If you’re one of those people who can leisurely brunch on weekdays, then 1 – people who can’t do so hate you and 2 – there’s a new spot to try out.
Régine Café is the spawn of the late La Cantine. Partners Pierre-Luc Chevalier and Maxim Lepage opened this new morning bistro in the Rosement-La Petite-Patrie neighborhood, providing locals with a weekend-quality brunch available all through the week.
It’s divided into two rooms: the café and the boudoir (watch your step). It doesn’t matter where you’re seated – both spaces have a modern, English tearoom feel, but without the stiff, prim and proper formalities. Even with multicolored cushioned chairs in both rooms, a purple velvet couch in the café and a chandelier in the boudoir, the overall feeling is warm and cozy, just like home.
Fusing French, English and American cuisines, the menu boasts sweet and savory dishes. Everything is made on site under the guidance of chef Anne-Claudine Laroche, save for the croissants provided by Arhoma bakery. Prices seem fair, and they are as long as you order the right thing. From experience, some plates were filling, while others left me wanting more for the money I forked over.
Take the Champi for instance. Fourteen dollars gets you two poached eggs, two slices of rustic bread that soak up the sage-laced cream sauce from the mushrooms, a scoop of mashed potatoes and some red pepper compote. I got a $4.00 upgrade, trading two poached eggs for a single Scotch egg – a boiled egg with a runny yoke, wrapped in sausage and coated with panko crumbs before hitting the fryer. Sounds good, but it didn't deliver. Why? It was bland. And the sides were good, but there was too little of them to justify the $18.00 price tag.
Still hungry, I ordered a scone ($3.00). Scones are best when they’re warm, and although this one wasn’t, it was still damn good. Golden brown in hue, the almond-spotted exterior crunches and crumbles when pierced, revealing a soft but dense core with fruity bits of orange and cranberry sparingly tucked throughout. Spoon over some whipped mascarpone cream, and all that’s left is to enjoy this not-too-sweet of a wonder. One is enough to snack on and two can get you by for brunch.
The peanut crunch is another small item that’s delicious and sensibly priced at $2.00. Two slices of their wonderful pistachio bread serve as the base for a spoonful of dreamy peanut spread that’s sweet and flaky with a gentle crisp. Get a couple of servings or pair it with other small dishes, and you’ve got yourself a meal.
I shrugged after a taste of the Mish Mash ($14.00) – scrambled eggs of the day, a ball of house potatoes, two slices of rustic bread and a fruit cup. The eggs featured yellow bell peppers and onions that added a sweet touch, and different cheeses that fell flat in the presence of salty feta. Not bad, not great – just edible. Ingredients change often, so be sure to inquire about what's cooking.
I took a chance on the Sweet Régine ($13.00) and it didn’t disappoint. I know it doesn’t look like there’s much to eat, but it’s surprisingly filling. The outermost layer of each crumpet was a bit tough, but the middle was soft and springy. They’re plain, but that’s before the addition of candied pistachios, sweet orange confit that packs a punch of citrus flavor, rich, dark chocolate ganache and tart yogurt crème brûlée. The best – and really, only – way to eat it is to get a little bit of everything in each bite!
Meet my favorite dish (so far): the Doré ($14.00). And yes, it’s just as good as it looks. It’s heavy, too. It begins with two thick slices of spiced French toast – moist and intoxicatingly cinnamon-y with banana chunks trapped in the batter – slathered with super sweet, buttery, caramelized banana sauce and topped with fresh banana. Just when you think it can’t get any better, they kick it up with some dates, pecans and whipped mascarpone cream. Order it.
When it comes to breakfast and brunch, I usually stick with savory. I’m a meat, eggs and potatoes kind of girl, but at Régine Café, I want the sweet stuff. Based on what I had, it’s the better stuff. It’s substantial, it’s indulgent and it’s worth the price.
Keep that in mind the next time you can sneak off for a not-for-everyday brunch, any day of the week.
1840 rue Beaubien Est | map