Montreal cafés seem to be in constant competition with one another. Each tries to foster an ideal atmospheres for first dates, hangovers, and makeshift office spaces. Newcomer to Montreal, Le Couteau (the knife) looks and feels exactly how the name suggests. The décor is to the point and sharp as hell. Whitewashed exposed brick, tidy lighting and massive windows establish a minimalist, industrial vibe—one that agrees with young professionals as well as young lovers.
While this aesthetic isn’t new, Le Couteau is unabashedly chic and damn good at it. Furnished with low tables and even lower benches, the café is perfect for hunkering down and getting stuff done. Just watch you don’t strain your back.
The baristas confidently serve up Ethiopian and Kenyan blends, prepped traditionally or through a Brewt, an infuser made right here in Canada. Although the menu is slim—almond-crusted croissants or Fairmount bagels—the simplicity would be disrupted by anything over the top.
It seems Le Couteau knows what it wants to do and executes it better than most cafés, especially those bordering the division between the Plateau and the Mile End. The neighbourhood needed a low-key hangout and this joint goes above and beyond expectations.
With the ambiance refined with a music selection that consists, unsurprisingly, of Arcade Fire and Bon Ivor, Le Couteau is, if not formulaic, a prototype for the contemporary cafés.
Looking ahead, I’m holding my breath for the snow to melt. While the windows looking out onto bustling St Denis suffice for now, Le Couteau’s patio promises a summer of unrivalled people watching. Regardless, you’ll probably find me here until then.
4627 St Denis St., 514-940-0444