I won’t be covering the entire length of Ontario Street, instead focusing on the sections that go through the Latin Quarter and into the Gay Village.
Dame Tartine: Breakfast, lunch, dinner and receptions! Is there anything Dame Tartine doesn’t do? Oh, expensive prices – that’s something they don’t do. Classic breakfast and lunch fare all with the Dame twist! The logo is also just fun to look at.
Jello Martini Lounge: “Jello Bar”, as it was originally called, opened in 1994 and with its funky retro décor and live soul music quickly became one of Montreal’s hottest places attracting celebrities and locals alike. Facing closure, Patricia Vetter saved Jello Bar re-launching it as Jello Martini Lounge. It still has its roots though, with an eclectic “throwback” design, incredible live music and more than 50 different martinis! (Oh la la!)
Pamplemousse Café: Pamplemousse Café is a Québécois style diner, with cheap food and lots of it. It has a no-fuss brunch that is all substance with little style. Locals flock here because it’s the best breakfast in the area. Their Tourtiere is about as fine as you’ll find anywhere and is a must for any visitor wanting that little meaty slice of Quebec!
La Distillerie No. 1: The first Distillerie to open in Montreal was this one on Ontario Street. At a full capacity of only 56 people, it can be a tight squeeze, but really, that’s half the charm. La Distillerie No. 1, along with its younger brother on Mont Royal, is known for their large Mason jar cocktails. At $17 dollars each they seem like a steep price, but then the bartender starts free pouring an array of premium liquors into your jar. After one of these babies, combined with the close proximity of everyone, you’ll leave with many new friends and memories.
La Paryse: Located right next door to La Distillerie is La Paryse. This place has been around since 1980 and, since then, has developed a rumor that it has the best burger in town. Well not anymore, because I can confirm here and now that La Paryse does indeed have one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Don’t know how they did it, but it was magical. Pair it with a frothy milkshake and you’ll be laughing all the way to the yummy bank.
Le Cheval Blanc: Le Cheval Blanc is a vintage tavern that is laced in Montreal’s rich history. It is located in what was once called “Faubourg a la Melasse” (The Molasses District) and in 1986 it became the first licensed “brewpub” in Montreal where they brew their own beer! Cozy, cool and with an atmosphere that can’t be bought (only earned), Le Cheval Blanc is a place to kick back, have some nachos and enjoy yourself with friends. Monday nights have live music, from classic jazz to contemporary musicians. Le Cheval Blanc bills itself as “a neighborhood tavern” where you can find “the usual suspects, friends and neighbors dropping by all through the week”. Now if that’s not local, I don’t know what is.
Lion d’Or / Au Petit Extra Bistro: Lion d’Or is one of those venues that has been soaked and distilled in so much history that you can almost smell it in the walls. Opening in 1930 it operated as a cabaret for years, all the way to 1974 where it became another victim of Drapeau’s “public morality” effort and got shut down. After extensive renovations in 2000, Lion d’Or was back in full glamour as a spectacle theater that hosts some of the best blues and jazz in the world. Attached is the Au Petit Extra Bistro, which is a French bistro offering the best aperitifs, champagne and cuisine of the entire area! This is one those places where you can just sit and enjoy the view of the window into the kitchen and all the people around you.
Guest Blogger: Alex Dunphy
Jello Martini Lounge, 151 Ontario East, (514) 285-2009
La Distillerie No. 1, 300 Ontario East, (514) 288-7915
La Paryse, 302 Ontario East, (514) 842-2040
Le Cheval Blanc, 809 Ontario East, (514) 522-0211
Pamplemousse Café, 1251 Ontario East, (514) 227-3206
Dame Tartine, 1652, Ontario East, (514) 524-1134
Lion d’Or / Au Petit Extra, 1676 Ontario East, (514) 598-0709