Yum or Yikes: Comptoir Koyajo in the time of the pandemic

Comptoir Koyajo has reopened during the pandemic, with some new brand safety measures

Last year, I visited an enticing Korean restaurant called Comptoir Koyajo. Located right near Loyola campus, this restaurant is very close-by and convenient for students to get a quick bite to eat in between classes and study sessions. I decided to go there again recently, since I had a little bit of time in between my online lectures and I live nearby. This restaurant’s layout has changed completely since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and has adjusted very well to this new reality people around the world are finding themselves in.

The ambience of Comptoir Koyajo is really well done given our current situation. Unfortunately, there is not enough room to have indoor seating. They converted the front door of the restaurant into a serving window, and there are a few picnic tables on the curb outside for patrons to enjoy their meals. One issue, however, is that the picnic tables outside are a bit too close to each other. Unfortunately, when I went, there seemed to be a beehive nearby, and they kept trying to pick at my food, so I ended up bringing my meal home.

Ambience: 3.5/5

The food tasted great! I ordered a spicy chicken plate, which consisted of some pulled chicken, steamed rice, and kimchi. There were many other options offered as well, such as sandwiches and ramen soups. The chicken was spiced perfectly; it wasn’t so spicy as to impact the flavour, but it wasn’t too bland at the same time. My only complaint was that the portion sizes were a bit small for a dinner, but they were perfectly sized for a small, healthy lunch option.

Food: 4.5/5

The price was around the average price of a meal in the area, $11 for the plate, but it came with the option of getting two dumplings for one extra dollar. On a warm day, their outdoor seating is perfect for getting a little bit of studying done and grabbing a quick bite to eat. Food delivery services such as UberEats, Skip the Dishes, and DoorDash are available too, but they are a little bit more expensive. It is not the cheapest meal in the world, but it is nice to get as an occasional treat for working hard during the week.

Price: 4/5

The service was excellent. The staff were extremely polite, and they tried their best to be positive, even during the pandemic. Their policy is to have customers line up at the door and wait for their food outside at the picnic tables they had installed in front of their store. However, the food took a little while to get prepared, and it was a cold day, so I had to stand outside trying to keep warm.

Service: 4/5

Comptoir Koyajo followed COVID-19 safety guidelines well. The employees inside were all wearing masks, and washed their hands after serving each customer. Even though no customers were allowed inside the building, the store still prominently displayed a bottle of hand sanitizer and recommended people to use it before eating. In these trying times, following COVID-19 directions is extremely important, and I’m glad that this restaurant is looking out for people.

COVID-19 Safety: 5/5

Comptoir Koyajo is a great option for students and people who work in the area around the Loyola Campus. Their food is delicious, healthy, and very much worth the short walk from campus. All in all, going to this restaurant was a great experience, even though it was a bit tough to eat outdoors due to the bees and to the cold weather. UberEats, Doordash, and Skip The Dishes deliver their food too, which is the safest option in the pandemic!


Photo by Kit Mergaert


Yum or Yikes: Arthurs Nosh Bar

Living in Montreal over the past three years has taught me a lot of things.

I can safely say that it introduced me to one thing that I will forever be grateful for—the concept of brunch. The trend of having brunch has grown dramatically over the past few years, as more and more Instagram influencers snap pictures of their scrumptious avocado toast or their bright-coloured açai bowls.

Being a self-proclaimed foodie, this kick-started my journey of looking for the best brunch place in Montreal. I would spend hours looking over Yelp reviews and scrolling through famous Montreal Instagram food blogs, jotting down the restaurants that piqued my interest and trying them out the next weekend. But that’s not how I discovered Arthurs Nosh Bar. As the famous expression goes: “actions speak louder than words,” and that’s exactly what lured me into trying this unique brunch place. 

As I walked down the streets of St-Henri on a blazing summer day, I noticed a long queue of people standing in front of a bright pink neon sign, impatiently waiting as the sun’s harsh rays beat down on them. Why were those people sacrificing their comfort and waiting this long merely for a brunch place, when there are plenty of others scattered across Montreal? I was intrigued. So I did exactly what they did, and stood in line for a full two hours before I was seated.  

Merely a 10-minute walk from Place-St-Henri metro station, the space is small and packed, but has a comfortable and inviting ambiance. Its white and green walls give you the summer vibe you’ve been yearning to experience all winter. It has an open kitchen, so you get to see the chefs prepare your food, which in turn makes you even hungrier. 

Ambiance: 3.7/5

Their menu offers Jewish classics, ranging from sandwiches, soups and traditional breakfast plates such as smoked salmon bagels and oatmeal. Some of their most notable dishes that I can truly vouch for include the McArthur, the Shak and the Moroccan toast. They also offer vegetarian dishes such as the gluten-free quinoa bowl, and vegan dishes such as the #KGMTL salad. 

On item on the menu, however, most definitely takes the prize: The Grand Slam. Only available on weekends, this dish is hands-down worth the wait. A crunchy, juicy, golden fried chicken thigh rests on top of two fluffy moist pancakes that instantly melt in your mouth as you pour some of their rich maple syrup on top. This is topped off with two slices of savoury beef bacon and a fried egg, complimenting the sweetness of the pancakes, and tying the whole dish together.

Food: 4.8/5 

Once you’re seated, it’s not too long before someone comes and takes your order. The food also arrives pretty quickly considering the vast number of people being served at once.

Service: 4.5/5 

The best part about this is that you get to leave with a belly full of delicious food, and your wallet won’t hate you for it! Their most expensive dish goes for $26, which is a dish for two. The average price point is around $15.

Price: 4.5/5

Photo by Huda Hafez


Yum or Yikes: ChuChai

ChuChai, located at 4088 St-Denis St., offers a variety of vegan and vegetarian Thai options.

The entrance of the restaurant is quaint but once you push through the large black curtains, the room opens up into a well-lit dining area. One wall was lined with bottles of alcohol from their drink menu and, facing the bar, a beautiful wall covered in a black and white mural. The soundtrack playing in the background was something to be noticed; they played recent pop songs, but also mixed in some classics from the 70s and 80s.

Ambiance: 4/5

ChuChai’s menu instantly drew me in online when I noticed their large variety of mock-meats, from dishes composed of noodles and mock-duck to wonton soups made with soy-based proteins. As a vegan, I am always interested in finding affordable options that are reminiscent of meals I loved before. 

My mother and I chose to order a variety of appetizers, entrees and desserts so we could try as much as possible. For an appetizer, I enjoyed a mock-shrimp platter that looked and tasted like real shrimp, and even had my mother questioning whether it was real. 

Food: 5/5

The price point is a little high, but for the portions and quality of ingredients, it is definitely worth it. For our main meals, my mom ordered an eggplant dish ($16) with a side of rice and I ordered a rice noodle dish with vegan duck ($17). 

Lastly, we ordered dessert. I had a tapioca pudding made with coconut milk ($7)—which I enjoyed slowly because it tasted so good—while my mother ordered a chocolate pudding ($6).

Price: 4/5

I have a severe peanut allergy and they serve dishes with peanuts so I was a little worried when ordering. However, the server assured me everything was cooked separately and while she couldn’t make any guarantees, there has never been an incident at the restaurant concerning allergies. She simply suggested it would be best to always come right when they open so there’s less chance of cross-contamination from other dishes.

Service: 5/5

Overall, the food would trick any non-vegan or vegetarian into thinking they were eating meat. It’s a unique way to make traditional Thai cuisine accessible to all.

Photos by Amanda Teixeira


Yum or Yikes! Café In Vivo

On a busy Monday evening, I happened to stumble across Café In Vivo in a mere twist of fate.

Strategically located in the Olympic Stadium, Café In Vivo is the perfect place to study or to simply wind down, with easy access to Pie-IX metro. Situated behind tinted grey glass walls, this charming café will take you by surprise. Their meals often include meat but they offer vegan and gluten-free options as well—there is essentially something for everyone.

If you don’t stay for the espresso, you’ll stay for the décor. The airy vibe and bubblegum-pink booths are ideal for those seeking an insta-worthy photo-op. Café In Vivo is the perfect low-profile spot for students, especially those looking for a quaint spot to focus. With plenty of comfortable seating and an abundance of natural light, this café appeals to those who seek tranquility amidst the bustle of the city.

Ambience: 4.5/5

While I’m not one for drinks that induce a sugar rush, their iced coffee manages to deliver just the right amount of sweet without sending you into a sugar overload. The espresso is inexplicably velvety and not too bitter; I have yet to find anywhere else in Montreal that serves espresso like this one. The only downside to their iced coffee (and several of their hot beverages) is that there is not much of a selection when it comes to the to-go cup sizes; it’s more of a one-size only. This might not seem like such a deal breaker to some, but after you’ve indulged yourself in their espresso, it’s nearly impossible to settle for the small cups they offer. I recommend ordering drinks in their mason jar cups, as you end up getting a bit more.

I also decided to try the special of the day: a hearty cassoulet with sausage and harvest veggies to soothe the winter chills. The hot meal portions are very generous and they include a fresh bun on the side. The assortment of sweet and salty goods are baked fresh daily.

Food and drinks: 4/5

Be prepared to spend around $15 for their main hot dish of the day with a drink of choice. The portions are plentiful, so come prepared to eat. Their sandwich, salad and bakery options range between $2 to $9 if you’re craving a smaller bite. Their beverages are priced averagely, ranging from around $3 to $5.

Price: 3.5/5

A line can start to form quickly at lunch hour (as most places near the metro do) but come anytime before or after lunch and you’ll often be delighted with the quick service and selection of seating. The staff is friendly and well versed with the array of drink and food options—so don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations.

Service: 4/5

Photo by Ashley Fish-Robertson


Yum or Yikes: Kinton Ramen

A new classic Japanese-style ramen restaurant has recently opened its doors in the West Island of Montreal.

Kinton Ramen is an authentic Japanese ramen bar chain, with multiple downtown locations as well as in Toronto and the United States. Their first location in the West Island is located on the corner of St-Jean’s and Brunswick Blvds., a short walk away from Fairview Shopping Centre.

You can choose to sit at larger tables where you may end up sitting next to strangers, or at the bar that faces the kitchen area where you can see the chefs preparing your food. The furniture and fixtures of the restaurant are all made of a light-coloured wood and dark (almost black) metal trimmings/accents. This restaurant design can be seen across all locations, and solidifies its branding.

Ambience: 4.5/5

The main type of food offered is, of course, ramen. There are different options as you can choose the type of broth you want (pork, chicken or miso for a vegetarian option). The noodles are also customizable: you can choose between a thin, thick or gluten-free/low-calorie noodle style. Kinton’s side dishes are also traditionally Japanese––steamed and salted edamame beans, Japanese fried chicken, rice bowls, fried octopus, etc. If you can handle the heat, I recommend getting the spicy garlic pork ramen (amazing, but very spicy). If you want something without spice, try the chicken miso ramen with thick noodles and a side of steamed edamame beans.

Food: 4.5/5

I find that there is a standard price range for this type of ramen in Montreal, and Kinton is no exception to this rule. Expect to spend around $14 per bowl, which can seem pricey as ramen is a pretty simple food. However, they are quite large portions, so you will not be leaving hungry. That being said, I would consider this more of a treat rather than a quick and cheap meal.

Price: 3/5

The service Kinton gets a 5/5 from me as I was truly happy with the entire  experience. From the time I walked in the door until I left the restaurant, I was taken care of. As this is a new restaurant to the West Island, it was fairly busy and did have a slight waiting time. However, the staff moved very quickly and ensured that we did not wait too long. There were no problems with our orders and the staff was extremely friendly.

Service: 5/5

Photo by Cecilia Piga

Student Life

Yum or Yikes: Café Chat L’Heureux

Last week, I paid a visit to Café Chat L’Heureux.

Located in the heart of the Plateau, it’s one of two cat cafes in Montreal, where guests can enjoy their cup of coffee in the company of some feline friends. Café Chat L’Heureux opened in 2014, and has since become a popular spot for both locals and tourists.

The first cat cafe can be traced back to Taiwan in the late ‘90s. The concept was picked up by Japan shortly after, and spread across the rest of the world throughout the following decade. Now, many major North American cities have opened these cafes, their popularity supported by the growing influence of social media and a growing support for the adopt don’t shop movement.

Café Chat L’Heureux is currently home to roughly 10 cats, some of which were adopted from local shelters, and others which the shop foster. Upon entering the cafe, I was confused: where were all the cats? It took me a few moments to realize that the cats were, well, everywhere. Nestled in between cushions, curled up in corners, and perched on the beams overhead, the cats were camouflaged with their environment. Eventually, a few came out of their nests to say hello and—not to be dramatic—it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen and the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

The cafe’s ambiance was homey and mellow, with soft music playing overhead and guests chatting quietly, some of them relaxing on the couches, often with a cat resting beside them. I had the pleasure of enjoying my food while a tiny kitten rested on my lap, so it’s safe to say that I was pretty happy with the atmosphere.

Ambience: 7/5

The menu is entirely vegetarian, with a few vegan options as well, offering a selection of sandwich melts, salads, soups and smoothies. I tried their popular menu item dubbed “Cat Lady,” a grilled sandwich with goat cheese, cheddar, caramelized onions, fig jam and honey. The sandwich was delicious and I would definitely recommend it for anyone who enjoys rich comfort foods.

The cafe also offers a variety of lattes, cappuccinos and espressos, so I enjoyed my sandwich with a super tasty hazelnut latte. This was followed by a piece of cheesecake and a brownie that I shared with a friend. Unfortunately, the desserts didn’t live up to the main course, as I found the cheesecake a bit bland, and the brownie to have a texture closer to cake.

Food: 3.5/5

Price wise, the menu was a tad expensive—on average, sandwich melts cost around $14 each, coffees around $5 and desserts about $6.50. However, considering the fact that keeping cats alive is a costly affair, I could understand the need for higher prices and didn’t mind paying a little more than I normally would.

Price: 4/5

The employees at Café Chat L’Heureux were really nice, and you could tell that they really loved working with the cats. My only teeny-tiny complaint is that the service was slightly slow, but considering the relaxed atmosphere, I didn’t really think it was a big deal. I was in no rush to leave, that’s for sure!

Service: 4.5/5


Photo by Laurence B.D.


Yum or Yikes: Mimi & Jones

Mimi & Jones, the new entirely vegan diner in Mile End, embodies its location flawlessly. It’s eager to be hip, accomplishing something alternative, and mimicking a vintage scene. 

It was a spur of the moment decision I’m happy my friends and I made. After a sunny day spent wandering the Plateau and Mile End, crunching the gilded foliage beneath our boots, we swung into Mimi & Jones.

At 4 p.m., we were the only customers inside the tiny, bright locale. We slid into the only booth (from which, beyond the restaurant’s outdoor terrace, we had an uninterrupted view of Parc Avenue) and bopped along to the 50s rock and pop hits as we scanned the menu.

Furnished in retro decor (bar stools, black and white floor tiles, leather seats), at face value, Mimi & Jones appears to be just another modern take on a classic 50s diner. But the entirely vegan menu is what sets it apart from the rest.

Thankfully, Mimi & Jones doesn’t sacrifice greasy staples in the name of veganism. They impressively and creatively accomplish everything a regular diner would serve with strictly plant-based ingredients. We ordered cheeseburgers, milkshakes, deep-fried nuggets, caesar salad and ravioli in attempt to sample as much as we could from the short but concise menu. We were not let down.

Though Mimi & Jones is a licensed establishment, we chose not to spike our milkshakes and enjoyed the thick, sweet, creamy goodness just the same. I ordered the cheesecake flavour, which came adorned with morsels of tangy, melt-in-your-mouth cake that provided a nice contrast from the deliciously sugary shake.

Next, our food arrived in bright red baskets lined with checkerboard paper. Overall, the flavours and textures accurately mimicked those of their non-vegan counterparts, and were just as satisfying.

The Mimi Burger was exceptionally assembled: loaded with all the usual toppings, the handmade patty rounds off the perfect balance of flavours. The Croquettes Jones, which I ordered with the maple-dijon sauce, were simply addictive. The tofu was breaded and deep-fried to golden perfection resulting in crunchy, but not overly greasy nuggets. The ravioli, which we drowned in the rosé sauce, was equally delicious. The pasta pockets were nicely al dente and the tofu-almond “ricotta” filling was soft and creamy.

If there was one dish that disappointed, it was the caesar salad. Though it was enjoyable, topped with roasted chickpeas and capers, it lacked the essence of its traditional inspiration.

Though each individual appetizer, drink or dish wasn’t outrageously priced, the bill did add up to a little more than I was anticipating, especially considering portion sizes. However, vegan food can be expected to cost a little more, and we did leave thoroughly stuffed.

I’ll confess: I’ve been dreaming about the flavourful sauces and greasy goodies at Mimi & Jones since our impromptu afternoon adventure. However, I think next time, I’d go at night for a fresh experience. The diner and bar are open until 9 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, and until 8 p.m. on Sunday and Monday.

Comfortably retro, satisfyingly filling and innovatively delicious, I could go for a hearty burger and some crispy croquettes at Mimi & Jones any night of the week.

FOOD: 4.5/5

PRICE: 3.5/5




Photo by Noemi Stella Mazurek


Yum or Yikes: Umami

Little Italy’s new vegan ramen place may not have the best food, but it will feed your soul and make you feel like you just curled up in a duvet blanket on a cold winter evening.

What Umami Ramen doesn’t offer in flavour, it makes up for in cold-weather comfort. The moment my friend and I walked out of a crisp October evening and into the restaurant, I was flooded with relief; the atmosphere was welcoming and soothing, a lovely respite from the piercing wind outside. We didn’t make a reservation but were offered a seat at the bar.

Under warm lighting filtering through wooden lamps, simple menus were brought to us. Umami has limited options; with only four types of ramen to choose from and a handful of appetizer options, even the most indecisive, such as myself, needn’t struggle too hard to choose a dish.

Photo by Noemi Stella Mazurek

We settled on the Tokyo-style Shoyu ramen with the “chicken” Karaage and Kushikatsu panko-breaded veggie skewers as appetizers. Umami takes pride in their house-made noodles, tofu, and ferments, so I was really excited for the meal we were about to enjoy.

The Karaage was addictively crunchy, but without the spicy sesame mayo and lemon juice, a little bland. The veggie skewers were crisp on the outside and steaming on the inside. Aside from the sauce, this appetizer was delicious – the breaded eggplant’s succulent texture was perhaps the highlight of the whole meal – but microscopic! For $7, we were served three skewers with only two pieces of onion, eggplant, or okra each.

Then came the ramen. The noodles were tasty, but not spectacular, and the texture of yuba (tofu skin) was rubbery and unsettling. Sweet, sour, salty and bitter were ticked off by the shiitake, tomates confite, wakame and daikon, with the broth rounding off the palette with its decidedly umami quality. As a whole, the flavours of the toppings balanced each other off nicely, and I fell in love with the broth’s deep, rich, aroma.

Overall, the meal was immensely satisfying: not so much in regards to the food, but with how it made us feel. We left happy and comforted, full but not bloated.

I certainly intend on returning in order to try the other three ramen bowls (and the okonomiyaki cabbage pancake our table neighbours ordered) but, above all, to bask in the restaurant’s comforting ambiance. Umami is a safe haven of warmth and spice, a dining-experience must during the cold weather months.

3.5/5 for food,

3.5/5 for price,

5/5 for service,

5/5 for ambiance.


Yum or Yikes: Oregon

Looking forward to a night out after midterms with my best friends, we decided to try something different. We went to Oregon, a hip wine and tapas-style restaurant in Laval’s Ste-Rose district. We were in the mood to wine and dine for a good time, but didn’t want the trouble of heading downtown. 

Oregon has a small menu with 10 main plates, four side dishes and an option of oysters and a cheese/charcuterie board. They serve three different desserts and have a lengthy wine menu. At first glance, the menu online seemed reasonable and I looked forward to trying it out. I came in with a raging appetite but I was disappointed to find out it was a tapas-style restaurant only once I was seated – I went in expecting larger portions. If I had known before, it wouldn’t have been an issue. I will take the blame for lack of prior research. 

Oregon is tucked in a small strip mall on Curé-Labelle Boulevard with very limited parking spaces – I had to park in another parking lot. Walking in, I immediately felt like I was in a wine-bar in Montreal’s Mile-End: the lights were dim, the music was loud, and the decor was designed to perfection.

The service was excellent; the waitress was very sweet and patient with us as we took a long time before deciding what to order. I went for the $25 dish of scallops with a bed of squash purée and hollandaise sauce, along with a $12 glass of French Sauvignon Blanc. One friend opted for the $18 rabbit confit, apple, mustard and fennel cavatelli, along with a $12 glass Italian white wine. The other chose the $21 agnolotti plate with broccoli, lamb bacon and Avonlea Cheddar alongside a glass of $12 Portuguese white wine. Both loved their plates but agreed the price felt hefty.

Photo by Brittany Henriques

My scallops were phenomenal and I enjoyed every bite, despite it being a smaller portion than expected. The atmosphere was very upbeat and the vibe was great for a wine-bar in Ste-Rose Laval. It definitely exceeded my expectations. 

My complaints would be the prices, the fact that I would often have to yell to speak to my friends because of the loud music, and the single bathroom. The music was fine at first, but it got tiring at the end; I felt like I couldn’t hear myself speak or think. The one-bathroom-for-all situation was sort of annoying because, with alcohol in your system, you constantly have to go. 

My friends and I well exceeded our stay as the last ones there past closing time, but they never made us feel like we had to leave, which I appreciated. 

I would definitely go back and recommend it to others because it was an overall great spot with a fun atmosphere and very good food, but the price is hefty for small portions.


4.5/5 for the food, 

2.5/5 for the price,

5/5 for the service, 

4/5 for the ambiance.


YUM or YIKES: Arepera

On my next vegetarian foodie adventure, I searched Montreal for a Latinx restaurant. My friends and I found Arepera when scouting where to eat dinner. My experience with Latinx food has never gone past Mexican, Brazilian or Salvadorian which are, more often than not, very meat-based cuisines.

Arepera is a Venezuelan restaurant in Montreal’s Plateau located on the pedestrian walkway Prince Arthur St. E. The restaurant is much larger than it looks, with bright yellow walls, similar to that in the Venezuelan flag. They also have old church benches in the waiting area, which I found was a really fun touch to the traditional look of the place.

The restaurant specializes in arepas, a Venezuelan-Colombian cornmeal bread stuffed with a variety of ingredients that forms a sort of sandwich. The arepa has a rich history dating back centuries. According to an article on Amaizeyou.com, the cornbread was a staple in diets across many Indigenous tribes in Latin America, which are now distinguished as Venezuela and Colombia. According to the article, arepa got its name from the Latin-Indigenous word for corn, erepa.

Arepera is not labelled as a vegetarian restaurant but it has a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan options featured on its lengthy menu, with options varying from $8 to $16 per arepa/plate. The menu is also 100 per cent gluten-free — since arepas are made from cornmeal, there’s no risk of contamination.

Queso y aguacate vegetarian arepa. Photo by Brittany Henriques.

I chose a serving of fried plantains as a starter and a mango juice to drink. I always teeter towards water instead of juices or soft drinks, but their juice flavours piqued my curiosity and I could not resist mango. My friend opted for a guava juice which was just as delightful.

The plantains were delicious and hot, and came with a cup of grated cheese instead of a dip, which I found interesting. From my Caribbean restaurant experience (plantains are common in Caribbean dishes), I’m used to having dipping sauce with the dish. At Arepera, the grated cheese stuck to the plantain and they actually ended up tasting incredible together. The plantains were so sweet and ripe that I found a dipping sauce unnecessary.

I had the queso y aguacate vegetarian arepa, which included cheese and avocado as the main stuffing ingredients. I had never had arepas before, nor have I ever had thick grilled cornbread, but it tasted incredible. I loved the texture and, because of the lack of wheat, the bread tasted light and I didn’t feel bloated afterwards. The dish also came with a small salad which I could not even get to because I was so full after the last bite of my arepa. My friends had the pabellón arepa (beef, black beans, plantains and feta cheese) and the llanera de pollo arepa (chicken, feta cheese and avocado). Both said they enjoyed every bite.

The restaurant was big, the staff was friendly and the food was incredible. I have no complaints aside from the fact that I would’ve liked for the arepa to have a choice of sauces to make it a little bit more flavourful when choosing a vegetarian option at least.

As a whole, I would rate Arepera:

4.5/5 for the food,
4.5/5 for the price,
4/5 for the service,
3/5 for the ambiance.

I would definitely recommend it to everybody. I believe this place would be more popular if the aesthetic, design and overall ambiance was more current and Instagram-worthy (I personally like the more traditional look they have going on, though).

This piece was written with the current Venezuelan Crisis in mind. Though western countries get to indulge in traditional Venezuelan dishes, residents of Venezuela are still going days without food in their stomachs.

For more information on the Venezuelan Crisis and the Government’s standpoint, click here


Graphic by @sundaeghost


YUM or YIKES!: Pigeon has the world’s worst coffee

Are you a student on the downtown campus who’s tired of getting their coffee from big-chain corporations like Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, Second Cup or Van Houte? Do you want a new spot that has a cool vibe, good service and good coffee? Well, that’s not Pigeon Espresso Bar because they have the world’s worst coffee.

Not actually, though, that’s just their slogan: “World’s Worst Coffee” is seen plastered all around the tiny coffee shop located a few storefronts down from the corner of Bishop St. and De Maisonneuve Blvd. (diagonally across from the Hall building). Whether on merch – reusable coffee mugs, crewnecks, caps – or on little posters throughout, their slogan definitely radiates BDE. Their coffee is far from being the worst and has easily become one of my favourites.

From around April to October, I usually drink iced coffee. From then until March, I get regular, hot coffee. At Pigeon, I often get an iced latte and, since I like my drinks with a little sweetness, and Pigeon doesn’t have flavoured syrups, I add a little bit of agave (they also have honey available).

Photo by Kayla-Marie Turriciano through Instagram @lifew.kay

Other times, when I’ve felt adventurous and wanted to try out something new but didn’t know what, every barista I’ve engaged with has helped me out. Not only are they helpful but they’re kind and friendly with each customer that comes in. At one point a few trips ago, one particular barista asked a patron if they wanted “the usual.” Even though it’s a really simple thing, it says a lot about the employees if they remember people’s orders, especially in a very busy neighbourhood. For service, I give Pigeon 5/5.

Back to coffee: during the colder months, I order a regular brew and add some milk – they also have non-dairy options like soy, coconut, oat, and almond milk – and sugar (again, agave and honey are sweetener alternatives). Whatever I get, though, it never tastes burnt, watery or just downright gross; it’s always fresh, has that perfect brewed-coffee smell and feels “full” to your taste buds. I’d give their coffee a 4.5/5.

On a side note, Pigeon does also have some baked goods. Since I have celiac disease (I can’t eat gluten), I haven’t tried anything, but they always look so yummy and I often see other people buying them.

One thing about Pigeon is that, because it’s an independent shop, their prices are a little higher than a Starbucks coffee, which makes me give them 3.5/5.

Even as a small – literally tiny, with only about three feet from the counter to the windowed-wall – coffee shop, Pigeon has quite a few varieties of drinks, all of which can be seen on the menu, which is written on large mirrors on the left side of the shop. Hanging from the ceiling are plants, which gives the small shop a light feel and makes for the perfect Instagram shot. Once you’ve got your coffee, you can sit down on a stool by the ledge lining the windows or sit outside on the shaded patio and watch Bishop St. For ambiance, I give Pigeon a 5/5.



As we were escorted to our table at Maman NYC, I spotted The Bachelor’s Vanessa Grimaldi with a finished plate of food. Once seated, I decided to approach her but turned around to see that she had left. My feelings towards my Maman experience mimic this chain of events: exciting and deflating.

Located on Notre-Dame St. W., Maman is the perfect spot if you’re looking for a café that will satiate your culinary palette and Instagram needs. The blue-and-white antique-style dishware juxtaposes the bohemian, rustic décor which features distressed wood, exposed brick, and greenery.

Photo by Erica Rizzo

Maman’s menu is not overwhelmingly extensive but offers a variety of breakfast and brunch dishes with plenty of healthy, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. If you enjoy elevated clean eating, you’ll have a tough time deciding what to order. The assortment of baked goods and pastries, which I would absolutely recommend, looked so tasty and decadent. I would give their food a four out of five. Their coffee menu, however, I would skip altogether — two words: tasteless and diluted.

While the coffees and pastries were fairly priced, main menu items were on the costly side, ranging from $13 to $17, excluding add-ons. This leads me to rate their prices a three out of five.

As for the atmosphere, the café was very noisy with loud music playing over the intense chatter. I felt like I had to keep raising my voice to speak. Also, almost everyone was taking pictures, which can become annoying. So, three and a half out of five for ambiance.

The service is where Maman was truly lacking. Perhaps it was because they just opened and were working out the kinks, but my family and I had to wait an hour for three orders of toast and two iced coffees. Mind you, my mom had gotten her cookie and latte, and my dad his cappuccino, within 15 minutes of ordering. It was the missing toast, which was likely forgotten about, that we had to remind our waiter for. I am compelled to give the service a one and a half out of five.

Would I return to Maman NYC? Sure, if I wanted an Instagram picture and a mediocre coffee. But other than that, I think I’ll stick to Starbucks.

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