It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Spring was just around the corner but we were still dealing with a winter that refused to die! We had hoped for a mild Saturday morning, but yet again the bitter cold was threatening our existence and testing Joey’s ability to take pictures for our article. Nevertheless, this was definitely not the first time we had visited the quaint neighborhood of Villeray. In fact, over the past few years, Villeray had become a regular meeting place for our bromance sessions. Its proximity to Jarry Park, the Jean-Talon market and Little Italy make it the perfect location for young families and empty nesters seeking a diversified urban lifestyle. With this change in social demographic, independently owned businesses have been seemingly popping up all over the area.
Among these local businesses is Café Larue & fils, which opened its second location on Jarry Street (the original location being on De Castelneau) and has rapidly become a Villeray mainstay. As we stepped into Larue we quickly took notice of what can be described as an urban/chic vibe. The decor is a mix of modern and industrial design – white subway tiles cover the wall behind the barista counter; while an exposed brick wall to the right creates a warm backdrop for its many visitors. Large windows surround the facade of the building letting a healthy amount of light in (a photographer’s dream). From the outside, these large windows give the illusion that you are peering into a giant fish bowl, but instead of gold fish you have humans that love coffee.
While we were impressed with the overall look of the cafe, it was time for us to sample the goods. Larue’s menu is simple and straightforward. The coffee comes in various sizes, ranging from small to large and they also have a selection of croissants, cookies and other baked goods. We ordered a large latte (which basically looked like a bowl of milk) and a cappuccino. Both coffees were mild in flavor and presented a fruity aftertaste. Although we have no doubt that our better halves would have loved them, we felt that they lacked the punch we needed that morning to get our conversation flowing. For dessert, we selected an oatmeal raisin cookie as well as a “choco-mance” which can be described as a hybrid between a danish and a chocolatine. Both were decent but in no way memorable; they were the standard baked goods that you could find at any cafe in the city.
As we sipped and munched it was hard not to notice how busy the cafe was, with its numerous walk-in customers requesting take away coffee. What stood out to us the most was Larue‘s distinct customer base – while bohemian lounge music softly played, clients worked on their laptops or read “Le Devoir” (a newspaper which caters to subscribers who are interested in politics and business rather than organized crime and entertainment news). Larue’s clientele fits this description perfectly; they appeared to be well educated and cultured seeking the finer things in life. As we continued to observe the people around us, we noticed an older couple studying a map together. We couldn’t exactly hear what they were saying (and we certainly weren’t eavesdropping) but we imagined they could have been discussing their future world travels.
“What shall it be?” they whispered.
“Mount Kilimanjaro or Saigon?
Provence or Tuscany?
In which part of the world can a human find solace and inspiration?”
This was definitely not your all-inclusive 3 star hotel in Varadero Cuba kind of clientele. Larue attracts a diversified urbanite seeking some down time from their hectic 9-5 job, frequent trips to the Jean-Talon market and children’s piano recitals. It might not be the ideal place for bromance, networking or talking to a random stranger about the new Alfa Romeo Giulia; however it is a great business casual setting where one can enjoy a quiet cup of coffee while working on their laptop or reading their favourite newspaper. As we took our last sips of coffee, we couldn’t help but feel a little more distinguished. Perhaps, one day, we could become novelists? Maybe even run for city council? Come to think of it, why stop there?
David & Joey