Cantine (212 Mont-Royal E., 514-750-9800, www.lacantine.ca) is a funky little bistro-boutique serving creative cuisine in a retro atmosphere frequented by a hip Plateau crowd. With orange and brown furnishings and French oldies playing in the background, it almost feels like you’ve stepped back into someone’s living room in a groovier decade. The friendly staff make this place all the more pleasant.
While there’s not much in the way of seating, food is plentiful here with condiments along the wall and a counter full of decadent cakes and cookies that rival Felix and Norton (especially the triple chocolate one!). Daily specials consist of soup of the day or salad and a sandwich or main dish with coffee for around $10 (slap a few more dollars for desert).
Most of the dishes have very amusing names if you understand French, like the “Beuh” roast-beef sandwich − a take on the word “boeuf” for beef − or the “Tabernakos” chicken sandwich, a bastardization of the word “tabernacle,” which is also Quebecois slang (“tabernak”). Try the scrumptious “Grilled Cheese” sandwich served on pistachio bread, or one of their “TV dinners” like Sheppard’s pie with bison and wild boar. The mixed green salad is livened up with a pungent horseradish dressing that is so good, the owners should sell it among their condiments. Other menu items include “Maudite” onion soup (named after the brand of beer it’s made with), and patrons can pig out on poutine with Szechuan gravy or fries with rose mayonnaise. Top off your meal with a biological coffee or a “Pudding chômeur” bread pudding cake.
Cantine serves brunch on Sundays and dinner next door in a more upscale dining room with a different yet equally interesting menu.