Monday, December 11, 2006

Thé au Logis

So what are two lost souls to do on a Saturday night when most of everywhere reeks with the foul stench of routine and the prospect of walking into yet again the same old place within which you always walk seems as appealing as old instant coffee on the morning after drinking a little too much. Before you get caught in that very specific analogy, let's assume for a second that this past weekend was indeed that Saturday night and I was indeed one of said lost souls. As we were aimlessly wandering the deserted streets in search of a place to sit down and quench our thirst for entertainment (and liquor), we pass by an especially unsavory part of a well-known (yet nevertheless, unsavory in its own regard) street in this here little city that I nowadays call home. Far from the hordes of drunken tourists and scantly-clad ladies of reputably dubious manners and equally reputable promiscuity, there stands a little Bistro hidden below street level away from the prying eyes of said tourists and aforementioned ladies.

This little gem by the name of Le Thé au Logis touts itself as a restaurant, art gallery and tea house in one. To say that it got me at 'art gallery' is maybe an understatement, the fact that they also have quite a nice selection of liquor at very acceptable prices as well as live jazz on Saturday evenings (and what do you know, this was indeed a Saturday evening) meant that this was by now a done deal. I will not mention the fact that I've been passing next to this place for quite a while now and I've always been finding it closed (or what I now understand to be their 'permanently closed'-look). Before we could decide whether to continue with our aimless wandering, we found ourselves descending the small steps leading up to the entrance.

Once inside we were greeted by a warm and dimly-lit atmosphere, punctuated by a deep sound of a bass guitar, the funky chords of an electric guitar and the soft notes of a piano. Other than the band, that seemed rather oblivious to our presence, the place was deserted. This was surreal yet very fitting of everything. After exploring our initial surroundings from the entrance, to the bar, to the coat hanger in the back of the hall to the walls lined with paintings and back to the bar, someone eventually popped out of some swing-doors that seemed to lead to a brightly-lit kitchen. After asking if they were open and if we could grab something to eat, we were reassured that they were indeed open, and if we would just take a seat he will bring us our menus. So we took a seat and the menus were handed to us by the same boy that popped out of the kitchen. After enjoying some more of the jazz and making our choices (Smoked Salmon in Chardonnay for me, clam chowder and dim-sum for my friend, and a platter of sushi as an entrée) our waiter jotted down our order on a piece of paper, handed it off to the kitchen staff and, to our amazement, grabbed a guitar and joined the band. This was too good.

A little while later, a man in what looked like a chef's outfit (a real chef's outfit, not the one with the puffy hat from the cartoons) came out with our food. I must say, for a Caucasian chef, he makes a mean dim-sum. To their credit, my friend did spot more of the kitchen crew that were indeed of eastern descent, so we could reassuringly approach the sushi platter with all our ignorant-westerner hearts.

Midway through our meal another customer did step in, which momentarily ruined the 'we have this place to ourselves'-attitude that we were enjoying so far. It didn't last long, as he soon became part of the décor and we continued our meal and conversation to the pleasant tunes of the 2 guitars, the piano and the drums (where did those come from all of a sudden?).

Once finished, we did not feel at all full (as one should feel at the end of a good meal) and we parted the place knowing that we didn't waste another Saturday.

Well done Thé au Logis for providing an oasis of culinary bliss with a hint of much needed but severely lacking relaxing ambiance in the jungle that is Montreal's Crescent Street.

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