Jul 3, 2009

Pastry on the Plateau: Café Soufflé de Marie & Anne

by Fiona O'Connor

If a summer afternoon spent hanging out in Montreal’s Jeanne Mance park wasn’t delightful enough, try stopping in at nearby Café Soufflé de Marie & Anne to up the sweet factor of your day.

Nestled on the corner of St-Urbain and – you guessed it- Marie Anne, this new café, just four months old, is, at least for now, the Plateau’s latest hidden gem for delicious, home made pastries and quick, quality lunch nosh.

Started by local ladies Marie-Josée Katcho and Brigitte Anne Locicero, Café Souffle de Marie & Anne specializes in traditional Western pastries – muffins, tarts, cookies and the like – made with a spicy Middle Eastern twist. Among today’s freshly-baked offerings: pear and saffron muffins, lemon pistachio and rose water tarts, homemade toffee with masala chocolate (a daily staple), and a deliciously dense and sticky rendition of an old classic, the Queen Elizabeth. Prices for these gâteries - true labours of love made on site – are as quaint as the café itself with cookies at $1.00 and tarts at $3.50, taxes in.

Reflecting the culinary backgrounds of its owners (Marie Josée is Syrian- Lebanese and Brigitte Italian), the café also serves a host of fresh salads (eg. Israeli couscous, tomato pesto and arugula), grilled paninis (it doesn’t take much to sell me on merguez and this simple sandwich was no exception), and – the item which seems to be their growing claim to neighbourhood fame – handmade ice cream (flavours include chocolate brownie, chai and praline).

Café Soufflé de Marie & Anne makes perfect pit stop for a good allongé (they use Agga coffee), a fragrant iced chai (owners were tight-lipped about the drink’s spice combo) or a tasty bite. While traffic flow between the mountain and the Main might suffice in the summer months, this low-key hub will have to work hard to build up its word-of-mouth reputation before Montreal meets the snowy silence of yet another winter – a process that, thankfully, seems to be steadily underway.

Café de Soufflé de Marie & Anne is located at 100 rue Marie-Anne O., corner St-Urbain. Tel. (514) 223- 5350. Free WiFi and cash only.

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