Wednesday of last week, I decided to check out one of the streets I walked by when I went all the way up to the Mile End. So, with my Ray Ban glasses hiding my true human appearance and with a vintage leather coat and some tight jeans and Chuck Taylor Converse shoes, I was able infiltrate hipster territory without being noticed and observed them in their natural element. Haha, I'm kidding. Actually, they saw me coming a mile away. Chuck Taylors and Ray Bans are already way too mainstream. Though they still accepted me thanks to my old worn out leather jacket that I've had for over ten years, which totally passed as vintage.
Hipster jokes aside, the first street that I crossed that night was Fairmount, just west of Saint-Laurent. It was getting late though so most shops were closed, but I still got a pretty good feel of the area and saw a few very interesting places. There were many cute little neighbourhood restaurants and cafés, some art galleries and interesting little shops and a couple of very interesting bigger and specialized restaurants that I would love to try.
The first place that I walked by was a Japanese paper shop. That's right, a store that specializes in Japanese paper and paper-related arts and crafts. When I looked inside, they had different kinds and colours of paper for all sorts of uses. They also had books that covered your typical traditional origami stuff to instructions on how to make lamps and build your own Japanese paper wall. That's pretty neat! Maybe I should go get myself equipped and change my ugly red curtains that separate my bedroom from my living room and replace that with a Japanese paper wall! Though, I don't really have any room to build one of those either. I guess I'll stick with the curtains...
Next was an old little deli shop called Wilensky, after its owner Moe Wilensky. It had this really old classic look you'd find in a place right out of the 50's. The owner really kept the place looking nice after all this time. I would love to try that place out just for the experience.
Another block further and I found one of Montreal's first and one of the best bagel bakeries in town, Fairmount Original Bagels. According to their website, this little shop has been there since 1949 and was founded by one of Montreal's first bagel bakers, Isadore Shlafman who used to sell his bagels in the back-alley of his home in 1920's. Along with Saint-Viateur bagels, Fairmont Bagels makes some of the best Montreal-Style bagels you can find. This place is definitely worth a stop during the day. When I was passing by, there were trucks getting loaded to ship these bagels in grocery stores all over town. All these bagels and they are still being made in their original locations from all the way back in the 50's!
After that there wasn't anything else for a while on my side of the street. I went past Avenue du Parc and when I saw that there was nothing really interesting anymore, other than apartment houses, I was going to turn around and walk back along the other side of the street. But, I noticed this one restaurant whose name rang a bell. It's called Rumi. I went closer and I saw what it was. It's a middle-eastern cuisine restaurant. I've heard of it before and I've heard really good thins about it too! Their menu was quite impressive and it looks like they have some high quality food there. If ever I'm in the mood for some good kibbeh, chicken or an authentic tajine dish with couscous, vegetables and aromatic spices, this would be the place to go.
On my way back, on the other side of the street, I didn't notice anything really worth mentioning. There were a couple of beauty, pedicure, manicure salons and some quaint little local cafés and diners, but nothing that quite got my attention. Maybe except for this croissant shop. Maybe it's the French in me, but I loves me some fresh butter croissants! Especially with a large bowl of cafe au lait! One of my favourite places in Montreal has been Croissanterie Linda on Sainte-Catherine near Saint-Marc. But, I like to have variety and to try new places and compare. So, I was very happy to discover another croissaterie in town. I should try this place out one morning for breakfast and see how their croissants compare.
Not until I got back to the corner of Saint-Urbain. There I found what I think was the discovery of the night. A restaurant called Cartel that claims to be a street food bar. The place looks beautiful inside. I looked at their menu and it was very interesting. Indeed, they served street foods. The kind of stuff you would usually get off food trucks like Grumman 78. It was mostly Mexican and Asian. They also serve larger dishes with steak, duck, chicken, etc. But, the one thing that caught my eye was the lobster rolls. I remember the lobster rolls I ate in Old Orchard Beach last summer and suddenly had the urge to get some. I still do. I need to go back there and get my lobster rolls on!
Fairmount street is your typical quaint little Montreal neighbourhood street. Along with its old fashioned deli and cafés and typical old apartment buildings and small art galleries, you find a true Montreal Icon: the original Fairmount Bagels bakery. If you really want to experience Montréal and its soul, I think this is a good place to go to get a good feel what this city is really all about. Or a good part of it at least, because the spirit of this city changes from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. And that's what makes walking around in this town so interesting.