I had great expectations for Mimi la Nuit. None of them were based on facts. They were, as it was, projections and hopes built on my wants and necessity and I wasn't going to let something like reality get in the way of a convenient fantasy.
I hoped Mimi was going to be in a basement, hidden away. The place would have a gazlight atmosphere and the old montreal stone walls would feature tchotchkes bringing your mind to a parisian café on la rive gauche or to La Belle Époque. Seats and tables would be an anarchic mishmash of styles that would somehow work. There would be a long and old wooden bar and a bartender like l'express's M.Masson who would work tirelessly on a curated wine list full of intricacies and surprise. Behind the sonorous din of conversation would be an echo of Chanson Francaise.
It would sound similar to this:
Somewhere tucked in a corner would be Cezanne's Joueurs de cartes.
Old Montreal has no decent winebar. One struggles to find a decent bar, period. I had hoped Mimi La Nuit would be a bastion of the growing winebar movement that has spread across the city.
I was wrong.
One enters to find what looks like a Zebulon Perron design (actually its not). I seem to see this style everywhere these days. To be honest it looks like a bar in a box someone bought at Ikea and decided to pop on Saint Paul. Its pretty and shiny but doesn't feel lived in.
I went in around 6-7 and was one of the first one in the bar. There is a DJ in the back in the room trying to convince us we are on Boul Saint-Laurent between Sherbrooke and Prince-Arthur. The winelist is nothing to write home about. Sufficient I guess. I try a white which I immediately forget and will try the tartare with a red that will remain silent.
The barman is... tall I guess. He doesn't try to engage in discussion, doesn't tell me about the wine, he politely gives me what I requested and goes busy himself somewhere else.
The tartare was good, as were the fries. The beef was cut pretty large and it tasted buttery. It might have lacked a bit of kick or a bit more mustard but it was a nice experience.
As the bar started to fill up I became aware I wasn't fitting in with the crowd. A platinum young woman at the end of the bar was slowly drinking a glass of champagne, wearing a robe that must have been vacuumed on showcasing what looked like 10 000$ of investment holding on for dear life and seemed to be waiting for her executive class overachieving boyfriend. Two woman on my right were engaged in a dynamic discussion that probably wasn't about Voltaire. They looked like they dressed up to go out. That crowd seemed to come straight from Saint-Laurent.
The DJ was annoying. He was really into it but I felt once again at a douchebag beach club (what's the deal with DJs and bad music?). I think he was using spotify. I have spotify too. Maybe I should moonlight as a dj during my off hours.
As you might guess from now I didn't like Mimi la nuit. I will not be back.
I don't know if there is a bar for me in old montreal. I'll continue to try and I have a few places to try but I still believe its a barren land full of tourist traps and gimicky bars inspired from the saint-laurent scene that lacks a soul.