From an old website, Alien in Montreal
The last time I went to Bistro-à-Jo-Jo was after my trip to L'Ammbasade, when we popped in at 2am to watch a friend's friend playing guitar in a five piece band. They played the 'Stray Cat Strut', and quite well too. I remember at the time thinking that I should return, as the people were welcoming, made space for us, and smiled. The atmosphere was cosy, dark, warm, and when the staff realised we wanted no drinks, they didn't complain.
So, at 2pm the place looks slightly different. It is sunny, so the windows and doors are thrown wide open at the front giving you the opportunity to drink, literally, on the street and chat to passing pan-handlers as you sip your beer. I wander into the gloom, leaving the bright sunshine behind me and face the usual period of blindness once faces in such dark pubs on bright days. Once my eyes adjust, at the bar I see a few bored looking people, who look at me. At the far end is a lonely looking man, playing with his laptop. I have a sudden, brief flashback to the London Pub, and shudder.
Music plays, very quietly, in the background.
I walk up and down the bar, in order to see what beers they have on tap, and then take a stool. A barmaid comes over and greets me with a small smile.
The ordering and subsequent (and very small) conversation is in French. I take a Boreale Blonde, which his $5.50. I take my beer and sit near the street, but a table back. The panhandlers pass, pause, look at me, as if calculating the distance, and then walk on, muttering.
I'm not offered a tab at the bar, and I muse that this is one of the signs of a friendly pub, in my mind. In Montreal if you're asked to pay right away, it's like saying that you're not trusted.
Another thing that marks a welcoming pub is being told what the daily special is, as almost all bars have at least one drink that is cheap during the day, to support the habits of the local barflies. A tip then - look at what the locals are drinking - that is usually the day-time special. Or, better still, just ask.
So, then, on to the 3 Brasseurs, as it is just next door.
1627 ST DENIS Montreal, Qc. H2X 3K3
Tél:514.843.5015 Web: http://www.bistroajojo.com