Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood is a place where weekend nights are long and full of drinks, which means that mornings are, by nature, brunchy. Especially now that the weather is nice and you feel like getting out of bed and taking a walk down the sunny side of the street, only to end up happily ensconced at a corner table with a view in any of our fine restaurants…
Lately, the neighbourhood has been graced with some new options for midday weekend noshing, so we thought a tribute was in order. Here’s a rundown of some the Mile End‘s best brunch dishes. Good morning!
The Classic: La Croissanterie Figaro has been serving brunch in the ‘hood since, well, since before there was brunch. And though it’s not our favourite cliché, this sweet café on a leafy corner just off Parc Ave does bring out the Paris in Montreal with its belle époque vibe and nonchalant service. Housemade viennoiseries such as their eponymous croissants and chocolatine are served with big bowls of café au lait, or go for their classic dish, called simply “Brunch” – eggs rolled in thin crepes served with a pitcher of maple syrup.
The High Roller: While Leméac bistro is technically over the edge in Outremont on tony Laurier avenue, it’s a fine destination and a short walk so we thought we’d count it anyway – especially since their signature brunch dishes are totally worth writing home about. A recent visit brought smoked salmon with caviar, poached eggs and blinis, served with a side of Fries (their French-style chips are some fo the best in town) and homemade doughnuts. Their brioche French toast with bananas and chocolate sauce is worth the trip, too. Be sure to phone ahead for a reservation because walk-ins may well be disappointed – the secret’s out.
The Farm Fresh: Though Lawrence restaurant, on the hippest stretch of St-Laurent, is known as a place to see and be seen, it’s also beloved for the quality of the food – everything, down to the eggs and bacon, is carefully sourced from trusted nearby producers. Chef Marc Cohen hails from the U.K. and on any given Sunday you can visit his packed dining room for a taste of the old country in the form of the Brit’s classic breakfast, Bubble and Squeak – or, indulge in what are to my mind the best and only scrambled eggs worth eating in this town, runny, chive-studded free-rangers from Les Fermes Valens cozied up to a few perfect slices of cold-smoked Steelhead trout from The Whalesbone. Word to wise – Lawrence doesn’t take brunch reservations for small parties, so it may be a waiting game during peak hours. PS: Cohen makes his own doughnuts also.
The Far-Easterly: If, like me, eggs aren’t your favourite dish, then brand-new Omma, a sweet Korean mom-and-pop operation on a happening corner of Bernard Street is, quite simply, the answer to your dreams. The brunchtime menu has a few classic dishes and what have you, but you’re there for a crispy steaming plate of their perfect Mandoo (dumplings), which are by far the best dumplings north of Chinatown, or the seafood Pajun (breakfast pancakes), which are pictured at the top of this post. If you’re a fan of the Breakfast sandwich, you may also want to take a bite of theirs, which involves beef bebimbap and a fried egg.
The Party: Nouveau Palais Bernard (the “Bernard Palace”) has been a Bernard Street fixture for decades, but chef-owner Gita Seaton (a former sous-chef at Montreal’s vaunted Club Chasse et Peche, who took over operations a couple of years ago) has re-imagined the diner as a creative hub and constant party. Nouveau Palais‘ weekend brunch, she affirms, has recently “reached a whole other level” with resident DJ John Lee in the house (Lee also captured this image of the soon-to-be-legendary breakfast sandwich). Make sure to try out newly dreamed-up dishes such as the Russian All-Black, with lox on black rye, and my personal favourite brunch dish, ever, the Dungeness crab cakes with watercress, which are made with real crab pulled from cool Western Canadian waters.
Photos: Melora Koepke