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City, Food

Organic Coffee for the Bohemian in You: Le Zigoto Caf

Posted by Sisi / July 7, 2008

Do you love coffee chains like Starbucks and Second Cup? Do you revel in the mellifluous sounds of Top 40 radio? Perhaps you have a soft spot for the cannibalization model of business? Or is it the carefully baked blandness of overpriced pastries that draws you back, again and again?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then avoid the newly-opened Le Zigoto Café at all costs. Located in the Mile End on Parc Ave. and Bernard, Le Zigoto is an oasis of quirky charm, friendly service, and delicious fare. Co-owned by husband and wife duo Laurance and Pierre Bouthillier, the café prides itself on offering high-quality fair trade and organic coffee, as well as supporting local culture.

20080707_bench.jpgI sat down with Laurance and Pierre on two separate occasions. The first time was behind closed doors on Saint-Jean-Baptiste. I had genmaicha, a Japanese green tea made with roasted brown rice. I went back a second time to try out a sandwich and soup combo with iced coffee. The sandwich was tuna salad on whole wheat with tomatoes, lettuce, and spices. The star of the meal was the mushroom soup with crushed walnuts, coriander, and allspice.

Both Laurance and Pierre have backgrounds in the service industry. She worked in several cafés and loves to cook, and he waited 2-3 years in restaurants during college. At Le Zigoto, they use lots of beans and spices in their meals. Playing a delicious supporting role are fresh-baked cookies and muffins.

Both Montreal natives, the Bouthilliers wanted from the start to locate their fledgling business in the neighborhood.

"I used to live on Van Horne, not far from from here, so I wanted something in the Plateau," said Laurance.

"Lorsqu'on faisait du repérage, [le café] était une barbie (barbershop)," said Pierre. "Un ou deux mois plus tard, la place était à louer."


Aesthetically, the most striking feature of the café is its second-hand chic. Case in point: the table I was sitting at.

"Ce sont des tables de boucherie qu'on a faites couper," he said. "C'est moi qui ai acheté les pattes."

"The floor is made of compressed wood shavings," revealed Laurance. "As for the chairs in front, we bought them cheap at an auction and got them re-upholstered."

"C'est un mismatch qui match," quipped hubby.

And what of the goods?

"Our supplier is Toi, Moi et Café," said Laurance. "We also serve teas from Camellia Sinensis. Our regular coffee is from Mexico; we're currently working on knowing who the farmers are."DSC03114.jpg

Because organic and fair trade coffee prices were so daunting to the average person, the Bouthilliers lowered theirs in a bid to encourage principled consumerism. A recent addition to the menu is meat-free eats; the café makes it a point to have one vegan item per day.

To top it all off, Le Zigoto also serves as a cultural space by putting on music shows, hosting community events, and promoting local artwork.

"Le nom 'Zigoto," ça veut dire justement quelqu'un qui préfère faire les choses pour lui-même," said Pierre.

"It's like a bohemian or a gypsy, someone who wants to be himself," added Laurance.

Bravo, Le Zigoto: may you never turn into Starbucks.

For more info, check out the café's blog for opening hours and upcoming events.

Le Zigoto Café
5731 du Parc
(514) 867-9005



Michael / July 8, 2008 at 02:45 pm
The lemon zest in my tuna salad sandwich to go made my day in the most fabulous and fresh of ways. As for the soup, comfort food at its finest. Le Zigoto is making fresh on the franchise exhausted coffee shop scene, I'll be back when in the neighborhood;)
danielle / July 9, 2008 at 12:36 pm
I've been in Le Zigoto cafe few times & I am glad some peoples still believe in real authentic good food because Le Zigoto's pastries & sandwiches are such a delight!! We can always appreciate the subtle perfumes in the pastry & omelettes (pistachio, rose water, herbs...) Miummmmee!
Jenny / July 9, 2008 at 04:52 pm
On a (semi-)related note:

600 Starbucks outlets closing down! Good riddance! Yay for small, independent coffee shops.
Lor / July 11, 2008 at 05:03 pm
`le Zigoto`is a welcome addition to our neighborhood! A charming place with a soul, great atmosphere, tasty food garnished with herbs and infused with spices from the Mediteranean, Bio coffee that is the tastiest I have ever had in the city! Does it sound like I am impressed, well I am! It`s about time Montreal has more of these charming unique coffee shops! Let`s all help in supporting this wonderful local, small business which also does a great job at showcasing local art and culture!
Lor / July 13, 2008 at 03:15 pm
I forgot to mention that the coffee is also fairtrade, not just bio! Way to go `le Zigoto`.
Kirt Murray / July 17, 2008 at 12:56 am
We visited Montreal recently, and I regret that we didn't know about le Zigoto then.

Hopefully next time. Until then, salute, from denizens of another latte town, Madison, Wisconsin.

Nic West / May 25, 2009 at 04:11 pm
My husband and I stumbled into this delightful spot on a rainy Valentines afternoon. The food was is very very yummy and the owners very charming. The simple home-style food is like a hug from your Mom. A great place to spend a few hours flipping through their extensive magazine collection, sipping on their delicious drinks (don't skip the homemade Lemonade) and watching the world go by on Parc. Stop in if you are near-by, you won't regret it.
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