If you live around Mount Royal and St. Laurent, you’ve probably passed by this new cafe-bar on the corner of Marie-Anne and St Laurent. Darling (4328 boulevard St Laurent) is the latest addition to the “coolest places in the Plateau” family, owned by the same folks who are responsible for Majestique and Waverley- established staples of the Plateau and Mile End in their own rights.
I’ve been to Darling during the day for work and coffee, as well as on a Friday night for drinks with a friend. When I arrived at 9:00pm last Friday I was surprised to see the very large space nearly completely packed. In fact, my friend and I got the last seats available on the leather couches near the front doors.
I’m always surprised to see places fill up early, especially since Montrealers tend to go out a little later- and after only about 3 weeks open word has evidently spread very quickly about Darling.
The decor at Darling is pretty classic hip Montreal- amber lighting, tasteful flora poking out from every corner, vintage-looking knick knacks and a centre circular bar as well as table service throughout the space. Drinks are reasonably priced, and there are small appetizers and sharable snacks on the menu (served pretty late in my experience) if you’re feeling peckish.
The vibe is laid back but with a very trendy ambiance. When I was there the crowd was mostly people in their twenties and thirties. As more years pass since I graduated universtiy, I really start to feel like a legitimate old lady when I walk up St Laurent (usually to go to the Pharmaprix for snacks, honestly) on the weekend, so it was cool to not feel like Grandma At The Bar™.
It started to clear out a bit around midnight- the vibe is pretty casual so if people were trying to full-on party they may have gone elsewhere on St Lau for the remainder of the night. But it was still comfortably full. Honestly, when it was at max capacity it was pretty toasty in there, so a decrease in the humidex was definitely welcome (pro tip: wear short sleeves)!
It’s definitely one of those places that feels like it’s poised to explode over the spring and summer. Everyone passing on the street took a couple minutes to peer in through the floor-to-ceiling windows as if to say, oh yeah lets come here next weekend. There is no doubt in my mind that Darling is going to be the next St Laurent Hall of Fame inductee, so if you’re wanting to try it out “before it gets too popular” you’d better strike while the iron is hot and go, like, this weekend.