Black Safe, Dining, Drinks

Objectively Black in Montreal – Shuttlecock Boyz

For our mid-summer classic, we wanted to escape America but didn’t want to travel too far. Europe is in the midst of one the hottest heat wave in recorded history, and as for tropical locations, we’re not really beach bums. So Montréal, Quebec Canada was our winner. We rolled 4 deep with a strong crew of no-nonsense gents who will forever from this day forth be known as “The Shuttlecock Boyz” (more on that later). 

Montréal is a beautiful town with a chill vibe and Parisian sensibilities. We’ll let you know how our trip went, what the people are like, where to eat, and where (or where not) to party. Let’s get into it. 

Air Canada Flight

The flight was quick, and no-stress. (Pro-tip: At LGA Terminal B, priority pass select is complimentary for Chase Sapphire Reserve holders). Including taxi, take-off, and landing, you’re looking at about an hour and fifteen minutes all in. That’s light work. There was one small child on the flight but he wasn’t a problem. He spoke at a decibel louder than should be allowed for a child of his age only once and the homie Idris Grey was all over it:

Idris: “PUT THAT BABY ON VIBRATE!”

Customs is pretty much non-existent in Canada. Being Americans, we were prepared for hell on earth. 

Patdowns. 

Questionnaires. 

Full cell phone data uploads. 

Solitary Confinement. 

Waterboarding… 

But we got off easy. We punched a few buttons on a computer console, and proceeded to the nice girl at customs. 

Customs Girl:So. What brings you to Canada?”

OB:Well, we are here to-”

Customs Girl: “A Bachelor party. You’re here for a bachelor party. I get it” *winks*

OB:What? No. No, no, there’s no bache-”

Customs Girl: “No, its fine. You boys have a good time.”

*winks with the other eye*

OB: “…..Ok, thank you…”

DAY 1

We caught our first Uber of the trip and it was 5 mins in the car before the driver started confessing his undying love for Celine Dion. Stay Candaian, Canada.

Arriving at the hotel, our accommodations can be described as a boutique hotel, but it was the location that stood out. Seeing as how we were likely going to be out until 3:00am every night, we essentially just needed a place to sleep. We ain’t broke boys out here. We could have stayed at the Ritz-Carlton, but again, the hotel was in the perfect location. Right at the beginning of Rue Saint-Laurent; Hotel 10 is on one of the most poppin streets in the city. We got situated in our rooms and then hit the streets to officially get some drinks and start this vacation right. 

In Montreal, the winters are long and brutal, so people generally take advantage of the summer time. It seems like everyone in Montreal is in amazing shape (America, lay off the cheese fries) and the women are just flat out beautiful. It not just their physical looks either, it’s their energy as well. Everyone is walking around smiling and generally in a good mood. Coming from NYC and LA where everyone has a hustle and will only deal with you if you can help them out in some fucked up way, it was refreshing to see people just enjoying their lives. You ask us, the sexiest thing a person can do is smile. Well, that and bussdown.

Toddry: The women here are beautiful! I’m here for these bad bitches!”

Dougie: “Settle down fam, we haven’t even had a drink or anything to eat yet.”

THE Joe Dressel: Hold up. You guys came all the way here to play BADMINTON?”

Toddry: What?! No! Bad BITCHES.”

THE Joe Dressel: Ohhhhhh”

Toddry:I’m trying to serve that ShuttleCOCK!”

All: “LOLOLOLOL”

End scene

St. Laurent Blvd has an amazing art scene. It’s almost like an outdoor museum. There are galleries, street art, and murals everywhere. From what we’ve heard, new art pieces are commissioned yearly to bring new energy and culture to the community.

Going back to our comparisons about what we see in Canada vs. America, Canada doesn’t seem to have the same inhibitions or social stigmas about many parts of life. Men and Women are covered in beautiful tattoos. Sex isn’t looked at as some evil societal burden, and graffiti isn’t stashed away in dark corners of the city. It’s displayed proudly as a legitimate expressive art form.

Shaker Kitchen and Mixology – St. Laurent Blvd (henceforth known as SLB).

Lunch was dope. Shaker specializes in Cocktails and Gourmet Burgers. The selection for each were on point and we also got our first taste of poutine. The waiter was gracious enough to teach some of us a few phrases to get along during the week and also interact with the fairer sex. We should note though, that damn near everyone we spoke with has both French AND English on lock. Again, America you’re slacking.  

Reservior – Brewpub & Rooftop Bar

We chilled up here for a while. The rooftop opened at 2pm and was decorated nicely in a chill garden vibe. At this point we had a nice day drinking buzz going so the rest of the details are a little hazy to us right now.

Taverne Midway – Gay Village

For dinner, we went to Taverne Midway. Apparently, its been around since 1927 and it definitely had an old town feel. The food was solid and there was a free pool table in the back that was clutch albeit in poor condition.

TRH Bar – Bar/Dance Floor and Half-pipe?!

As we bar hopped up and down SLB, we stumbled into a divey as fuck club called TRH Bar. It had a dance floor and a quarter pipe?! The people here were more interested in their turn on the bowl than actually doing any dancing. The shit was straight up entertaining to say the least. It looked like a scene out of Ninja Turtles or the Lost Boys from Hook. Bangarang.

Tokyo Bar – Bar/Club

Another interesting (but divey) spot on SLB. The DJ was INCREDIBLE and really knew his stuff. He was hittin us from all angles with classic cut after classic cut. The crowd was moving and we probably had more fun at this place than many others. The only caveat about this spot (and most of Montreal) is that the drinking age is 18. Because of this, many bars and clubs have really young crowds. Some of these kids looked like they were seeing dance for the first time. 

DAY 2

St. ViateurBagel Shop

This place is on damn near every “must visit” list for Montreal. So we had to do it right? Maybe we just did it wrong because we just were not impressed. Again, we were all hung over so maybe we were expecting something more robust. Either way, we got to the front of the line (side note: all lines in montreal, no matter how long they are, move very quickly and efficiently) and made our order:

Bagel Bro: “How many bagel you want?”

Idris: *Looks at menu* Yeah so, we –

Bagel Bro: “My friend. How many bagel you want?”

THE Joe Dressel: Don’t rush us. You’re making us panic, dude.”

Bagel Bro: “How. Many. Bagel. You. Want?!”

Idris: “Fam, Just give us 6 random bagels with cream cheese…”

Toddry: Fuck, that was stressful. I feel like we are in an episode of Seinfeld.

Terassee William Gray – Rooftop Bar/Amazing View of Old Port

The William Grey Hotel is a 4-5 star property that has a gorgeous rooftop bar with what we deemed was the best view in all of Montreal. Its located in the Old Port and for that reason it really gives you an old paris feel. The hostesses and waitresses are lovely and friendly. The vibe was chill and we kicked it here for most of the morning while we nursed various stages of hangovers.

Fesitval International Nuits D’Afrique

Later in the afternoon we randomly stumbled upon an African/Latin music festival. We heard the conga drums from afar and couldn’t resist checking it out. When your culture calls, you answer. This completely free festival had food, amazing music, and vendor selling local art and clothing.

It was really beautiful to see people of all shades just living it up and enjoying the music. People were camped out on blankets and kids of all ages were out dancing with their parents. It was a great experience.

Joe Beef – French Restaurant

This highly rated and recommended restaurant was booked months before our trip. It was popular and thus difficult to get a reservation. Joe Beef was easily the best meal of our trip. We liken the experience to visiting Paris without going. We recommend that you get a few appetizers and share the entrees to get a full sampling of all the different flavors this restaurant has to offer. 

Philemon – Lounge

We went here to have some drinks before officially going out for the night, but the vibe was so great that we probably should have stayed here…. Like typical millennials, we wanted more than what we had, and so since we had a list of 2-3 other places to try out that night, we left and shot ourselves in the foot because none of the other places we went that night were as poppin. Bird in the hand, I guess. Lesson learned. 

Muzique

Good music. Crazy crowded. 

By the way, to the customs agent who made wild accusations about why we were in Montreal, there were waaaaaayyyyyyyy more bachelorette parties than bachelor parties in Montreal. So you need to re-evaluate your biases my dear lady.

La Voute “The Vault”Nightclub

La Voute aka “The Vault, is a nightclub that was built into an old bank vault. Cool idea, I guess. Many of the ladies we spoke to recommended that we go here to avoid the younger crowds. It was supposed to be a “real nightclub” which usually means real money. 

Dougie: Hey my man, we’ve got 4.”

Bouncer: “…”

bouncer turns around and consults some wannabe Instagram model. IG model, while smacking on a piece of gum, without even looking up from her phone whispers something to the bouncer.

….The bouncer turns back to us.

Bouncer: $800.00”

Dougie: … 

*walks away*

We re-enacted this scene about 10 different times throughout the rest of the trip. If nothing else, this was a great reminder that laughter is always the best medicine because you have to be on some SUCKA SHIT to pay $800.00 to get into a “club”.

DAY 3

Cafe Saint Barth – Cafe Bistro

Terassee William Gray – Pt. 2

We went back to this spot because we had such a great time the first go round. Since it was Saturday, there were many more people out and the whole city was ready to party. We saw some of the gents that we met in line at La Voute the night before who actually paid the “cover”. Apparently we dodged a bullet and saved $800.00 because the club was a straight sausage fest! Nothing but groups of dudes who’d been suckered. Always trust your gut people.

La Pequeno Bar – 

This was a tiny speakeasy with a true mixologist. You could honestly extend both arms and probably touch both walls. Maybe the best mojitos we’ve ever had. 

Bord’elle

Bord’elle is a “Supper Club”. Basically means you eat dinner, and then they clear out the tables and it turns into a nightclub. Supposedly there are burlesque dancers and cirque du soleil type shit modeled after The Great Gatsby. Not our bag, but it was highly recommended, “you see, old sport?”

The catch is, if you want to stay for the club, you’ve got to drop $800.00 on bottle service for the night. We had a prior reservation but cancelled because the food is supposed to be trash. I know a hustle when I see one, so we cancelled the rez.

We dropped by later in the night to see what the energy was looking like. The crowd was sexy and it looked like the place to be, so we went to the doorman and had a quick convo.

Dougie: “Hey my guy, we were here earlier with a reservation. Can you get the 4 of us in?”

Bouncer: “4 guys. $600.00”

Dougie: -_-

People, there may be some suckas out there, but we ain’t them. I don’t care where you are in life or what your level of income is …DO NOT PAY $800.00 TO GET INTO A ROOM.

Also, “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.” 

Heat

BLVD44

This club is attached to Hotel 10 and since we were guests, there’d be no cover and no hassle. Seems like it would have been fun. 2 floors of Hip-Hop with a local famous DJ on the 1s and 2s…But we were exhausted and flights were early so we just kicked it for the rest of the trip.

Overall, we’d highly recommend Montreal. The people are nice, laid back, and no drama. Sure, the nightlife is a hustle if you want to do the fuckboy shit but there are way too many options to have a miserable night. There are a ton of different bars, clubs, lounges, and vibes. You can’t always look things up online, and you shouldn’t just take recommendations either. Feel it out and figure out what YOUR comfort zone will allow for. Chances are there is a scene that’s perfect for you. Figure things out for yourself and just go with the flow.


Epilogue: When we arrived at the airport, we were surprised to find out that 3 out of the 4 of us had the same AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Luggage. We honestly can’t stress to you how sturdy, durable, compact, and affordable this luggage is. Why would you drop $225.00 on Away luggage that has the same utility when you could pay $49.99 for something that will be reliable all over the world? The 20″ luggage fits perfectly in an overhead and is the perfect size for a quick 3-day weekend. Let’s shop smart people. Save that $175.00 on something that you really want.

AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Luggage – $49.99

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they will help us keep this site up and running. Thank you for your support!

Standard
Black Safe, Dining, Drinks

NYC Restaurant Review: The Randolph At Broome – Objectively Black

“Black Safe” – A discussion and review of restaurants and bars that we’ve visited. The point of these reviews is to give people of color a sense of how we felt or were treated when we patronize these establishments. We’ve all been there. Your service seemed extra slow. Maybe people are looking at you crazy. Either way, we know that our treatment in public spaces is much different than others. We aren’t going out looking for fights, and hopefully soon, Black Safe won’t even be necessary. But for now, we gotta report back to y’all on what we experience.

How was the food? How were the drinks? We’ll each give our take on what we experienced, then we’ll give a score out of 5.

F. Dougie: To start off, I gotta say that I’ve been to Randolph Beer before. Not this location, but the Randolph’s in Dumbo serves as a hangout spot for me and my crew on weekends. The Broome street location was easy to locate and had plenty of space both at the bar and in the dining room. With over 30 different beers on tap, this is a choice spot for happy hour. The 10oz to 16oz Happy Hour upgrade is catchy, but not stellar enough to be considered a happy hour favorite.

Again, the beer and drink selection is dope so it’s hard to complain, especially when the prices are around an average $8 per pint. The bar itself is dark AS FUCK so set your phone to low brightness unless you want temporary corneal damage. As for the ratio, we definitely held it down on Broome street. A few other brothas and sistas rolled in and I personally want to thank Randolph’s for not asking me and my partna to leave (as they could have) when we got extra, extra black and had a loud “discussion” about gentrification and opportunity zones (more to come on that later). I have a feeling we’ll definitely be back. The fried chicken sammich was bomb bar food and definitely hit the spot after a long ass stressful day. I also appreciate the bartender asking if I wanted hot sauce on the side. We really appreciate you for that, fam.

It’s the little things, right Y’all?

Black Safeness: 4.4/5

Idris Gray: Listen Y’all, we started this segment off the only way we know how. LOUD! As we do… we got into a heated conversation about politics on a random Wednesday night.  But that’s ok, the Randolph at Broome, was still happy to accommodate all our blackness. First off, the location is super easy to get to, both the green and orange are nearby. They have a wide assortment of beers and plenty of space to accommodate big groups.

While there isn’t anything special about the bar upon entry, it fit the bill as a comfortable location for drinks and or a meal after work. I am currently abstaining from drinks after a very eventful New Years, but the food was good and priced about right for Manhattan. I had a grilled chicken sandwich which hit the spot. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, how was the ambiance? Well, it was fucking dark. Like I almost lost Dougie, dark. So take some advice from uncle Idris, and make sure you take that first date outside under a streetlamp before you make that final decision. Furthermore, it seems like Dougie and I have been going to the wrong spots for years. Cause this was one of the few times we weren’t the only two brothas in the spot. That was a pleasant surprise for sure. The Randolph was good all around and I will for sure be hitting this spot if I’m ever in the area again.

Black Safeness: 4.4/5

Standard
Black Safe, Dining, Drinks

NYC Restaurant Review: The Henry at Life Hotel – Objectively Black

“Black Safe” – A discussion and review of restaurants and bars that we’ve visited. The point of these reviews is to give people of color a sense of how we felt or were treated when we patronize these establishments. We’ve all been there. Your service seemed extra slow. Maybe people are looking at you crazy. Either way, we know that our treatment in public spaces is much different than others. We aren’t going out looking for fights, and hopefully soon, Black Safe won’t even be necessary. But for now, we gotta report back to y’all on what we experience.

How was the food? How were the drinks? We’ll each give our take on what we experienced, then we’ll give a score out of 5.

F. Dougie: Henry at Life Hotel is an African, Caribbean, and African-American inspired concept by head chef J.J. Johnson. He took over the restaurant in the fall of 2018 and it quickly jumped to the top of many New York restaurant critics must-eat lists.

From the moment we walked in, we could tell this was going to be a different dining experience. The staff was diverse and the music was expertly curated. I can’t remember the last time that I stopped in the middle of a dinner conversation to sing “Hypnotize” (Biggie) “I Get Around” (Pac), and “Electric Relaxation” (Tribe). My man Idris almost started freestyling to “Get By” (Talib) during a conversation about the government shutdown. This expertly chosen playlist helped inject some much-needed blackness into lower-midtown. After a long ass day of dealing with entitled-ass clients, sometimes “Gon’ blast, squeeze first ask questions last” is just the shit you need to hear to keep you motivated.

The food was on point, but you didn’t really expect a brotha to get African and Carribean food wrong, did you? The drinks were pricey, but much to be expected from a hotel restaurant. I had a Captain Lawrence ‘Golden Delicious’ and couldn’t have been happier with my decision. I know what y’all are thinking. “Why would he drink a Belgian ale with Afro-Carribean food?” Sure, I’m certain there are many different cocktails that would have paired better with my meal, and I’m sure the head chef and mixologist worked hard to create some great cocktails that complement their menu better….but I got a baby that needs to go to college one day and you know damn well how much a cocktail costs in New York City so Y’all can go to hell.

The Lamb Suya Kebabs with Za’atar Yogurt and Roti were an excellent starter and you already know I had to go with the Roasted Jerk Chicken for my entree. Yeah, I got chicken for dinner. I did this for Y’all! We gotta make sure if someone is putting Jerk Chicken on the menu, they representing. It was tender, succulent, and had a crispy, almost fried skin. If you like spicy (white people beware), this should give you juuuust enough of that Caribbean kick without overpowering. We’ll definitely be back.

Black Safeness: 4.6/5

Idris Gray: “Mazel tav, it’s a celebration bitches!” – Jay -Z (Roc Boys). This was the mood as soon as we entered Henry at Life Hotel, right on 31st between 5th and 6th avenue. It’s the one with the big neon pink sign in the window. You can’t miss it.

As you walk in the restaurant you are immediately greeted with great service. You’ll want to make a reservation before coming, but walk-ins are definitely welcome. There’s a good sized bar as well, which is ideal for those after work drinks. We made a reservation for 7:30 but they were able to seat us a bit earlier. Now let me warn you, as you walk to your table you may be stopped in your tracks by the sound of 50 Cent, Talib or HOV over the speakers. Do not adjust your TV set fam, this real life, you’re at home. At several times during the dining experience, you may find yourself breaking out in song just to remind everyone that you know all the words to Let’s Ride by Q-Tip.

We can’t say enough about the diversity of the restaurant. It’s not that hard to find good service at a hotel restaurant but it is hard to find a staff as diverse as the one here in midtown Manhattan. That diversity doesn’t quite resonate in the seats of the restaurants from our sample size, but this was one night. And this is why we are here! To let Y’all know about these gems!

For drinks, I did the Captain Lawrence ‘Golden Delicious’. Cocktails looked good but I’m never sure what type of glass a mixed drink will come in, so I just get beer. Weird, I know. Don’t @ me. Either way, the beer was good. Now for the food and the menu. Being of West African descent, I could definitely appreciate the menu choices. I think the chef does a great job of incorporating different parts of the diaspora. That being said you don’t have to be African to enjoy every part of the experience here. In fact, if you’d like to enjoy every part of the menu there’s an option for that. It’s called the “It Was All a Dream”. I imagine that the food coma you are put in post meal is the main reason why, but it incorporates the main dishes in the menu into one and feeds the whole squad.

After the Lamb Suya Kebabs with Za’atar Yogurt and Roti appetizer which was amazing. I chose to go with the Salmon Noodles with  African Nectar Broth, Bok Choy, Edamame, and Rice Noodles. I had no idea what “African Nectar Broth” was. But now I’m mad at moms for never making it. The broth was delicious and the Salmon perfectly cooked. I really can’t say much more than you need to try it, and try this restaurant. We’ll definitely be going back.

Black Safeness: 4.8/5


Standard