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Thursday's:

A Montreal Easter Tradition

RESTAURANT FRENCH DOWNTOWN CORE MODERATE <$40

The Pitch

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.

tagged:  BRUNCH

The Mood

Mood image

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.

Mood image

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.

tagged:  ANGLO CROWD BRING THE KIDS

The Food

Food Image

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.

Smoked Salmon on Multigrain Bread thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Brunch

Brunch

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Smoked Salmon on Multigrain Bread

Leek, Spinach, Mushroom & Brie Omelette thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Brunch

Brunch

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Leek, Spinach, Mushroom & Brie Omelette

tagged:  GREAT VALUE TABLE D'HÔTE

The Service

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.

tagged:  TABLE-TURNER

The Verdict

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

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514eats

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.

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