Monday, June 11, 2012

THE SPARROW


The Sparrow is a hipster-chic restaurant and bar on St. Laurent between St. Viateur and Fairmount. Situated in the demilitarized zone between two of Montreal's most famous bagel shops, they have chosen wisely not to take sides in this age-old Montreal rivalry; you won't find any bagels on the menu at The Sparrow. We visited for brunch on a Sunday morning expecting to find crumpets and English breakfast alongside polar opposites like johnny cakes, peach preserves, pulled pork and hush puppies. We had heard that the menu had a flare for mixing the influences of the American south with those of the British Isles but when we arrived the menu had recently been overhauled resulting in a pretty vanilla selection of your regular sort of breakfast staples. We later learned that the British influenced menu fell by the wayside when the former kitchen staff abandoned ship to open Lawrence across the street.

A quick glance over the crowd that morning looked like some of the clients had just walked straight out of their grandparents closet or perhaps, a Charles Dickens novel. Tweed jackets with elbow patches everywhere coming in off the street searching for breakfast "please sir, I want some more". The Sparrow is another brunch spot with a no-reservation policy so we arrived and took our place in line. A friendly young lady took our names and let us know she'd be back to get us when a table became available. We stood around patiently noticing the appropriately fitting bird motif on the wall paper in the dining room, the beautiful tin tiled ceilings and an antique cash register atop the sort of decidedly masculine looking wood bar you might expect to find in a pub. After about 20 minutes we were seated.

We've read other blog posts on The Sparrow describing an all-you-can-eat brunch policy but there was no indication on the menu that such a thing was available on the morning we were there, our waitress didn't mention it either when she took our order. In any case, while an all-you-can-eat policy does have a certain draw to it, that's not what we came for and we don't really think people need to be eating all they can eat - it just seems a little excessive. As we read the menu over nothing was really jumping out at us as a "must-have", it all just seemed sort of regular. That being said, while we've seen more exciting menus, "regular" executed well has its own reliable merit and is never to be overlooked without a fair shake; how much excitement to you really need when you're hung-over on a Sunday morning anyhow?

Our first selection, the eggs Benedict came served with asparagus rather than meat and on a southern style biscuit rather than an English muffin. The eggs were perfectly poached, the hollandaise sauce was executed with textbook precision and the biscuit was surprisingly excellent. We only say surprisingly because our annual trips to St. Louis have taught us that so many restaurants in Montreal seem to make really poor biscuits by comparison. The dish was served with a side of tasty homemade tater tots, deep fried balls of loosely packed grated potato that would be accurately described as spherical latkas. They weren't greasy or salty, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.

 Eggs Benedict - Poached Eggs, Asparagus, Hollandaise, Biscuit, Tater Tots - 14$

Our second dish was the steak and eggs. A 6oz piece of strip loin arrived prepared rare, as we requested along side two runny over-easy eggs, a baked tomato half, grilled leeks, homemade steak sauce and the same tater tots as the previous dish. We ordered an extra biscuit on the side to accompany the dish because we felt the one served with our eggs Benedict was good enough that it deserved a second go. The steak was reasonably good, nothing to rave nor complain about except that it may have been perceived as being a little bit grisly by a pickier eater. The leeks were very good despite being a little greasy, the eggs were eggs, and the tomato was overly acidic, not such a big hit. We found the tater tots served with the eggs Benedict to be notably better than those served with the steak, odd since both plates arriving at once would imply they were prepared at the same time as well. The steak sauce was similar in flavor to HP Sauce but with a bit more of a sour-tangy kick, we could have taken or left it, it didn't make or break the dish.

Steak & Eggs - Steak, Tater Tots, Tomato, Leek, Steak Sauce, Eggs - 16$

Our meal at The Sparrow was by no means groundbreaking, but it was good and reasonably priced. Service was friendly and attentive without being overbearing and although the wait for a table took a little while, our food was prepared and served pretty rapidly. Our breakfast left us feeling as though it would be worth a second visit but since we live a little out of the way its doubtful that we would make the trip to the Plateau specifically with this destination in mind. A more likely scenario would be returning if we were already in the neighborhood. The Sparrow also offers a dinner service that might be worth trying sometime in the future.

*After publishing this post we were contacted by The Sparrow via their Twitter account to let us know that the "all-you-can-eat" brunch policy has been discontinued in favor of an à la carte menu format.


The Sparrow
5322 Boulevard St-Laurent
Montreal, QC
514-507-1642

The Sparrow on Urbanspoon

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