You know somewhere is going to be good when everybody you meet tells you to go there. So it was with Le Couteau (The Knife), one of the new wave of coffee shops that have sprung up in Montréal in the last couple of years. In fact, as this post is published, Le Couteau is precisely one year and six days old…
Located just around the corner from the Mont-Royal metro station, Le Couteau is a wonderful place. It’s spacious, full of light and the coffee is superb. The cakes are pretty awesome too. Like many of the places I visited in Montréal, the focus is firmly on the coffee, with little else to distract you, although there is tea and hot chocolate for those of that persuasion.
At first glance, the wooden benches don’t look that inviting, but they are actually very comfortable, while the much sought-after window seats look ideal (I never got to try one since they were all taken). At the risk of sounding like a broken record, if I lived in Montréal, I’d be in here all the time (except I’d be in all other great places I visited as well; something of a dilemma!).
October 2018: Le Couteau changed hands in 2016, becoming a branch of Café Myriade. I popped in on my recent visit to Montréal and found that, coffee notwithstanding, it looked much as I remember it.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Le Couteau was one of the few places in Montréal that everyone recommended. Of course, being so highly spoken of can be a curse: if the place is merely very good rather than exceptional, one could leave with a sense of disappointment. However, I don’t think that there was any chance of that with Le Couteau.
Located on the busy Rue Saint Denis, on the corner with Rue de Bienville in the Plateau area of Montréal, Le Couteau occupies a long, low, wide space with whitewashed brick walls and ceiling, along with a wooden floor, well-spaced wooden benches and low wooden tables. From the moment I walked through the door, I was struck with the sense of space. Windows on three of the four walls and generous lighting added to the airy feel, especially on a sunny late-winter afternoon.
There is a small seating area by the window to the right as you come in, then comes the counter, cake first (as it should be) followed by a little menu with the choice of single origin beans, available via the BrewT infusion system, a cafetiere or as a Syphon. Beyond that is the brew bar and then the Triplette espresso machine. Rather confusingly, the main menu, which lists the choice of espresso-based drinks, hot chocolate and tea, is behind you on the left-hand wall. The main seating, in the form of the wooden benches, runs back from the window along the left-hand wall, with a couple of small bars right at the back.
As with most of the places I’d been to in Montréal, the ethos is to try to keep things local. Although Le Couteau’s coffee comes from Vancouver’s 49th Parallel, the small but excellent range of pastries and cakes come from two local bakeries, Sweet Lee’s and Almond Butterfly. Also in common with the other Montréal coffee spots, you can buy the beans and, in the case of Le Couteau, the BrewT system as well.
It was ironic that having not come across either the BrewT system or the Triplette espresso machine before, Le Couteau was the second place I’d been to in two days that uses them (the Pikolo Espresso Bar being the first). I was very tempted by the Triplette (it’s so shiny), but I’d been on espresso all day and, after careful consideration, I went for the Jimma Tencho & Welinso (an Ethiopian bean), an excellent opportunity to try out the BrewT. I also plumped for a chocolate cup-cake concoction which was fantastic.
My coffee was excellent: I had it black, always a sign of appreciation. It was very smooth and not too fruity. If I had one complaint it was that both the glass jug and the wide, cappuccino-style cup it was served in allowed the coffee to cool very quickly, so it was cold before I’d finished it. It was still very fine cold, but nicer hot.
While I’m on the negatives, the music wasn’t to my taste (but honestly, I was spoiled in Montréal with some excellent music) but since it wasn’t too loud so I could easily tune it out. And that’s it on the negative front. Wait, no, I’ve got another one. Le Couteau is in Montréal, which is far too far away! Other than that, I loved everything about it…
|4627 RUE ST DENIS • MONTRÉAL • H2J 2L4 • CANADA|
|www.lecouteau.ca||+1 514 940 0444|
|Monday||08:00 – 17:00||Seating||Wooden benches & Tables, Bar|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:00||Food||Cake|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Friday||08:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Saturday||09:00 – 18:00||Power||No|
|Sunday||11:00 – 17:00||Mobile||N/A|
|Chain||No||Visits||14th March 2013, 11th October 2018|
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