Caffè Neo at 690 St. Roch St. West
Deep in the heart of Park Extension in north-central Montreal is a quaint little café/daytime sports bar called Caffè Neo, playing on the Greek word for coffee shop (καφενείο). It is where I came on this rainy and cool Sunday afternoon to have a nice cold coffee and get some inspiration for my waning creativity in what should be the most creative part of the year.
Park Extension was a mostly Greek immigrant part of town when the wave of Greeks came here mostly in the 1960s and 70s. With most immigrants using Park Ex (so called by the locals) as a stepping stone for bigger and better things, the heart of the Greek community still lies here, even if the Greeks living here are among one of many minorities. This is where the Greek Independence Day parade takes place for the entire Montreal metropolitanarea every end of March. Indeed, our Prime Minister calls this his district. But more of that in a future entry.
The run down street of St Roch is home to a café that serves more as a meeting place for younger Greeks or Greek -Canadians than the ones that have been here for decades. Most of them live in or near the area. The picture above shows that the neighborhood has been neglected by the city. What’s PM Trudeau doing about his district?
Across the street is a place the owner refers you to if you want a τυρόπιτα (cheese pie). It is owned by a Turk, a once -hated rival. But it’s good to see there is harmony. Youcan even bring it to the café and have it with your coffee.
The array of coffees is great. There’s the ever popular Greek coffee as well as the better known cappuccino and espresso. I have tried to find a good Greek coffee in Montreal and, outside of senior centres and hangouts, this is the only place that actually makes a more than decent one. Please let me know if you know of another.
The cold choices are Frappé and Freddo. The Frappé is my favourite, although I’m told it’s becoming passe. Both are delicious, and easily distinguishable from other imitators. I was told illy coffee is used, which is a more than decent brand.
The service is always courteous and with a smile with actual Greek girls serving you. It looks like the immigration has picked up again.
The café has almost as many women as men and it’s a warm place to be. The service is great and the ambience is relaxing with its acid jazzy background music. The snacks are fine and the coffee’s excellent.
PROS: Great ambience and coffee
CONS : Too few TV screens and the snacks need an update
OVERALL : 4/5