Café Replika: Little Turkey

In the late summer of 2013, Ceren Tunasat and Ozan Ucan opened Replika in Montreal’s smooth sipping Plateau area. The location itself is cushioned between a plethora of other great coffee shops and artisanal eateries. Not knowing what to expect, we were pleasantly surprised. When I heard they ‘did’ breakfast, I assumed it was similar to an Istanbul 4-hour-long, 3-cheese plating, 15-jam toting, stale-tea seeping breakfast. Instead, the husband and wife duo seemed to opt for something humbler. Replika is not a hole in the wall. There is definitely room for all with a couple of large repurposed-wood tables (for those of us who have trouble working from their studio apartments) with some beautiful café sofas (for those of us who know better than to try and work at a trendy café). The space is open with only a counter separating diners and some delicious-smelling goods continuously rolling out of their ovens.

First on their menu, we noticed the simit sandwiches – appropriate for a bagel-loving city like Montreal. What’s more impressive is that the couple very quickly demonstrates that authenticity (oh so boldly inserted on so many Istanbul restaurant signs) is not a priority. And, thank goodness for that. A smoked salmon simit without the cream cheese, is exactly what this halfblooded Turk loves. The rest of their menu follows in suite, offering pastries like börek with a more local flare for the stuffing. Those with a sweet tooth, there are always some delightful baked goods – and, it seems that there is always someone behind the counter transferring some fresh pastry into a display case.

We ordered the simit. Because, obviously. For those tired of any ring-shaped bread, you can get yourself a tost (grilled cheese), for which usually may not be enough to write home. However, a nice tost is a beautiful thing. And, like their simit sandwiches, here too do they add a Montreal flare – baguettes instead of the feather-weight bread you can get anywhere in Turkey. For those opting for a lighter breakfast, try their yogurt dish. Although rarely eaten at breakfast (a mystery to us), yogurt will always play a role on any Turkish sofra.

Finally, the coffee. After all this is a coffee shop. Replika sources its coffee domestically, from 49th Parallel Roasters (one of the best). And, you can taste it. However, the specialty here is the Turkish coffee –it is exactly what you need when you are missing the old country. And, just like the mother lands, the tiny cups are served with a couple scoops of Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi of mastika, so popular throughout the Aegean.

Cafe Replika MontrealReplika offers basic Turkish goods with a twist. And, that would be just great. However, there are a couple of things that make this shop noteworthy. Firstly, all is made in-house…as it should be. Secondly (and more importantly), Tunasat and Ucan have brought over some things from their home, but have also created some things of their own. Take the tongue-in-cheek name, Replika. It may very well be a wink and a dash in the sand separating themselves from other “authentic” claimants such as the shawarma, gyro or döner eateries. After all, how many restaurants do you walk by in Istanbul that have the word “otantik” in it? Indeed, the duo have a created a space and a menu that does well without falling into any purist category. But here is something that is casual, comfortable, and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Café Replika
252 Rue Rachel Est

Montréal, Québec
t: (514) 903-4384