31.5.07

SYLVIO ROI



On Jean-Talon, just west of St-Michel, Montreal
(Sign is now gone)

Look, up in the sky! It’s a... chicken?: Why does a huge chicken sit atop this sign? Is Sylvio the “Roi du Poulet” (“King of Chicken”)? Actually, the sign at Sylvio Roi is wonderful. One of the last of the great big signs, it sits on a huge pole rooted in the pavement in front of the restaurant. It seems to me there used to be many more of these amazingly oversized signs that would attract your attention to a restaurant from blocks away... that is, until it was decided that signs like these were a blight on the city’s landscape and should be attached to buildings rather than standing out on their own in the asphalt. Now people complain that signs are covering up the buildings, so maybe they’ll find their way back up onto tall poles again some day.

Sub-signs: The big sign at Sylvio’s includes a series of smaller sub-signs beneath it: PIZZA, HOT DOGS, SUBMARINES... practically the entire menu is up there for you to read before actually walking into the restaurant. Surprisingly, BBQ is at the bottom of the list, despite the giant chicken up top.

Return of the chicken: Greek short order cooks and French-Canadian (or Québecoise) waitresses wear t-shirts featuring the big chicken from the sign along with the phone number for deliveries.

Someone should order a gin and tonic: A standard interior for this type of place: a few steps above street level; long and narrow; booths on one side; stools, counter, and grill on the other. But at the front, behind the cash register, someone, at some point in time, went through the trouble of turning part of the shelving and surrounding wall into a black, padded leather bar. I’m certain that no one has ever ordered anything harder than a beer to go with his or her hot dog.

The right appetite at the wrong time: I eat French toast and sausage at 12:30 p.m. on a Sunday, as all around me hot dogs and poutine are consumed.

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