Old Montreal is a jewel filled with jewels. If you are visiting, forget the tourists and follow the locals around. They will bring you to gems hidden inside historic buildings. Tommy’s is one of these. Just next to Place d’Armes, Tommy’s is a great little coffee shop housed in the British Empire Building (formerly the Exchange Bank of Canada built in 1874).
Quite simply, I fell in love with Tommy’s. While outside it might be cold, inside it felt like a summer day, as if you are getting your daily dose of Vitamin D just by sitting inside. It is incredibly bright and sunny and cheerful, and if you walk in in a bad mood there is no way you will walk out in one. The space is two stories high with two sets of mezzanine floors each filled with tables and chairs filled with patrons. Everywhere you look there is a mixture of old and new, some original details from the building, Victorian woodwork, large windows. There is a marble surfboard on the wall, a collection of colourful Larousse encyclopedias, a giant bottle of wine (already enjoyed), an elaborate chess kit. There are repurposed outdoor theatre seats, mismatched chairs, pops of green and lavender. But even with this mismatch of antiques the place is incredibly modern and bright. There are white walls, and an ornate ceiling from which a series of green plants cascade down into the main area of the café below. A mirror going floor to ceiling on one wall makes the space seem twice as big. The food is locally sourced and, apparently, very very good.
The hot chocolate, which I noticed was at the top of their drinks menu (respect), is chocolate melted in hot milk. There was a choice of milk or white chocolate, so I ordered one chocolat chaud, enjoyed it slowly, and then when I’d finished it, went down and order the other flavor. Its worth just settling in to enjoy the space, plus if you stay until 5pm then have a ‘5-7’ (Montreal’s version of happy hour) to make you even happier.
To continue with the old meets new theme of Tommy’s, there are some other nearby gems housed in the historic buildings of old Montreal. Lunch a Porter is a store that only sells lunch boxes and bags, Le Petit Dep is the prettiest little corner store you have every seen. Maison Espace Pepin is filled with items you now must have for your house and Olive and Gourmando is just as good as it was last time we visited.
Verdict: I’d move in if I could. Tommy’s, 100 Notre Dame West, Montreal, Canada