A Moment With Andy Baraghani
The food writer on why embracing discomfort can make you a better cook and savvier...
If Montreal is North America’s most European city, Mile End, as the ten-square-block area straddling the city’s Francophone and Anglophone plateau is called, is its most Continental quartier. This was once home to Montreal’s large Jewish population, and hipsters still rub shoulders with Hasids, but now stores stock $9,000 sectional sofas for urban-concept loft spaces. The café society clustered around Avenue Saint Viateur rivals that of Deux Magots in Paris, though the coffee and foam-art lattes—made using shade-grown beans and vintage espresso machines—are much better. Perhaps Mile End’s most famous residents are members of the band Arcade Fire, winners of the 2011 Grammy for Best Album. In one song, Win Butler sings, “Neighbors all shoutin’ they found the light.” It’s not hard to believe he’s singing about Mile End.
Michel Brisson: From skinny Neil Barrett ties to Dries Van Noten leather shoes, this new boutique, housed in a stark, sleek store by local architects Saucier + Perrotte, stocks a well-edited collection of un-logoed pieces by fresh European designers. At 1074 Laurier West; michelbrisson.com.
Les Etoffes: Etoffe is French for “fine cloth,” and this two-year-old shop, which specializes in handcrafted pieces by local designers, like natural indigo selvedge jeans ($120) by Naked & Famous or these scarlet suede booties by the Colombian duo Dieppa Restrepo ($275, left), does right by its name. At 5253 Bd. St.-Laurent; lesetoffes.com.
Drawn and Quarterly: This brick-and-mortar bookstore from the eponymous independent graphic novel publishing house—home to Adrian Tomine, Daniel Clowes and Chris Ware, among others—features not only the titles published by Drawn and Quarterly but also an impressive selection of contemporary fiction, nonfiction and art books. At 211 Bernard West; 211blog.drawnandquarterly.com.
Le Filet: A new seafood spot by Claude Pelletier and Hubert Marsolais, the team behind the successful local Club Chasse et Peche, Le Filet serves imaginative dishes such as snow-crab risotto with asparagus and crustacean sauce in a black-and-silver room overlooking Mont Royal’s tennis courts. Fittingly, filet in French means “net.” At 219 Av. du Mont-Royal West; 514-360-6060; lefilet.ca.
Cava: The newly opened, softly lit den devoted to the treasures of mainland Greek cuisine is the most recent venture by Costas Spiliadis, the owner of the celebrated Greek seafood restaurant Milos, with outposts in Manhattan, Athens and Montreal. At 5551 Av. du Parc; 514-273-7772; cavarestaurantmontreal.com.
Lawrence: The immensely talented chef Marc Cohen is British, but he cooks with a distinctly French touch that befits Quebec’s inherent tension between France and England. The comfortable space (old wood, modern upholstery), home to the hottest brunch in Montreal, is packed with designers and artists. At 5201 Bd. St.-Laurent; 514-503-1070; lawrencerestaurant.com.
Cafe Falco: Fashionable Japanese baristas make new-school, lab-style siphon coffee in this industrio-minimalist café opened in 2010. At 5605 Av. de Gaspé; 514-272-7766; cafefalco.ca.
Baldwin Barmacie: Baldwin is a barmacie: a pharmaceutically themed bar. Think glass vials full of cures and cocktails like the Bourbon Punch (bourbon, fresh mint, cranberry juice) or the Pharmacien (port wine, fresh lime juice and tonic water). On weekends, the scene gives way to raucous dance parties. At 115 Laurier West; baldwinbarmacie.com.
Le Comptoir Charcuteries et Vins: Simple and classic, this year-old wine bar explores the flavorful intersection of cured meats and pressed grapes. Platters of house-made charcuterie are washed down with a tailored selection of organic and biodynamic wines, served at a long zinc bar and leather banquettes. At 4807 Bd. St.-Laurent; comptoircharcuteriesetvins.ca.
Dieu du Ciel: A popular cinq-à-sept spot—that’s Quebecois for the after-work tipple—this cult brewery is packed with craft beers (try the Pagan) and nouveau-scruffy hipsters. At 29 Laurier West; dieuduciel.com.
Simon Blais: Blais specializes in modernist Quebecois masters—representing such automatist luminaries as Jean-Paul Riopelle and Paul-Emile Borduas—as well as contemporary artists like Carol Bernier, Peter Hoffer and Eliane Excoffier. At 5420 Bd. St.-Laurent; galeriesimonblais.com.
Monastiraki: Mile End’s creative heart and soul since 1998, this gallery features local artists, and there’s a curated antiques emporium stocked with owner/artist Billy Mavreas’s cache of curiosities and collectibles. At 5478 Bd. St.-Laurent; monastiraki.blogspot.com.