No. 44: Lawrence
When you quit boulevard St. Laurent and step into Lawrence, the first thing that strikes you is the warmth and intimacy of the place.
These are tight quarters but— priorities, priorities—they have carved off room for a bar. From the scuffed floors to the plaid banquettes and the bare wood tables and the white-washed walls, all collectively serve as a smart reminder that you don’t have to spend much to make a good impression in this business. Not if your room and bar are always full because your ingredients are sound, cooking solid and prices honest.
Chef and co-owner Marc Cohen is British, and he has brought the flavours—and the language—of a true English gastropub along with him. Think dinnertime starters of blood pudding with apple tart and a fried egg, or grilled, braised pig’s tongue with butter (not Lima) beans. Fish on offer is similarly robust (mackerel come with braised tomatoes, chickpeas— and another fried egg). On the subject of eggs, note that theirs is one of the best brunches in town.
Picture grilled sourdough topped with a generous scattering of lightly seared veal kidneys, caramelised onions, crispy sage, sensational bacon and perfect fried eggs. Not scorched and brown and crispy at the edges, but cooked slowly and gently in a low-heat pan, just like Marco Pierre White always insisted they should be.
Definitely the best brunch spot in Montreal. – BRIGITTE BOULANGER