Words and Photos by Joy Q Wang / theshbang.com
Brunch is undeniably my favourite meal of the day - I live, breathe, and crave it. I’ve had my fair share of brunch goods while passing through cities but nothing compares to those in Montreal (Melbourne comes in a close second). The flavours, combination of food items, and ambiance all comes into play when eating possibly your first meal of the day. Because it’s your first meal and reservations are almost non-existent, the lineups could get really long. The trick is to know what you want before going there and get there early before you get hangry, it’ll totally be worth it! Here I countdown my top 5 must-try brunch venues amidst the crowd of poutineries and smoked meat eateries.
5. Arts Café
Starting off with a hidden corner of Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood, Arts Café definitely stands its ground along with the other hotspots around, like Montreal’s two famous bagel stops - Fairmount Bagel and St-Viateur Bagel. It’s quite the quaint, cozy shop with their very popular lightbulb fixture and decor but let’s get to the food. Coffee is key to any good brunch so I often opt for a latte or a cappuccino to start off. One of my favourite brunch food is salmon gravlax so when I saw that on the menu, I was sold! It also came on a Fairmount bagel so it made the sandwich that much better. Their bagel ingredients change every once in a while so keep an eye out and try something new every time.
Looking for a fancier set up with affordable pricing? Try Holder. Situated right by Old Montreal and up the street from Bota Bota, a Nordic-styled spa on water, Holder exudes a very classy, Parisian dining vibe. I’ve only been here for brunch but the ambiance is so welcoming and special, I wish I had gone back for dinner. I went with my girlfriends but this place is totally date-worthy. Here I had a Salmon Gravlax Bagel sandwich again (I swear I eat other stuff) and although the size doesn’t look too filling, it definitely brought me to a good spot in terms of being satisfied but not overtly full. The deal with these Parisian-styled dishes is that they’re quality over quantity. My friend got the goat cheese and roasted tomato omelet with pine nuts and roasted potatoes. It tasted just as amazing as it looks. The other dish is Two soft-boiled eggs with truffle tapenade, sautéed oyster mushrooms and roasted potatoes. A bit on the salty side because of the truffle but the taste comes together surprisingly.
Another great spot with long brunch queues, also located in the heart of the Mile End District. The name of this place exactly portrays the décor inside – with sparrow-filled wallpaper, the vibe is sort of vintage with a hint of timelessness. Just take a look, the photos make my mouth water just looking at it. Instead of coffee, my friends and I got a pot of Lavender Early Grey to share. On the left, my friend chose Buckwheat Pancakes, which were sweet, and then she added bacon! You’d be surprised by how good bacon tastes with maple syrup, it’s a Canadian thing ;) Another one of my favourite dishes to order at brunch is the Shakshuka, and I got mine with merguez sausages. The Moroccan-inspired dish definitely starts my day off right, with a bit of heat and lots of heartiness. You know a place is good when their bread is good, and the sourdough toasts on the side were amazing!
2. Café Parvis
This is definitely my favourite café in Montreal, and I’ve traversed quite a bit to embark on my own #mtlcafecrawl. There’s nothing quite like Café Parvis, a hidden neighbourhood gem. From the moment you walk in, you’re intertwined in this beautiful forestry of décor and ample amount of natural sunlight. It’s a bit hidden away from the main streets but that paves way for a quiet day of studying or just some light reading. Besides the fact that the location, décor, and feel is so on point, the food really pieces everything together. They serve lunch and dinner as well and they change their menu every week, but some goodies are always here to stay. If you decide to go for the lunch menu, their pizzas are a must-try. Light, just the right amount of fluff in the crust, and contains an eclectic collection of ingredients – I don’t feel bloated after eating it at all! Grab a side salad as well and make sure you ask what the dessert of the day is (not shown on menus). Their dessert of the day switches often but when they do serve this one, I ALWAYS get it – the Macadamia nut and coconut pie (shown in photo).
1. Le Cartet
Down the street from Holder and by the Financial District, is a little place I deem as my number one, Le Cartet. Not sure what made it so unique to me – maybe it was the tiny connected boutique that sold amazing dark chocolate bars or the bright, classy vibe from the narrow structure of the venue. This ranks number one in an overall fashion, and I’m definitely not the only one to think so. The menu isn’t listed online but there are separate sections for what you’re feeling, whether it be super healthy, heavy, light, etc. One friend opted for eggs benedict while the other went heavier and got a skillet of the all American breakfast. I opted for a healthier selection at the bottom that came with 2 eggs, a granola yogurt bowl, cheese sticks, and FIGS. This definitely peaked my interest as I’ve never had such a selection on one plate before. Needless to say, it was amazing and I wanted more.
What’s cool about the brunch venues in Montreal is that they are always switching up their dishes so there’s always something new and interesting to try out. Feel free to check out my faves above or make your rounds with all of the brunch places that Montreal has to offer!
Joy has been an avid traveller since a young age. Her affinity for travelling has since grown exponentially due to her craving for exploring different cultures and most importantly, different food. She’s been to 32 cities and 16 countries so far and can’t wait to keep going. She is currently based in Vancouver, Canada working as an Online Marketing Specialist and is always looking for ways to venture out of town.
For the dreamer - For the adventurer.