Shoestring Montreal reader Myriam writes in to say that she works at a place called Studio 10 King in the Old Port, which includes the Avenue Art gallery, a printing shop, and a Brûlerie St-Denis that offers “affordable and delicious eats such as sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads and of course coffee and treats.” Located at 10 King Street, the studio is currently (until August 21) showing photography from Montreal called “Scenes of Montreal” featuring photos by Richard Anber, Francesca Anderson, Claudia Gomez and Darina Velkova. 10% of the sales on these photos will go to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, so if you’ve been looking for a bit of artwork to hang on your walls, stop by and check ’em out!
But since this is a blog about food, and I’ve tried the infamous Brûlerie St-Denis’ wares, I thought I’d write up a little review. Granted, I’ve never been to their café on King Street (though I have been to both the 3967 St-Denis and 1587 St-Denis locations), but it’s a chain; they’re all pretty much the same, no?
As Myriam notes, they always offer a soup of the day for $2.50, salad of the day for $3.50 ($2.50 if you get it with a sandwich), and a variety of sandwiches ranging from standards like ham & cheese to the exotic tuna & avocado, the pesto and goat cheese panini, and more. They’ve got homemade cookies at 50 cents a piece; brownies, Nanaimo bars and breakfast pastries are $2. A nice inexpensive lunch or treat, along with a cup of coffee, and at this particular location you can score a free art exhibit, which definitely sweetens the deal. After all, how often do you get to look at art for free?
My experience with the Brûlerie in general has been a bit mixed. I like the fact that they import and roast their own coffee, that it’s a local chain, and that they’ve got a laid-back attitude towards people who like to linger. I don’t like the confusing way their stores are set up, however, as it’s hard to tell whether you’re supposed to order at the counter or from a waiter if you intend to stay, but only want to order a drink. Apparently you’re supposed to order from the waiter, but there’s usually only one of them circulating through a pretty large space, which makes catching his or her attention a bit difficult. So that’s irritating, if you’d like your drink in a hurry, which I do. I mean, even if you intend to stay for a while, you still want to get your drink so you can drink it while you’re reading or writing, rather than reading through half a magazine while you wait to place your order.
However, the chain wants its customers to really know and appreciate coffee, which I like. They’ve got a few notes on their website about how to appreciate a good coffee, as well as the secrets to a perfect cup of coffee. They offer a different Coffee of the Day to get people interested in tasting different types of coffee, and offer a 10% discount on the daily brew at their retail counter (which I think means a 10% discount on beans, not on a cuppa joe, but you’d have to check with them).
In the summertime, they’ve got cold coffees and frappés mostly made without added sugar, as they’re using real coffee and not syrups—unlike most of the other chains with their frappuccinos and chillates. I tried their mochaccino last week and it was quite tasty, with bits of actual chocolate sprinkled in, very old-fashioned milkshake-like.
Overall, I would say that I like the Brûlerie’s food and drink, as it tends to be delicious as well as healthier than standard café fare, but I’m not a big fan of their service, since it tends to be slow. If you’re not in any hurry, or prefer to take your coffee to-go, this shouldn’t be a problem, but if you want to grab a quick bite, this is probably not your best bet. So I would encourage you to grab a cup of the daily brew, and a cookie or two, and check out the 10 King location for the bonus artwork. Maybe I’ll see you there!
ADDRESS: 10 King Street (Old Port)