Thursday, August 19, 2010
The Great Street Explore: Rue Bernard, Montreal
Jerry and I have a new Montreal Project: The Great Explore. We're going to take a street which we like (or looks interesting to us) and walk it from one end to the other and back. Stopping for explores, food, photos, whatever strikes our fancy. And if the street proved rewarding, I'll blog about it. So our first candidate is Rue Bernard in Mile End and Outremont.
We walked it on a breezy, sunny weekday in mid-August. We started at Rue St Laurent and the Mile End neighborhood and walked to Avenue Wiseman in Outremont (and back). It was a very pleasant walk. Much of the street is lined with trees or flower pots or colorful murals. Most restaurants have sidewalk seating in the good weather months and interior space that opens onto the sidewalks. The area is a mix of boutiques, restaurants, apartments, theatre, and neighborhood services: bakeries, depanneurs, dry cleaners, and local take outs.
We used to visit Rue Bernard every time we were in Montreal when the lovely and delicious Bouchees des
Gourmandes was located in a little spot where a tea company now resides. Nooffense to the tea company, which I'm sure is quite nice, but I mutter and grumble everytime I walk past. I miss Bouchees and the wonderful woman who owned it).
So this time we wandered the streets looking for what other treats might be in store. And we found several.
Drawn & Quarterly: 211 Rue Bernard West. This is an enchanting and offbeat bookstore which serves at the flagship store for Drawn & Quarterly, a leading North American Art and Literary comics and book publisher. Their store leans heavily to graphic novles (both new and vintage) but it also has a very whimisical and delightful selection of children's books and a small but fine offering of fiction and non-fiction books. I always find something I've never heard of that I end up loving and passing on. For more infomration check out their website at: www.drawnandquarterly.com
Lester's Delicatessan: 1057 Rue Bernard West. We've eaten at Lester's a number of times and always enjoy their (famous for over 50 years) smoked meat and ICED COLD Stewart's root beer (comes in diet too). They have much more on their menu, but we never get past the smoked meats. Summer time brings out the shaded sidewalk eating area but as it was full we ate indoors this time under the approving gaze of a signed PR photo of William Shatner hanging on the wall (near the Petticoat Junction and Get Smart Lunchboxes). As you should surmise, the decor is eclectic to say the very least. Service is always prompt and prices are reasonable.
Bilboquet (Le Glacier Bilboquet): 1311 Rue Bernard West. This is really great ice cream...really great...and I LOVE ice cream. We'd heard of Bilboquet for over 6 years (and had a scoop or two when offered at a restaurant) but this was our first visit to the actual Bilboquet itself. Not disappointed. The had a large selection of ice creams many with fresh seasonal ingredients. I had the raspberry and vanilla ice cream which was wonderful. Waffle cones were fresh and crisp. There is seating inside where they also serve sandwiches...but really who can resist eating ice cream over a sandwich (although I'm sure they are fine). There is also seating at small tables and benches outside (under a shade in the summer)
Outremont Theature: 1240 Rue Bernard West. The Outremont was built in 1929 in fine Art Deco style. Originally it was a movie theatre, but over time it became a renowned venue for theatre and music. Famous Quebecquois singers and musicians, rock groups in the 70s and 80s graced its stage. Due to declining business the theatre closed in the late 80s. It was purchased by the City of Montreal in 1993 and underwent a 7 year renovation reopening in 2002. The Outremont now provides the City with a fine venue for film screenings, music, comedy, and theatre. For more info:www.theatreoutremont.ca
Le Moulerie: At 1249 Rue Bernard, Le Moulerie is a very convenient place to eat before or after a show at the Outremont. They have a long and shaded sidewalk terrasse as well as a pleasant interior. As the name suggests they are known for their mussels and that’s the only thing we’ve had to eat there. And, they were very good. They have a full menu of other seafood (and non-seafood) offerings. La Senzala. At 177 Rue Bernard in Mile End, this colorful restaurant offers Brazilian/Bahia cuisine. We haven’t eaten there yet, but it gets decent reviews on various internet foodie sites so we’ve added it to the “to eat there” list. Bistro Le Republique 1051 Rue Bernard. A bustling bistro on a corner with great sidewalk terrasse. On our list to try.
O 'Macaron et Chocolat 1005 Rue Bernard. A small stylish storefront offering French style macarons, very pretty (and I’m sure tasty) chocolat, coffees etc. My heart was set on Bilboquet ice cream this visit. So a taste test had to wait.
Boulangerie Cheskie Heimeshe Bakery 359 Rue Bernard. You can smell Cheskie’s for several blocks away. Known for their “old fashioned” rugelach, cheese Danish, cookies, cream puffs, and the Babka, this is a warm and delicious smelling bakery serving both the surrounding Jewish Community and Montreal at large.
Boutiques. There are a number of boutiques on Rue Bernard that I find charming and a littel out of the ordinary. They include Kokoon at 1061; Style Labo at 122; Au Printemps at 1110; and Papillote at 1126
Riddell's. For 50 years George Riddell made fishing lures and sold them out of his shop at 55 Rue Bernard (where he also lived). A “character” many would say he was a man proud of his craft and more than a little fond of fishing. He passed away just this last June and I’m sad to say I didn’t discover his shop before he died. I would have loved to have wondered around in it. The shop hasn’t been cleaned out yet. Many hope someone will find a place for his 50 year collection of lures. Check out this YouTube video filmed in 2008 to get a glimpse of the man and his store (filmed by Tim Van Horn)