If you haven’t heard of fine-dining restaurant Hopkins in Monkland Village then you are missing out on a very elegant eatery. Co-owned by the leading lady of glorious gourmet displays, Nicolina Servello (I’ve always swooned over her heavenly and heavily laden tables at events) and chef Liam Hopkins (formerly of restaurant Park), this recent addition to NDG introduces incomparable cuisine to the neighbourhood. Literally, this is the only place to have an upscale dining experience in NDG, but it’s well worth the drive. I drove there myself last Sunday for two reasons: to try the brunch menu and to celebrate my friend, i.e. brunch model, on her birthday.
Hopkins is an Instagrammers dream. The decor is a sophisticated mix of warm brass accents, cool blue chairs and bar stools, on an overall soft grey background. I decided to come for brunch because not only is brunch my favourite meal, but also the daytime light at Hopkins is perfect for pictures and for visually appreciating each plate.
Plating is a priority at Hopkins and each brunch starts with an artfully-arranged platter of exotic fruit (what a treat to see star fruit, dragon fruit and figs in January!), slices of homemade brioche and confiture. Mimosas are made with freshly-squeezed orange juice and decorated with edible flowers.
Nicolina suggested we try everything and take home what we couldn’t eat, but we settled on two savoury dishes followed by a duo of sweet items. Between the house-smoked salmon with avocado and crème-fraîche on a ficelle and the Mctartare – beef tartare and cornichons on a homemade bun and the chef’s own “special sauce”, the winner was hands down the tartare because it tasted like McDonald’s but in a divinely good way. The crispy polenta hash browns were an added treat to the tartare. I definitely will be back for more!
On the sweet side – that stack of fluffy buttermilk pancakes layered with lemon curd and topped with blueberries and maple syrup is still calling my name. We went a little overboard by ordering the Hopkins version of a cinnamon bun which arrived in a cast iron skillet, topped with a hefty chunk of foie gras and surrounded by candied pecans in a sea of duck fat caramel. Our eyes being bigger than our stomachs at this point, we each took a decadent bite and then took the rest to go.
A successful brunch would not be complete without a perfectly prepared coffee. We each had an allongé at first and later, the friendly barista (who happens to be one of the managers at Pigeon Espresso Bar) made us each a latte to enjoy with our sweet dishes. If you haven’t already been to Pigeon Espresso Bar on de Maisonneuve, it’s one of my favourite coffee spots in the city. It’s reassuring to know that Hopkins serves their coffee.
Next time you feel like going all out for a fancy brunch, make a reservation at Hopkins. I’m already looking forward to my next meal at this perfect place.
5626, avenue de Monkland (NDG)