2156 MacKay, corner of Sherbrooke
Tel: (514) 989-7514
Type: Cafe Casual- Persian
Chef Hats: 2.5
Afternoon Tea and High Tea Services have become quite the rage the last few years in Montreal. With all the specialized tea shops popping up everywhere, specialized cafes, tea rooms and hotels are serving anything from a simple cup of tea and a few cookies or a complete tea service with scones, tea sandwiches, crème fraiche and jams. There is no shortage of places to go indulge in your tea fantasies in Montreal.
One may think it is quite British, but in fact, high tea was introduced to ‘The Downton Abbey” crowd by the Portuguese and was the opposite of what we call High tea in the afternoon for the bourgeois class. It was served more during supper time and consisted of a heavier meal of cheese, bread and meat. It is the Brits who notably made it into a 3 pm ritual to appease their appetites before their usual supper which is served in Europe around 8 pm.
Growing up I remember my mom always have pot of tea and a platter of cookies ready after school when I returned. It was a mom and daughter ritual that was passed on to me unknowingly. It was a way to relax after a cold day, appease our appetites before dinner time and also to sit and chat to catch up on the day’s events. I have to admit that I prefer much more the flavors of coffee and I have not been much of a tea drinker these days. I limit myself to drinking a few cups when I am not feeling well. A sort of comfort ritual, but things are a changing, as my daughter has begun to reintroduce me to the whole culture of teas as I had never known existed before. She had shown me that there are more than just Tetley’s orange pekoe and has helped me sample different imported teas from all over the world. We have discussed the different between the various speciality shops in Montreal and their products. She has shown me the way to properly seep tea, the various methods and the different temperature one must use for ach tea. She has explained the different flavors that emanate from the infusions. She has become an avid only tea drinker and had quiet mastered the skill along with her plethora of friends who go as far as drinking bubble tea in Chinatown on their afternoons off. I am reveling in the fact that I am able to learn from her and funny how the tables have turned.
So it was apropos that after a day of walking the Golden Square Mile, shopping and visiting museums with Frenchie, we decided to go for a relaxing tea. I remembered that Nocochi Cafe on MacKay Street was around the corner and decided to revisit it for some rest and relaxation and of course their delicious Persian cookies and Bergamot infused tea. I had been there a few times with a girlfriend of mine and Frenchie for a Pied a Terre after a busy afternoon shopping downtown. The place is absolutely soothing!
Minimalist in decor and pure white everything decor, it is unassuming. It is very pleasing on the senses and very comfortable with its white wicker chairs, white tables and banquettes. There are enough comfortable pillows that you can prop against your back and the banquettes to soothe your achy back from a whole day of walking. There is nothing bohemian about the place, but you can sense the exotic.
The café’s name is derived from the word “nokhodchi,” that’s Farsi for “chick pea”. Presently owned by Marc St. Jean who took over a few years back, Nocochi was originally opened by an Iranian ex- pat, whose family hailing from Dubai owns five pastry shops under the brand name of Vivel. Vivel was founded by Shahnaz Bahgerzadeh whose mission was to bring her high end delicacies of Persian cookies to markets across the world.
Here at the café you will find an array of fine imported cookies and teas for your tea service and much more on their menu, including breakfast and lunch. It serves up specially prepared à la carte afternoon tea service that goes well with their long list of exquisite imported teas.
A must try is the Nocochi or British Tea service which I sampled today which included a trio of mini sandwiches made with Canadian rock crab, ham and brie and Beef and Brie, or simply order a platter of delicate flavorful Persian cookies. All was good except the bread on the sandwiches was a little too dry for my taste. The cookies were delicious as ever and the tea heavenly.
As for the teas, there are over 20 types to choose from starting from $2.50 for a teapot of strong Sri Lankan Ceylon Bop Shawland black tea to $9 for Gyokuro Bio, a Japanese-grown variety considered one of the finest green teas in the world. I sampled two types here the Serenity at $ 4.00, a blend of rose hips, sage, lemon, orange blossoms, zest and tangerine. It has a very calming effect and The Earl grey Green with bergamot at $ 3.00 a teapot to go with the cookie platter.
If you go you have to try at least one of the delicate and beautiful decorated Persian cookies made out of finely ground chickpea flour, shaped in array of squares, diamonds, golden crescents and rounds they all have their distinct flavorings and topping, such as chocolate, hazelnut and pistachio, honey and are flavored with exotic aromatic spices and rose water and much more that make them look more like jewels than food.. Purely Decadent! The cookies start as $.80 cents each and are sold for $ 8.00 a gram. Platters start at $ 16.00 and go up to $ 31.00, if you want to indulge get the biggest platter take home.
Nocochi Café has flown under-the-radar in Montreal for almost 10 years now. Frequented often by the mostly the Concordia University crowd and not known by many others except some in the Iranian/Arab community. They have kept it a secret because it is really a small gem and have not wanted it spoiled. It is a very casual refreshingly quiet isolated spot that is rarely busy or full. It is a type of place that wants to make you linger and that inspires those great ideas, it wants to make to hang out all afternoon and night and discuss life away with lots of tea and cookies.
It is the perfect place for a romantic afternoon tea with your other half or a good girlfriend, friends or family to just chill-ax and a secret place to hide and enjoy another world away.