la Boîte Gourmande opened at the corner of Rivard and Laurier East. A stone's throw from my daughter's school, this café is the perfect venue for homework and people watching. After tasting the latté and reading one of the four Montreal dailies the restaurant carries for its customers, I was hooked.
The site of the new café was once a bank, and the new tenants decided to keep the vault and change it into a kid-friendly room, complete with chalkboards, toys and books. Along with a few paintings from a local artist, you will see some old doors used as wall coverings. In addition, among the eclectic collection of wooden tables and chairs, you may find yourself sitting on what appears to be a church pew, or you can opt for a seat on the retro orange sofa, set against a floor to ceiling window.
I quickly discovered that Hélène Marquis and Alexandre Simard (chef extraordinaire) used local, organic ingredients whenever possible and served their takeout food in containers that were recyclable in our municipality. Another hit with parents, la Boîte Gourmande does not serve soft drinks. They also have a self-serve ice water station with reusable cups and a recycling bin, which is so rare in most cafés.
One day, I commented on how pleased I was to see that my takeout containers were recyclable.
Hélène said, "Choosing to reduce our ecological footprint was a conscious decision. The only thing I haven't been able to do away with is the plastic stretch wrap for the sandwiches."
She showed me her takeout cutlery, which is usually made from #6 plastic and cannot be recycled in the greater Montreal area. She held up two sets of cutlery in front of me. "These are made from potato, and they come from China," said Hélène, showing me the first set. "But I have opted for the second set from a supplier in Virginia. They don't travel as far, we're supporting our neighbours, and they're still biodegradable."
Now, as you may have guessed, prices are higher here than at other café-restaurants, but you'll find that's a moot point after you taste the quality of their offerings. I stopped in there two weeks ago and had superb chicken Provençal. Alex is a fabulous chef, and Audrey and Hélène make wonderful desserts and baked goods. They also have child- and adult-sized servings, and adults can order a child's portion if they so wish.
Like the other eco-entrepreneurs I have written about, Hélène, Audrey and Alex love what they do. This is evident not only from their smiles and flock of regular customers, but also by how good their food tastes. By the way, these eco-entrepreneurs also use the services of Compost Montréal, our eco-entrepreneurs in Part 1 of my three-part series.
If you're in the neighbourhood with your laptop, la Boîte Gourmande also has Y5 Internet access.
Part 1: Eco-Entrepreneurs Do the Right Thing (Compost Montréal)
Part 2: Eco-Entrepreneurs Do the Right Thing (la Gaillarde)
Why we should compost--Even Urbanites
Meet the Clean 15 (Produce with lowest pesticide levels)Evironmental Working Group Updates its Dirty Dozen (12 fruit and veg with the highest pesticide levels)
Buying Local: Vegetables Year Round
Plastics: Of the 3 Rs, we should REDUCE
3 Simple Q&As about Children and Pesticides