Last week we took a look at EA’s impressive cafeteria at the Redwood Shores campus. Now we’re off to Canada to see what kind of culinary options our friends at Ubisoft have.
Where: Ubisoft Montreal, Quebec
Why I was there: My work on the Rainbow Six Vegas guide required a quick trip to Ubisoft to log some multiplayer hours and conduct a thorough Q&A session with the developers. Soon after arriving I met a few key team members, including my contact, Luc Duchaine; it’s always nice to finally meet the people you’ve been e-mailing forever. Luc gave me a quick tour of the office and then showed off some of the game’s innovative features, including a brief demo where he imported his face into the game with the yet-to-be-released Xbox Live Vision camera. After a few hours of morning gameplay, the hunger pangs began to set in. Luc was too busy to grab lunch with me, but he made sure I knew where to go…and more importantly, how to get back in the office.
The Facility: Ubisoft has no official cafeteria per se, but there is a small restaurant (Café Vienne) located on the building’s first floor; enter the building and turn left, opposite of Ubi’s reception desk. Café Vienne is a chain of quaint little eateries found throughout Montreal. Sporting red brick walls, a wooden floor, and a large windows overlooking Boulevard St-Laurent, Ubisoft’s Café Vienne has a cozy and relaxing atmosphere with plenty of small tables ideal for solo diners. On my visit, the staff was friendly and very accommodating…even though I didn’t speak a word of French.
The Food: Café Vienne serves a variety of gourmet coffees as well as fresh sandwiches and salads. While all the salads in the deli case looked great, I really felt like a sandwich. So I ordered a roast beef panini served on toasted ciabata. The roast beef was sliced as I ordered, and not pre-proportioned (or weighed) like in some chain delis; something I always appreciate. Overall, it was a good sandwich served with fresh lettuce and tomatoes. Just enough to whet my appetite before resuming my frag-filled afternoon.
Alternatives: There are more than a dozen of diverse restaurants surrounding Ubisoft, all within walking distance, making it easy for employees to get out of the office without wandering too far away from their desk. My time at Ubi was limited so I didn’t get much time to explore the local eateries on my visit, but recommendations are easy to come by; just ask anyone and they’ll be more than happy to point you in the right direction.
On my last evening in the city I came down with a severe craving for Mexican food; a common affliction for this native Californian. While wandering the streets near my hotel I came across a restaurant called 3 Amigos…yeah, like the movie. It’s a charming little restaurant on St. Catherine Street (between Guy and St. Mathieu) with some of the most memorable and kitschy décor I’ve seen outside the Madison Bear Garden. Despite my low expectations, the food wasn’t bad. Sure, it wasn’t the most authentic Mexican food I’ve ever had (a tostada salad with carrots and cucumbers?) but it’s probably about the best you can do in the entire city…and maybe all of Canada. Plus, the place is a big hit with the locals, as indicated by the youthful crowd and numerous awards hanging on the walls. So if you’re ever in Montreal and require a quick fix of chips, salsa, and a margarita, head on over to 3 Amigos. They’ll take good care of you.
Next week: Microsoft