Few nightlife destinations in Montreal get as much attention as downtown's Crescent Street, known for its sun-drenched restaurant patios. Its mixture of old and new dining/drinking establishments and revolving door of clubs is often every visitor or newcomer's ground zero for Montreal nightlife.
No address embodies the two-block stretch's allure more than Thursday's. Now in its fifth decade of operation, the three-in-one bistro/bar/club is particularly known for its Easter Sunday brunches – which I have experienced on several occasions in the past.
Plans to permanently close Thursday's in 2012 and integrate its locale into the Four Seasons/Holt Renfrew Ogilvy behemoth behind it fell through when founder Bernard Ragueneau's son stepped up and decided to keep the lights on. The ownership change was accompanied by a thorough redesign; with the upper-floor bistro receiving a fresh, contemporary makeover.
The holiday brunch crowd leans towards English speakers, mostly consisting of large family gatherings. Children were in for a treat with a dedicated corner offering free face painting, a self-serve chocolate station and gifts to take home.
The Easter brunch menu is a condensed version of the full, regular offering. For $26, you get a choice of appetizer – soup, salad or yogurt – and main dish – omelettes, benedicts, pancakes, waffles, etc. This also covers viennoiserie baskets, unlimited orange juice and pastry/dessert boards for the whole table; not too shabby.
We started with a delicious, refreshing Greek-inspired orzo salad followed by a sampling of sucré/salé dishes. A smoked salmon avocado toast showed refinement, a fluffy leek/spinach/mushroom/brie omelette came with overly-salted home fries, while a half waffle could have benefited from some softness.
The team of hosts at the door was welcoming while our waiter was well-mannered and friendly. However, I was a little irked when we were told we had an hour and a half to clear our table for the next customers. To make matters worse; when the allotted hour approached, our waiter awkwardly hovered around us, making us feel uncomfortable and rushed.
The rebirth of Thursday's earlier this decade also came with a shuffle in the kitchen, with big-name chef Jean-François Vachon attached to the project at some point. Since the change, I have discerned an added touch of sophistication in the brunch fare, although it remains "been there, done that" and lacks originality.
So while I would not suggest Thursday's as a purely gastronomic destination, there is no denying its attraction and charm as a Crescent Street institution. Oh, and your kids will be grateful!
tagged: PLAN B.
Price per person: $26
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.