I love Montreal. I'm not sure why. As far as cities go, it's pretty. It's clean. It has its fair share of homeless. Maybe it's the French/English mix that enchants me. Or maybe it's that whenever I go, by chance, I wander into some of the best restaurants they have to offer. I wandered into Chez La Mere Michel. I wandered into Toque!. With absolutely no knowledge, I simply amble into some of the world's most fantastic restaurants.
Café République may not be world-class, but it's damned good, and my favorite place for a night of coffee and cake with friends while roaming the length of St. Catherine Street. Or Peel Street. Or a number of other streets. Actually, Café République is scattered all over Montreal. The locations are operated separately and provide different decor and personality. The food selection is very similar and all provide a wide selection of coffee and alcoholic drinks.
All four locations are decorated very nicely. Dark wood tones give you a comfy feeling that goes well with a warm cappuccino or espresso. Lighting is muted, warm, and romantic. The Saint Catherine location especially provides a fabulous view of the street by which to people-watch. Tables are dressed nicely and everything is is polished and clean. The Peel location also offers a raw-wood feel with many plants and wicker-like decorations.
The Peel location is situated right next door to the new location of the Peel Pub. It's much nicer, with vastly superior food. If you're on the hunt for breakfast, the slightly more expensive food is immaterial. République is it. Those breakfasts are large and use wonderfully fresh ingredients. Preparation is as good as it could get. Nothing too inventive, mind you, but all very good. All five locations now offer breakfast.
A dinner menu is available, but it's only good. Everything is competently prepared, with good ingredients and the such. Prices are also reasonable, but there are a great many other restaurants in the city at which I think I'd rather have dinner. Still, if you choose to eat here, you won't be wasting your money. Their paninis are very strong and their soup special is usually quite tasty.
The real attraction for me is the coffee and desserts. They have some of the best desserts in Montreal. Chocolate cake, mousse, tiramisu, and a wide variety of cheesecakes combine to provide a selection that is almost without peer in the whole of the city. The coffee is also excellent. It's consistently among the best I drink when visiting, and I drink a lot of coffee when visiting. Cappuccinos are perfectly steamed, with a delicate foam that tickles the lips. The roast is nice and dark. They also have a wide selection of liqueurs which can be mixed to give you a real late-night warm up during the cold winters.
For breakfast, Café République is very good. If I lived in Montreal I'm sure I would become a frequent visitor. Dinner is good. But the coffee, oh the coffee and the cake. Those are excellent. If you find yourself in the area, make sure to stop in for a cappuccino and a cheesecake. You will not be disappointed.
Since writing my review, I've read a number of horror stories about varying quality between the locations. The bulk of my experiences were at the Peel location and the St. Catherine location. I never found either place to be anything but good.
Café République: ***1/2
Price range for two: $15-$40(C)
1200 RUE PEEL
MONTRÉAL, QC H3B 2T6, Canada
93 STE CATHERINE O
MONTRÉAL, QC H2X 1Z7, Canada
1051 AVENUE BERNARD
OUTREMONT, QC H2V 1V1, Canada
1429 RUE CRESCENT
MONTRÉAL, QC H3G 2B2, Canada
3563 BOULEVARD SAINT-LAURENT
MONTRÉAL, QC H2X 2T6, Canada
Breakfast: Daily 7:00am to 11:30am
Dinner: Daily 7:00am to 1:00am