Travel Blog

24 Nov

Neighbourhood Guide: Westmount


In the west end of town, between downtown and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, lives a lush land known as Westmount. Its main artery is Sherbrooke Street West, between Atwater and Décarie, and one of its most impressive features is beautiful Westmount Park, complete with paddling pool, tons of jungle gyms, an arena, a library and even a small but breathtaking botanical garden. As you hike up the hill north of Sherbrooke, you’ll find the mansions that give the neighbourhood its posh reputation. South of Sherbrooke, it’s still fancy, but it’s more accessible to the rest of us, with pretty streets punctuated with unique stores and great spots to eat.

(style) No lap-of-luxury lady or lass can go without their chic duds, so fashionable fare is everywhere in this neighbourhood. On Sherbrooke Street West, start with a visit to James Boutique: this beautiful little second-floor store carries very wearable brands ranging from Rebecca Taylor to Citizens of Humanity. From pencil pants to slouchy checked shirts, you’ll find it here. Nearby on Sherbrooke, stop into WANT Apothecary, a jewel of a store where Montreal brand WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie unites a careful selection of the world’s the best personal-care products, fashion (Acne, Filippa K) and accessories, including the leather bags that made the brand world-famous. On Victoria, lovers of shoes will find Montreal’s only Pretty Ballerinas shop – let yourself step into a world of whimsy! They also carry Barbour wear. Further eastward, on Greene Avenue, you’ll find a wider-ranging shoe store, Tony Shoes, which is an institution and sells everything from Pajar boots to Toms slip-ons. That’s also the street where you’ll find Bleu Marine Co, purveyors of the slinkiest oversize tops and the finest fitted jeans, not to mention a nice selection of Hunter rain boots.

(eats) You wouldn’t think it, but Westmont’s best dining is at the fitness club, Victoria Park, on Victoria. The restaurant downstairs, Park, offers a knockout five-course chef’s tasting menu, different every time but always featuring some of chef Antonio Park’s mind-blowing sushi. The digs are casual, and there are very quick-and-easy options on the menu for those in a rush, but the flavours are always top-notch. On Ste-Catherine Street, inside Westmount Square, Tavern on the Square is another great option for lunch or dinner – it’s a very fun place for a martini and a steak, and the luxury mac’n’cheese is worth the price. Central Brasserie, on Sherbrooke, is a great dinner spot and cocktail bar, but it’s also fun for brunch: get the Benedict, serves on delectable, buttery brioche rather than the usual English muffin. For a quick lunch, the neighbourhood mainstay is Chez Nick, on Greene, for the best grilled cheese in town (try it on kimmel break with tomatoes and bacon), or a gigantic salad creatively filled with tasty goodness. Bagels on Greene, on the corner of Greene and Ste-Catherine, is a deli and lunch counter that also has a surprisingly yummy vegetarian Indian buffet (the owners are Indian), as well as lots of vegetarian sandwich choices. And for dessert, nothing beats a made-in-Montreal ice cream at Bilboquet – their maple flavour with maple toffee is famous.


 (stuff) Hogg Hardware is one of those rare iconic shops that has managed to reinvent itself, renovate and even change locations and become part of the Home Hardware chain without losing its original charm and raison d’être. The hardware store still sells electrical parts and rope, but it goes well beyond into objects for the home and gift ideas. No visit to Westmount is complete without it. Further west, on the other side of Sherbrooke, you’ll find Zone, a Quebec homeware chain with a proclivity for all-white and simple designs. Folklore 1, across the street, is the diametric opposite, with rugs, objects and jewellery that is colourful, festive and imported from the four corners of the globe. Farfelu, on Somerville, also has a joyous vibe and is filled with gifts waiting to happen. This store is dedicated to selling local crafts, including jewellery, pottery and carvings. Finally, if you want to make your kids’ day, take them to Westmount Park and then to Oink Oink, on Greene: it’s a toy mecca, from board games to stuffed toys. Over the years they’ve had to open a second store to house their massive kids’ book offerings.

Photo credits: Eva Blue, Pretty Ballerinas, Brasserie Central, Oink Oink

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