This is the fourth post in the Montreal Jazz Festival Weekend series. Other posts include New Series! Montreal Jazz Festival Weekend, L'Express Montreal, and A Tour of Montreal Bakeries and Bagel Shops.
Mile End is the name of a neighborhood in Montreal that's not too far from the foot of Mont Royal, the city's beloved hill and the highest point of the city. The neighborhood is known for its art galleries, classy cafes, and Montreal's two most famous bagel shops.
What we didn't fully appreciate (at least, not until our second day at Montreal), is that Mile End is where virtually all of our dining choices were located. Apparently, there's a lot of good food there.
Our hotel, which was located closer to downtown (and the Jazz Festival), was about a 15-minute drive from Mile End. As we found ourselves continuously heading back into the same area meal after meal, we jokingly questioned whether we should have just gotten a hotel here instead.
Lawrence is just one example of the many excellent (and currently, super hot) restaurants in Mile End. Its brunch is the most famous, and it's not unusual to find lines winding out the door.
The restaurant is co-owned by Chef Marc Cohen, Sefi Amir (also owner of Lawrence Boucherie), Ethan Wills and Annika Krausz. Chef Cohen is British, and you can definitely sense the British influence on the menu (clotted cream, scrapple, and scones anyone?). Of course, Chef Cohen is the first to admit Lawrence is not a British restaurant. He's just cooking stuff he likes, a combination of influences from all over.
We decided to take our chances with brunch by showing up really early, like before 11AM. Score! Seating was not a problem at all, and we found a lovely table for four right next to the window.
Scone with jam and clotted cream ($4 CAD) is a classic British pastry, though this scone was nothing like the dry, crumbly brick you might associate with a typical scone. This was one of the best scones I'd ever had. It was flaky, buttery, and had tons of layers. It came with a choice of butter, clotted cream, or jam. Or even any combination of those.
Honestly, it almost didn't matter. It was really good by itself, but also lovely with any of the accompaniments.
The Pig's Trotters, potatoes, anchovy, and boiled egg ($14 CAD) was hearty and full of flavor. The meat was shredded and spread throughout the dish, and I loved how there was actually quite a lot of vegetables in this dish (who knew?). This was another one of my favorites.
The French Toast with rhubarb and strawberries ($16) was beautifully executed and was a nice sweet contrast to all the other savory dishes we got.
Scrapple is actually an American breakfast item, originating from the Dutch in Pennsylvania. It is a cake formed from pork scraps, cornmeal, and wheat flour that is then sliced and pan fried. Lawrence's version of Scrapple ($15 CAD) comes with fried eggs, bacon, toast, and a side of fresh greens. It was delicious.
Finally, the Baked Eggs, celery root, and oyster mushroom ($15 CAD) was another hearty dish that had strong notes of celeriac, the main base of the dish. It was sort of like a baked casserole with the eggs holding everything together. This was enjoyable as well, though it wasn't my favorite from the meal.
For dessert, try the Beignes (doughnuts), a light yet tasty way to end the meal. Flavors may vary, but the day we went they had chocolate, lemon, and custard. The fillings are not too sweet, which is nice.
It's easy to see why this place is so popular. The brunch dishes are creative, executed really well, and just all around enjoyable and satisfying. I like how the portion sizes are not huge, and the prices are not too bad.
This place is very popular, especially for brunch. Definitely come early if you want to avoid waiting in line.
The service was very friendly, and overall we had a great time. I would highly recommend this place!
5201 Blvd. St. Laurent