Santropol was one of the first places I visited after arriving in Montreal, having been invited to join a lovely group of ladies, who soon became friends, for lunch there. I’m so grateful they introduced me to it as a year on it’s became one of my very favourite lunch spots in the city. It’s a little quirky gem hidden in the heart of Montreal’s Plateau, on the corner of Saint Urbain and Duluth. Now when I say it’s hidden it obviously isn’t that well hidden going by how busy it is at all times, but it is a couple of streets back off the main thoroughfares of Saint Denis and Saint Laurent, but well worth walking an extra couple of blocks for. It’s been around since 1976 and with queues still out the door most weekends it definitely isn’t going anywhere.
Their menu is bursting with lunch staples- soups, sandwiches, salads and bowls of vegetarian chilli. In fact, much to this vegi’s delight the whole menu is vegetarian friendly (including a lot of vegan options as well). But fear not meat eaters there is also the option to add on a variety of meat to any of their offerings, making Santropol the perfect compromise for this vegetarian and her carnivore husband.
They are renowned for their huge, (I do not use this term lightly, they are physically huge) sandwiches. My particular favourite is the Killer Tomato sandwich which is comprised of lettuce, sliced tomato and a sundried tomato, basil and garlic cream cheese (it is literally amazing!) served on their delicious dark, homemade, thickly sliced bread.
It wasn’t until I was introduced to Santropol that I realised cream cheese could be so much more than just plain old Philadelphia. Santropol offers a variety of homemade cream cheese options, all of which are mouth wateringly tasty. Another popular choice is the Mango Madness sandwich – original homemade cream cheese served with Santropol’s own spicy mango chutney and salad. All sandwich options come with a side salad and dressing. If the sandwich is too much for you (I like my food and even I have, at times, been beaten by this) the staff will very kindly give you the rest to go.
Through Monday to Friday there is also the option of substituting half of your sandwich for a soup. The soup choices are two daily specials (at least one of which is always vegetarian) and they really are the most fabulous concoctions. Concoctions is the only way I can think to describe them- there is no plain old pea and ham soup here. On recent visits I have seen such options as rutabaga and honey, thai curry chicken and chilli, and red lentil curry and these are probably some of their tamer options. I have never been remotely disappointed with the soup no matter how bizarre a mix of ingredients it has sounded. On one particular visit I couldn’t decide between the two soup options (both were vegi that day) and I asked the server for her advice. She suggested I try half and half “In the same bowl??” I asked somewhat incredulously. However I took her advice and well the lady is a genius, hands down the best soup I have ever tasted. I have never seen the same soup on the menu twice which I suppose is a pity and also a bonus in equal measure.
Santropol doesn’t sell alcohol but it makes up for it with it’s variety of coffees, fresh juices and milkshakes. My personal favourites are their Iced Latte and also the Espresso Milkshake [above], although you can get practically any flavour of milkshake your heart desires. I would also highly recommend their homemade pink lemonade, the perfect refreshment on a warm summers day on their terrasse. (Montreal’s terrasses are Scotland’s equivalent of beer gardens and patios). As for their sweet offerings, well they are just as large and impressive as the sandwiches. The carrot cake is one of the best I have tasted. Though the portions are so filling that I have never managed dessert on the same outing as having ate lunch there. Therefore I tend to either go for lunch or for coffee and a cake but never both at the same time. Perfect excuse for two trips 🙂
The restaurant itself is deceptively large. From the outside it looks rather small but there are actually a decent number of tables inside, though it still feels really cosy. It also opens up to the most amazing terrasse out back.
A little oasis equipped with a pond full of fish, quirky décor and at night fairy lights twinkling. The mismatch of tables and chairs and alternative art on the walls (some of which is for sale) makes it a very cool place to spend a leisurely afternoon or evening.
If Santropol has one downfall, if you can even call it that, it’s that nothing happens particularly quickly there, the whole vibe of the place is very zen so if you’re in a hurry this isn’t the spot for you. However, if you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy a relaxing, leisurely lunch or coffee date then I highly recommend you check out my favourite little gem in the plateau.