Interlocutor #1: “And how did you guys spend this glorious and unseasonably warm day?”
Interlocutor #2: “Griffintown.”
Interlocutor #1: “Griffintown?”
Interlocutor #2: “Yeah, we walked around Griffintown.”
Interlocutor #1: “Are you guys, like, shopping for a condo?”
Things we may have heard about Griffintown: It started as a repository for unskilled Irish immigrant labourers (my people!), it did some light industrial work, and now there will be condos. Lots and lots of condos.
But there’s gotta be something else to the ‘hood, right? Besides its rough’n’tumble past and its ready-to-wear present…
Well, walk this way…
Metro stop: Lionel-Groulx
Look – we’re gonna cheat a little bit, and we’re gonna start you off a west of Griffintown Proper, which unofficially starts around Guy. But, like most things in life, these boundaries are fluid.
So you exit the metro and head south one block to Notre-Dame Ouest. Welcome to Little Burgundy. Whew! That was tiring. Time for a break!
Pit stop: Quoi de N’Oeuf 2745 Notre-Dame Ouest
At this point, you need to ask yourself a very important series of questions: Are you hungry? What do you hunger for? Are you thirsty? What would sate this thirst? Along this stretch of Notre-Dame Ouest (Atwater to Vinet), you can opt for coffee (at a variety of cafés, two of which are shown above), a pub lunch and beer (at, obviously, the Burgundy Lion), pizza or brunch. Or an urban bistro, but don’t even get me started on the ridiculousness of the “urban bistro.”What do those words even mean next to each other?
Anyway, what city do we live in, friends? Montreal, a.k.a. Brunch City. So I recommend Quoi de N’Oeuf. Plus, we have word play. (If you’re not super hungry yet, grab a coffee and hold onto your appetite.)
Shop stop: Retro-ville 2652 Notre-Dame Ouest
You ask someone (someone being the Internet) what to do in Griffintown, and they tell you to go antiquing. What a ridiculous verb. Having said that, this stretch of Notre-Dame Ouest is inundated with antique shops, all of which are charming, and quaint, and unique, and…way beyond my budget. However, it’s super-fun to browse, and the window displays are capital-f-EFFING FUN.
One spot that might be within our demographic’s budget is Retro-Ville, at 2652 Notre-Dame Ouest. It smells a little bit like your grandpa’s basement, but if you need a quirky tin, a CN Railway Zippo or a vintage license plate, this is your place.
Scene stop: The Canal and the Bowels
Take a right on Vinet and head down to the canal for a wee stroll…
When you’ve had your fill of canal play, swing left at some point to enter the bowels of Griffintown. Our bowels are where we find the unrecognizable remnants of things that once gave us nutrition and lifeblood. In Griffintown, that means dilapidated industrial buildings, replete with architectural and historical charm – relinquished, repurposed or removed altogether.
Find your way back to Notre-Dame Ouest and head east, probably, for Guy. Oh, sorry, did you say something? No? No, it’s just I thought I heard a sound. Ah, sorry, that was just my belly. Time for a…
Pit stop: The Griffintown Café 1378 Notre-Dame Ouest (There are laws against writing a piece about Griffintown and not mentioning this place. I like you guys, but I’m not going to jail for the sake of originality).
Listen to your belly. What is he telling you? Whether peckish, famished or simply desiring-of-a-beer-ish, The Griffintown Café will sort you out. For brunch, which is served until 3pm on weekends, you can be sensible (or in my case, overheated and thus unable to consider eating a hot meal) and opt for the Yoghurt and Granola Parfait ($10), or be more sensible, and order Le Cochon ($11). Either way, I vote you get a Griffintown Mimosa ($6). Heck – stay for a couple more. They’re on me!
Oh, darn. Turns out I forgot my wallet…I’ll get you next time, promise.
Anyway, fill your bellies and soak your whistles. When you decide enough is enough, meander up Lucien-L’Allier to the metro. Get yourselves home, and put your footsies up. Why? Because you’re worth it. Well done, friends. Well done.