We woke up absurdly early Saturday morning and grabbed a bite to eat from the hotel’s “continental breakfast” which to me, ends up meaning filling up on fruit juice, coffee, and peanut butter & jelly. I was told there was a possibility they had almond milk, but if they ever had any, they were all out. Zoot alors! (that means shucks) On the bright side, it gave us at least one extra reason to stop over at the Boutique Viva Vegan Store later on. I don’t know about you, but I prefer my flakes of morning oats with something (other than water or juice) on them.
I planned out a little walking itinerary for the day blending a couple of stops on the Metro and a good wandering on Saint-Denis street (rue) and Saint-Laurent. Having had our fill of dry cereal, it was too early (9am!) for brunch, and most of the places we could go wouldn’t be open for another two hours. Getting out at Mont-Royal station and seeing giant green lawn chairs… well, we killed 15 minutes giggling and taking pictures on them.
Walking down a dead Saint Dennis street was bizarre. It’s usually packed with people, but it felt like we arrived before anyone else woke up (which is entirely possible). Most stores were closed, so we took the very long way over to Aux Vivres, walking by Boutique Viva Vegan (both of them were conveniently located on Saint-Laurent.) We stood outside for a few minutes, with other overeager brunch hopefuls, all of us arriving slightly before 11am.
The last time I was at Aux Vivres (4631 boul. St-Laurent, Montreal, QC – Nearest Metro: Mont-Royal) was in the summer of 2008, the interior has not changed at all, but the style of menu has. For the most part I didn’t notice any big menu item changes, or at least all of my old favourites were still on there. I ordered the BLT on chapati (and I would recommend it repeatedly to anyone who would listen.) The secret of this BLT? The layers of tomato, generous helping of lettuce, slathered with a tahini/mayo sauce, with a layer of ROASTED COCONUT. The bigger chapati sandwich is the way to go with this one. I remember ordering the smaller one on regular bread, and it wasn’t great, and fell apart far too easily.
My partner in crime ordered one of the brunch options – Le Complete, which is a combo of a piece of cornbread (light, fluffy, sweet), a salad (with a richly flavourful dill dressing), a lacklustre tofu scramble, some sliced root veggies and two thick pieces of tempeh bacon. I’m less enthusiastic about this plate. Through extensive testing, I’ve decided that if I ever order a brunch plate from these folks, it’ll be a La Polenta, since fried polenta with salsa and guacamole will always win out over anything involving a tofu scramble.
We wandered back to Boutique Viva Vegan (4148 St-Laurent, Montreal, QC – Metro: Mont-Royal Station) and picked up a few snacks for the train ride home, and some much needed soymilk. They have a good variety of items in store, baked items, and at the back they have four flavours of vegan ice cream. And for the most part, their prices all seemed really really reasonable, especially considering they are a specialty store. The vegan tax was not out in full force.
Best accidental find of the trip was La Cremerie MeuMeu (4458, Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC – Metro: Mont-Royal Station) Right on Rue Saint-Denis, it’s an ice cream parlor, super tasty, and has something for everyone. I got a waffle cone with a scoop of chocolate and vanilla soy ice cream. They also have frozen soy yogurt, with your choice of their several fruit options. While I really enjoyed the vanilla soy ice cream (complete with flecks of vanilla bean), the chocolate was easily my favourite. While the soy ice cream wasn’t as rich as some commercially available options, it was sweet and icy. The experience of going out to a little ice cream parlor and being able to take advantage of several different options was great, the staff were really friendly and offered taste tests to other customers (I was pretty set on what I wanted to get when I walked in there!) Soy options included vanilla, chocolate, green tea, cinnamon, wildberry, and a strawberry/raspberry blend.
It was an absolutely awesome morning and afternoon, afterwards we spent hours at the Vieux-Port and Old Montreal, taking in some of the local galleries and shops (and a quick run through the Science center). We went out for dinner at a vegetarian restaurant, but pictures and a recap will have to wait until another day.