Many Montreal Times’ readers know Resto Café Oxford as a great place for breakfast in eastern NDG, but what they might not know is the 70 years of history there nor about recent menu additions. Walking into this small diner on Sherbrooke Street West at Oxford Street, visitors see a large mural of a 1940s-era tramcar. There were tramcars rolling down Sherbrooke Street when the café opened in 1944 as “Ma Heller’s” snack bar; since then Resto Café Oxford Café has become an NDG institution.
The current owners of this full-fledged full service restaurant, Gity Pour and Mohamed Salgooghian, have been running this establishment since 1996. Although many things have changed since 1944, the building is still owned by the grandchildren of “Ma Heller’s” Family. “We are trying to preserve tradition while serving great food,” claims Pour.
There is also a lot of décor from the 1950s: Elvis Presley (1935-1977) photos decorate the walls and his favourite sandwich (the “Elvis Surprise” consists of French toast, peanut butter, banana, bacon, beans and home fries for $15) is part of the menu. But “the King of Rock and Roll” was never sighted at Resto Café Oxford.
Pour explains that she and her husband are Elvis fans, that they wanted to bring back something from the 1950s, and that Elvis was known for associating with, being inspired by, and even helping black musicians in the segregated U.S. South. Fittingly, Charlie Biddle (1926–2003) an Afro-Canadian jazz bassist, often ate at the café.
“We went to see Elvis’ home in Memphis, Tennessee and were inspired by recipes he used to enjoy. We also count many famous people among our customers, local media personalities, as well as many film and TV crews,” Pour told The Times. “Everything is homemade and prepared with fresh ingredients,” she boasts.
The Oxford is already quite well known for its Sunday brunches including reputedly Montreal’s best pancakes, always served with fresh fruit. The homemade orange juice is a must. The Eggs Benedict have been a relative newcomer to the Sunday brunch crowd but its popularity is increasing rapidly. The restaurant also serves steak, chicken, fish as well as pastas, creamy and rich daily home-made soups and salads on their table d’hôte.
Preserving the past are some of the original Formica tables with hidden pull-out boards to accommodate an extra guest at your table or if your appetite finds you ordering more delicious plates!
It can become quiet here in late afternoon and 3pm-5pm is tea time English or Persian tradition. There is a wide variety of organic, herbal flowers, leaves and seeds to choose from to have a perfect cup of tea for your health.
What is new is the café recently received a liquor licence, so customers are now welcome to bring their own wine or beer. “Some customers even bring in champagne for breakfast,” notes Salgooghian.
Now open until 9 pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Resto Cafe Oxford also offers free Wi-Fi and you can find the café on Facebook. Oxford’s future plans include the addition of two big TV screens so that patrons can watch hockey games while enjoying “5-7” finger foods menu (bring your own beer).
Lunch at this restaurant often costs under $15 and credit cards are accepted. A 15% student discount is offered at all times.
Resto Café Oxford
5630 Sherbrooke St. W, NDG
menu online @ www.restomontreal.ca