Au Festin de Babette
4085 St Denis St/Duluth
Telephone: (514) 849-0214
Cost: $ 22.95
Chef Hats: 3.5
It is clear that its namesake is influenced and taken from the movie Babette’s Feast, a 1987 Oscar winning Danish Foreign film by Gabriel Axel based on Baroness Karen Von Blixen book by the same name. For a quick synopsis of the story, it revolves around a sumptuous feast in which the heroine Babette, after winning the lottery, prepares a meal for a congregation of sisters as an outpouring of her appreciation for taking her in. As an act of self-sacrifice, Babette spends her entire winnings on the meal, the rest is a lesson in humility and humanity.
As for Au Festin de Babette on St Denis a popular breakfast spot and café among the hipsters of the neighborhood, you will not need to spend all your life’s saving to have a good meal. It will only put you back at the most $ 17.95 plus taxes and tip, a fair deal for a decent meal.
For years, I have loved the film so upon hearing about the café with the same name I was intrigued. After it came highly recommended by one of my coffee buddies. I unknowingly booked a reservation a month ahead for our group on one of Montreal busiest days of the year; the Tour de L’ile de Montreal. Navigating traffic in Montreal these days is virtually impossible with all the construction and road closures. On this day when most of the main arteries in town are completely closed because of the bicycle race, it is highly recommended to take public transportation. Upon the realization that it was not going to be easy and with much trepidation I ventured forth anyways to St. Denis street just to sit at this café with a few coffee friends to chat and have breakfast. Sometimes the Foo Foodie eschews any careful thought to surroundings and goes on an adventure against all odds. Of course, I hardly ever take the subway in from the West Island, because of the two-hour trek and always take my car and try to park close by. Today, this was proving an impossible feat to accomplish, once at a complete standstill and one and a half hours later I abandoned the car on a small side street and walked a couple of blocks to the café. I was super lucky to even have gotten this far, but finally made it to the café a few minutes early.
As I sat there in solitude before my friends arrived, I looked around to see what all the fuss was about and came to the realization that there was nothing special about this café except for its homey feeling and comfortable disposition. Filled with 20-30 something hipsters, it felt more like a local hangout with a small terrace out in front and small quaint dining rooms inside. The different nooks reminded me of some heritage homes that have been repurposed for businesses and where you can find private seating away from watchful eyes of other patrons. The place is a mish mash of old furniture, wooden tables and chairs in different styles. Pale green walls create a soothing calm effect with a scatter of bookshelves and Knick knack familiar to those found in most people’s dining rooms. The crowd seemed to either be totally enthralled in conversations, enjoying their meals and coffee and others were sitting quietly in front of their laptops on this Sunday afternoon.
For a moment, I was enjoying the breeze emanating from the open door on such a lovely warm day and despite my anxiety, which soon dissipated, a peace came over me. As I glanced towards the door, I saw two of my friends arrive. After some hugs and air kisses, we perused the menu and discussed our choices. We mostly decided to have the Ham & Cheese quiche and Mushroom Quiche with a serving of salad for $ 12.00, because of its price value and because most of us had breakfast. This was hardly a feast, but the quiche was very tasty and flavorful, the salad was light and delicious with its homemade dressing. A very healthy choice and crowd pleaser.
Our friend H was the only one that decided to go with the Le Berri brunch at the more expensive option. The brunch dish was exquisite with an open-faced sausage patty topped with egg, a potato dauphinoise in cocotte, salad with bruschetta, bacon strips made with Parma ham, a hearty creamy squash soup and a verrine of chocolate mousse which is their specialty, a must not miss moment.
The conversation was jovial and light and a good time was had all around. The food and ambiance were carefree and unpretentious which helped our mood and when the meal was complete we spilled onto the busy street filled with bicycles, but we did not mind one bit, it became part of what makes our city unique.