Saturday, February 26, 2005

Two Montreal Classics in Two Days, Pt. 1: Cosmo, rev. ed.

Interior Design, Cosmo's-style fig. a:  interior design

Neither of us had been to Cosmo in quite some time, and we'd gotten enlisted to take Michelle's sister to the airport so that she could head down to Tampa and 25 C weather (while the temperature here in Montreal had dropped back down to -15 C), so we decided we'd drown our sorrows in a breakfast at Cosmo on our way back downtown.

Cosmo (5843 Sherbrooke West) remains one of those quintessetial Montreal breakfast joints: roughly 8 stools gathered round a small counter, a tiny kitchen, two counterhands, some homespun decor [see the photo above], and some killer, king-size breakfasts, including the legendary Mish-Mash (which combines eggs, potatoes, onions, and a selection of breakfast meats into an unholy mess of goodness). The first time I went was back in the late '80s when I was an undergrad at McGill. I lived downtown at the time, and like most other undergrads my knowledge of the city was limited, to say the least. Making it east past Park Lafontaine was a big deal; so was making it as far north as Van Horne. I remember going out to the old Café Campus near the University of Montreal a couple of times and thinking that was an achievement. Notre-Dame-de-Grace seemed like another universe; I don't think I'd made it further west than Atwater Market up until my roommate and I got invited out to Cosmo by a friend of his. I distinctly remember being fascinated by the time and effort that "Cosmo" put into preparing his fried potatoes. Boiled potatoes and onions would get slapped onto the greased griddle in huge quantities, and then "Cosmo" would spend the next 15-20 minutes slowly turning the potatoes over and over again until they'd reached perfection. Then everyone who'd ordered a breakfast over the last quarter of an hour or so would get served their breakfasts in a flurry of activity, and the whole process would start over again. The other thing I remember was the banter. This was a big-city place, with repartee worthy of a screwball comedy. "Cosmo" (a.k.a. Tony) may have retired a few years ago now [if you look closely at the photo above, you can see him among the other distinguished figures that grace the walls of his restaurant], but he still stops by his old stomping grounds now and again to check up on things, and not only does Cosmo still dish out the classic breakfasts, it's still dishing out the banter. We got an earful with our delicious eggs, potatoes, and bacon combos.



Anonymous said...

Actually, "Cosmo" (aka Tony) HAS NOT been dead for years though he was recently in hospital with pneumonia.

michelle said...

Right you are. And I was shocked to see that we'd printed that because we've seen Tony at Cosmo the last two times we've been. At the time that I wrote this post, though, it was the first time we'd been in years and I remember overhearing something at the counter that had me convinced that Tony had passed away. When I found out that he wasn't I never went back to this post to double-check on what I'd originally written. I never thought that someone like myself would help spread such a terrible unfounded rumor. More importantly, we here at AEB would like to wish Tony renewed health and all the best and we'd like to apologize for misleading anyone out there in the blogosphere. Tony's still just as much of a charmer as ever, a real prince among men. God bless him!