When you think of hip, trend-setting Montreal boroughs, NDG is hardly the first one that comes to mind. Its middle class, blue-collar vibe makes it a nice residential area, but not necessarily the sort of place you’d think of heading to in order to experience the city’s finest culture.
Despite this, NDG has several restaurants that are beloved both by locals and Montrealers from around the island, but one place in particular stands out: Cosmos. In terms of food quality, price, and overall atmosphere, the hole-in-the-wall diner provides a one-of-a-kind experience that simply needs to be seen to be believed.
I’ll start with atmosphere. Cosmos might not look like much, but its simplicity leads to much of its charm. The seating consists entirely of a single counter and about 10 stools, on which hungry and friendly customers chow down and enjoy pleasant conversations. Don’t come here if you value personal space too highly, because you’ll likely be placed directly next to another group of patrons. However, as long as you’re willing to be in close proximity to strangers, the seating arrangement is more than adequate, and perhaps even adds to the greasy spoon’s run-down but lovable charm.
The charm is added to by what goes on behind the counter. As you sit and wait for your food, the friendly waiters/servers fry up eggs, potatoes, and meat directly in front of you. They’re happy to make conversation with you, but they’re equally happy to let you be as they go to work on their signature food.
Of course, it’s this food that makes the place what it truly is. They have a somewhat extensive menu, but there’s only one thing you really need to order: the Mish Mash. The gigantic omelet has a list of fillings on the menu, but it actually just consists of whatever they have in their fridge dumped inside a bunch of eggs. You can go expecting some kinds of meat, some cheese, some onions, and some tomatoes, but you better be open to anything, because you can never know exactly what you’ll wind up with. In addition to this gloriously artery-clogging behemoth, you’ll also get a healthy serving of potatoes and toast, making for a wonderfully gluttonous meal. Best of all, this colossal portion of food costs just $10.
If you’re feeling a bit more modest (but not too modest), and still want to engage in the greasy-spoon delight that is Cosmos, the Creation just might be your order of choice. It’s sort of a BLT, but, like, more heart-attack inducing (and delicious). On top of the sandwich’s standard trifecta of ingredients, it’s got a fried egg, salami, and cheese, making for a unique breakfast invention that simply must be tried. The Creation definitely isn’t quite as filling as the Mish Mash, but it's still nothing to sneeze at.
It’s the food and the vibe at places like Cosmos that make N.D.G. what it is. It might not be the sort of high-end restaurant that’ll make Montrealers from around the island run to the borough on a consistent basis, but it’s certainly worth stopping in if you’re in the area. Whenever you find yourself there, you can be sure you'll be greeted with friendly service, charming customers to share the place with, and enough eggs, potatoes, and meat to substantially reduce your lifespan (but in a good way).
Located at the corner of Chemin de la Côte-Saint-Antoine and Avenue Harvard, the flowers average about 7 feet tall, with the tallest ones reaching close to 10 feet, according to Jérôme Lussier, who planted them.
Lussier told MTL Blog he has been growing flowers and vegetables in the curb extension near his house — with permission from the borough — since last summer, turning the space into a community garden.
The Flowers Get The Boot
Lussier said he was alerted to an August 3 Facebook post by Peter McQueen, city councillor for Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, stating that the flowers exceed a three-foot height limit. According to the post, the sunflowers had to be replanted within six days or the city would cut them down.
"I'm all for planting, beautifying [...] residents doing their own thing," McQueen told MTL Blog. "But they are right where a car coming up Harvard [would be] looking to see if a car is coming down Côte-Saint-Antoine, blocking their view of that car. And that is no question a dangerous situation."
Residents React To The News
Lussier told MTL Blog he understands why he needs to take down the sunflowers — especially since the seeds came from a kit and he didn't know which variety they were or how high they'd grow. But other neighbourhood residents criticized the city's decision on an NDG Facebook group.
"Beware the killer sunflowers!" wrote Tanya Maria. "My point is that a compromise could've been found instead of just ripping them up."
"People need to see beauty now, colour and feel good again especially after the long haul of Covid," wrote Missy M. "Let it grow it's a special magical site that brings people joy, sunflowers have amazing energy."
Missy, who referred to the situation as "Sunflowermagedden," also questioned why the borough wasn't more concerned with bigger issues, such as renovictions and malfunctioning street lights, instead of focusing on the sunflowers.
Meanwhile, other commenters agreed with the city's decision.
"No way you'd be able to see me crossing the street in my wheelchair with these in the way. Safety first," wrote Alison Levine.
Montrealers Can Adopt A Sunflower
People have already begun reaching out to Lussier, he said, expressing interest in adopting the plants in an attempt to replant them.
Lussier said he plans to remove the plants Friday morning at 9:30 a.m.
If you're interested in taking some home, he asks you to show up to the corner of Côte-Saint-Antoine and Avenue with appropriate containers.
"I can totally understand why people have become attached to them. I have become attached to them in a way. You know, they're flowers with big personalities. And they are an unusual sight," Lussier said.
For now, there are a number of other plants still thriving in the community garden, including cucumber and basil. Lussier said he may plant sunflowers in the same spot next year — but "a smaller variety."
Nevski's khachapuri, a Georgian cheese bread dish, is made with homemade dough and a mix of cheeses, topped with a runny egg yolk — and the restaurant's menu even teaches you how to eat it.
Its Moscow mule menu, four different takes on the classic drink — made with different spirits, ginger beer, fruit syrups and citrus — even offers mules by the pitcher for $29. There's also an extensive cocktail menu with 10 other Russian-themed options, and a few other pitcher options available for the same price.
Nevski also has a menu of dumplings stuffed with different meats, herbs and vegetables.
Though the menu also offers Russian-inspired desserts, you can also satisfy your sweet tooth with a boozy milkshake menu made with Russian ice cream, milk, Russian waffles, and vodka, Kahlua, whisky and Amaretto.
With so much alcohol on the menu, it's hard to choose your preferred drink — Nevski also offers a wide-range vodka menu, which you can enjoy with a side of bread and pickles in true Russian form, along with a wine and beer list.
Cuisine: Russian and former Soviet republics
Address: 1228, rue Stanley, Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: Eat and drink like a Russian, surrounded by artsy kitschy decor inspired by the streets of Saint Petersburg.
Thai SELECT Signature is the highest level of certification, given to restaurants that exceed all criteria. Restaurants with this certification "personify authentic Thai characteristics, serve Thai food made with quality ingredients, offer an elevated setting, and provide outstanding service."
Thai SELECT Classic, the second level of certification, is given to Thai restaurants with "excellent quality all around" that "embody authentic Thai Cuisine with considerably good service along with great value."
Thai SELECT Casual is the lowest level of certification. While these restaurants still offer authentic Thai food, they're more "on-the-go" and have limited customer service.