Thanks to Fadi Smaidi, we may soon have a new name for the 124 Street district. And that’s “Little Montreal.”
Smaidi’s Montreal roots are evident at Dahlia’s Mediterranean Bistro, where the Middle Eastern dishes were augmented with smoked-meat sandwiches and St-Viateur Bagels, which are flown in for a dedicated cadre of customers. And you always know if the Habs are winning their fair share of games, because you may notice a Montreal Canadiens flag hanging in the window now and then. (Dahlia's is also home to the falafel pita wrap which made the list of Avenue's 2012 Best Things to Eat.)
Now, with his new GoGo Lounge, located across the street from Dahlia’s — Smaidi brings some Montreal chic to the neighbourhood. Named for a famous Montreal lounge, the vibe at the new spot — which held its grand-opening party Wednesday night — is definitely part urban, part disco kitsch, with just a bit of rock and roll thrown in.
A mural on the back wall shows famous Montreal landmarks like the Big O combined with other city's landmarks like Big Ben, the Statue of Liberty and a space shuttle going into the heavens. Lights in the shapes of cherries and red chandeliers hang from the ceiling. Another wall features a painting of a monkey, on a background of American red, white and blue (or, is that Canadiens bleu, blanc et rouge?).
The music is an eclectic mix of Saturday Night Fever disco, classic rock and ‘80s kitsch. The cocktail menus come in the form of vinyl records. On each side, you’ll find a rather exotic drink menu.
Smaidi’s personal favourite is the Tutti Frutti, a green, citrus-based concoction with a sugar ring to compliment the sour drink.
But, being a traditionalist, and being a man who is sometimes uncomfortable having fruity drinks in public, I’d recommend the Dirty Harry — which is basically a martini. Gin, dry vermouth and olive juice. Ask for it extra dirty if you want even more olive juice to add some murkiness to your drink.