This Thursday, the Habs kick off their 34th playoff rendez-vous with the Bruins. At least one pundit is calling for a 7 game tussle. Do you know what equates to? Twenty-one hours of screen time, multiple weeknight drinking sessions, and, if you’re lucky, a sprinkling of good food.

Back at series outset, BlogMTL highlighted some viewing hotspots and Eater helpfully listified some foodie-oriented playoff viewing joints.

But we’re on to round 2 and we feel it’s time for a fresh, eccentric and fiercely budget-friendly compilation of playoff bars in Montreal:

1) Fiddler’s Green

via Facebook

This small pub is ridiculously underrated. A semi sous-sol steps south of its more cavernous Irish cousin, the Embassy. This is where to come for a true change of pace. You’ll be enamoured with the die-hard fans that make this their pub of choice (and will probably hate me for blowing their cover). Prices are better, vibes cosier, and atmosphere more homey than their pubby cousins up the street.

WARNING: the back section is for very serious fans only–don’t even consider sitting there if you want to sneak in conversation during the game!

1224 Bishop / Facebook page

2) Pub Sir Joseph

via Facebook
via Facebook

The St-Laurent gastropub has truly come into its own with its carefully considered menu, tasteful décor and a heady range of booze. It’s usually quite full, so get there before first face-off.

4902 St-Laurent / Facebook page / website

3) Café Ciné-Express

Those who haven’t stepped inside will probably sneer at the suggestion. But those who’ve been for a game know what’s up. Ciné-Express not only offers a glut of huge screens, cheap pitchers, and affordable nibbles, but they’re host to private nooks. Each can accomodate a group of 4-8 or so and contains a private couch and TV. No extra cost.

1926 Ste-Catherine O.

4) Inspecteur Épingle

via Facebook

Tall boys of Labatt 50 and a huge HD screen? A quirky clientele that effortlessly mixes young and old? What more could you ask for? Well, food. So make sure to stop somewhere first on Duluth.

4051 St-Hubert / Facebook page

5) Taverne Régale

See #4. But add more screens, more CH flags and more old men. (Bonus: it’s directly across the street from the Charlevoix métro entrance, so you can easily stumble home).

2567 rue Centre / Facebook page

6) Chez Baptiste sur Masson

via Facebook

Chez Baptiste is a perennial favourite, but its Masson outpost is more fun. As their website insists, you risk “2000 square feet of pure pleasure.” Interesting drink specials every night of the week, and the opportunity to crawl over to some other spots on thriving rue Masson.

3014 Masson / Facebook page 

7) Taverne Normand

via Facebook

The Taverne takes hockey very seriously, so much so that you might like to reserve your spot in advance. But screens are abundant and the atmosphere is almost like being at the game. What’s more, they have $5 pints.

1550 Mont-Royal est / Facebook page

8) Chez Claudette

via @PhilipAuthier/Twitter

You will not find a casse croûte that more seamlessly merges lack of pretension, budget-friendliness, and utter passion for Habs history/lore. Screens are more limited, but the whiff of excellent poutine and a repeat of ’93 is in the air at Claudette 24 hours a day!

351 Laurier est 
Cover photo via Reg Natarajan/Flickr.

Annexe St-Ambroise in St-Henri, inside

For fans of the majestic—yet fleetingly-open—Terrasse St-Ambroise, this was a landmark weekend.

After a soft launch on Friday, the historic McAuslan brewery flung the doors open to a brand-new pub: Annexe St-Ambroise.

Spurred on by devout local Terrasse clientele, I was on hand to check out the new Annexe St-Ambroise in its first evening of regular operation. Take heart, St-Henri folk, because the prognosis for your district is very good.

signThe tastefully-restored room, which will be open 5 days per week, year-round, strikes a superb balance between stylish renovation and elegant preservation of its original features. In resisting the temptation to over-hipsterize, the Annexe promises to fill a sorely-needed gap between run-down 60s brasseries and overwrought drinking havens in the hood.

Though the taps are limited to St-Ambroise and Griffon, you need not dwell on this fact. Limitations such as these keep prices down and pretensions low. And at $6 per pint, the range of eight beers is more than enough to keep you stimulated all eve—from the bright abricot ale to a wholesome oatmeal stout. The simplicity of the offerings, combined with an uncomplicated bar staff, and the aforementioned décor, make for something truly lacking in town: a new pub. The thing is, I don’t mean retro-bar, gastropub, or reinvented bistro. I just mean a pub.

You’d be shocked at how few exist.

kegsAnother useful pub element of the Annexe is its nice mix of longer tables (for small groups), and two-seaters or stand-up counters (for couples). But the pièce(s) de resistance? The wooden booths, whose height and stature (I’m sad to say) puts even stalwart Irish Embassy to shame. Two men in blazers and ball caps broke away from their chattery crowd to occupy one of these sacred booths—leaning in closely to discuss something private.

There’s even a food menu (nachos or mustardy pretzels). But take heed: the Annexe should only be considered a dinner joint for those desperately hungry… or drunk.

I mean, I get where they’re going with with pineapples in the nachos, but they need to tone it down by about two thirds. Unmatched as the fruit should have been by meat of some kind or at the very least a sharper cheese, the oversweet lumps destroy this otherwise passable pub plate. If you want to do the pineapple thing, perhaps in the salsa, guys? But keep it subtle, please!

mcauslen-streetFinally, the floating back balcony gives you a primo view of St-Henri lore, with the Canada Malt plant looming to the east and the McAuslan loading docks stretched out to the south above the canal (trailers included). A sentence like that is doomed to reek of sarcasm, but in fact I’m 100% sincere. This odd floating hub was actually stage to some of the most fascinating conversations of the night, and made us feel connected to where we were drinking, a longstanding brewery on a strip with its own particular industrial legacy.

The Annexe St-Ambroise occupies the old Centre St-Ambroise, a historical centre for the brewery (5080 rue St-Ambroise), and is open 4:00 pm – 11:00 pm (Tues. – Thurs) and 4:00 pm – 1:00 pm (Fri. – Sat.).