3990 rue St. Urbain, Montral
Phone: (514) 842-3110
Located right in the heart of the Plateau at Duluth and Saint Urbain in the old part of the city, this place is located on the main level of a colourful old greystone building. Running “chain-free” and “corporate-free” since 1976, this place has been serving coffees, teas, and mostly-vegetarian fare to an assortment of clientele, ranging from funky artists from the Plateau, yuppy families and their kids, students from McGill, Concordia, UQUAM, and UDM, as well as seniors, teenagers, and Joe-Schmoe. They specialize in huge sandwiches (made with thick mollasses bread) , funky salads, and vegetarian pies.
The place is dark, but has an urban, grungy, funky decor (recently Santropol has become less grungy and more mainstream). Back when I lived in Montreal, I was a weekly visitor to Cafe Santropol. I went almost every Friday or Saturday night from 1993-1999. When I visit Montreal, I make it a priority to go for lunch or dinner.
They were known for their herbal teas, coffees, and milkshakes flavoured with a variety of specialty syrups (almond, maple, mint, peach, are among some of the choices) constitute the available nonalcoholic beverages.
Some of popular sandwiches featured at Cafe Santropol are: Midnight Spread (peanut butter, honey, cream and cottage cheese spread, nuts and raisins), Paspebiac (tuna, tomatoes, and creamcheese), Sweet Root (apples, nuts, coriander, grated carrots and raisins, mayo)
Tomato sandwiches, my favourite Vege Pate, and the Saint Urbain Corner (honey, nuts, olives, cream and cottage cheese (can be ordered with ham or chicken). My favourite from my teens is No. 13- (banana, honey, cream and cottage cheese, blackcurrent jam).
Vegetarian pot pies come in three varieties: spinach, millet, sarrasin and olives. They are served hot with vegetable salad.
For lunch fare, the menu is identical, but there is an option of a half sandwich/half soup deal. This option is offered from Monday to Friday until 5pm. Eligible sandwiches have an asterix (*) beside them. They specialize in herbal tea blends, now available for sale at Boutique Santropol, along with T-shirts and posters. Some Santropol brand herbal tea blends include Curiosi Tea, Humani Tea, Hospitali Tea (I used to enjoy Materni Tea but it does not exist anymore). Other herbal tea blends include Lemon Zinger, Cranberry Coe, and Emperor’s Choice. Some drinks include soft drinks (Coke/7UP), Milk Shakes, Diabolo (soda water and choice of twenty flavoured syrups), Cafe de La Maison (coffee, whipped cream, and choice of twenty flavoured syrups).
The restaurant is spread across three little dining areas, plus a romantic, amazing back terace with a pond with real goldfish and several cats that run by, this place has been voted for years as the most romantic place to bring a date.
Sandwiches range from $7.95-$9.95 and come with vegetables and are quite thick. I used to order the vege pate sandwich for years. The bread is fresh and to die for but I do not eat it anymore. A main staple is the vegetarian chili and the salads are worth trying. The dressing is simply wonderful with a mysterious hint of avocado perhaps? One percent of the bill is sent to organizations that ease hunger in Qubec and developing nations. Santropol Roulant (A Meals on Wheels service) literally across the street on Duluth and serves as a meals on wheels service for Montreal’s poor. Takeout is available. Accepts all cards. Open late on the weekends
Reviewed by Mark