Hangout Handbook The Many Moods of Montreal
In our annual Hangout Handbook, Exclaim! asks some of our favourite artists to discuss their favourite hometown haunts. Here, Little Scream, aka Laurel Sprengelmeyer, talks about her picks for Montreal.
Eat Your Greens
My favourite brunch spot is Aux Vivres (4631 Boul. St-Laurent) — they have great fresh juices and weekend specials like tofu scramble with tempeh bacon, cornbread and sweet potato. They have a takeout counter as well in case you want to bring your brunch to Parc Jeanne-Mance, which is only a few blocks away.
Out of This World
Personally, I'm a big fan of the Planetarium (4801 Ave. Pierre-De Coubertin). I think it's a very sexy place for a date. The Montreal Science Centre (2 Rue e la Commune O) in the Old Port is a close second, it has great IMAX movies and is in a great place to wander around once you're on King Edward Pier. From there you can walk to the Darling Foundry (745 Rue Ottawa), which is one of my favourite visual art spaces in town. No matter what's in there, it feels great because the space is a work of art in itself.
Seeing is Believing
If you're in town on a Sunday, you have to go to the Tam-Tams at Mount Royal Park. Zombies battle medieval LARPers, kids from the circus school practice juggling and tightrope walking, and a spontaneous drum circle dance party erupts every week that rivals the rave scene in The Matrix Reloaded. Pack a lunch and some cold beerskies and people watch; you can't go wrong. I pretty much only go now when people visit town but every time I do, it makes me fall in love with this city again.
A World of Flavours
My favourite is Chez Nouri (10 Ave des Pins). It's literally a hole in the wall, and has my favourite comfort food. He makes incredible Iranian wrap sandwiches and great soup. There's a cookie with five different types of dough — rose water, pistachio, chocolate... If you get them on the day he bakes them, it's heaven. I'd also recommend Dépanneur le Pick Up (7032 Rue Waverly) in Mile Ex, it has a great patio. My favourites there are the faux pulled pork and the halloumi sandwich, you can't go wrong.
Something for Everyone
My favourite book store happens to be conveniently located beside my favourite record store: Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore (211 Rue Bernard O) is right next to Phonopolis (207 Rue Bernard O). They are both friendly joints that feature a lot of local culture. I do most of my gift shopping there. If you're looking for eclectic surprises out of the downtown core, Plaza St-Hubert (6841 St-Hubert) in general is the most fun — it's a covered market area in the northeast part of town. There's a prom dress shop next to the sex shop next to a rock shop next to a hair extensions place. You never know what you'll find and it's worth the wander.
A City Filled with Cycle Paths
This city has great cycle paths — I think it's the best way to see the city. You can rent a Bixi and explore — if you want an adventure you can go all the way out to the beach on Cap-St-Jacques, or stick closer to the downtown and take the Lachine Canal on your way to visit Atwater Market. It's a great way to see Montreal from different angles! Montreal is an island with great shore parks along the river. You can get maps of them and explore — most have great bike lanes, and there are always great places to sit and ponder. One of my favourites is Parc Linear, on the north shore in Ahuntsic. It's a great bike ride all the way up Boul. St-Laurent; I feel like I'm in a different city when I'm there.
Plantains Beyond Plantains
For dinner I recommend Agrikol (1844 Rue Amherst). It's a new Haitian restaurant with amazingly loud music and incredible rum cocktails. The food is delicious — plantains, whole fried fish, accra fritters — all from a kitchen fronted by one of Montreal's best chefs. But you don't just go there for the food. It's more of an event. It creates a world you get to lose yourself in.
Throwback Every Day
My favourite bars are Alexandraplatz (6731 de L'Esplanade) and Snack N' Blues (5260 Boul. St-Laurent). Snack N' Blues actually has snacks, and a house DJ who spins Ethiopian jazz, Herbie Hancock and Fleetwood Mac. And if you're into the retro arcade bar trend, there are a few that just opened — there's one called North Star (3908 Blvd. St. Laurent) and another called Arcade MTL (2031 Rue Saint-Denis).
Patios and Poutines
Montreal is an easy going, friendly city. If you hang around the bar long enough, you're guaranteed to find a patio or a party where people are going to close out the night. That's where I usually spend my after hours. If you're hungry, poutine at Chez Claudette (351 Ave. Laurier E) or La Banquise (994 Rue Rachel E.) is the way to go. La Banquise is my personal fave — they have a vegetarian poutine with real veg gravy. It's open until 6 a.m. You can eat until you pass out.
Little Scream released her latest album, Cult Following, on Dine Alone earlier this year.