Sometimes on holiday everything clicks. Your plans all slot together like a jigsaw puzzle and you flow through an endless series of perfect experiences. When it comes to holidays, I prefer to be a lot more laissez-faire (which seems on theme here in Montreal), so my days instead are disjointed like someone’s taken to them with a jigsaw power tool. For me it’s a release. In my quotidian existence back home there’s endless structure. I get up at a certain time, start work at a certain time, leave work at five on the dot. Yadda yadda yadda, badda bing badda boom, yabba dabba doo. So when I vacation, it’s not just my city I like to leave behind, it’s my habitual lifestyle. On holidays, I go with the flow. If things happen, great. Getting everything done can be for someone else. I instead prefer to enjoy what I happen to do.
It’s a nice way of saying that fuckups do happen.
Yesterday we were prepared to try brunch at Le Passé Composé. A friend had raved about it (and the Fois Grois eggs benny in particular). I was intrigued to get amongst a sophisticate French take on common brunch (and try fois grois for probably the one time). When we got there, the line stretched out the door. Obviously its splendor was well known. My girlfriend put our name on the list and they informed her it’d be at least half an hour. We chatted to some people in line who mentioned it’d be closing at 2:30pm. It was 1:30pm at the time. I did the math and figured that if it took half an hour at least to get inside, we’d be rushed through our meal in order to turn over service. It seemed less than optimal. I suggested to my girlfriend that perhaps we’d have an easier, quicker and less stressful time going somewhere else. Besides, we were by the gay village. I was sure we could find a cute little brunch spot there.
As it happened, the village was kind of a tourist trap (though a very pretty one) and most of the restaurants looked simultaneously cheap and overpriced, if you catch my drift. After roaming for nigh on 40 minutes, we ended up going to one of the few places that looked marginally okay, but more expensive than it should’ve been. We underestimated it on both accounts. The food was phenomenally mediocre and the prices were equivalent to an upscale Toronto brunch place. We were informed that food would take at least half an hour from our time of order. We very quickly realised we should’ve just stayed put. The service was atrocious, enough that we’d both independently considered a dine and dash approach. With that being villainy slightly beyond our reach, we settled for leaving a 10% tip. What can I say? We’re softies.
The rest of the afternoon was pretty great though. We roamed Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, stopping in at a bunch of cute stores and boutiques. One spot had printed Space Jam socks, which truly tempted me. If not for the $24 price tag (steep for socks) I would’ve been all up in them. My girlfriend had a specific Montreal boutique she’d ordered from online that she was raring to check out in person. It was packed, so I left her there to geek out over pretty dresses, rather than stay there myself to be permanently in the way of customers. I further explored Le Plateau-Mont-Royal. My kind of borough, it had a few vintage stores, higher end places and a ton of bars/restos. I saw the lines at Schwartz’s and thought better of it. I kept walking. I discovered that some depanneurs stocked the original 11.9% Four Loko and almost shit myself. Instead, I went to a President’s Choice supermarket and shit there. Almost as embarrassing as the mediocre brunch was the fact that the shit of that same mediocre brunch clogged the President’s Choice toilet. Thanks Obama.
After my girlfriend’s new favourite boutique closed, we hung out at a cute ‘lil resto lounge and had a drink or two. We grabbed some chips in the park and wandered the neighbourhood. There was a cat cafe and gorgeous French Canadian architecture. Wrought iron stairs and all that jazz. Not to mention the mindblowing street art. Montreal, you certainly are a pretty one. We met up with friends and grabbed a deli dinner at Main’s across the road from Schwartz’s. Don’t worry, it was equally Jewy, but without the huge line up. My ribs even came with sides of liver steak, a hot dog, coleslaw and a kosher dill pickle. I’m surprised the waitress didn’t come over to tell us we were nothing but skin and bones and hadn’t eaten enough.
Our friends had recommended Majestique, a cocktail/oyster lounge. It was only a couple of minutes up the road, so we figured why not stop in for a digestif? The four of us came in and the server let us know there’d be a little bit of a wait, but he’d try and grab us a good table. He had his eye on a table of four ladies who seemed as though they were about to settle up. So we waited. And waited. Eventually one of our friends left and we let the server know we were down to three people. In the meanwhile, groups of two and three were being seated before us. Three, four, five groups got seating while we stood like unnecessary dildos at the front of the bar. My girlfriend had a word with the server, irritated that all these people had been let in while we’d been waiting. He apologised, saying that he’d been saving the good table for us. He came over a few minutes later with glasses of champagne on the house. We got seated ten or so minutes later (after perhaps half an hour of blocking the front entrance). We ordered cocktails and desserts, which were surprisingly intricate. We lounged about chatting, staring at the bizarre collection of junk lining the walls. It was like walking into your weird uncle’s basement, but with better booze.
After saying goodbye to our friend (who had an early morning) around midnight, my girlfriend and I were left to our own devices. We wandered the neighbourhood potentially looking for another place to drop by. As we walked, the streets became increasingly littered with club detritus. Twenty year olds lining up outside an assortment of generic establishment promising loud music and readily available booze. We both decided that five years ago we’d already been way tired of clubbing, but weren’t opposed to finding a quiet little nook to grab a nightcap. Then we saw it: Bootlegger l’Authentique. A whiskey, beer and cocktail bar with a prohibition theme. Bullseye. I’ll put it this way, it was a bar that served strong cocktails in ginormous glass boots. I don’t know if I’m ever going home. It was a fun, chilled atmosphere with neat mis en scène. The stage, while filled with instruments and old school mics, was devoid of musicians. Two well-dressed gents behind the bar slung glass boots and an assortment of liquors. The whiskey menu seemed nigh endless and the prices were crazy reasonable. We sipped away at our tasty cocktails (mine was a combo of Jack Daniels, peach schnapps, cranberry juice and what seemed like an entire mint plant), had a lot of laughs, danced a little and walked off into the night.
Then, having missed subway service, had an ordeal and a half going home. A combination of night bus-ing, wandering through weird byways and underneath a dodgy looking bridge at 3am, then dealing with a dysfunctional uber trip. We slipped into bed sometime around 3:30am, happy to be home.