Let’s get this out of the way. A lifelong Montrealer, musician Murray A. Lightburn is a St-Viateur man.
“I’ve gotten into arguments with New Yorkers who think New York bagels are better than Montreal bagels,” says the frontman for indie band the Dears. “You’re out of your mind. No way. You can’t get a better bagel.”
Lightburn recently released his first solo effort, MASS:LIGHT An Electronic Pop Opera. The father of two shares his favourite hang outs in the city – some subtly influenced by his eight-year-old daughter. “If you were to live in Montreal these are things you would do on a regular basis,” he says. And don’t we all want to live a little bit like Montrealers?
That’s one of our favourite joints. The best part is that we don’t really feel self-conscious about bringing the kids. If you want a romantic dinner, you can do that, but if you want to bring the kids, you can do that, too. It’s run by Stéphane Bouzaglou. He’s a really phenomenal cook. He has a really artful, but simple punchy-with-flavour style. It’s tapas-style. Biarritz is near the border of France and Spain, so the restaurant is influenced by that region. At the same time he adheres to seasonal stuff. We had this dessert the other day that was lemon curd with basil and blueberries and mini-bits of meringue. It was delicious. 4801 St. Laurent Blvd., restobiarritz.com
Bar Pam Pam
On the flip side, there’s this bar around the corner from my house called the Pam Pam. It’s a little on the downtrodden side with quite a hilarious jukebox, pool table, a lot of VLTs. They serve one beer. So when I go there and ask for the usual there’s Vieux-Montréal. You get these pitchers and maybe you’ll buy a bag of chips. I don’t think it’s for everyone. But I like it. I don’t want an umbrella in my drink. I don’t want bitters made at home. I just want Vieux-Montréal on tap at a bar that is a stone’s throw away from my house. 491 Rue Jean-Talon West
The Pick-Up is like a mega go-to mostly for lunch, sometimes for breakfast. It’s part depanneur, part restaurant, so it’s kind of unconventional. It’s probably the only ‘hipster hangout’ where I feel very comfortable. I appreciate how welcoming the place is. My daughter will sometimes insist we have to go to Pick-Up for a grilled cheese sandwich. She loves going there. 7032 Rue Waverly, depanneurlepickup.com
St. Michel Flea Market
It is only open on the weekend. As a family we love to junk shop. We love a garage sale. We like finding old treasures. It’s two floors of relics, junk, old stuff, a lot of analog stuff. It’s phenomenal, and it’s surprisingly not picked clean. I found an Olympus XA point-and-shoot camera. It has such a wicked lens. On eBay it’s $80 to $150. I paid $15 for mine. I was so giddy when I got this camera for $15 I almost had tears in my eyes. My daughter will buy the odd Tintin book, the odd necklace. 3250 Cremazie Blvd. East
This is a twofer: If I’m going to the market and I haven’t had a coffee yet, I’ll go down to Dante to this place called Caffé San Simeon, which is near the market. I’ll go get a coffee. I’ll go get my beans. Then I’ll go over to the market. And within the market, I have a few go-tos. It’s where I do a lot of my grocery shopping. There’s the cheese guys. There’s the potato guys. There’s literally a mushroom guy. He has all kinds of other stuff but his main thing is foraging for stuff around Quebec. Caffé San Simeon: 39 Rue Dante, caffesansimeon.com; Jean-Talon: 7070 Avenue Henri Julien, marchespublics-mtl.com
This interview has been edited and condensed.