The first order of business anytime, anywhere, is always coffee. This seems to be a trend with me no matter where I go. This is, of course, because coffee is life, and the root of all things like walking and talking and getting out of bed. If the question is coffee, the answer is yes. Essentially, my spirit animal is Lorelei Gilmore (played by Safiya Nygaard).
Thus, my next order of business in Montréal was to find a good coffee shop. Actually, to be realistic, it was to try coffee at as many places as possible, but the first step in drinking coffee at all the places is to drink coffee at one of the places. Thus, I found myself at the doors of Tommy Café, where the promise of good coffee and tasty pastries awaited me.
Tommy is located about a block away from Montréal’s Notre Dame Cathedral, and it does have a hipster chic feel to it. Past experiences have taught me to be wary of such places, as they are just as likely to ironically brew stale Starbucks coffee as they are to be the real deal. After all, there’s no feeling quite as bitter as realizing your fresh aromatic coffee has been replaced with the sinister bitter taste of old beans. I’m much more a snob about this sort of thing than I was a decade ago–which isn’t even half of my coffee drinking career, to be honest. My mom got me hooked early in life. I’m fairly sure she did this in an attempt to stunt my growth and convince my body that I should be the height of a normal sized person (spoiler: it didn’t work).
The café is well lit, which always makes me happy, because light means windows which means places to sit and watch people go buy. Plus the staircase indicated there was upstairs seating, which is a double boon for sitting and watching people go by. But, before I could get to that, I needed my coffee–and a munchie.
I am happy to say I was not disappointed in either.
For some reason, I decided to get a café au lait, which is not my usual drink. Usually I drink my coffee black. Years ago I ditched milk (but only because it made me sick), and quickly discovered that if coffee is good, it actually is not bad at all black. It was not until much later that I learned that bitter coffee is bad coffee, and not of coffee’s natural state. If you have to have lots of sugar and milk and stuff in your coffee, that’s because the coffee is substandard (here’s looking at you, Starbucks). That doesn’t mean, of course, I am against the occasional frappuccino, it just means that, well, I’ve developed into a snob. I blame Europe. Anyway, the café au lait was good, as was the food, and I was happy.
A good number of the other customers are reading books or working on computers, which is always encouraging (because then we can all work together separately). I lounged about on one of the couches, and watched out the window. Every few minutes a carriage would roll by, and I was reminded of the fact that nearly every big town with anything remotely historic in it has it’s own collection of carriages. Despite that, I still wanna ride the ride and pet the horsies every time. Montréal has a definite flavor of times passed, and Tommy seems to incorporate that into the café through the detailing in the building. Part of me wants to look up the history, but another part of me–a stronger part of me–is more interested in continuing watching people.
Eventually I do have to leave–that is the case with every place, after all–but it was time well spent. Maybe next time I’ll get the coffee, no milk, no sugar. Just coffee.