A long time ago, I had the nicest breakfast I’ve ever had while eating out in Montreal. I guess these things are a matter of taste, and for such meal with such clear delineations (depending on your location), it can run the gamut of very different styles. Some people go for classic fry-ups – eggs, pancakes, porkmeats, cheese, potatoes, and whincy awful fruit cups. Some prefer those old ideas reinvented in complex and delighting ways with accompanyingly more involved tabs at the end of the meal. Some like to stuff themselves. Some are happy with a bit of toast and jam and tea. For myself, I like to linger and use my fingers in the morning. Eggs are always welcome, as is a vegetarian meal – something simple, but substantial and naturally rich. I suppose this is somewhat French or Mediterranean in personality, and if this is your kind of brunch, I highly highly recommend Byblos Le Petit Café at 1499 Laurier Est.
For one, it’s affordable. And who wants sticker shock before any kind of caffeine has set in? No, it’s relaxing to peruse the menu and get excited about all the sure-to-be-just-exotic-enough options that are perfect for sharing around the table. It was a long time ago so I don’t remember the exact prices, but everything you see here in this post might have come to less than 23$, and we were splurging on extras like fresh juice and pastries.
For second, it’s delicious. It’s obvious that they put care into their food, offering a dizzying 25 different homemade preserves to enjoy with the fresh bread basket bursting with lovely carbs like pitas, wholemeal bread and sesame wedges. We chose a roseflower and orange marmalade and it was tops. I wish even there was a way to order a sample platter of all the preserves, because they all sounded really special.
The plate of olives, feta, herbs (mint, coriander and dill!), walnuts and pistachios was perfect. Nothing touched, just quality ingredients full of flavour and perfect for dipping sleepy fingers into and combining with everything else on the table. That particular breakfast item comes with a bowl of house-made halvah, softer and sweeter than what I’m used to (rich!), but very fresh and loaded with toasted sesame taste.
The omelette was very different from most you might find – incredibly moist, NOT overcooked, and tasting, of, well, egg. You might wonder why that’s special. Well, have you noticed how most omelettes taste like browned bits and cheeses and butter and arrive rubbery and cold? I like them this way. Warm, oozing, ethereal shmears flecked with blushing tomato, mmmm.
Finally, not to gush (ok, I’m gushing, and it’s worth it, I swears), Byblos, for some reason, has the BEST DAMNED CROISSANT I’VE EVER EATEN, in a bakery, restaurant or otherwise. Blistered shattering gossamer whorls of butterfat pastry – it arrived hot to the touch and disappeared before cooling off, eaten unadorned and melting on the tongue. I don’t even like croissants, normally (blasphemy, I know), but maybe I just haven’t had enough good ones, like this. So that’s my favourite breakfast in this city.
The tea is also sharply minty and comes with a mosaic of varied sugar-nuggets, nibbly rock candies in their own right. It’s a large enough space to accommodate any kind of party, and sunny throughout. I love Byblos! I’ll miss it.
BONUS! A little note about Iranian breakfast (information garnered from Wikipedia, natch): the traditional meal is called either sobhāneh (Persian: صُبحانِه) or nāshtāyi (Persian: ناشتايى). It usually comes with a variety of flatbreads, butter, Tabrizi white cheese/paneer, feta cheese, whipped cream sweetened with honey (sarshir), and a variety of fruit jams and spreads. This is what we had! Another popular traditional breakfast dish is a complex wheatmeal & lentil porridge served with shredded lamb or turkey, called haleem. Byblos indeed does offer a simplified version of haleem in the mornings, which I only wish I’d had the stomach-room at the time to try, because it sounds SO much like my thing, being a congee-girl and all, but alas that will have to wait for the next trip. I hear it’s good there, though.