We were well dressed and our hair was perfectly coiffed. Armed with our Ray Ban sunglasses and our sense of adventure, we decided to explore a place we had often heard about but never visited. Little did we know that this excursion would open our eyes to a whole new world. As Google Maps lead us through the Atwater Market, past Griffintown and across the Lachine Canal, we had finally reached our destination. David carefully parked his rust colored Fiat 500 on Centre Street. We both got out of the bromance mobile and observed our surroundings. This was the place. This was Pointe-Saint-Charles.The neighborhood of Pointe-Saint-Charles, also known as “The Point”, is situated in the South-West borough of Montreal. Historically, it was a working-class neighborhood populated by a large Irish community. Our parent’s generation will be quick to tell you that this used to be a rough area. Today, The Point still maintains a certain grittiness which can be evidenced by its older homes and commercial store fronts. In recent years, however, it has undergone some changes including the opening of the Montreal Technoparc and the rehabilitation of the Lachine Canal for recreational use. While these changes have definitely enhanced the perception of the neighborhood, the gentrification of Pointe-Saint-Charles is still relatively new. There are fewer condo developments than in areas such as St-Henri and Griffintown and rent is still somewhat affordable (get in while you still can!). Among the local businesses that cater to The Point’s growing and changing demographic is Café Bloom. Founded four years ago, Bloom has established itself within the Point’s community by creating an environment that is welcoming to all.
As we stepped into the cafe, it was bustling with energy. Students, young families and older couples were sitting on the mismatched furniture spread through the room. The décor was open and inviting, minimalist but warm. A large counter in the center of the room was filled with customers waiting to get their morning caffeine fix. The barista rang a small bell to signal when each order was ready. At the back of the cafe was a large open kitchen. This is where the magic happened. We both stood there and watched as the waitresses brought out plate after plate of in-house specialties, each one looking more delicious than the other. What really left an impression on us however was the general demeanour of the people that frequented Bloom. Much like the area it is located in, Bloom’s staff and clientele exude an effortless cool, all the while remaining down to earth. If was difficult to define at first, but there was a sense of community here.
We took the first table that was available and scanned the menu choices on the giant chalkboard behind the barista counter. Bloom serves coffee, desserts and an extensive brunch menu. Phil & Sebastian is the cafe’s roast of choice for anything that is espresso based. Both the latte and the cappuccino we ordered were familiar in taste and were everything you would expect from a high quality third wave coffee. What really got us going though was the food; which is all made in-house with fresh and healthy ingredients. David chose a vegan pesto infused omelet on rye bread with a side of salad. It was an interesting play of ingredients with bold flavors. This was not your typical pesto either. Instead, Bloom has created a vegan option which excludes any cheese or pine nuts and has renamed it PISTOU. Joey instead opted for a power bowl, which contained quinoa, sweet potato, cabbage, kale and a hard-boiled egg. The bowl’s fresh ingredients were also topped with home-made vinaigrette. It was satisfying to say the least! For dessert, we had a Belgian brownie which was prepared following the original recipe of the owner’s grandmother. It was rich, sweet and full of awesomeness. If there is one thing you must try at Bloom, this would be it.
We could have easily spent the day there but you know what they say: “all good bromance must come to an end.” As we took our last bites of dessert, the staff began to play the Black Keys, a blues inspired rock band whose music fit perfectly with Bloom and the area it hails from. This had been an interesting journey indeed. Not only had we ventured into unchartered territory but we had also made a new discovery. Café Bloom is definitely worth the trip for anyone interested in uncovering The Point’s best kept secret. Just don’t tell too many people. We want to make sure we get a piece of that Belgian brownie next time we visit.
David and Joey