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Metro Roulette: LaSalle is for window-shoppers

Posted by Cat / July 6, 2006

IMG_0748_1.JPGThe excitement started from the moment I descended into my usual Green Line station and, instead of veering towards the usual “direction Henri-Bourassa”, I went madly off towards Angrignon. Oh, life on the other side of the Green line!

After Lionel-Groulx, the train seemed to pick up speed and the distances between the metro stops grew. My pulse quickened. Where was I headed, so far and so fast? What possible adventures awaited me? What lay beyond this unfamiliar platform in the distant reaches of Montreal’s unexplored sprawl?

Any self-reflexive questioning that might have been inspired by the thrilling commute was further instilled by the mirrored qualities of the actual LaSalle metro station. The benches that line the platforms are of polished stainless steel. Handy if you want to check your make-up on your way downtown; less reassuring if you are feeling at all uncertain about where you are in time, space, and within the scope of the STCUM transit map.

Nonetheless, the arched and angular sculpted steel ceiling is rather breathtaking (and not just because I was out of puff from taking the stairs). The LaSalle metro houses murals by Michele Tremblay-Gillon and Peter Gnass. The mural by Gnass reminds me of something out of the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. LaSalle metro was inaugurated as part of the Green Line in 1978, and is the 54th most frequented station of the current system’s 65 stops.

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So, after getting my fill of LaSalle’s glinting steel (and my own reflection) I headed out the doors, zigged left onto av. Caisse, then zagged right onto rue Rushbrooke with the honourable goal of rustling up a bit of lunch.

Rustle I did, and satisfied I was at Lefebvre et Filles – Bouchées et Boutique. Lunch was a sandwich of thinly sliced pork roast and aged provolone with red onion confit on an olive ciabatta roll. Delicious! The sandwich selection is made daily and the café is open for breakfast and lunch. Pastries are baked in house, breads come par-baked from Au Pain Doré and the scrumptious-looking cakes are from a local Italian bakery. Smoothies and fresh fruit juices are on offer, including a special daily juice blend – I had a glass of apple-pineapple. The best surprise was the pickled garlic scapes (also known as garlic flowers or garlic stems) that accompanied my sandwich. Looking a bit like a green bean but definitely tasting of mild sweet garlic with a lovely crunch to them, the pickled garlic scapes were a delightful accompaniment. I have long been enchanted with the garlic scape, and to find some gracing my sandwich plate in this tiny lunch spot near LaSalle station (corner of Rushbrooke and Blvd. LaSalle to be exact) was quite extraordinary.

The boutique part of Lefebvre et Filles stocks locally made preserves and gourmet food products. Jams, honeys, mustards, “vegetarian” caviar, and various chutneys, relishes and pickles, as well as chocolates, teas, and even skin care products, are all made somewhere in Quebec. Opened just six months ago by two sisters, LeFebvre et Filles will be featured in the September issue of Clin d’Oeil magazine.

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The café is opposite a small park so there is potential for excellent people-watching during the lunch hour. But as there was nothing too fascinating to report as I sat munching a post-lunch piece of cherry-almond biscotti, I hit the street again and headed east (unless it was south) on rue Wellington.

You are greeted immediately by a large sign welcoming you to Verdun. I knew I had to tread carefully. I might impinge upon the territory surrounding Verdun Metro, or even that of De l’Eglise, which has no place in a post about LaSalle metro. Wellington is a ramshackle mix of pawn shops, video game stores (sales and rentals), chi-chi caterers, casse-croutes, precious bakeries, dingy greengrocers, and sporting goods shops. It is a possible gentrification work-in-progress, but admittedly I don’t know enough about the neighbourhood demographics to state this with any sort of authority. The residential areas boasted manicured gardens, abandoned bathroom fixtures, above-ground pools, pit bulls, and pot smoke, so make of that what you will.

There were a few of what one might consider commercial gems on Wellington, if only for their novelty value. Amalgam Montréal deals in just that – amalgam. Two people in electric wheelchairs were loitering outside, but I couldn’t tell if their teeth were in need of repair. Further along Wellington, a store with no name seemed to deal strictly in over-sized stuffed animals and cartoon figures, like the kind you might win at a fair or carnival if you were in any way coordinated and didn’t have to resort to buying your over-sized stuffed animals and cartoon figures at some dodgy store on Wellington in Verdun.IMG_0771_1.JPG

Almost directly across the street from the giant doll store was a rather fancy-looking little restaurant called La p’tite table. The menu posted outside made for tasty reading: “Crevettes et son trio de melons” to start, perhaps followed by the “Mille feuilles d’agneau et tapenades”, and rounded out with what I imagined to be a delicately sweet “Soupe de fruits rouges avec crème glacée maison”. The one note of discord in this perfectly pleasant scene was the giant Shrek doll, seated at the linen-draped dining table in the front window. I gazed back across Wellington to the shop of stuffed toys. Hmm…

Other highlights include the fruit and veg shop which advertised nothing but onions and whose storefront display consisted of, yes, just onions in various colours and sizes. The windows of Pierre Hebert – Opticien sported not just one, but two kooky collections: ceramic frogs (over fifty amphibians –that would be my guess) and old hand irons – the kind that pioneers might once have heated over the coals before ironing their handkerchiefs and Sunday collars. L’Unique Boutique, a second-hand clothing store with a decent selection if you’ve got the time to sift through the racks, had some pretty funky outfits on display in their front window as well.

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Not just pretty funky, but truly funky, is the Nu-Art café at 3780, Wellington. The menu posted on the door described some potentially very tasty sandwiches, vegetarian plates, and pitchers of sangria. On weekends they serve up breakfast. The so-so boho interior was quite charming and the exterior spoke of good things. But I never got to try those things. Nu-Art was closed. As were many of the other intriguing establishments previously described. The environs of LaSalle metro, it seems, are only open later in the week (though not necessarily late at night). The locked doors and shuttered windows had me panting and scratching to get in. The mystery! The intrigue! Why was I seemingly banned from discovering the true possibilities of life in and around LaSalle Metro? Truth be told, it had the effect of leaving me possibly kinda sorta wanting to come back for more. Maybe.

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Discussion

12 Comments

Hannah / July 7, 2006 at 07:27 am
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My flavour buds are all a tingle.
J Mac / July 7, 2006 at 08:48 am
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Woo-hoo! Never has LaSalle seemed so much more than a stop I rarely get off at. Actually, I got off there twice, both times to look at Gnass's mural/sculpture thing for an article I was writing. So I never actually left the building. Gnass is still alive and making art -- he submitted something for one of the new Laval stations, but I don't know if they picked it.
Mark / July 11, 2012 at 02:28 pm
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Never knew there was a lasalle station. Just like in the Philippines where there is a dormitory near Universities like La Salle, Benilde CSB, and St. Scholastica located in Manila Taft.
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