Cafe Santropol

 3990 rue St. Urbain, Montreal
Phone: (514) 842-3110

My favourite dining spot in Montreal, since i was 17. Located right in the heart of the Plateau at Duluth and Saint Urbain in the old part of the city, Santropol has been a unique cafe for the community since 1976.  Located on the main level of a colourful old greystone building, this “chain-free”, “non-corporate” Bohemian cafe serves coffees, teas, and mostly-vegetarian fare to an assortment of clientele, ranging from funky artists from the Plateau, yuppy families and their kids, students from McGill, Concordia, UQUAM, and UDM, as well as seniors, teenagers, and Joe-Schmo.

The place has been undergoing a “mainstreaming” process since the early 1990’s but the menu still has much of the same items . Prices have gone up slightly. Tea selection has steadily decreased over the last decade since this place has become more well known for its famous “overstuffed” sandwiches on molasses bread, garnished with a colourful assortment of fruit and vegetables.  

In addition to huge sandwiches,  Cafe Santropol makes funky salads, unique soups (many vegan ), vegetarian pies, and their classic vegetarian chili.

The place is dark, but has an urban, grungy, funky decor (recently Santropol has become more mainstream). Back when I lived in Montreal, I was a weekly visitor to Cafe Santropol. I went almost every Friday or Saturday night from 1993-1999. When I visit Montreal, I make it a priority to go for lunch or dinner.

They were known for their herbal teas, coffees, and milkshakes flavoured with a variety of specialty syrups (almond, maple, mint, peach, are among some of the choices) constitute the available nonalcoholic beverages.

Some of popular sandwiches featured at Cafe Santropol are: Midnight Spread (peanut butter, honey, cream and cottage cheese spread, nuts and raisins), Paspebiac (tuna, tomatoes, and creamcheese), Sweet Root (apples, nuts, coriander, grated carrots and raisins, mayo) Tomato sandwiches, my favourite Vege Pate, and the Saint Urbain Corner (honey, nuts, olives, cream and cottage cheese (can be ordered with ham or chicken). My favourite from my teens is No. 13- (banana, honey, cream and cottage cheese, blackcurrent jam).

Vegetarian pot pies come in three varieties: spinach, millet, sarrasin and olives. They are served hot with vegetable salad.

For lunch fare, the menu is identical, but there is an option of a half sandwich/half soup deal. This option is offered from Monday to Friday until 5pm. Eligible sandwiches have an asterix (*) beside them. They specialize in herbal tea blends, now available for sale at Boutique Santropol, along with T-shirts and posters. Some Santropol brand herbal tea blends include Curiosi Tea, Humani Tea, Hospitali Tea (I used to enjoy Materni Tea but it does not exist anymore). Other herbal tea blends include Lemon Zinger, Cranberry Coe, and Emperor’s Choice. Some drinks include soft drinks (Coke/7UP), Milk Shakes, Diabolo (soda water and choice of twenty flavoured syrups), Cafe de La Maison (coffee, whipped cream, and choice of twenty flavoured syrups).

 

The restaurant is spread across three little dining areas, plus a romantic, amazing back terace with a pond with real goldfish and several cats that run by, this place has been voted for years as the most romantic place to bring a date.

Sandwiches range from $7.95-$9.95 and come with vegetables and are quite thick. I used to order the vege pate sandwich for years. The bread is fresh and to die for but I do not eat it anymore. A main staple is the vegetarian chili and the salads are worth trying. The dressing is simply wonderful with a mysterious hint of avocado perhaps? One percent of the bill is sent to organizations that ease hunger in Qu颥c and developing nations. Santropol Roulant (A Meals on Wheels service) literally across the street on Duluth and serves as a meals on wheels service for Montreal’s poor. Takeout is available. Accepts all cards. Open late on the weekends

Schillings Cafe and Bakery [Mark]

135 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, ON
416 466-9100.

From the outside, it looks like a hoity-toity bakery. In terms of presentation, the cakes, pastries, squares, breads, and other baked goods are beautifully displayed by the window. The smells draw people in like bait and in no time customers can’t resist. They’ll buy little tarts, fudge, cakes, danishes, and other fattening treats.

I did not know that they served brunch until I went in with a friend to buy a German bread called “Schtolen”. I was surprised to find out that they also serve a healthy brunch too. The next Sunday, I went with my two friends and we enjoyed our brunch. Nestled in the back, there are about 15-20 large tables which sit about 40 people. Walls are multi-coloured and overall decor is fun and funky. I enjoyed an egg white omelete with broccoli, cauliflower, mushroom, mozzarella cheese, and spanish onion.

My other friend has a mushroom and cheese omelete and my other friend had roast beef in a baguette. The service was incredibly slow [one server had quit that very morning] but four different servers were very nice, attentive, and always brought us fresh milk for our coffee, free coffee refills, and were always coming around to see if we were generally happy.
I admit it must be difficult to manage a pastry and bakery shop and a restaurant with only 4-5 staff.

For the slow service, they apologized profusely and gave us a complimentary bag full of cookies. I do not mean chocolate chip cookies to dunk into milk, but fancy, schmancy cookies that look too nice to eat. I gave them to my two friends since cookies are not “Mark-friendly” The omelete was $7.95 and there was no extra charge to make it an egg white omelete…thank goodness….Both of our dishes were served with a large bowl of organic greens with a homemade raspberry viniagrette which was sweet, tart, chunky, and fruity. It may have looked like jam but it was clearly a viniagrette. I would recommend this place for the food and service are stellar.

Rugelah Challenge, The

The Rugelah Challenge

Rugelah is a traditional Jewish desert that consists of rolled dough and cream cheese and is filled with different delights. My favourite type of rugelah is definitely chocolate; however it comes in all sorts including raisin, cinnamon, and fruit. Rugelah is sold in many Jewish-style bakeries throughout the city, but it is not particularly cheap and usually costs in upwards of $10 per pound.

It is a family tradition that each weekend; before traveling two hours north to the family cottage in Huntsville; one member of the family (usually my mother) picks up a fresh batch of rugelah. It is almost always devoured within the first night of the weekend.

One weekend, my family decided to hold a blind taste test of three different samplings of rugelah from various bakeries in the city. The three bakeries chosen to participate in this challenge were: Haymishe Bagel (3031 Bathurst st – 416-781-4212), What a Bagel (3500 Bathurst St. – 416-785-7222), and Longo’s (York Mills and Leslie).

In my mind, I thought Haymishe would easily win this challenge due to the delicious Jewish fare I am accustomed to consuming there. However, after each member of the family tasted each rugelah without prior knowledge to which one was which it turned out Longo’s was the victor.

I must admit this challenge is a bit skewed since it did not include probably the most famous Jewish Bakery in Toronto: Harbord Bakery. I promise to include Hardbord in the next challenge and update this review.

Bonjour Brioche

 

 812 Queen St. East   Toronto, ON
416 406-1250

Having risen early (6:30 a.m. on a Sunday!) for an “all-staff meeting” for work, I was rarin’ to eat some good brunch by 10 a.m. Bonjour Brioche did not dissapoint. Located just west of Hello Toast on Queen St., Bonjour Brioche has a slightly upscale menu and also serves as bakery, with baguettes and ‘brioches’ (sweet buns with a different something inside). After waiting about 20 minutes we were seated in the shade on the patio, which is on the side of the restaurant. Scanning the menu, I was recommended the scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and topped with caviar. However, upon further inspection I went with the ‘Tart of the Day’ which consisted of roasted garlic, mushroom and asiago cheese. I’m not sure how a tart differs from a quiche as they seem very similar, but this one was rich and tasty. Brigette also tried a tart but her’s had spinach, ricotta and olives inside. Her’s was milder tasting but also delicious. Marina had the omelette of the day which consisted of smoked salmon and creme fraiche, while Mark (not Polger) had the french toast which was incredibly rich and sweet (maybe too much so). Everyone came away fully satisfied.

http://www.toronto-underground.com/index.html?/food_drink/local/brunch.html
http://www.martiniboys.com/pages/reviews/bonjourbri.htm

Cafe Demetre

 400 Danforth Av
(416) 778-6654

188 Eglinton Ave East
(416) 485-4610 

3280 Dufferin Street
(416) 789-CAFE (2233)

2962 Bloor Street West
(416) 234-CAFE (2233)

If you are looking for a trendy hotspot for desserts (cakes, pies), home made ice cream, sundaes, granitas, gourmet coffee, ice cream floats, come to Cafe Demetre. This place is a chain and it located in many neighbourhoods in Toronto and outside the GTA. Expect to see people who dress up for dessert. Prices are not cheap but portions are huge and made for the gluten in you. There are few healthy selections.

I usually order the yogourt in a tall glass with seasonal fruit and granola or the fruit grannitas which are pureed fruit,and crushed ice. Service is kind of slow (it’s very busy) but staff are friendly and accomodating.  The decor is bright and colourful and filled with Disney paraphernalia.

It has an almost child-like quality to the decor, fun, colourful, funky chairs, almost 1950’s diner style dessert hangout. Many cake varieties with huge “take home” portions that leave people full. A great place to take someone on a date but the place can get noisy and rowdy on a Saturday night. Expect lineups on the weekend, even during the winter.

Future Bakery

483 Bloor W
(416) 922-5875

Located right in the heart of the Annex at Brunswick and Bloor, this cafeteria style cafe is funky, urban, trendy, and has a beautiful summer patio (terrace) where people can chill and gather with friends for light food and good coffee. Similarly designed like Marche Movenpick, this place has kiosks that serve coffee, cake, pastries, grilled items, all divided into three main areas.

The vegetarian chili is a bit watery but excellent nonetheless. There are no waitresses (unless you request table service by the patio). For the most part, Future Bakery resembles a mini “Marche Movenpick” where people order and wait for food.  Dishes are served quickly and efficiently. Salad selections are plentiful and affordable. Many dessert selections (huge pieces of cake, pie, and squares) are offered ($4-$7 per slice). Future Bakery does not make their own desserts. 

Open very very late and often times very crowded. Mostly caters to the University of Toronto scene.  A great place to hang out and people watch. Offers both table service (outdoor patio) or takeout.