A couple of weeks ago, I returned to L’Avenue on Mount Royal after not having been in a while. I can remember when L’Avenue was a hot spot on one of Montreal’s trendiest streets. The décor was fresh (the mannequin in the window with the endless wardrobe!), the food was pretty good and the staff even seemed to be having a good time with their guests.
In recent years the restaurant has gone through several surface changes and while it has survived a recession of restaurant activity in the area (there a still some great places opening up, just not as many as before), part of me wonders if they should have tried to lead the way for something more innovative on Mount Royal instead of sticking to the same formula. Instead, much like the rest of the restaurant, even the poor mannequin looks a little tired. Eating there at night, it feels like you’re in a cave. The clunky dark décor is reminiscent of a 90’s punk rock club and not in a good way.
Once you’re in and seated, you better hope you don’t have to get up because the tables are so close together you may end up sitting in your neighbour’s food. This hasn’t actually happen to me (maybe), but now that I think of it, this could be an interesting way to flirt, though, it’s not enough to be a silver lining. The quality of the service has diminished to the point where they staff seem blazé about the patrons around them.
The waiters and bus staff seem frantic and unfocused, and in some cases it seems like they just stepped out of bed and came to work in their rumpled clothing. Despite the changes over the years, the food has not veered too far off course. It is still pretty ordinary and most of the menu can easily be found anywhere in Montreal. As far as I’m concerned, just because you’ve found a clever new way of saying ‘sandwich’ (on a way too busy menu) doesn’t mean you’ve reinvented the wheel. There is still a line up to get in, I’ll give them that. The boys decked out in their Ed Hardy finest, freshly ripped muscles and jeans, and girls with the fake tans and razor sharp, multi-colored bangs leaves me to wonder if they are going there because they think that others feel it’s cool to be there?
I used to like L’Avenue, and I’m sure that on some nights they still hit the mark and maybe they do please some of the people some of the time (lines don’t form themselves, after all) but, in the long run hopefully this place will not accept to simply rest, on pretty ordinary.