The Sparrow is a popular Mile-End bar which has been around for a while now. Known for its Middle-Eastern-inspired brunches, which I have finally discovered and fell for this past summer, tonight I wanted the nighttime gastropub experience.
Although the no-reservations policy can be a deterrent to some – especially on a Friday night – my wife and I were lucky to nab a table after a mere five-minute delay. Larger groups were less fortunate though; as I spotted a couple of those wait well over half an hour by the crowded bar or on the staircase across from it.
tagged: CAN'T RESERVE
The Saint-Laurent Boulevard watering hole boasts a vintage, tavern-y décor thanks to dark tones, exposed brick walls and copper ceiling tiles. A young, boisterous crowd occupied the smallish premises to the fullest; no sooner had a table cleared than it was taken anew.
tagged: PACKED LIKE SARDINES
Upon perusing the menu, I was disappointed at the absence of Indian specialties; I was under the impression that The Sparrow did feature the likes of butter chicken and chana masala. When asked, our waiter confirmed the menu change was a result of a chef shuffle in the kitchen last month.
Pub grub staples and vegetable-centric options are reasonably priced, appropriately portioned and easily sharable. Accompanying the food is a long cocktail list, a strong showing of Quebec beers, a strictly-European wine selection and a handful of mocktails – all light on the wallet.
A classic and satisfying rendition of this Canadian favorite; I'll just ask for it spicier next time.
Tender yet heavily-battered rings came with an intriguing but ultimately lacklustre squid ink aioli.
Some of the saddest wings I can recall were devoid of any heat or flavour and could not be saved by the bland sour cream dip.
A simple, but tasty medley of chickpeas, kale, artichokes, olives and feta was brought together by an oil-based dressing.
Glorious fried chicken pieces were crispy, sticky, piled high and elevated via fried basil leaves; this is the definition of finger-lickin' good!
Golden fries with a nice bite sat in an attractive vintage bowl – as did the rest of our orders – and perfectly complemented our fried chicken.
A duo of capable young waiters took care of the dining room tonight. They certainly scored brownie points for keeping things smooth despite the hectic service; although their attention was somewhat hard to get on a couple occasions. Also, dishes came out one at a time, which meant unnecessary waiting in between starters. I won't make a big deal out of it, but I do like to nitpick.
The Sparrow is named after the familiar, small and energetic bird species; a fitting name for this cozy, buzzing bar where everyone seemed to be having pure fun to kick off their weekend.
Above, I omitted an unbelievable chocolate/hazelnut cheesecake we split to end our meal; somehow I committed the blogger's cardinal sin of cutting into it before snapping a picture! That, along with the other highs of my meal, is enough to make me look past the few lows.
By eschewing the Indian influences on the menu, The Sparrow may have lost one of its demarcation factors, turning into a more commonplace – albeit great – gastropub.
Price per person: $29
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.