EM CAFÉ, 5718 Park Ave., Mile End (near Bernard)
Open until 8pm weekdays, 5pm weekends
This place opened last summer in a former delicatessen that had been abandoned for two decades (Mile Enders will know it as the place in between Nouveau Falero and the Épicerie Mile End, near the Jean Coutu). The space is gorgeously designed.
Food consists of café standbys like sandwiches, salads, wraps, which sounds totally boring except that the attention to quality ingredients is remarkable. This is especially evident in the main courses. The other day I had a pork roast with mashed potatoes and a ratatouille and it was fantastic. It came with a soup (also excellent, and the accompanying bread was baked on the premises) and it set me back just $9.95.
The prices here are appealing: there is nothing on the menu above $12. It's nice to have a meal that is both affordable and delicious.
The coffee is above average and, again, not too expensive ($2.75, tax included, for a café au lait that is better than what you'd get at Starbucks/Second Cup/Presse Café et al). There's a selection of pastries, some of them homemade, others from a bakery in Little Italy, but I haven't tried enough of them to comment.
The service can be a bit disorganized, but always very friendly. The owners all seem to live in the neighbourhood; one of them told me that they buy all of their food on Park, too.
Em Café still doesn't have a liquor licence but the owners assure me that they will extend their hours once they get one.
They have a website with photos and their menu. Amazingly enough, it appears to be updated every day with the daily specials.