We were in Montreal for the day, visiting my partner’s sister with his family. She lives in the south side of Montreal, in an area known as Plateau Mont-Royal. Truthfully it is an older and less glamorous part of town. Walking around, there wasn’t much to see in terms of boutique shopping or finer dining restaurants. The blocks were punctuated with weather worn double story housing and colourful street art representing pop culture. On busier corners were churches with high steeps and parks when leaf barren trees. The rain and the cold of the season didn’t make for a visually appealing tour of the city. I was quickly learning that the age of the city was accurately reflected in its appearance. Most of the buildings were older than 100 years. And the residents have been walking these streets for double that time.
The age of it all and the wear and year also also transitioned to the restaurant that we would be lunching at today. After multiple walks around the blocks we settled here. Opened since 1957 it looked and smelled like it; historic, like everything else. The staff seemed to have aged with the place and were just as weary. Or maybe we were getting subpar service because we were tourists. Our grumpy server greeted another table with so much enthusiasm that it appeared she favoured them.
Like everywhere else we have been thus far, this restaurant too served classic North American comfort food: burgers, fries, pizza, and pasta. With Quebec classics like Montreal smoked meat sandwiches and poutine, of course.
Poutine, the basic: fries, gravy, and cheese. Traditionally it only comes one way, although there are 20 different options available here. A way to give their patrons options and to keep things interesting. But we got the basic, because there is only one way to make poutine, and you don’t mess with a good thing. But sadly they did not represent well with this “famous” version. The fries were soggy from the start, the gravy one dimensional. The cheese was more like mozzarella, sad given the abundance of cheese curds round.
Their all dressed pizza is what we refer to as the deluxe. Green peppers, pepperoni, and mushrooms, all on the Quebec style thick and bubbly bread-like crust. The pizza was salty and bland. The sauce needed more herbs and the ingredients didn’t add anything to the mix. The crust, which normally is the best part, wasn’t that warm spongy kind of bread that went well with a smearing of butter. However we still ate it with butter.
Between 11am to 9pm certain dishes included coffee, soup and a dessert. What we though was great combo was a disappointment. The soup was a tomato vegetable with orzo rice. It was watery and simple. It reminded me of the soup our elementary school use to make during thanksgiving, a basic water broth with boiled vegetables. As a silver lining I found the noodles tender and enjoyable to eat, and the vegetables just melted in your mouth. The salted soda crackers were a nice touch, but the bowl didn’t need any more salt, so they were left untouched.
I kept in the Quebec tradition and ordered a hot chicken sandwich. Two slices of white bread filled with large cuts of chicken breast. The chicken was dry, but the heavy dousing of gravy not only made the bread soggy, but helped to moisten the chicken as well. The peas were a nice touch in taste and texture. They burst like little bombs and offered a fresh component, but sadly there were not enough of them to go around. Served with a side of fries and coleslaw this was a large order. The fries were nothing special, and the coleslaw served as no more than an easy palate cleanser. Not to waste food, I just finished the chicken and peas.
My partner ordered the baked lasagna with melted cheese. It was regular at best. Soggy noodles and a very peppery sauce. The two slices of garlic bread included was the best part.
Dessert was either rice pudding or jello, a fact we were told after our entrees. We chose one of each, but were not excited about either. You can’t screw up jello, or so we thought. The strawberry jello was stiff, if possible. It could have use a little cream for interest and moisture. The rice pudding was like eating cooked rice with the texture of oatmeal. The cinnamon helped but not by much, it added to the dessert feel, but also made it closer to breakfast. In short is not my sort of texture, but my partner’s dad loves the stuff and was happy to have what I didn’t want.
Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
The menu is so big that it is impossible to have everything good, or in our case anything good. They can’t afford to specialize with over 60 items offered. I can only imagine how their Chinese interpretations would be? The menu advertised a smoked meat fried rice and Chinese spaghetti with beef and vegetables. Given what we had, I imagine this horrible. Overall the food below average, nothing worth remembering. Everyone left disappointed for the price we had to pay. I was especially disappointed considering it was all basics and all what other diners and cafés offered. Maybe pass this one, but don’t deny your cravings.