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Café du Nouveau Monde
84 Sainte-Catherine W., Place-des-Arts métro

Tel. 866-8669 Monday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to I a.m and 8:30 a.m. for the ground floor café. Closed Sunday. $40 for two before wine, taxes and service.
Comfortably ensconced within the walls of the newly renovated Theatre du Nouveau Monde, this spacious café serves as a buffer zone between the drama on stage and the prosceniurn of the red-light district projecting into Montreal's downtown. Quick sandwiches, salads, decent cappuccinos et al. constitute the ground floor culsine.The first story offers seating that is more comfortable, a more elaborate cuisine, and a bird's-eye view of the tragi-comedy oftentimes staged at the intersection of Sainte-Catherine and Saint-Urbain. An unpretentious menu admirably plays the role embodying gastronomic savoir-faire in an otherwise culinary-challenged corner.

Standouts: The exquisite Portuguese olives marinated with orange peel and fennel. A very respectable bread, even though it's made by Au pain doré; and great desserts, even though they're made by La Gascogne.

Sample menu: Duck ravioli in broth, apero plate, grilled vegetables, eggplant rolls au gratin, fried citrus salmon concasse, almond cream puff-pastry, chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream with homemade chocolate.

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