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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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  • by Marco Facchin - September 22, 2005, 1:45 am

    This has to be one of the nicest and classiest decors for a “cafe” on the island. In my view this counts for a lot when I go to places. I mean the food and stuff could be the bets in town but if it looks like hell it kind of kills it sometimes. The food here is good and drinks are at a semi-reasonable price. Only thing that’s missing is some atmosphere and it would be a “place to be”. I recommend for first dates and or an intimate get together.

  • by Rose Tavares-Finson - September 22, 2005, 1:25 pm

    For two months this summer, I found myself at Cafe local for either lunch,dinner,drinks and it was always full of life and a hearty crowd bringing me back for more. I particularily enjoyed friday night’s scene with music kicked up a few decibals, regulars sipping their martinis of the day……i can’t wait for the fireplace to feel this autum’s vibe as St Viateur’s greatest addition marks its’ corner!!!!

  • by Steve Landry - September 22, 2005, 3:04 pm

    From the picture, Café Local looks more like a swanky coffee shop with art nouveau chairs and gleaming hardwood floors and a cozy little couch just waiting for someone to sit their tired behind and relax with a Journal de Montréal. But, if this is the waiting area, you may not want to be told your table is ready because you’re immediately comfortable.
    I’m not a big fan of crabcakes. They’re overrated, regardless of clove or not in the relish.
    The salmon sounded good as well but the panini lacked anything exciting to make me choose it from the menu.
    In summary, the review for Café Local would be a nice place for a nice drink and conversation but the meal lacked a signature presentation or something that would it distinguish it from so many other establishments serving similar fare. I hope to hear from some people who decided to dine in, after this week’s coverage of Café Locale, a place that intends to stand out but needs to work on how it will be different.

  • by Heath Abram - September 22, 2005, 3:26 pm

    Yumm. The food sounds delicious. I can’t believe they actually serve macaroni and cheese. I love that stuff and the only time I get it is out of that famous blue box. I would love to try some that is homemade! The sweet potato fries sound interesting and I think it would make a nice side dish for my mac an’ cheese. The decor looks relaxing and it will be a nice place to dine with friends.

  • by Joyce Stemkowsky - September 28, 2005, 11:14 am

    I don’t care what anyone says, Montreal has the best restaurants. I look forward to the restaurant review in
    The Hour each week because it is usually an affordable, comfortable, delicious place to go to. I make sweet potatoe fries at home, from a cajun cooking class I took and I love them. Crab cakes are another favorite of mine so if I am in that neck of the woods, I may check it out. Thanks.

  • by Tricia Jenkins - September 28, 2005, 3:47 pm

    This place just screams my name. I love such lounges- and I feel at home in these types of settings. The food selection seems okay, and if they have margaritas, I’m definitely in! Thank you for introducing me to this place! I’ve been looking for more lounges!

  • by Alan Huang - October 6, 2005, 11:36 pm

    This looks like a place where hobos like myself would be scoffed at and frowned upon. But since they have drink specials, they can’t be that bad! And sweet potato poutine, that sounds strangely delectable… I was in the area just a couple of days ago but didn’t notice the place though. Strange.

  • by Roxane Gibault - October 11, 2005, 4:16 am

    I’m hoping that we’ll still be lucky enough to have at least one nice day left this year where I could enjoy this great patio, the drinks looks pretty good, I think that’s the only reason that I’d go there because the food seems rather ordinary.

  • by Pedro Eggers - October 29, 2005, 5:50 pm

    Ok, admit it–one look at that picture and you’re thinking “Wow, it’s the Friends coffeehouse set!”. Well, I was thinking it anyways. It’s a bit sunnier but damn if it isn’t just as huge. If you’re just looking for place for an informal meeting or a post-first date drink then this is tyhe place you want. It’s a tad pricy for what they’ve actually got to offer but if you’re up for it then go for it. Good eats, not great.

  • by Marianne Quinto - November 19, 2005, 2:15 am

    Whether i feel like grabbing a coffee during the day, or having an evening meal, this is a place i’d consider for sure. The food sounds delicious (i was actually getting hungry while reading this article!) And the drink specials offered each night of the week is also quite enticing. This cafe/restuarant is also a good place for a “cinque a sept” at the end of a work day. This place definitely sounds awesome!

  • by Sherry McLean - May 29, 2008, 3:57 pm

    I went to Café Local last Sunday. It was a beautiful day but we sat inside by the window. The service was great – I loved the atmosphere and the decor. Just wanted to nibble on something and had the quesadillas….Oh…My…God!!! It was delicious!

    I think I’ve found the perfect place for Thusday cocktails.

    Will be going back soon!

  • by Yanick - August 23, 2011, 10:17 pm

    Soirée de merde, le serveur commence par nous raconter que cette table est réservée , “;les gens sont dehors nous dit-il … la table restera vide toute la soirée, puis le type du bar commence à crouser la blonde à mon frère. On apprécie le cadre, au plafond , il manque deux plafonniers , ils ont bouché les trous avec des sacs poubelle. Il manque une fausse poutre en polystyrène , c’est assez décadent , le même Barman commence à nous raconter le dégâts et le manque de moyen pour réparer…On va pleurer !
    La carte est bourrée de supplément , en gros tu commandes les légumes et tu payes un supplément pour qu’il y ait la viande ou le poisson . Les plats sont servis dans une grande assiette rectangulaire, ça donne l’impression de vide à l’intérieur…Ce n’est pas qu une impression finalement, les frites sont trop cuites, la vinaigrette et la mayonnaise sont industrielles et l’ensemble est plate.

    j ai pas le temps de faire un roman et ça n’en vaut pas le temps que cela

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