One thing that gives me a headache is trying to figure out what to do for brunch. Usually, it a combination of overpriced breakfast foods in the midst of foodies who are worse than dinner ones (they may in fact be the same except the dinner foodie is drunk and somewhat pleasant whereas the brunch one is hungover and even more miserable). Add the fact I was in Montreal and my head was going to explode. So, I did an online search and stumbled across a really good blog which does a stellar job focusing on the most important meal of the day:
After scrolling through numerous and well written posts, I stumbled across Park which met all my criteria:
1. They..gasp!…take brunch reservations.
2. It’s located in Westmount, a neighborhood outside of the downtown core which meant an opportunity to explore an alternate part of the city.
3. There’s more on the menu than bacon and eggs priced $5 higher than they are any other day of the week. In fact, they serve more of an asian-inspired lunch than a standard brunch.
So, we grabbed a cab and took the trek up to this funky neighbourhood. It’s oddly set-up in what appears to be a bit of a rundown office building although there are rather expensive pieces of art hanging on the walls of the lobby. I have no idea what Park was before, but I suspect it was some kind of sit down cafe which served Bunn coffee, bagels and greasy breakfast plates. It has been overhauled with a nice bar, decent decor and blackboards boasting cocktails and menu specials.
At the time we were seated, it was pretty empty but was full by noon. It was a diverse crowd including a table of elderly people enjoying every bite of their eggs to foodie couples snapping pics the same I was. I was intrigued by the numerous cocktails on the blackboard filled with asian flavours such as yuzu. When I inquired, however, I was told cocktails weren’t available at brunch and I was left to drink a mediocre $12 mimosa.
We ordered three very unorthodox brunch items which complied with both my whimsical tastes and my dining partner’s like for fresh, healthy flavours (what’s with that?); bibimbap ($13), Jap Chae ($13) and the deconstructed salad for two ($19). All three dishes had a delicate complexity to them with flavours that burst with freshness and balance. The visual appeal was spectacular. The grains in the bibimbap and noodles in the Jap Chae were done to perfection. The deconstructed salad was like having a personal assistant deliver the freshest ingredients from a whole foods setup on a plate in front of you without having to deal with the Lululemon wearing moms and indecisive salad bar champions. It had no less than 20 ingredients (lettuce, vegetables, pickled items such as kimchi etc.) as well as three delicious homemade dressings spiked with Asian flavours such as yuzu and miso. For $19 it could have had a few more protein options,vegetarian or otherwise.
This is not your typical brunch. Coming here and nestling in knarly and fashionable environments reaches noble and nouveau dimensions only superseded by the prettiness of the food. The combination of the fresh ingredients and bold flavours busts open the notion that the only cure for a hangover is grease. I’d knock my next day pain upside the head with a dose of this stuff any day but would leave out the $12 mimosa. Otherwise, the next question I would ask when coming to Park is “what’s for dinner?”