Moe’s: Casse-Croute Du Coin in Montreal…
The first time I traveled abroad I was determined not to consume anything remotely related to what I ate back home and not to spend over $10. There was no point and nothing to learn from not stepping out of your comfort zone and forced to speak a language you recently learned out of a pocket phrasebook on the fourteen-hour flight. The more I traveled, the more home-sickness made an appearance. And the more I craved an “American-style” breakfast, as most of the world calls it.
My traveling companion did some half-assed research online in the hotel and managed to come up with some bright, shiny and well lit tourist traps for breakfast. No go. Not only do I not need the brightness and reality with my morning java, I also don’t need to be charged dinner prices for something that costs pennies to make. And so his suggestion was vetoed, if ever considered, and while he pouted in the corner to contemplate what atrocities he’d just committed, I fingered through my notepad of all the places I researched months ago. Rookies.
This Casse-Croute du Coin, literally translated into “snack corner,” is affectionately known as Moe’s. A serious hole in the…ground. This basement restaurant sits on the corner of Maisonneuve Ouest and Lambert Closse, tucked into a tree-lined residential block where you’re guaranteed to see its vintage red Coca Cola sign peeping through the leaves before the building itself. A few grimy-looking steps down into the double entry way leads you into a dim diner that looks like it was transported from a Midwestern town via the depression era. There are jukeboxes that don’t work. Booths that don’t fit fat people. On a continuous loop that never ends. Literally, because it’s open 24 hours. Turns out there’s a heaven for atheists after all.
It has to be open 24 hours, it’s stumbling steps away from College of Montreal and McGill University, so you’ll hear lots of Southern California Hermosa Beach accents asking for egg white omelettes and coins for the bus. Fortunately, these people who work here appear to take no shit from anyone, so the likelihood of a yolk creeping into your omelette is the nicest thing they should do to you.
Speaking of omelettes, I opted for a bacon (which is really ham-like) and cheese omelette. That automatically entitles you to potatoes, or some other options I tuned out after I heard potatoes, toast and coffee or tea. And it’s all for $7.
If you’re thinking that’s steep for a greasy spoon…good! You can eat at one of those Mother’s Day restaurants next to American Eagle and Gap.
As soon as we ordered, the woman manning the line (there was one woman and one young man working the entire place) chucked my papas into the fryer. Irregular cut potatoes, the best cut, that turned out as golden as a sun-baked Hawaiian Tropic model. Soft chunks intermingling with crispy bits. Soft-cooked eggs that swaddled their plastic Kraft cheese and pink bacon babies within, ensuring safety until they’re both met by the violence of my eager mouth. And toast, well…toast is toast. It’s brown, it’s delicious, it has Kraft jam. Did you know Kraft products are big here? And free refills on your coffee.
There’s nothing more important than a greasy spoon with slow service, but fast coffee, to grab your bearings and use as an excuse to people watch. This is a type of place where creative types can accomplish much creating and radicals can accomplish much manifesto-ing. No one bothers to ask, “how’s the food/how are we doing,” or ask if you want something else as a subliminal message that it’s time to pick your tuchus up so they can turn the table.
It’s one of the most down-to-earth diners I’ve had the pleasure to clog my arteries in. And you should too.
Moe’s Casse-Croute du Coin
2214 Boul. Maisonneuve Ouest
Top photo courtesy of: PouletCochon