Walkabout In Montreal Including a Tour of Leonard Cohen’s Haunts

Today i had a great time walking miles in the old hood visiting bagel bakeries,falafel joints,Wilensky’s for the “Special” ,Book store ,Italian espresso cafes and streets my ancestors lived ….
Another regular stop is my favorite Italian espresso cafe the Olimpico https://www.facebook.com/cafeolimpico1970on St Viateur in Mile End or Mille End as my father admonishes me.here since 1970.
The barrista’s are foulmouthed but funny and endearing.Rap music blares out and if their grandfathers knew they would have pulled the plug but it all works and the crowd is mostly regulars.A great place to sit outside and enjoy the strong coffee and hang out. Inside it feels like New York City somewhere in the Village.
I love it here and the coffee is right on!
Wilensky’s is more than the sum of it’s parts….
Wilensky’s https://www.facebook.com/Wilenskys/is a place close to my heart.I have been coming here since i was 3 for one of Moe Wilensky’s “Specials” an assortment of meats with mustard on two ends of an onion roll and pressed down to perfect bliss. At first glance you come in and take in the 6 stools at a soda counter an think what is the fuss.
This is one of the most iconic and famous places in Montreal.
The movie with Richard Dreyfus ,The apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz was filmed here …
Leonard Cohen ,Mordecai Richler and Anthony Bourdain have all shared stools at this counter.
But Wilensky’s is more than a sandwich for me . The place looks exactly the same and that is something in this ever changing world for a place to look the same as when you were a kid. It was our Saturday ritual for my father and brother and I to sidle up to one of maybe 8 stools at the counter and order a Special and a cherry coke which they would make the old fashioned way and maybe a karnatzel ( a peppery sausage )would be added to the order .I think i remember when the Special was 20 cents and then 35 cents and now i think it is over 4 dollars.
Think of all the stores and businesses that have come and gone …yet Moe Wilensky and his humble sandwich is still around 90 years later .That is remarkable !
Moe and his wife have sadly passed away but their daughter Sharon is at the helm and she greets me heartily as always.
My childhood was spent in the secret back room where Moe had his comic book stash and i would lie on the wooden floor that was a 100 years old and pore over comics waiting for Moe to slip me a Special which i eagerly gobbled down.
They still have the old candy in view from the counter i remember when i was a kid..sesame seed bars and Eat More a huge candy bar that did malice on your teeth and Mae West which is Montreal’s Joe Louis,a chocolate cake filled with creme.
.I remember when i was a brash twenty something record biz exec and there was a meeting in Montreal for other record people and i elected to go to Moe’s and get 20 Specials for the guys who were from out of town .
I run into the place and yell
“Moe i need 20 Specials to go ! “
I was living out of town then so i hadn’t been there in a while .
Moe looks at me with a pained jaundiced eye and says,
”You have been coming here all your life ,next time phone !” I say ,”Moe i didn’t know you had a phone”
He looks at me with that Moe look and says
“Come back in half an hour but never do this again”
He made them up for me and i retreated with the goods not without some embarasment.
Moe could be tough but he had a heart of gold…..
My father grew up around the corner by the way….
In the old Mile End Hood on St Viateur St where the famous bagel bakery is and some great cafes and restaurants.This area like others have become trendy .I always stroll down here an end up at one of the cafes like the Olimpico…grab a bagel and check out the books at Lew Welch bookstore down the street.
That is the Greek Orthodox church in the background and it frames the avenue..This is my father’s hood where he was raised…

I can’t resist a place with my name in it ,,this is Yoni’s Falafelhttps://www.facebook.com/falafelyoni/ and that is my Israeli name ,short for Jonathon ..The falafel’s an authentic Israeli falafel and i give it 9 out of 10 .Even the pita is Jerusalem pita. This is just down the street from the Italian cafe and the bagel place.

I shared a Falafel on a bench outside Yoni’s Falafel https://www.facebook.com/falafelyoni/with these two women who just got here from Paris France and I gave them all the suggestions of where to go and what to eat and we had a great time.I love talking and meeting new people and i am interested in their stories…

A Montreal Ramble around Leonard Cohen Hood
The first picture is a house Leonard and his pal bought that was built in 1836.Leonard then bought the house across the street . There are photos in the window showing Leonard and his kids who partially grew up here. Across the street is Portuguese Park and across from the park on St Laurent St or “The Main” as it was once known is Bagel Etc a Leonard hangout. The photo after that is the apartment building my grandparents lived in and the next picture is the commune i lived in in 1970. The last photo is me in front of the house my mother was born in and that is a block from Leonard’s house…Everything here is a block from each other.The Hood

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