With yet another polar vortex on the horizon, my thoughts turned to the tropics.
But with a deadline looming, I suspected the reaction of our mild-mannered Senior Times publisher would be anything but mild-mannered if I hopped on a plane. Thus it was that I found myself at Cocktail Hawaii, surrounded by palm trees (plastic) and sand (painted) on a blustery Montreal evening.
With roots more firmly planted in the Middle East than the North Pacific, Cocktail Hawaii features sweet and savoury crepes loaded with fresh produce.
We had the savoury Hercule (turkey, cheese, mushrooms and olives, $7.95) and sweet Margarita (Nutella, banana, avocado and papaya topped with ashta and honey, $9.45). The 2-year-old with us ordered a cocktail: the half avocado and milk, half fresh fruit and milk Laguna topped with ashta ($5.95).
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Besides using fresh ingredients, the ashta and honey are what set Cocktail Hawaii apart. Ashta is a familiar Lebanese sweet similar to clotted cream, prepared with rose water and orange blossom water. It looks like clouds and tastes like a piece of sky. The honey—drizzled generously over all the sweets—completes the sunny-day experience. The crepe—pale and round as a winter moon—becomes simply a vehicle to get those exotic treats, married with a thick layer of Nutella, into our weather-weary bodies.
The meal is completed with a Café Chica ($5.95), espresso over chocolate and vanilla ice cream, topped with whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce. With that or a made-in-house gelato, close your eyes and be for a moment in the tropics with toes buried in the sand rather than slush.
Cocktail Hawaii, 1645 de Maisonneuve W., is open from 7 am to 2 am, and until 4 am Friday and Saturday. 514-933-8887, cocktailhawaii.com (warning: website autoplays music).