Maybe I should’ve worn track pants instead?

Reporting back after Steel Rails 2017, “The Locomotion” was not played even once. A travesty if ever there was one. We did, however, get Vag Halen (the Toronto female rock cover band) busting out a series of rock anthems complete with the appropriate quantity of hip gyration. Let’s call it even.

Getting back on track after a year spent off the rails, Steel Rails 2017 was some kinda night. My girlfriend and I made a point to dress for the job we wanted (non-stop partying). She had a big fluffy red crinoline skirt, a lilac and black checkered bustier and her trusty kangaroo backpack. I was clad in my black/rainbow cyberdog leggings, a pink/purple zebra striped bra and my green smoker’s jacket (which I unfortunately discovered was not machine washable. Big time). Arriving at the party departure point, we realised very few others had put as much intention into their garb. We took this as a point of pride. It took a while to get picked up and we ended up leaving maybe half an hour after we’d expected. Of course, we had no idea where we were going, merely that a train would be nearby. Some folks were already tailgating in the parking lot. It was gonna be that kind of night.

We rode around in big yellow school buses and excitedly muttered about where we might go. Not knowing the area, it was anyone’s guess. We also played the traditional bus game of waving to bystanders in the hopes that they’d reciprocate. At some point a kid waved energetically at the bus, but nobody waved back at him. Not on my watch. I waved in an overly exaggerated manner. He saw, literally jumped with excitement and waved back. Five seconds of activity was a small price to pay for making a kid’s day. The bus turned into a parking lot next to a driving range and began to slow down. Okay, things were getting interesting. Next to the range was a large white dome. How enigmatic! We tittered and lined up to go inside. Even at the revolving door entrance, we still had no idea of what was five meters in front of us. It was time, we passed the threshold.

On the inside, the dome was massive. Carpeted in fake turf, there was so much for the eyes to take in. A miniature golf course to the left, a couple of projector screens, a bridge overhead stacked with instruments and audio equipment. There were bars set up around the space, plus a wrestling ring in the middle. A small performance space off to the right, a colourful triangle structure with pillows inside ahead. There was a witching tent and a wheel of fortune style “Find Your Apocalypse” scenario (my world will be destroyed by apes). Booze was by donation, as always. I dropped a $20 in the bucket and went hog wild. I also made sure I grabbed a boozy cherry bourbon sour ice block while I was at it. The food was tasty, but all very fast food. They had woodfire pizzas, a grilled cheese food truck and some legit fish and chips (though I swear we waited in line for 40 minutes to get them). Beer successfully soaked.

Then the train. THE TRAIN. We got on and found ourselves surrounded by Trump. We’d unintentionally settled into the Trump car. “Trump Dollars” taped around the place, dumb trump quotes suspended from the ceiling with his stupid fucking face on them. We were stuck there for a while as the train readied to leave. Plus there was a massive line to the bar in the next car, meaning we couldn’t go anywhere. It was strange, but somehow being a) boozed and b) surrounded by Trumpisms led to a rush of boorishness. A bunch of douches and douchebagguettes yelling. Some women started stuffing Trump Bucks into my bra and waistband. I wouldn’t have cared much if only they’d asked first. We got outta there as quickly as we could and checked out the rest.

Space Car was a welcome reprieve. The windows were all blacked out with tinfoil, then speckled with fairy lights and transparent black sheets to transport us to outer space. A musician created some kind of ambient dream pop sound as she plugged away at her effects machines. Space Car was relatively quiet and wound up being our favourite place to hang. Further on was a crown construction car that I didn’t visit, but my girlfriend came back with a nifty cereal box crown. Down the other end in the only carpeted car was the homecoming dance. A photographer had a wearable sash and led partygoers to pose for shots. The DJ was dropping some pretty great tunes, but shitting fuck was it ever sweaty in there. My girlfriend and I jumped into the “sleeper car” for some private time, only to find signs all over the room telling us we were being watched. I mounted her lap and gave them a show. Some dude walked in and slowly backed away. Damn straight.

We had a blast. The booze and food kept going (though having very few non-beer options this year meant we felt all sorts of bloated) all night. I found that as a guy, wearing a bra with no shirt meant people felt super comfortable coming up and grabbing me without consent. Like, I get that it’s unconventional and funny/weird to see a dude in a bra and it’s not like I was mega standoffish, but asking first would’ve gone a long way. It was a weird crowd all the way down. A bunch of magnanimous folks, some hyper normy spectators (in all likelihood, sponsors), performers, volunteers and others dressed in outlandish couture. There were more rad people than the alternative, but given the previous year I was surprised at how large that shitty minority was. At some point I was butt grinding up on my girlfriend and this woman I’d been chatting with earlier decided it was totally fine to insert herself between us. We both quirked our heads until she moved on, but it was a pretty weird moment.

The experience on the whole, though, was all kinds of choice. Tickets may sell out in an instant, but you can bet your arse I’ll be hitting those rails next year too.

STEEL RAILS FO LYFE.

Any excuse to shake my caboose.

I’m currently at work, but I’m not. Well I am, and aren’t. I took Schrödinger’s commute and logged into my work computer from home. Waking up at 8am, I was at work by 8.10am and ready to start. By merely clicking alt+tab I can zoom to and from my job through the information superhighway. The future is here, now and forever. It also means that as of about 9.30am I was 75% finished my day’s work. It’s so much faster to work without having to physically interact with my co-workers. The cat is my only vocal co-worker and to be honest, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about most of the time. So I’m free to plug away at schedules and log everything without background interference.

Why am I at home today?

Because for the second weekend in a row, I’m going out of town. Lucky me, right? The Earth has taken another lap around the sun and once again Steel Rails is upon us. Steel Rails is an amazing art party/fundraiser held annually by local paper The Community Edition. My girlfriend and I went with friends last year and had an amazing time. We were carted out to a mystery location that turned out to be an empty warehouse surrounded by steel containers. There were huge papier mâché creatures on stilts, people dressed in weird masks. Tons of interactive art exhibits such as styrofoam sculpting and celebrity/food portmanteau creations. Fortune tellers and storytelling events. Musical performances throughout the evening. Also food and drinks galore. Then we all piled back to Chainsaw in Waterloo, the archetypal small town Friday Night bar (with enough fluorescents to attract every barfly in town) and hung out with fun strangers we’d met throughout the event. It was a helluva time.

It was also an unconventional Steel Rails. The format in the past was always to load people onto a train and get them “loaded”. All booze is by donation, which means people get stupid drunk and have a riotous time. Creating a low commotion, if you will. This year, the train is back! So not only do we get to feel all manner of classy drinking on a train, but we also get Snowpiercer re-enactments. I’ll pack my hatchet. I wonder how the sushi is this year…

Because it’s a local community event and because it attracts creative types, the crowd are usually fun Fringe types. Despite the massive quantities of alcohol, I didn’t see much last year in the way of douchebaggery or douchebagguettery. People engaged in the spirit of the party and embraced the weirdness. Saying yes to adventure’s call and seeing where it could go. Last year rumours of a cult started spreading. There were printed pamphlets with trace amounts of info scattered around the event. Over the course of the evening, I not only had people ask me about my own affiliations, but giving impassioned monologues on theirs. The volunteers were all incredibly friendly and helpful and the effect was profound. I’m really excited and can’t wait for this workday to end.

But things could be worse than hanging out at home.

I also came up with the band name T’ronahsaurus Rex. Now I have only to come up with the musical talent to bring it into fruition.

I think I found my best self this weekend. Away at a friend’s cottage, far from responsibility, schedules and mandatory apparel. Bare-butted, whimsical and earnest, I came and went with warmth in my heart and joy in my soul. Also puns in my mouth.

The past two days were a whirlwind of future memories. Endless rolling in-jokes and riffing. Extended bits about Guy Fieri that morphed and evolved over hours. I for one can’t wait for his cinematic debut, Mad Max: Fieri Road. With everyone in varying states of dress, somehow I became the Token Naked Guy. Others dressed to the nines, big fuzzy coats, scarves, fluffy pink slippers and glittery face paint. Constant snacking and drink top ups. Hedonism incarnate.

There was a defining element of commitment to the call to adventure. One of my favourite extended excursions centered around a Polaroid camera that was lying around. I was strolling the place garbed in an open green smoking jacket and zebra patterned boxer briefs. Very Hugh Hefner. My friend saw me standing next to a bar stacked with assorted trinkets and baubles. She told me to strike a pose and I gave her an “oh, I didn’t see you there” smise. She snapped it at the perfect moment. We watched the Polaroid develop in real time and realised the permanence of each shot. We had one take and everything needed to align. We walked downstairs into the plush 70s style basement (complete with orange shag carpet) that we’d dubbed the “Fuck Den” (because of The Implication) and found our canvas.

We began a series of 70s Playboy style shoot, each more extravagant than the last. We’d arrange the scene, finding our vision, then I’d direct the talent and create our perfect moment. There was our friend splayed seductively across the table (bowl of keys tucked in the corner of the shot). Other friends dressed in tiger and ringleader garb, her crawling predatorily up the stairs as he leashed her back. Another draped herself over the couch, covered in constellations of fairy lights. One straddling a fireplace with a fire extinguisher and logs in the foreground, cigarette hanging from her lips, lighter aflame. The shots stacked up one by one until we had a portfolio of absurdism as a reward for our efforts. A fun, manic night of revelry and delight.

I can’t hope to capture in words how much I needed this weekend, mind, heart, body and soul. Spending times awash in the giving nature and wit of close friends lightened a burden I’d been carrying for some time. In finding my best self, I hope I can find an ongoing way to represent the aspects I’d come to value over the past 48 hours. I’ve earned it.

Good things happen to those who… wait…

I need to start writing now, otherwise I know how the next half hour will play out. I’ll tab between Facebook, Reddit and Twitter, ostensibly looking for something to write about. Realistically, it’ll be procrastination by any other name. I’ll go to the toilet even if I have no need. Maybe stand there and shake it in case something comes out. I’ll refill my water bottle, even if I’m not thirsty. You can never be too sure. Plus if I have water to drink, that’d justify future procrastibatory toilet trips. I can’t forget the kitchen, because that’d be on the menu big time. There’s nothing like opening a fridge to forage for snacks, finding nothing, then checking the pantry to no avail. Lather, rinse, repeat. Maybe I’d be lucky and find a pickle or something. Cheese would also be a hot ticket item. Realistically I know I’m more likely to leave having consumed a spoon of some spread (be it peanut butter, cottage cheese, honey or marmite). Having completed that noble quest, I’d return to the keyboard and continue refreshing Facebook.

As always, it’s a challenge to put words on the page when there’s nothing urgent or exciting going on. It’s a Friday night and I’m at home with no immediate plans. I’d tried to set up hang out time with friends, but with that having fallen through, the amount of energy I want to put into shaping tonight is minimal. I’m helping friends move a ton of stuff into storage tomorrow, so a big night is less desirable. Plus I’m not drinking until Tough Mudder. Oh, and I’m cutting out bread-y things and most sweets too. Why? Because having fun clearly was overrated. It might seem overkill, but I’ve forever been dreadful at moderation. Saying no in an absolute sense makes it a lot easier than falling prey to my ability to justify eating delicious things purely because they’re delicious. I’m not demonising sugary or fatty foods, just my ability to consistently eat things that aren’t them. SUMMER OF NO FUN IT IS.

Alternatively I could put together a list of things I’d like to do in lieu of “anything fun”. Considering the money I’ll save by not drinking, I could do some rad stuff. A bucket list for the next two and a half months before Tough Mudder, eh? Let’s see what I could get up to…

  • Sleep in a tent. I’ve got a cottage weekend away with friends planned, which’d be a good chance to knock this one off.
  • Go for a long bike ride. I don’t own a bike, but I’d sure they’re easy enough to borrow or rent. I’ve always been interested in biking through the Don Valley parkway. It was a nice walk that looked way more enjoyable on wheels.
  • Flying trapeze. I used to love flying trapeze. The only place I know that offers drop in classes offers them on Fridays at 7pm. It’s a bit of a hike and with work finishing at 5pm, it’d be tight getting there in time. We’ve got summer hours at the moment, which means we can leave early on a Friday. Why not take advantage of it and give it a swing?
  • Improv classes. Well this one’s cheating, ’cause I signed up the other day. I’m taking a weekly class for two months in the hopes that it’ll help me brush up on my front-of-brain skills. I’ve got no illusions of becoming a performer, but there are myriad ways improv skills could help in my everyday life.
  • Cook something special. I have no idea what yet, but this summer is the perfect time to flex my culinary muscles and try a dish I’ve never done before. Something that intimidates me. I could try home made sushi, fresh laksa, make my own ice cream, some kind of extravagant mushroom pasta.
  • Get back into indoor Rock Climbing.
  • Try an epic hike with friends.
  • Rent a car and visit a small town with my girlfriend. Stay in a cute little B&B owned by lovely old people. Desecrate the room with filthy sex.
  • Finally get around to re-watching There Will Be Blood.

Endless opportunity abounds if only I put my mind to it. Or more accurately, if I can stop procrastinating for once.

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.