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Café Local: Last gasp terrasse

Last gasp terrasse

Café Local: Wide-angle ogling
Photo: Joseph Yarmush

Balmy Septembers are made to be spent lounging out of doors

The freakishly warm and humid weather had me thinking outdoor possibilities. I’m not saying snow’s going to fly next week, but let’s be honest: The few more chances we get to sit out on a terrasse this year are to be cherished.

And a corner terrasse – what could be better than scoping out two streets at once? Café Local has nabbed prime real estate at the hottie-watching hotspot of St-Viateur and Esplanade. Some of the terrasse is lounge-like, with low seating under a vine-laden trellis.

And if this is Wednesday, I must be drinking martinis. The café has drinks specials each night of the week (if it were Monday, I’d be downing a $5 margarita). I was with my littlest sis, who ordered the Sex in the City, with peach schnapps, secretly wishing it weren’t named after the bygone whine fest.

My fancy blend of vodka, gin and blue curaçao was a pretty blue (I keep forgetting the orange liqueur is the colour of antifreeze) juxtaposed by a bright orange slice.

To go with the boozy beverages, we had two crab cakes with tomato-orange-chipotle sauce. Awfully pleasant, and sis quickly detected the clove note in the relish.

Sweet potato fries had a dribble of sweet balsamic vinegar reduction, and came with mayo. Not crisp like regular fries, a bit chewy. Though sweeter than regular potatoes, these are better for you, loaded with vitamin A. (The café serves a sweet potato poutine too, with cheddar and mozz. Sin and virtue in one great goopy mass.) The spinach and cheese dip with sun-dried tomato chips had also caught our eye.

For main-course sustenance, the day’s fish special was salmon on spinach risotto. The regular menu has upscale notes, like mushroom risotto, but is mostly homey with Caesar salad, a good-sounding burger of Angus beef, or chicken. And there’s a special place in heaven for restos that offer mac ‘n’ cheese. Or, more properly, ‘n’ four cheeses.

After the apps, I had a spinach salad with a modest piece of salmon. It was as if the chef had deconstructed a sushi roll – strips of nori, a scattering of rice, cucumber.

Sib had basic grilled veggie panini, accented with the same salsa as the crab cakes, with okay regular fries.

We people- and pet-watched, talking of Peruvian hairless dogs and goldfish as possible companions under her no-furred-animals-allowed lease. A wiggly black puppy made a noise under a table. Her pal and a pug named Dave walked by. We fussed over the goggle-eyed beast (Dave, not the pal).

Overall, Café Local has nice stuff, with mostly good prices. Sib found it "swanky." "Who are those people inside, lounging like that?" she said.

Indeed, the inside looked luxe and inviting: warm orange walls, some brick. Ornate, but not fussy, lamp fixtures. Faux suedey couches and armchairs with coffee tables reminiscent of Kandinsky’s art. What Starbucks tries to achieve, but just can’t ever.

This year’s summer is not long for our world, but Café Local should transition well into the cooler and icier months. Perhaps they’ll have to implement a toddy Tuesday to be seasonally appropriate.

Café Local
200 St-Viateur W.; 274-3651
Dinner and a drink each for two, not including tax or tip: $30-$40

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