Rimouski, located six hours northeast of Montreal, is a small port city with 45000 residents. A lovely salt water breeze wafts through the town. Unfortunately, its fine seaside setting has been ruined thanks to the work of some shockingly bad urban planners.
L’entrepot is one of several new $5-a-dish restaurants that opened up in Montreal over the past year. The interior has a ramshackle ski chalet look with snowboards hanging from the walls. In fact, it is pretty much a perfect replica of the decor at Le Bureau de Poste in Quebec City, not to mention the same menu. I did some investigating and found out that it is the Montreal branch of a west-coast chain that started out in Whistler, and also has six restaurants in Vancouver. Whereas the west coast branches use mozzarella in their poutines, a similar strategy in Quebec would be suicidal. Proper cheese curds it is.
Other $5 restaurants in town make up losses by charging top dollar for drinks, but it’s still possible to get a cocktail here for under $6. I’m not a big fan of the ski chalet vibe, nor do I like chains, but you can’t go wrong with decent cheap food and drink. And the poutine is up there with Montreal’s finest.
Fries: These look like deep-fried frozen fries but they are perfectly cooked, perfectly crunchy, with the right amount of salt, pepper and grease. They hold up relatively well under the onslaught of sauce. I can’t complain. 27/30
Gravy: This is a rich and tasty gravy, and the maple bacon chunks add a slight smoky-sweet/crunchy touch. It has lots of personality but doesn’t overwhelm the other ingredients. 46/50
Cheese: Like most Montreal poutines, the chunks are too small and they’re not squeaky fresh. A little more cheese wouldn’t hurt either. 11/20
Verdict: Great bet. They need to source some proper squeaky-fresh cheese chunks but this is otherwise a definite winner.
Price: Great price. $4.95. No complaints here.
Location: L’Entrepôt Mont-Royal, 1019 Avenue du Mont-Royal Est, Montréal, QC. Near Mont-Royal metro station.
Le Ballpark is a charming little place on the border of Mile-Ex and Little Italy. They specialize in spherical food: onion bhajis, Italian arancini, lamb meatballs with coucous, etc. The place has a good vibe: a balanced airy mix of cold industrial and warm varnished wood, but the jury is still out on the upside-down lamps hanging from the ceiling. Le Ballpark also doubles as a watering hole, with a decent drinks menu, so it’s worth checking out even if you’re not hungry.
I love this charming old-school Greek restaurant with its leather booths and wood panelling. You can definitely find better food in the city, but Le Fameux is the perfect place for late-night revelry because the booths are cozy, the middle-aged waitresses can handle the drunk crowd with charm and brio, it feels like a time-warp (with a few unfortunate modern intrusions), you can get poutine, and you can also get more drinks.
Unfortunately, I always come in here late at night after having had a few drinks, so it’s hard to judge the food objectively, but I’ll try.
This bar has a nice lived-in feel, not unlike the charming old brown cafés you find in Amsterdam. There’s wood paneling everywhere, a pressed tin ceiling, a nice patio out back, and a stunning selection of Quebecois microbrews, wines, ciders, and liquor.
Unfortunately, the poutine did not live up to the surroundings. Continue reading
The lacklustre city of Saint-Jerome (pop. 70,000) sits 45 minutes north of Montreal. The city developed around a shoe factory and has arguably been absorbed into Montreal’s suburban sprawl in the last few decades, so it feels like a charmless post-industrial town surrounded by power centres. Why the hell would you stop here? To be fair, there’s a charming central plaza with a massive cathedral and a few small cultural institutions
And a strange Catholic/Communist sculpture in the middle of the square.
But that’s not the real reason for stopping. The real reason is Chez Johnny, an old-school shack-à-patates that has been drawing in customers from all over the northern burbs for decades.
On my last trek out to Food Truck Friday at the Olympic stadium, I was faced with a bewildering array of choices. Thankfully, a new German food truck in town made my choice easier. They offer two different kinds of poutine: one with chopped up chicken schnitzel and the other with bratwurst. Given that schnitzel is one of my favourite comfort foods, and surprisingly hard to come by in Montreal, this seemed like a winning option.