Montreal… Capital City of Eccentricity                         

Chez Ennio R.I.P.

Montreal is the capital city of eccentricity.

My all-time favourite local wacky location was Chez Ennio, a fine Italian restaurant on Boulevard de Maisonneuve Ouest, a mythic establishment alas now permanently closed.

I first learned of Ennio from Bobby D., a friend and colleague, who was an instructor at Champlain St. Lawrence College in Quebec City, where I taught for 34 years.

Bobby D. always got himself elected or appointed to official positions that entailed travel with expense accounts. When I told him that my father had been a traffic supervisor for CN Rail and wended his way through Ontario while chocking up all purchases on what Dad called his “swindle sheet,” Bobby emitted a throaty chuckle and his eyes shone with a glow of recognition. One of Bobby’s top “swindle sheet” eateries was Chez Ennio, not only due to the exceptional cuisine, but also and especially given Ennio’s phenomenal antics, which had to be seen to be believed.

I would go to Montreal every spring for a “professional development” conference, on my own “swindle sheet,” in the company of Bobby and with my wife, who came along for an annual April getaway. We all loved eating out – especially on the school’s dime – and Chez Ennio turned out to be top of the class.

First of all, Ennio was a one-man show. We soon realized that he served, cooked, purchased groceries (sometimes half way through one’s dining extravaganza), and took reservations, a veritable culinary dervish. Ennio was an elderly Italian version of a leprechaun with a thick Tuscan accent, who would throw extravagant fits if a patron committed a culinary faux pas, like requesting parmesan cheese for seafood pasta. We witnessed Ennio chase diners out of his 40-seat, tackily-decorated, dungeon-like basement restaurant, screaming “If you want a pepperoni pizza, go across the street to that take-out joint…You’re animals! Animals!”

My wife and I soon found ourselves in his bad books.

Ennio’s portions were gargantuan, and we once made the colossal blunder of asking to share a main course. Quivering with fury, eyes protruding like the orbs of a toad on steroids, he accused us of being barbarians and invited us to vacate the premises.

Ennio was the Italian-restaurant leprechaun version of Basil Fawlty:* he either took an instant dislike to patrons or fawned all over them, depending on their choice and handling of his tasty comestibles.

For example, he adored our son David, who speaks fluent Italian and is a consummate chef and gourmet. To reward David for his savoir-manger, Ennio would ply him with extra plates of veal, pasta, and dessert, which our son, stuffed like a Strasbourg goose, was too polite – and intimidated – to refuse. After one such culinary orgy, David was bloated to the point where he swore that he would never eat again, and actually fasted for two full days.

On the other hand, Ennio spit venom at our nephew Shawn, swelling up like a poisonous puff adder when Shawn informed him of being ‘lactose intolerant.’ “Ah, no. This is a bullshit,” hissed Ennio. “You eat what I bring you, or you getta the hella out.” Vegetarians, vegans, and gluten intolerant folk were treated with equal disdain and summarily shown the door.

Of course, we loved going to Chez Ennio, for the cabaret as much as for the succulent repasts, and brought our favourite friends whenever we could.

Everybody thought our epic Ennio stories were exaggerated.

Such was the case for our great pals Aroa and Laurence.

One typically foul, rainy Saturday evening in late fall 2013, we took our companions to Chez Ennio. The build-up to this august rendezvous with destiny had been portentous. We secretly prayed that Ennio would perform up to his usual standards.

The meal took hours to prepare, as Ennio scuttled to and fro, serving a full house all on his own bat, and brow-beating the usual suspects.

When it came time for us to pay, Ennio reached new heights of exasperation. First, it took ages before we could track him down, finally discovering him in the confines of his miniscule kitchen where pots boiled tumultuously and veal ominously sizzled and hissed, the gastronomic rhythms accompanied by ear-splitting classical music.

Ennio tried mightily to process our credit card payments, to no avail. He began to seethe. Dantesque imprecations were intoned. He smashed the antiquated credit card machine roughly on the counter. After a lengthy period of such hijinks, he bellowed, “You a pay with the cash, and getta out of my kitchen.”

Laurence turned to us. “He has exceeded expectations,” she opined.

Ennio’s restaurant was chock full of corny Italian knick knacks and, incongruously, the walls were festooned with a massive collection of those KLM houses that frequent flyers so often cherish. We so hope that Ennio has flown the coop in peace and is no longer frothing and convulsing with epicurean angst.

Chez Ennio R.I.P.


“Montreal…capital city of eccentricity” is an excerpt from a new book of vignettes that I’m cooking up, titled It’s All in the Condiments.

Robert McBryde Author: IndieReader approved, adolescence, hippies, pop music, 1960s, 1970s, blogging, social media,  CBC radio, literary non-fiction, tales, short stories, vignettes, immigrant experience, sports, Quebec anglos, living in France,  childhood and animal stories, creative memoirs, satire, autobiography, family relations, fathers, raising children, aging, facing death, fear of death, travel, social commentary, love and marriage, translation: English-French; French-English

Publisher’s Note:  Funny, manic, and wistful… self-deprecating creative nonfiction…The author, Robert McBryde, a professional translator, has been compared to David Sedaris for the sometimes-snarky autobiographical satire characterizing his literary sketches. Many of the stories in his new book, titled My Time with You Has Been Short but Very Funny, have been featured on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio network.


Author’s Note:

I’ve written a new book of creative non-fiction titled My Time with You Has Been Short but Very Funny, recently published and now on the market. The book is based on stories that I told over the years as a writer/ broadcaster and host on CBC radio based in Quebec City, Canada.

The book is available via my website. The purchase links are at the bottom of the home page.

Normally I will post at least two blogs per week. Stay tuned…especially Wednesdays and Fridays.

If you purchase a book via the platform of your choice, please leave a review.

Here is an excerpt from my IndieReader review:

“[This] memoir is… an enjoyable and touching read. Radio listeners in Quebec are already familiar with the wit and wisdom of Robert McBryde. The non-fiction collection, MY TIME WITH YOU HAS BEEN SHORT BUT VERY FUNNY, gives the rest of the world access to the author’s inimitable style.”

“Please note that [this] book received a rating of 4 stars or above, making it “IndieReader Approved”, a designation we created to make it easier for readers and booksellers to identify quality indie titles. Post the sticker proudly, knowing that your title was judged by top industry professionals—not as merely a great indie book—but as great book, period.”

Here is a link to a cool group book review blog:

My Time With You Has Been Short But Very Funny, a review by Di


And this is a link to Goodreads. A great place to learn about new books and to read reviews.

Di’s review of My Time with You Has Been Short but Very Funny


And, finally, a review from Amazon…

A Spirited Dive into Life’s Laughter and Tears (


You can follow me on Instagram:



And Facebook:

Robert McBryde Author (20+) Facebook



Happy reading! 😊

Your friend,