Travel: Rue St Denis – Day 4

delicious fries and mayonnaise at Lawrence

Full gallery of photos

We had a relatively quiet day planned, with no real sights in store but more an exploration of neighbourhoods. David had noted a coffee shop on our walk to the train station yesterday, so we decided to check it out. Pourquoi Pas Espresso Bar was a small, cozy little café that made a solid cup of espresso, stocking beans from a roaster in Toronto but also kindly recommended a couple of coffee roasters to check out in town. We were soon on our way out to grab some lunch at Lawrence in the Mile End neighbourhood of Montreal. I’d seen it pop up on a couple lists of recommended eateries and thought it might make a good spot to start our day. We got off at Laurier station and made our way down Boulevard Saint-Joseph, a broad thoroughfare lined mostly with cute residential apartments, until we reached Boulevard Saint-Laurent (known as the “Main”). We passed a number of interesting boutiques and restaurants on the way, and I made a mental note to stop in on our way back.

walking around Mile End. That snow is a tie bit high!
walking around Mile End. That snow is a tie bit high!

We finally reached Lawrence, a handsomely-designed restaurant that had a Scandinavian feel with a bit of British flair (plaid. We grabbed a table by the window and perused the menu, which included a number of interesting options such as pig cheek, deviled kidneys and lamb lung. Ultimately, David went with papardelle with braised hare and cabbage, and I, not feeling terribly adventurous, opted for a cheese sandwich with bacon. However, we started with a classic, at least for David and me, of French fries with mayonnaise. You know you’ve come to the right place when French fries automatically come with mayonnaise (don’t even have to ask)! The fries were thick cut, crispy on the outside and potato-y on the inside, and the mayonnaise was super delicious. We ate probably a few too many before our main meals arrived. My sandwich was on thick, crusty bread and consisted of a giant hunk of aged cheddar, mayonnaise, cucumber, lettuce and bacon. It was a bit of a challenge to eat but tasty. David’s pasta was also delicious. We happily ate as much as we could manage, admiring and musing on the restaurant’s interior and goings-on (a common pastime for us).

 

cheese sandwich at Lawrence
cheese sandwich at Lawrence
papardelle with braised hare at Lawrence
papardelle with braised hare at Lawrence

We’d originally planned to head out to the Jean-Talon Market after lunch before heading over to Rue Saint-Denis to walk around. Seeing as it was already mid-afternoon,  we decided to forego the market and just headed over to Rue St-Denis. Not before doing a touch of shopping! We went back to one of the boutiques I’d spotted on our way over, Général 54, which had cute, locally-designed clothing, jewelry and hand bags. I managed to snag myself a pair of adorable red-orange hexagonal earrings (I’m on an orange kick of late), which made me a happy camper. I always love grabbing a sartorial souvenir from places I’ve travel to–supports local artists and makes me think of that place when I wear it.

Rue St-Denis
Rue St-Denis

We made our way over to Rue St-Denis, which I’d read was supposed to be a unique, bohemian sort of thoroughfare, with shops and restaurants. It thankfully had warmed up from the previous day and was a beautiful day for a stroll. It was amusing to see these beautiful old buildings housing the occasional Rogers store or a Subway. Many buildings were somewhat worn around the edges, with beautifully-rusted railings or graffitied walls. We ended up making quite a trek, walking a couple of miles until we finally reached the Quartier Latin. The area was filled with bars and restaurants, and was purported to be one of the big artsy, theatrical districts in Montreal. We were a bit tired from our walk and popped into a Tim Horton’s for donuts and wifi.  As we had dinner plans with a friend later, we decided that heading back to the apartment to recharge for a little bit.

smoked bone marrow at L'Orignal
smoked bone marrow at L’Orignal

We both ended up falling asleep for a bit, and so were a bit sluggish in getting going to head back out for the evening. We were meeting a former post-doc at Northwestern who now had a job at a university in Montreal at L’Orignal. We’d actually fortuitously stumbled across it the day before in our wanderings around Old Montreal, so we had a clear idea of how to get there. The restaurant itself was below street level and smelled like Christmas as we descended into it. It had a great ‘chalet chic’ aesthetic, which seemed so representative of the style here in Montreal, with its abundance of wood, plaid upholstery and even a wood carving of a moose head on the wall. We settled in with a couple of tasty cocktails and mused on the relatively short but tasty-looking menu. Our friend soon met us, and we caught up on the goings-on of our department and hers, all the fun linguistic negotiations that go on as a result of the bilingualism in Quebec, and what it’s like living here. David had ordered both specials for his appetizer and main course, which included smoked bone marrow and smoked duck leg on a parsnip puree. I went with the liver parfait followed by braised rabbit with (surprise, surprise) an extra side of mashed potatoes. Everything was very tasty–flavourful and delicious. We said our goodbyes to our friend and made our way home, eager to curl up on the couch with a warm fire.

smoked duck leg at L'Orignal
smoked duck leg at L’Orignal

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