Confession: if Frederick Debartzch Monk (1856-1914) was a lawyer and federal minister, the metro station that bears his family name has long been synonymous with the Wild West for us.

Monk Boulevard and the Ville-Émard district are yet so easily accessible by metro. And there are new places to discover, including Café Monk.

It’s not just a café that opens every day at 7:30 a.m. It’s also a restaurant, a refreshment bar. And in the basement, there is even an urban farm which has its own name, Fortuna.

The two safes and the high ceilings remind us that we are in a former Laurentian Bank building. “We bought the building five years ago. It was a long gestation, but we believed in the project,” says Éric Le François, one of the co-owners, to whom we owe many bars and restaurants in Montreal, including the Saint-Denis bar and the Tittle Tattle.

However, Café Monk stands out from its other projects because mushrooms, herbs and vegetables grow in the basement. “When we saw the cellar, we said to ourselves: we have to do something. »

“We started dreaming of having fewer delivery trucks coming,” continues his partner Éric Pineault, who is responsible for the 1000 square foot “green laboratory”. The professional chef even studies business management in urban agriculture on the Montreal campus of the Victoriaville CEGEP. “I work with living things. It’s captivating. »

The Café Monk partners did not use the services of a designer. They opted for inviting and friendly decor rather than flashy furniture. They made some great finds, including the original tile which was hidden under the linoleum flooring.

“People welcome us so well in the neighborhood,” rejoices chef Peter Simard. The latter also reproduced the brunch menu – served until 3 p.m. – from his former restaurant Le Well, which was located in Verdun. Its other à la carte dishes are both gourmet and accessible. You can eat a chicken thigh (with Quebec cheddar ranch sauce) for less than $20 or even a Nordic shrimp ceviche.

Fresh herbs and vegetables from the farm really add freshness to dishes on the menu or those displayed on the blackboard – like the tagliatelle with yellow oyster mushrooms. “It’s the purest definition of farm to table! », underlines Peter Simard.

“We also want to make processed products,” announces Éric Le François.

Many memories of our Montreal nightlife come to life when Éric Le François, at our request, gives an overview of the establishments he opened in Montreal. Starting with Au Diable Vert et le Barbare, rue Saint-Denis. “An era for the people who frequented it,” could not say better the man who was also a partner of Edgar Hypertaverne and the Taverne Normand.

He is still associated with 16 establishments (!), including Bar Suzanne, Philémon, La Drinkerie Ste-Cunégonde and Bar de Courcelle. He is also on the team at the West Shefford microbrewery and on the team (with chef Danny St Pierre) who will turn the former Mile-Ex premises into a pizzeria.

Settling on Monk Boulevard? Éric Le François is now fleeing sectors where competition is very strong. “I like to explore other neighborhoods,” he says.

His partner Éric Pineault knows what it means to settle in a quieter corner, he who opened Va-et-Vient in Saint-Henri in the 1990s (where we filmed the series whose title inspires that of this section, Life, Life!).

Café Monk is open from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. (until 3 p.m. Mondays and Sundays). Many sweaters and caps are sold there simply saying “Monk”, which demonstrates the feeling of belonging that is developing in the neighborhood.

Other businesses are making Monk Boulevard a new commercial destination in the Southwest. Let us cite the Super supermarket, a new kind of neighborhood grocery store, which offers local products, Cinqàsept, a sort of wine merchant, CandyLabs and the NouLuv boutique for children aged 0 to 6, which reflects the arrival of many families in the city. -Émard.

Without forgetting Mckiernan, people from Ville-Émard no longer need to go to Verdun or Saint-Henri to have a bite to eat and a drink, emphasizes Éric Le François. And other people for whom Monk Station is the Wild West now have a reason to venture there.