Monday’s Coffee Spot is a flashback to exactly one year ago today, when, on my first weekend in Montréal, first stop on my around-the-world trip, I had breakfast at Café Névé on Rue Rachel, just around the corner from my apartment. I would go on to visit a further six times, four for morning coffee on my way to the office, and twice more for breakfast.
This is the original Café Névé which, having opened in 2009, was around during my first visit to Montréal in 2012. Back then there were just two Café Névés (the second on Avenue Mont-Royal), but since then it’s added a third, with the opening of a shared space in the Mile End district of Montréal inside the Frank and Oak menswear boutique.
It’s hugely popular and busy, a real neighbourhood favourite, open from breakfast in the morning until nine at night, seven days a week. There’s a standard espresso-based menu, with a bespoke house-blend, roasted by Anchored Coffee, with a batch brew option from Anchored or Zab Cafe, a local roaster with connections to Café Névé. There’s also a choice of eight teas, four smoothies, and, if you’re hungry, cakes, sandwiches and an excellent brunch menu.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
On the corner of Rue Rachel and Rue de Bullion, Café Névé is a modest-looking spot from the outside, the walls decorated with two of the massive murals which dot the Le Plateau-Mont Royal area. The door’s on the corner, at 45°, with short floor-to-ceiling windows on either side, one for each street. Each has a window-bar, a two-person one to the right, and a slightly larger, three-person one to the left. Meanwhile, off to the left, a large pair of sofas occupy the corner at right-angles to each other, with the retail shelves on the back wall above one of the sofas.
The rest of Café Névé spreads out to your right, going a surprisingly long way back along Rue Rachel. The counter is at the front, pastries and sandwiches on the short side by the door, and the till on the corner. It occupies maybe half of the front wall, with the toilets beyond it. The large espresso machine is at the far end, an open kitchen behind.
The bulk of the seating is opposite the counter and beyond at the right-hand end. Two padded benches run along the back wall opposite the counter, each with four two-person tables, all labelled with “no laptop signs”, laptop users being relegated to right-hand end where all the power outlets are. There’s a broad, six-person communal table in the centre, with a pair of two-person tables against the back wall. In the battle between table-space and laptop use, it’s a sensible compromise.
The décor is a mix of dark wood, and light walls, with multiple spotlights in strips along the ceiling providing much needed light at the back. Overall, the result is a warm, welcoming space.
On my first visit, I had Eggs Benedict with spinach from the large brunch menu, along with my usual side order of toast. This arrived on a massive plate with a large slice of toast topped by a pair of creamy poached eggs, swathed in Hollandaise sauce. The rest of the plate was occupied by a large, tasty green salad: definitely a breakfast fit for a king!
I paired this with an excellent cortado, which, despite an interesting, funky taste on the first sip, quietened down after that, the coffee’s acidity coming through in a pleasant way and the milk holding the latte art to the bottom of the glass.
Café Névé was a three-minute walk from my apartment, and, coincidentally, on my way to the office, so I ended up calling in each morning for a cappuccino to go, switching between my Therma Cup and Global WAKEcup. In the greater volume of the cappuccino, the coffee was quite bold, coming through the milk really well. All-in-all, I preferred this to the cortado, which is rare.
Amanda joined me the following weekend and we returned for breakfast. I repeated the previous weekend’s choices, while Amanda had a cortado and pan au chocolate, which she described as awesome. My final visit was on the following Tuesday, again for breakfast, just before I left for the airport to fly to Tokyo.
This time I switched things up, with the smashed avocado on sourdough toast, topped with avocado and a poached egg, which was excellent. I also had the batch brew, an El Salvador single-origin from Zab Cafe, a local roaster set up by an ex-employee. This was a fine cup of coffee, growing on me as it cooled.
Finally, I tried a shot of the house-blend. This uses a direct-trade Brazilian single-origin, exclusive to Café Névé, which it’s been using for six years. This is blended with a Central American bean (usually Guatemalan or, when I was there, Nicaraguan) to give it some fruitiness (which is what gave my cortado its funkiness). On its own, I really enjoyed it, getting the chocolate notes of the Brazil on the first sip, the fruitiness of the Nicaraguan coming through thereafter.
December 2019: Café Névé, Rachel was a runner-up for the 2019 Best Breakfast Award.
|152 RUE RACHEL EST • MONTRÉAL • QC H2W 1E2 • CANADA|
|Monday||08:00 – 21:00||Roaster||Anchored (espresso) + Anchored/Zab (batch-brew)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 21:00||Seating||Tables, Window-bars, Benches (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 21:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Sandwiches, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 21:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 21:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 21:00||Wifi||Free|
|Sunday||09:00 – 21:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||Local||Visits||7th – 16th October 2018|
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