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Review: Rachel Rachel

4 May, 2012

Rachel Rachel, a small it-bar appropriately located on Rachel street (corner Berri) in the Plateau neighbourhood of Montreal, is usually packed to the limit, with a line winding down the sidewalk and around the corner by 6 p.m. on weeknights. Passersby stare and drivers glance back for a second look at this mysterious-looking brick edifice standing so cooly and nonchalantly in the centre of what is perhaps the hippest neighbourhood in Montreal as through deliberately ignoring its pedestrian audience while biding its time until the arrival of acceptable limousined clientele.

Inside, the 20- and 30-something crowd of local salarymen and women take off their jackets, loosen their ties and kick back with rounds of beer, cocktails, and shots. Two cooks do a steady business behind the bar, whipping up decorative burgers and sandwiches with artisanal sides of multicoloured vegetables and curly fries. One or two waitresses slip about, dexterously delivering meals to hungry customers and taking orders. And at the back of the room, a bartender operates a second bar, a more traditional drinks-only counter packed with bottles and taps and racks of sparkling glasses.

The atmosphere is light and jovial and the music low and unremarkable enough to fade into the background. But in notches, throughout the evening, the air will pulsate and crescendo with the rising volume of more and more bodies in conversation; the waiters will become a bit more aggressive as they fight their way through the crowds; more skin will be barred, more bursts of laughter will trill through the air, more zany smiles will be exchanged through the candlelit glow of the dimmer room; and the music, once subdued and passive, will morph into a monster and dominate, seizing conversations and bodies and minds until it overpowers everyone. Rachel Rachel will have the last word, yet.

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