Three Beers at: AIX Old Montreal
By: Angela Alston
Why head to Crescent, St. Denis or St. Laurent when, lo and behold, Old Montreal is happening again? The true question to consider when deciding to go to the home of cobblestones and stinky corners (ah, horses . . . ) is whether to "boutique" or not to "boutique". I threw caution and bank account to the wind and headed down to the Place D'Armes Hotel & Suites bar/resto AIX, a.k.a Aix Cusine du Terroir or Suite 701 Lounge – gotta love a place that has three distinct names.
The décor is chic, impeccable really, but cold – and I don't mean the room temperature. Everything seems so staged, from the polished flooring, to bamboo accents, to the zen lighting which casts the warmest glow on its visitors. No music, no laughter, very polite. You feel as you would upon entering a film set, like an extra waiting for the cast to show up. Everyone is definitely there to be seen, but no one seems to be looking.
If you are feeling the need to hold a tight grin, make little eye contact, and keep a low voice then you might enjoy this place. It is subdued to say the least. Maybe everyone got a round of Valium before I arrived? I kept looking around to see when things would get going, but alas, they never did. It was a bit like being at your very first grown-up party; no one wanted to mess up the place. Even the music (which came on eventually) was more like funky elevator lounge music than a Hotel Costes or Café del Mar, either of which would have gone so well with the décor. The DJ did look quite disappointed as he scanned the surroundings to see everyone either on their cells or blackberries, which seemed ultimately more interesting than the goings on at this place.
The drinks are pricey ($16 for a double vodka soda) during the 5 à 7, the service is chilled more than the beer, and the company was as flat as the Tapas menu. Even the view from the roof wasn't stellar. Staring at Notre-Dame and watching tour groups ain't my idea of fun. Trust me; there are better places, even in Old Montreal.