Jessica Seaton, Toast's co-founder and Managing Director provides an incomplete guide to Montreal - one of the locations for our autumn/winter 2013 photo shoot in Canada.Photography by Nicholas James Seaton.
Two Bookshops One English, One French
It is fitting that bilingual Montreal should have two bookshops of excellence one English, one French. Depending on your linguistic bias, both are a refuges against the busy day, browsing in peace amongst the calm shelves' well-edited selections, chosen by their respective, dedicated proprietors.
Drawn & Quarterly is not only a bookshop, but also a publisher with a specialism in new graphic novels, a dynamic scene recently established in Montreal. Here they range alongside a comprehensive selection of arts and music publications, as well as the best in modern and historic literature.
Le Port de Tete is run by Eric Blackburn and his selection includes philosophy and history of art amongst French versions of the graphic novel. His bookshop is beautiful and calm, the spines of the books gently gradated tones of cream and vellum, in the French style.
We came across Lawrence whilst scouting for suitable shoot locations in the Mile End area and loved it immediately.
Situated on the corner of St Lawrence and Fairmount, the simple graphic on the window, the friendly but self-respecting demeanour of the staff and the calm interior spoke immediately of Lawrence's modern and serious sensibility. We lunched there later that day and the food did not disappoint to such an extent that we immediately re-booked for our farewell-to-Montreal dinner the following day.
The owners, Sefi Amir, Marc Cohen (a British-born chef), Ethan Wills and Annika Krausz (a Montreal-born designer) came together to create Lawrence almost 3 years ago. They all share the same nose to tail' philosophy, favouring organic and respectfully produced meat from small local suppliers, which they also butcher in house. Vegetables are seasonal and local wherever possible even in winter when the cold of Quebec creates real difficulties in providing fresh local produce.
Since we visited they have opened Boucherie Lawrence a little down the street. This is currently garnering rave reviews by selling the same meat served in the restaurant in the same enlightened and thoughtful way. A worthy addition to the newly-founded Lawrence tradition.
Other places we liked:
Sucrerie de la Montagne, 300, rang Saint-George, Rigaud, Quebec, J0P 1P0 t. 450.451.0831, sucreriedelamontagne.com
Situated outside Montreal this historic sucrerie still extracts and processes maple syrup from its maple woods. You can enjoy a traditional Quebecois lunch; stay in a little cabin, and in the winter drive through the woods on a sleigh.
Station Epices, 174A West Bernard Street, Montreal, H2T 2K2 t. 514.274.1514, spicestation.ca
A ravishing-looking spice and herb store in the lively Mile End region of the city.
le Cartet, 106, rue McGill, Montreal, H2Y 2E5 t. 514.871.8887, lecartet.com
The hip, cool down-towners of Montreal eat brunch and lunch here with their families in this modern, fresh caf/bar and store on McGill. The quality of the coffee depends very much on who is working the machine, but the food is good and the ambience enjoyable and modern.
Hotel St Paul, 355, rue McGill, Montreal, H2Y 2E8 t. 514.380.222, hotelstpaul.com
A modern, comfortable hotel downtown in Montreal. Many of our favourite photographs were taken in close proximity to the hotel and all the team-member were perfectly sustained by the food eaten late, after shooting, in the Ham Bar.
Savoie Fils, 251 Rue St Viateur Ouest, Montreal, H2V 1Y1 t. 514.507.4092, savoiefils.com
Savoie Fils is a cleverly edited shop selling men's and women's clothes, together with maple syrup, good coffee, flasks, penknives and other surprising finds. Worth a visit
And finally a small selection of other places to eat:
Brooklyn, 71 St Viateur Est- t. 514.564.6910 (a mid-century furniture shop, combined with delicious food)
Pied de Cochon, 536 Avenue Duluth Est t. 514.281.1114 (go with loose trousers very substantial, but brilliant Quebecoise cuisine)
Caf Sardine, 9 Avenue Fairmount Est t. 514.802.8899 (famous for doughnuts and coffee)