Monday, July 23, 2007

Montreal - Cafeteria: One Plush Lunch

Cafeteria :: Plateau, originally uploaded by markj.

A city with a strong cafe culture like Montreal requires an ample supply of establishments that morph throughout the day from coffee house to lunch spot to happy hour to dinner to after hour bar. Last year, we delighted in Java U as a stellar example. For this trip, Cafeteria seemed to have been designed to fit the bill and was a new experience for us.

After our first thwarted attempt to get lunch at Schwartz's Deli, we defaulted to Cafeteria. The name is slightly ironic as there are no lunch ladies or melamine dishes to be found in this joint. The decor is plush red velvet seating, dark luxurious wood tables and a melange of textures in every wall, floor, and lighting treatment. The entire facade of the restaurant opened out into the street beaconing us in with a hip rhythm-driven vibe that almost seemed out of place at 12:45pm on a Wednesday afternoon.

Inside were a couple of young dudes surfing on laptops while sipping on draft beer, a few groups of young people noshing on burgers & sandwiches and the too-cute bartender casually providing drinks to the servers who nonchalantly kept the show rolling.

I opted for one of the 3 selections of Moules et Frites (mussels & fries). This version was cooked in an arrabiata tomato sauce that was mildly spicy. In Minneapolis, I noted that a lot of high-end bars/lounges offer mussels or fries, but this was the first encounter I had with them paired as an entree. The mussels were delightfully fresh and the sauce was flavorful enough to invite my bread and fries to play. At $12CAD, it was an excellent value and an appropriate lunch to welcome me to Quebec before setting my credit card on fire at more extravagant venues.

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