by Fiona O'Connor
On a recent photo assignment for the food section of urban cycling magazine Momentum, I set out on a visual exploration of how cycling culture intersects with that of food in Montreal's Plateau neighbourhood.
As the city steps up its efforts to make Montreal a more cyclist-friendly place, an ever-growing network of bike paths can be found throughout the downtown core and the city's various boroughs. Especially with the recent launch of the much-hyped Bixi bike sharing service (a 24hr, pay-as-you-go bike rental system with hundreds of stations located around Montreal), Montrealers and tourists alike have the chance to conveniently cruise the city's diverse restaurants, bars, cafés and galleries, without the hassle and environmental nag of cars.
For those who don't already party-hop on their own set of (two) wheels, Bixi basically allows you to increase the city fun while decreasing your carbon footprint.
Nowhere is this more apparent than on the Plateau, a neighbourhood that boasts not only one of the highest concentrations of bars and restaurants in the city, but two of Montreal's most sprawling and beautiful green spaces: Parc Lafontaine along its eastern border and none other than Mount-Royal itself (to which Parc Jeanne-Mance lies adjacent), along its western edge.
Between these two points cyclists can traverse the maze of bike paths which lines both the neighbourhood's main arteries (Rachel, St-Urbain) as well as many of the smaller residential streets (Milton, Boyer, Masson). While Montreal, of course, has much to offer beyond the limits of the Plateau-Mile End-Old Montreal triad of culture and hipsterdom, the area serves as an excellent starting place and is home to some of the most happening streets in town: St-Denis, Duluth, St-Laurent, Prince Arthur, Laurier, and St-Viateur, just to name a few.
In terms of its product (and arguably, its patrons too), Rotisserie Romados is a far cry from the Plateau's trendy wine bars or nightlife hotspots. However, as an emblem of the neighbourhood's true cultural make-up (that which developed after being predominantly Eastern European Jewish - see Richler's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz- but preceded it as being the stomping grounds of out-of-town university students and artists), this Portuguese chicken joint stands as one of the Plateau's quintessential culinary institutions. That, and it's hard to miss if biking along the Rachel street bike path, especially on the week end.