Welcome to Eater Scenes, where photographer Randall Brodeur captures some of Montreal's most notable restaurants. Today, Marven's.
A woman with a sharp Greek accent greets a visitor behind the counter of Picadilly, a bakery that has stood on the corner of Ogilvy and de L'Épée for over half a century, and sternly declares: "All the Greeks left Park Ex for Laval a long time ago. All that's left is the church."
"What about your bakery?"
A smile. "That's true. We're still here."
Many immigrant groups have made distinctive marks on Park Extension. The once rural neighbourhood was home to a significant Jewish population in the 1950s and 1960s. That community gave way to Italians, in large part, who in turn decamped for the East End.
By the 1970s, Park Ex was close to 70% Greek. The community had an indelible impact. While people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, North Africa, Haiti and Latin America now dominate, there are still plenty of reminders - aside from Evangelismos Tis Theotokou Church and the Good Friday procession of the epitaph - that the enclave was once a stronghold of the Greek community.
A Greek social club and retirement home. Picadilly, of course, and the Afroditi bakery on Saint-Roch, open since 1971. Village Grec, a gyro and souvlaki standby open since 1977. Tripolis, a family-run taverna open since 1985. And Marven's.
Located inside a square, brick duplex on Ball and Wiseman, Marven's cuts a modest jib. The Greek restaurant, now run by the second generation of the Kostopoulos family, has served no-nonsense fare like calamari, pikilia plates and loukoumades for almost four decades. But that mounted moose head hints at what has made Marven's a fixture since 1976: meat, and lots of it.
The restaurant's steaks, souvlaki and titanic mixed grill platter of chicken, lamb chops, pork chop, quails and veal chops border on legendary (table chatter invariably revolves around the brawny portions). On a typical weekend late afternoon, people line up on the sidewalk to get in. Orthodox clergymen mix with old-timers and young families, about to discover the neighbourhood mainstay, perhaps, for the first time.
[Photos: Randall Brodeur]