Living Like a Local in Montreal

Ethan Song, co-founder of Frank + Oak, shares his favourite spots
 

Photo by Richmond Lam

For Ethan Song and Hicham Ratnani, the duo behind the immensely popular Frank + Oak clothing and lifestyle brand, being rooted in Montreal’s artistic Mile End neighbourhood is a source of daily inspiration. Here, Song shares his favourite spots to visit in the city.

Perfect day

“My idea of a great time is to go to the Atwater Market, pick up some food and take a walk along the Lachine Canal.”

Favourite café

“I’d say Café Olimpico, on the corner of rue St-Viateur. It’s an Italian coffee bar that’s been around for years and is truly an icon of Mile End. People go to watch soccer matches or celebrate birthdays; it’s a place that gives you a real feeling of community—that’s what makes it special. It has a popular outdoor patio, too.”

City stroll

“I always recommend to friends coming to town that they take an hour and a half and walk the length of boulevard Saint-Laurent. Start in the port of Vieux-Montreal and go to about rue Jean-Talon in Little Italy; you cross Chinatown, night-clubby areas, residential neighbourhoods, and you see so many different facets of Montreal.”

Diamond in the rough

Montréal Plaza is a restaurant I’d definitely recommend. It’s [part of] Plaza St-Hubert, a classic shopping strip [near] Little Italy. That’s not a place you’d expect to find a restaurant of that calibre—from the perspective both of food and design—which is why it’s interesting to me. I like that the restaurant mixes [cuisines] so you get to taste many different and wonderful things.”

Style find

“There’s a small boutique on Saint-Laurent that I go to often, called Ibiki. The name is Japanese, but the store mostly carries Scandinavian fashion labels for men and women, [as well as] products and books. It’s an artistic space with a good neighbourhood following. The store owner, Jonah, is a DJ, so there’s a strong connection to the local music scene, as well.”

City icon

St-Viateur Bagel Mile-End is my favourite. I like a bagel with sesame seeds. It’s such a simple bread and so flavourful. There’s nothing like it.”

Local eats

“There are obviously a lot of great places for dinner out in Montreal, but my top pick is Nora Gray. It’s a super-cozy, small space, and the food is great. There’s a quality to both the decor and the food that I find timeless and appealing.”

 

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