A brush with coat-dependence.

I’m an everyday illusionist. I wrap myself in layers of mystique set to misdirect and confuse those who cross my path. I carry with me a halo of competency that causes many to assume I’m a capable, competent individual. If they were to look closer they’d discover how very wrong their assumptions were. I run on a fake it till you make it platform. In truth, I don’t have a great many practical skills. If I were to find myself stuck in a forest alone I’d likely just wander around for a short while until I died, moaning about the lack of local pho restaurants. If anything goes wrong in the house, my default response is to wonder who I could convince through friendship or money to fix it. I’ve never had to do much in the way of manual labour, so the sight of me trying to accomplish anything constructive is laughable at best.

Which is why it was so odd for me to offer my services to friends with an overwhelming amount of home reno work to do. They’re moving soon and need all the help they can get making it look spiffy for potential buyers.

Truly I meant best, blindly flinging myself into their home before thinking of the havoc I could wreak. When my girlfriend and I arrived, I offered explicit instructions as to my use:

  • I don’t know how to do many things.
  • I will ask silly questions.
  • I will be incredibly slow at first.
  • By the time I’ve finished I will have gained some competency.
  • You will seriously wonder how I’ve survived life thus far.

My girlfriend is not an incompetent person. She’s done a ton of stuff before, so she was a lot easier to manage. They had a ton of projects for her, like sanding down a door, dusting its grooves and spray painting it. Useful stuff. Me on the other hand, they dumped on the floor and set to work. They were gonna paint the base boards/quarter rounds and needed it taped off. I also learned what base boards and quarter rounds were. Looking around my house now, I can see that they’re everywhere. I set to work right away applying masking tape to the floor and walls. At first it was significantly slow going. I was so set on getting everything tight up against the base boards/quarter rounds that I was taking an age to set anything down. I’d do small bits at a time, afraid of having even a speck exposed to potential paint. Or what if I left a smidgen of the baseboard covered? It’d never get painted and I’d no longer be trusted to help with anything, banished from their friendship for all eternity. THE WORST PUNISHMENT.

I got faster. After I’d done one corner I realised I’d need to start moving things out to get access. Their TV cabinet? Right in the middle of the floor. All those carefully wired speaker cords? GONE. I pulled out the nails they’d used to keep the cords in place, undoing all their hard work. In my head I told myself all this stuff needed to get done eventually, but it was hard to shake the idea that I was committing minor vandalism at a friend’s place. I moved around the living room putting tape down at the top and bottom of the baseboards/quarter rounds. My friend started following my work around the room, painting as she went. Eventually I finished up my taping and wanted more work to do. She instructed me to remove these box shelves on the wall then pull out the plastic screw covers drilled into the wall. There I was, balanced on a chair holding this shelf with one arm, cordless drill between my neck and left shoulder, holding a plastic zip lock bag in my left hand while carefully trying to drop the loose screw into the bag. As I said, I’m not a competent person. Though I did manage to pick up the drill between my big and index toe. That should count for something.

She had to leave to have lunch with her boyfriend, so told me to take over the painting that she’d started. Painting her house? She was trusting me? The only painting I’d done was as a child in school. I painted many shit things, the only highlights being a taniwha and myself as a werewolf. I reluctantly took up the call to adventure as she assuaged my fears. It was only the first coating, I couldn’t fuck up too bad. Had she met me? To be honest though, it wasn’t too difficult. I’m sure I wasn’t doing an amazing job, crawling on my side, but as a first attempt I think it was only slightly shabby.

Riding high on my relative success, I taped off another window alcove and set to painting. I tried to make sure I got all the corners, then got in there with a paint roller. After the handheld brush, the roller was a revelation. I made sure not to lay the paint on too thick and aimed for an even spread. By the time I’d finished, exhausted as I was, I had no concept of whether or not I’d done a good job. Then I thought hey wait a minute, this morning I didn’t know how to do any of this. The fact that I’ve done a job at all is progress enough. By the time I’d left, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction and pride.

So maybe there’s something lurking behind my illusion of competence after all.

Okay, so I looked up the word “irascible”. Get off my back. And lawn.

I’ve spent enough days staring at this blank page blankly to know that the best way to steer out of it is to merely start. I know that addressing a central theme is the easiest way to burst out of the gates exuding chutzpah, but when all else fails, simply taking the lead until an idea forms can suffice. By this point, four years in, I expected that daily writing would’ve gotten easier. Half the point of this exercise was to stimulate that forebrain and jog my front of mind-ed-ness. Given the past sentence, you can see that it hasn’t been a total success. Yes, I’ve written each day, but I’d hoped by now I would’ve found more improvement with the 1400+ entries I’ve committed to the page. That’s a lot of words, though how many of those are unique is another question entirely. I’ve written a lot, but my skills haven’t risen with the word count quite like I’d expected.

Of course, I’ve always fallen into the trap of expectations. As a kid I rarely had to struggle through work, which in turn failed to develop a backbone of discipline and effort in order to overcome tricky situations. Things kind of came naturally to me and even if I didn’t put in a heap of hard work, I’d usually do okay. As the years progressed life got more challenging and as a recurring theme, I stopped putting in effort. If I couldn’t simply roll up and do it, was it actually something I wanted to do? I’m not saying that I’m lazy in every aspect, but often when the going gets tough, I go elsewhere.

At the moment I feel like I’m stuck in some form of rut. This ain’t a unique moment. Rather, it seems like this vague ennui rolls around multiple times per year. My mindset right now is creatively, professionally, interpersonally and motivationally mired. While my job isn’t a shitshow, it’s very unfulfilling and easy to phone in because I’ve been doing it for so long. This results in a slog of a workday that feels like it’s chipping away at something inside. How long before I give up, buy a TV and watch reruns of Last Man Standing (too soon?)? Work bumming me out overflows insidiously into other areas of my life. The lack of creativity in what I do affects how I see myself represented. This digs at my self-confidence, skimming away at my seminal (screw me, I was looking for a synonym for “creative”) energy (plus “seminal energy” is fun to say. This is my circus and I’ll let it run rampant as I see fit). If I’m feeling shitty about how others may see me, I’m not raring to put myself out there for others to see. I withdraw from social obligations and turn into a irascible old hermit. I GET OLD SOMEHOW, YOU GUISE.

I always surface from this rut, but through distraction rather than progression. I’ve been trying to move into other avenues of work, potentially more fulfilling jobs. These attempts have come with multiple disheartening rejections. While my mind is screaming that I’m at an impasse, I’m sure this isn’t the case. I am however unsure of what to do. The answer is most likely to dig in and upskill, or put myself out there in my own time. The problem though is that these ideas smack of good honest hard work and that makes my brain crave familiar and safe spaces. Effort is difficult and failure is terrifying. Improvement doesn’t come easily, but continuing to go through the motions isn’t sending me anywhere help. Is this why people get life coaches? So someone else can do the hard yards of telling them what to do?

OH WAIT GUISE. WHAT IF I BECAME A LIFE COACH? THEN I COULD FEEL FULFILLED TELLING OTHER PEOPLE WHAT TO DO WHILE NOT HAVING TO MAKE ANY PROGRESS MYSELF.

A signal change at track level.

I’m wracking my brain at this second to bring forth anything that isn’t bitching about work, because it wouldn’t be the first or last time. Also nobody wants to hear that. Today’s entry is gonna pull on the true nature of stream of consciousness in the hopes that the flow will steer me towards something more productive, provocative or produce. Do we need fruit and veggies at home?

I’m on the train and everyone is on their phones. Naturally. It feels so commonplace for people to grumble about a generation glued to their phones, but this has always felt a little odd to me. It’s not like everything a phone does is a waste of time. I’m sure some passengers are playing games, scrolling through Instagram or visiting a Tumblr that posts nothing but the same picture of Dave Coulier every day. That’s fine, right? Strangers can use their time as they see fit. What gives us the right to police or judge that? I often hear the argument that it creates a barrier between you and others. Isn’t that the point? How is it not justifiable that when you’re en route from location A to B that you’d rather be in your head than engaging with others? Social energy isn’t a limitless resource for everyone. What if you spend your days dealing with entitled pricks or judgemental bigots and just want to escape into a world where you can mindlessly crush candy/jelly/soda with a cutesy soundtrack and imagery? Also what is this supposed alternative to intentional isolation? Should we all be engaging in meaningful dialogue with random bystanders? I do that every so often and occasionally it results in people asking if they can light my beard on fire. Is that the goal? I mean, I’ve certainly had interesting conversations but not always fulfilling. It’s not communication we’re being spurred towards by putting down the phone, is there some other purpose? Or is it for the sake of some outmoded notion of manners? Being polite to others by not intentionally ignoring them? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure travelers have been sucked away into fantasy worlds for many years now. Discmans? Gameboys? Crossword puzzles? Books? Pencils and paper? We’ve long sought distraction from the time transit takes. At what age did passengers on public transportation amuse themselves with polite conversation or a simple admiration of their surroundings? Most likely longer ago than anyone complaining about excessive phone use has been alive.

Then again, this is all straw man supposition about whispers I may have heard on the wind. I can’t cite specific examples of times I’ve heard people complain about this behaviour. I’m pretty sure it happens on the regular, but I’ve got no way to log it in APA style. I’m not even saying there’s no issue with how often we’re absorbed by our screens. As a heavy user (I mean, right now for instance), I often feel like there are many occasions in which I could be more present. Are there people who I’ve missed meeting because I’ve been too engaged in gifs of kids falling over or videos of shiba inu underscored by the intro of The Smith’s’ “This Charming Man”? On the other hand, I could be learning about world news or local events. I could be engaging in meaningful online dialogue or connecting with friends. I could even be writing about rampant smart phone use on my phone itself.

I don’t think there’s a point to any of this little treatise, if but to say that like Transformers there’s often a lot more going on in any scenario than meets the eye. We’re all multi-faceted beings that are all too quick to judge others for their actions while excusing our own. It’s easy enough to show self-compassion, but empathy is all too rare. Maybe next time you’re throwing a stranger some stink eye, think about the best case scenario of their intentions instead of instantly labelling them as a buttmunch. Or don’t, I’m not your dad.

If we did crash, I would have been most useful as kindling.

Oh wow, is going on holiday ever a reminder of how miserable my job makes me? Screw that, let’s pretend even if for only one more day that I’m not getting my soul systematically sucked away in a cubicle.

Our last day in Montreal was basically set to be a wrap up day. Were there any spots we had yet to hit? Was there anywhere we needed to give a second glance? What did we have yet to eat? Could we accomplish all of this before our 4pm departure? First off, we didn’t leave the house until just before midday, so the answer to most of the above was a resounding NOPE. We shouldered our bags, packed up the pork leftovers from Friday night’s Liverpool House experience and hit the road.

My girlfriend had hoped to get back to a certain boutique, so we opted to get back to Le Plateau-Mont-Royal one last time. First up though, we stopped off at a heavily recommended patisserie: Pâtisserie Au Kouign Amann. Thing was, a few friends had steered us towards it, but hadn’t mentioned what exactly we were supposed to try. They didn’t offer a ton and their house special (the Kouign Amann for which they’re named) was half an hour from being ready. I’ve never been hugely into buttery pastries, so instead I grabbed a small blueberry cake. It was soft and sweet, with a faint trace of almond paste (like you’d find in an almond croissant) inside. It was… fine I guess? I dunno, I love baked goods, but found myself kind of underwhelmed. Perhaps the place had been built up too much. It was reasonably priced and I’d happily eat something like it again, but wouldn’t go out of my way for it.

We wandered the area seeing if anything would newly catch our eyes. A café, Dispatch Coffee had previously stuck out with its stark, minimalist interior. Very European, seating was a bizarre assortment of tiered concrete steps and flat wooden benches. The staff seemed to really know their shit, calmly measuring out each shot and composing each drink in a way that skewed both mechanical and artful. Using a mocha as my common litmus test, it was decent but not spectacular. Perhaps on the fluffier side than I’m used to for a latte style drink, but the coffee itself was nice.

My girlfriend popped into her boutiques and I walked around a little. I circumnavigated the block, making a point of checking out the alleyway behind. As I’d suspected, there was a ton of awesome street art. My girlfriend disappointingly didn’t have a ton of luck in finding anything new. Liking the clothes, but not loving the fit, she resolved to only get something she fell in love with. Marie Kondo would be proud. She salved the sting by getting a delicious and moist balsamic chocolate brownie and a hot chocolate (that ended up being literal melted chocolate. Holy shit the small size was a self-contained heart attack).

The time had come to transit further out of town and meet our rideshare. We hopped on the metro and arrived at the Harveys parking lot right by the Namur station. Realising time was rapidly dwindling, we bathroomed in that same Harveys, then pulled our leftover pork in the parking lot. There we were, scoffing down the leftovers of a $68 pork dish in a parking lot that seagulls used as a toilet. If a trip needs a signal that the holiday is over, that was ours. We awaited our ride home, hoping that our driver wasn’t a murder enthusiast.

As luck would have it, she turned out to be great. She had a roomy SUV and was fine with us eating our leftovers en route. She’d been in town visiting her long distance boyfriend. Oddly enough, our fellow passenger was visiting his long distance partner too. My girlfriend and I felt so left out of the club. She was a Toronto based teacher and our other passenger was a traffic engineer. More than once I wondered how we’d fare if our car crashed in the wilderness and had to survive through a combination of shared skills and teamwork. The drive back was great. Everyone was friendly and open. We had in depth chats about all manner of subjects: Society and privilege, changing generations, concepts of gender and sexuality, global acculturation, plus a ton more. By the time we’d arrived home in Toronto, it almost seemed like we’d made new friends.

So the holiday may be over, but at least we’ll always have memories of snarfing down expensive leftovers in the parking lot of a strip mall. Montreal, it’s what you make it.

A more accurate summation of our time here would be “Porkfest”.

Our third day in Montreal was, well, halved. We didn’t wake up till at least 11:30am. Our plans for the day were to check out this NDG Porchfest near Monkland Village. First though, we had to clear the hurdle of getting out of bed.

Monkland Village itself was quaint but not altogether exciting. We were on the lookout for coffee and options were abundant. There was a Second Cup on the corner across from a Starbucks. Any number of pâtisseries, bakeries, frozen yoghurt/soft serve stores or cafés offering free flowing caffeine. In terms of viable, good options however, there were very few. We found a little Korean dessert place that seemed like they might know how to make an alright latte which turned out fine. They had Propeller beans, the benchmark for reasonable coffee.

We quickly realised that we were a bit far from the real action at Porchfest, so we tried a side street. There were ~20 people standing on the sidewalk, parents with their toddlers, watching a cute three piece indie band playing a couple of tunes. A couple of kids were selling lemonade and there was a garage sale down the road. It was swell and 100% suburbia. A noticeable element (once we logged into the handy Google map) was the distance they’d put between all the acts. It was a rad way to combat noise pollution, increase the spread of the event and get more of the community involved. We followed our ears down to Sherbrooke Rd where there was some neat gypsy style band performing. Lots of audience participation, vocal percussion, clapping, dancing and stomping around. There were little kids going hard and people all around really getting into it. We caught a couple of tracks before their set finished, then wandered the area.

For all our intentions of trying to get around and catch various bands (a vocal pop ensemble, Radiohead tribute band, all kinds of Klezmer groups), we ended up mainly checking out local stores and foraging for vittles, as is our way when on holiday. I’d been pretty tempted to grab a beer from a depanneur and drink while watching a local band. After our experience getting ticketed in New York last year however, I wasn’t too confident. We devised a scheme whereby I’d purchase one of those insulated coffee cups from Dollarama and fill it with delicious craft beer. We stopped off at a little vegan co-op where my girlfriend got an affogato. I found a fruity dark ale I’d had my eyes on earlier. All I needed was some way to open the beer.

Thing was, we were hungry. Beer could wait. As we walked around looking for a BBQ place we’d seen earlier, I noticed the number of people either unsubtly cradling drinks inside plastic bags or even brazenly chugging back cans of Steamwhistle on the street. My high level deception was unnecessary. I decided to drink after lunch. I had a succulent beef brisket sandwich loaded with all the fixings, a side of baked beans. Jeez those beans were sweet and tasty. Loaded with spices, I’d never tried any of their like. My girlfriend had ribs and fries, slathered in Texas barbecue sauce. After such a massive meal, I didn’t really have the stomach for my beer. My girlfriend still had her eyes on ice cream, so we went across the road and she picked up Kahlúa flavoured soft serve with a cherry dip. Being on holiday has no time for trifling moderation.

A mere few hours later (after stubbornly drinking my beer out of the sippy cup at home), we went out for Lebanese with my Aunt. I don’t know if either of us were that hungry, but the food was delicious. A platter of skewers, baba ghanoush, hummus, fatoush salad, fries and rice. There was more than too much to eat, so we did as well as we could. More importantly it was a nice way of saying thanks to my Aunt for hosting us and an excellent way of learning more about her. It’s a change I’ve noticed in recent years, that meeting relatives who were always adults while I was sub ten years old is now interesting. Being an adult (kind of) myself, learning about their upbringing and lifestyle through different decades is fascinating. Hearing first hand ruminations on a world I never experienced allows me to get a better idea of not only how things have changed, but how it felt at the time. I had a top notch time being present with her and, fat and happy after a solid meal, my girlfriend and I had our first early night since we’d been in Montreal.

Last day. I wonder just how much we can eat before 4pm.

Then ironically on our trip home, we paid a laissez fare.

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.

They don’t call them cocktails for nothing.

Bounjour tout le monde et bienvenue à Montreal! I apologise to the nation of France and province of Quebec for the atrocities of grammar committed in the preceding sentence. Just be thankful I didn’t say it in my atrocious accent. You know those old Animorphs covers? My French accent is one of those unholy middle transition stages between my New Zealand accent and how French should actually sound. You know the bit on that link when her head starts looking conical? That’s how I sound when I try speaking French. My accent comes straight from the Uncanny Valley region.

Being in Montreal means I get to torment my girlfriend with one of my favourite bits. Intentional mis-translation and fake facts. It’s a wonder I didn’t awake to find myself hanging from the ceiling by my open entrails. Fortunately she doesn’t seem to wear long socks, otherwise she’d have my guts for garters. It’s the best (worst/blurst) bit. We’ll arrive at Bonaventure station and I’ll proclaim “ah, that means ‘good adventure’.” Major side-eye follows. “Oh, we’ve arrived at Vendôme station. Named after the famed action hero Jean Claude VenDome.” I become relieved she’s not holding any sharp objects. “Plamondon station? It’s so huge, much like its namesake, the ancient French dinosaur: The Plamondon.” I think the only reason she hasn’t left me for some handsome Québécois is that I hold the only house key.

Before we left we took recommendations from friends on places to eat/drink. Why else would we be on holiday but to eat or drink as many delicious things as possible? Last night we began making good on those recommendations. Turns out people know what they’re talking about. Our first stop was Bar Le Mal Nécessaire: a Chinatown tiki bar. Sold to us as ‘a place where you can get flaming pineapple cocktails’. What part of that doesn’t sound amazing? Turns out the place was a rock solid call. A super loungey basement vibe with big cushy seating lining the sides of the room. Pineapple (this shit was ananas) imagery everywhere. There were literal pineapples hanging in cradles from the ceiling, pictures of pineapples about the place and ceramic pineapples (one in a cage) above the seating area. We were seated and handed thick tomes containing a ton of cocktails with an ingredients list, pricing and a picture of the style of glasses in which they’d be served. The set up behind the bar was rad. There were platforms suspended from the ceiling containing all the bottles, with garnishes and syrups on the bar. The bartenders seamlessly moved between the upper and lower levels to create these amazing cocktails, often with three or four drinks on the go simultaneously. It was rad to watch.

Me: Look at these guys shaking all these cocktails. You’d get super jacked doing that all the time.
GF: Oh yeah. Like a shakeweight. I bet you’d get really efficient at jacking off.
Me: I’m not sure about that. I feel like the range of motion they’re using wouldn’t help for personal use.
GF: I guess that’s true.
Me: But they’d for sure be able to jerk off like three or four dudes at once. Skills for sure.

I got their signature cocktail, Le Mal Nécessaire, while my girlfriend had… geez, something else. They were heaps boozy and halfway through our first drink we both realised they were hitting pretty hard. The music was great and the vibe was awesome. It made me rue (it means “road” in French) the fact that I’d never a) lived in Montreal for a period and b) that my parents didn’t have a sleazy 70s basement with shag carpet. We paid up and headed off for our 9.30pm dinner reservation at Liverpool House.

Liverpool House seems to be the sister restaurant of an ultra decadent French restaurant named (believe it or not) Joe Beef. Joe Beef is the kind of place where you need to grab reservations months in advance. Liverpool House we booked hours beforehand. It was sold to us as a cute, romantic little place with excellent food. It made bank on every one of those attributes. I can say hands down that it was one of the best meals I’ve had in my life. Everything that came out from the kitchen smelled amazing and had immaculate presentation. Their lobster spaghetti seemed to be a signature dish, but we saw plenty of oyster plates, deep fried clams and steaks making the rounds. Upon heavy recommendation from our server, we ordered one of their specials, a shareable pork plate for two. It was gargantuan. We were hungry after cocktails and the repeated delectable scents wafting around the restaurant. We still only finished maybe half of it. We decided it could’ve easily been a three person meal and possibly even four. Unbelievably succulent. The tender flesh melded perfectly with the soft marbled fat. Served in a shallow pool of rich jus and draped in a flavourful parsley and olive medley. The polenta on the side was admittedly a bit dry and gritty for our tastes, but drastically improved with a healthy dose of jus. Our server recommended a lovely wine on the side that tied it all together. She seemed genuinely pleased with how much we were enjoying our meal. As she said, it was an amazing dish made from the restaurant’s personal farm stock. They were grain fed to be extra fatty and, for some reason, people rarely ever ordered it.

There was this nice moment towards the end of the meal when my girlfriend and I recognised that it was okay to have nice things sometimes. Both of us make a point of trying to live within our means, enjoying experiences for what they are, knowing that we’re pretty fucking lucky to have each other and the lives that we lead. We don’t have room or tastes for a ton of extravagance in our lives, which means that when we do something nice, it’s wholly appreciated. Liverpool House was one of those experiences that will stay with us for a while. The staff were warm and welcoming. The food was phenomenal. The atmosphere was upbeat and enveloping. Plus we may not have a literal ton of leftovers, but we may have a pound.

Au revoir.