I do the vegetarian thing every now and then when I want to eat healthy. Gasp. Did I lose some of you already? It’s not that bad. And if anything, it makes me appreciate meat all the more. I mostly go meatless at home so I’m not even going to pretend like I know where to find the best vegetarian spots in town. But I’ll tell you about one place I’m okay with, Café Santropol.
Set on the corner of Saint-Urbain and Duluth Ouest, Café Santropol has been around since the 70s, and judging from the crowd at all times of the day, still going strong. They have meat products on the menu, but I bet vegetarian sandwiches are their biggest draw. Santropol bread – wonderful, homemade pumpernickel – is used universally, and you have to love cream cheese because it’s in everything. Salad comes on the side because [insert sarcasm] there's not enough of it in the vegetarian sandwich…
Lots of clients are hot for the Killer Tomato ($9.00). And you know what? It’s actually good. It starts with two 1-inch thick slabs of Santropol bread, each generously smeared with a harmony of cream cheese, sundried tomatoes, basil and garlic. They’re brought together with crisp romaine lettuce and juicy tomato slices at the center, the final product towering high. I like the bread, it’s fluffy and fresh but the crust is really hard. Leaving it behind is not an option, so I tear it off and eat it separately. The vegetables are there for a fresh take, but it’s all about the dressed up cream cheese. Without it, it would be a pathetic salad in disguise. You have the option of adding ham or chicken salad, but – I can’t believe I’m saying this – it’s good enough without. It’s filling but it doesn’t weight me down, it’s tasty and it’s a good change of pace from my usual artery clogging activities.
Think twice about getting a Chai Soya ($4.25). Watered down. Lukewarm. Gross.
I’m not counting the days until I’ll be back, but I’d be up for it again. I’ve got my eyes on Northern Lights (cream cheese, olives, spices and roasted pecans) and Pepper Island (pesto, cream cheese, jalapeño pepper jelly) for next time. Prices are reasonable, portions make up for the lack of meat, and service is not the strongest. It’s pretty cool and cozy, and the very vegetarian-friendly menu rounds up young hipsters (surely McGill undergrads) from all around the neighborhood. And there’s a lot of them, so be prepared to wait for a table. In the summer, you need to be in the backyard patio. Ok?
Café Santropol doesn’t make sandwiches that make my heart flutter, and when I'm looking to eat healthy, that’s actually a good thing.
3990 rue Saint-Urbain | map